Tag Archives: olympic

Race Report:French Creek Olympic Triathlon 2016

The French Creek Triathlon was my first triathlon event of the year. I didn’t know a whole lot about the race, but the timing of it fit well into my schedule. After checking out the race course and past results on their website, I knew I was up for a challenging event. Most of the prior years’ Olympic distance finish times in my age group were hovering around the 3-hour mark. A bit long for typical Olympic distance events. Usually, I am around the 2:30 time frame for Olympic distance tris. Having mountain biked at French Creek in the past, I knew it was hilly and the bike and run course solidified this.

I drove an hour up to French Creek State Park on Saturday, via the beautiful back roads of the Oley Valley, to pick up my race packet and do a little bike/run brick workout to preview the course a bit. The bike route was definitely hilly and most of the roads were in nice shape except for a partial stretch of Rt 345 that is in dire need of repaving.

I had to delay my course recon ride a bit while the French Creek”Tough Kids” triathlon was finishing up. It was pretty cool seeing all these little kids out there giving it their all. While I was waiting a minivan pulled up and the guy driving rolled the window down and introduced himself. It was Todd Hydock, another Amrita Ambassador that lives in the Philadelphia area. I had known of Todd but had never met him in person. We chatted for a while until the kids race had finished. Todd was doing the sprint race on Sunday, so we would talk more on Sunday.

Race swag was pretty nice for a small event. They had a nice white race tech shirt and a Clean Bottle water bottle. I had always wanted to get a Clean Bottle but never got around to getting one. There was also a reusable cloth tote bag and some other items from Brandywine Valley tourism too.

It was pretty dark for the ride up and it was just barely cracking light when I arrived at the race venue. It had rained heavily overnight and was still overcast which kept things dark until I got to transition.

I found an empty space on the rack right at the swim-in/run-out end of transition. Everyone else seemed to be congregating towards the other end. I preferred having space. It was still quite damp out, so I was happy to suit up early with my wetsuit.

I gingerly made my down to the swim start in bare feet to get in a little warm-up swim before the race. I was the first one in the water. Water wasn’t too bad. A little cool but perfect for a wetsuit swim. The water was a light, muddy color but not so dark you couldn’t see at all.

I had a lot of time before my wave start since it was the 2nd to last wave. My toes were pretty much numb by the time the race started. I really need to remember to bring some old flips or socks or something. I chatted a bit with a lady named, Jennifer from NJ, who was also outfitted in full Amrita Kit. She was not an Ambassador but knew Arshad and was a loyal Amrita customer.

I also ran into Amy & Bill Kline who are good friends with my old tri-blogger-buddy Shanna. I have run into them a lot over the last couple years and they are really nice to talk too. I didn’t know it after the race, but it was their 17th wedding anniversary that day. Pretty cool to be doing a triathlon for your anniversary!

The Swim

Finally, my wave was up. I sauntered into the water and was trying to stay back a little and to the left. The problem was everyone was staying back from the starting line. I was not about to stay back that far, so I ended up moving past everyone to the start line which was about waist deep. Not exactly where I like to be, but if they are going to lag back I might as well take the head start.

French Creek Olympic Triathlon 2016-Swim Exit

French Creek Olympic Triathlon 2016-Swim Exit

 

The first 200 yards kind of sucked like it usually does. It is just full of anxiety and nervous energy that it makes it hard to breathe. There was a little bit of bumping since some of the faster guys were going past or over me. Eventually, things settled out and got into my pace.

I had mostly clear water from there on out. Although I could have used some drafting help, not having to deal with others is nice too. I maintained a pretty steady swim and held steady for the rest of the two loop course. I never looked at my Garmin until I actually got out of the water.

I never looked at my Garmin until I actually got out of the water. It ready somewhere around 27 minutes, which is ok for me. I was hoping for faster but whatever. The worst thing is that the timing mats are the entrance/exit to transition, not at the swim exit. And it was at least tenth of a mile run to transition over little rocks. So my swim time ended up being around 28 minutes. I hate that!

T1

The 1st transition went rather smoothly. Ditched the wetsuit and popped on my bike shoes, helmet and off I went. Ba-da-bing…ba-da-boom!

Bike

There were practically no flat sections on this entire bike course! You are either going up or going down. Nothing in between.

French Creek Olympic Triathlon Bike Course Elevation Profile

French Creek Olympic Triathlon Bike Course Elevation Profile

The road conditions are mostly good, except for one smaller section on Rt 345 that is in SEVERE need of paving. It also would appear to be a well-shaded course, but hard to tell when it was so overcast. The road was also pretty wet

French Creek Olympic Triathlon 2016-Bike

French Creek Olympic Triathlon 2016-Bike

from the rain the night before.

My goal on this leg was to not overcook my legs on the hills and save something for the run. I would also try to bomb the downhills as much as possible and use “gravity” to my advantage.

I feel I executed that plan fairly well. It was surely not the fastest of rides, but my legs were still pretty fresh at the end. I ate one and a half Amrita Bars and 2 bottles of Skratch Labs during the ride. It is pretty easy to eat when you are climbing hills all morning.

T2

T2 was a bit of a blunder. I left my running shoes tied in a double know…duh!! So I was there fumbling around with that for far too long. It was such a rookie mistake. I also put socks on, which cost me some more time. Despite that, I still got out in 2 minutes and looking at the results probably would not have made much difference in the end anyway.

Run

The run started out flat for about a 1/4 mile and then it was up…and up…and up…for the first 4 miles. As soon as my legs were getting accustomed to running, the hills started. There was one section along a small lake that flattened out for a little bit, but then it was up again. The Olympic course also took a left, when the Sprint athletes went right back to the finish, to enjoy another larger hill climb.  By the time I reached the top my legs were screaming. I even walked about 10 yards or so just to get my HR down a little bit.

French Creek Olympic Triathlon Run Course Elevation Profile

French Creek Olympic Triathlon Run Course Elevation Profile

 

French Creek Tri Run

French Creek Tri Run

After the 2nd turnaround at the top of the last hill, it was all downhill for 2 miles to the finish. Ihave to say that last two miles were actually pretty fun. You knew you could just coast it in at that point. I felt bad for all the other athletes who were coming up those hills and was trying to give them some encouragement as I cruised past them.

 

I crossed the finish line feeling pretty good. The last 2 miles actually refreshed me a bit. Finish time was 3:01 and a few seconds. Not the best time for a Olympic distance event, but this was not your ordinary Olympic distance race.


French Creek Tri Finish

French Creek Tri Finish

Post-Race

After the race, I met up Amy & Bill, My Amrita-buddy Todd, and also Terry & Sean Fenoff who I had met at my a strength training workshop that my strength coach had a couple years ago.

I stopped by the timing booth and looked at the posted race results.  I saw that I came in 4th in my age group, which left me a little disappointed that I missed the podium by one place! Ugh…so close!

I decided that it wasn’t worth sticking around at that point and started packing up my bike and things in transition. I was also texting my wife telling her I got 4th in AG. While I was doing that Bill had stopped by and congratulated me on getting 3rd Place in my AG???!!! What??!! He informed me that the 1st place guy in my age group won the overall 1st place for the race, so that got me into 3rd! SWEET!!

I immediately text my wife back and said “scratch that…I actually got 3rd!” She was a little bummed that she wasn’t there now. So back I went and hung out for the post-race awards. It was pretty cool since Bill & Amy both won their Age Groups and they announced that it was their 17th wedding anniversary too! Also, Terry, Sean and Todd all podiumed too.  So it was pretty cool to see everyone up there.

French Creek Tri Podium

French Creek Tri Podium

I was pretty happy to finally get a podium finish in triathlon. I have been doing this for over 8 years and have yet to get a podium in a triathlon. I got one for running races and duathlons, but never a triathlon. I think the build up of experience over the years with good coaches and my focus on strength training this year is making a difference.

Next up Ironman 70.3 Syracuse…

Thanks for reading!

Race Report: Steelman Olympic 2015-Finishing on a High Note

This year hasn’t really been one of my favorites. It started off finding out that our dog Yuki had Lymphoma two days before we were supposed to leave for Sedona, AZ. We then had to cancel our trip only to find out that his cancer had spread throughout his spleen and liver. Fortunately, we were able to have 5 months of quality time with him while we battled his disease. During that time, he had returned to the vigor he had as a puppy while we fed him with the best home-cooked meals we could make. This extra stress on top of my heavy training load was surely not optimal.

In June, we traveled to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho so I could compete in my “A” race of the year, Ironman Coeur d’Alene. I had spent the past 8 months busting my ass to prepare for what I had hoped would be my best Ironman performance yet. Then, a freakish heat wave moved into the Pacific-Northwest just in time to peak out at 107 degrees exactly on race day. The result was a DNF.

After returning back home, we saw a very quick decline in the health of Yuki. On August 3rd we then had to say our last goodbye to my little pal after almost 13 years. Six days later I had my last race of the year, Steelman Olympic Triathlon. I was determined to put forth my best effort in honor of my little buddy and finish off the season with a decent result.

Me & Yuki-Hiking Three Pond Loop, Adirondacks, NY

Me & Yuki-Hiking Three Pond Loop, Adirondacks, NY

The last time I competed in the Steelman Olympic was back in 2012 where finished in around 2:43 and 23rd in my age group. I was eager to see how much I had improved since then and my hope was to finish in the top 10 of my age group. After IMCdA I figure I had plenty of endurance built up, so I focused on speed and instensity in the 4 weeks prior to the event.

Pre-Race

One thing I hate about Steelman is that you have to be there so early and then you are stuck there until at least 10:30am or whenever the last cyclist finishes. So, I was up at around 3:30am and we had left for the 45 minute drive to Lake Nockamixon by 4:15 so we could get there by 5:00am. Well, that was until I realized I had left my water bottles with Skratch Labs in the frig when we were about 5 minutes away from home. Ugh! Nonetheless we still made it to the marina by 5:10a thanks to my wifes’ lead-foot. We were early enough to still get a spot in the main marina parking lot and avoided the long trek from one of the overflow lots.

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Pre-race sunrise on Lake Nockamixon-Photo compliments of Sports-In-Motion Race Photography. Straightened and color corrected by me.

I quickly setup my transition area and there was some good real estate on the rack too. I was only about 4 bikes in from the main aisle too. Usually Steelman transition is crazy since there are no assigned spots on the racks.

I ran over to the single port-O-John line and waited my turn. For some reason people form only one line for about 20 port-O-johns at this race. Every other race has several smaller lines spread across the toilets. So annoying!

The morning went pretty quickly and before I knew it we were all gathering at the swim start for the national anthem and the start of the waves. I somehow ran into my wife amongst the masses of athletes too. I also ran into a guy I met at Todd Wiley‘s LP camp this past Spring and chatted with him for a bit. Before I knew it they were calling my wave. Swim time!

The Swim

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Getting ready to start – Photo by Denise

I was one of the first few guys to get in the water for my wave. I quickly moved up to the front and outside of the lane which was on the right side for the counter-clockwise odd rectangularish swim. There were tons of guys streaming in behind me and I think they were still coming in when Dale the RD blew the start. And we were off.

I started off a little faster than I nornmally do, with thoughts of getting out ahead. I quickly realized that I am still a slow swimmer as I never really made any progress doing this only managed to hold my own. I settled into a pace which was a bit faster than my IM pace but still fairly comfortable.

The only issue I had was in between the first and second left turn when I swallowed some water while spotting the turn buoy and had a bit of an choking episode. I think I have had one in every race this year! I eventually calmed down enough so I could breathe again and returned back to my pace. I felt as though I was have a really good swim and was thinking of possibly being around 25 minutes. I didn’t look at my watch at all during the swim as this would lose a few seconds and could play with my head a bit.

The last couple turns into the marina area were a bit hard to navigate since I was having trouble seeing the buoys. I think they were smaller ones too. Eventually, I reached the slippery boat dock platform and exited the water with the help of a throng of volunteers. I glanced at my watch while crossing the timing mat…27:53. Eh!

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Steelman Olympic-Swim Exit

At first I was a little disappointed with that time. But after comparing it to my 2012 time of 32:05 I realize that this was a 4 minute improvement on a 0.9 mile course. Not too bad! 🙂

T1

The 1st transition went pretty smoothly. I did struggle a bit with my wetsuit, but nothing major. I chose to just put my bike shoes on in T1 and skip the attempt at a fly mount with shoes pre-mounted and rubberbanded. I hadn’t practiced doing that in a long while, so no reason to try it here. Onto the bike in 1:53

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Steelman Olympic-Bike Exit

The Bike

The start of the Steelman bike is always a little tricky. While it starts out pretty flat, it quickly shoots up to a dandy little climb after the left turn out of the marina parking lot. It is usually quite the jolt to the legs after you have been swimming for 25-30 minutes and all blood is still working its way out of your upper-body. My advice is shift to our one of your easiest gears as you make the left turn and spin your way up the hill. You can easily burn some matches on this hill very early.

The park has decided to add these really obnoxious yellow plastic speed bumps to the road in and out of the park. They are not rounded and more like a triangle coming to a point. I have never tried to ride over one and can’t imagine that being a real pleasurable experience. They also stretch across most of the road only leaving us about 10 inches skirt around them. If there is oncoming traffic that only leaves you one option. So, unless you have supreme bike handling skills you have no choice but brake to get around them. If there are other riders near you you will have to go through single file.

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Steelman Olympic-Bike

Eventually I survived the obstacle course of exiting the park and made my way onto Route 563 where the majority of the bike course is. The first section is mostly downhill and pretty fast to the first turnaround near the Haycock boat access. Unfortunately the condition of Route 563 has really deteriorated in the last couple years. They also patched and oil & chipped a bunch of potholes which are right in what was previously the best line. Now the best line for riding is basically the shoulder of the road now. The main part of the road is really bad and the surface in general is much rougher than the shoulder surface.

Riding on the shoulder was not an issue on the first lap of the course since it was mostly just the Olympic distance athletes. The second loop is a different story. Now you have all the sprint athletes to contend with and the slower riders blocking the left side of the shoulder. Not fun.

The longer stretch from turnaround to turnaround seems to be a mix of ups and downs. There is one tricky stretch right past the main marina entrance that forces you into a little passage on the right of the whiteline because of the hideous condition of the road covering the entire lane. I didn’t get past a slower rider quick enough on my second loop here and was forced into a very bumby ride.

I had gotten behind another guy in my age group and we played hopscotch a bit for most of the bike. I also got stuck behind another younger rider who would speed up everytime I would try to pass him. He would give this quick turn of his head when I was coming up past him and then he would then take his cadence from 110rpm to 130rpm. It was so annoying. I then finally passed him after the 2nd turnaround and then I didn’t see him again.

The stretch from the 2nd turnaround back to the marina entrance starts out with fairly decent climb. I usually go right down to my small chainring here and get into nice easy spin. Once you crest the hill it is pretty flat most of the way and then you hit a pretty fast downhill which seems fairly long. You quickly ascend again and then there is a section of patched road that covers the entire right side of the road but a small little opening on the side. You really have to make sure you are single file here or it could be a bumpy one. It will definitely cause you to lose momentum doing up the incline.

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Steelman Olympic-Bike

I felt really good the entire bike and I think I picked up a little speed on my second loop. I had two bottles of Skratch Labs hydration and one Amrita bar for nutrition. How easy is that?!

After a little over an hour, I was headed back in to the marina entrance towards T2. There was another yellow plastic speed bumb ahead which I had planned to go around on the inside of the lane again. When I approached it there was a pylon on the inside and I had another rider to my left taking the other side. I had no choice but to brake and go behind him. I then had to speed up a bit to get back to speed since there was a little incline ahead. It totally threw off my momentum. I grumbled about the pylon to the other guy as I sped by.

I cruised in to the dismount area, calmly dismounted and crossed the timing mat in 1:10:20, about a 20.6 mph pace. In 2012, the same course took me 1:17:27 at 19.2mph. So we gained another 7 minutes over my previous PR. So, now we are up 11 minutes total. Looks look it is going pretty good so far!

Looking at my Training Peaks actual bike stats, I managed a Normalized Power output of 224 watts with an Intensity Factor of 0.89 over the 24.6 miles(not sure why TP only has 24.1). Comparing that to my Bike Plan on Best Bike Splits(below), you can see I was just a little under what that predicted for watts and intensity, but time-wise was pretty much dead on there. I found BBS’s to be a little high on my IM Coeur d’ALene project too, but at least it is consistent.

 

 

T2

T2 went pretty well. I put socks on for the run, which cost me a few minutes but still better than dealing with blisters later. Despite that I was still 15 secs faster than T2 in 2012. I also had to take my bike shoes off and in 2012 I slipped out on the bike and dismounted in barefeet. I thought about doing this this year, but said the heck with it. WIth my luck this year, I will probably stub my toe or something. Better safe than sorry. Gotta run!

TheRun

The first quarter mile was a little rough as I worked the bike out them. I finally settled into a about a 7:45 pace which would be great for me. My PR pace for a lone 10k is only a 7:42, so trying to hold this for a olympic triathlon 10k would amaze me. I heard someone yell my name as I popped out of the trees along the first part of the path. I looked back and it was Todd Wiley from the Lake Placid Camp I went to this year. Always nice to have some unexpected fan support out of the course! Thanks Todd!

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As I meandered through the winding and more uphill sections I settled back into a more of a 8-8:10 pace. The run course is pretty narrow. It gets very congested when you have a few hundred people trying to run both ways on the same 6 foot wide path. Passing people forces you into more of karaoke or grapevine motion instead of a run. You defintely lose time as you get later into the run.

After the first turnaround I heard one of the volunteers at the aid station yell “hey bri-tri!” as I ran by. I was past them when I realized what he said but gave a “hey!”  and a wave while turning around. I wasn’t really sure who said it either, but was anxious to see who it was on my 2nd lap. Anyway, it was kind of cool to know I had some supporters out there that I wasn’t expecting.

Things were really starting to hurt by the end of the 1st lap. My legs were screaming and it seemed to be more uphill. I saw Denise standing along the side right before the turnaround for the 2nd lap. I was struggling to put a smile on my face as I was really hurting now. I think I managed to squeeze one out but it wasn’t easy.

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I made the turn and headed back onto the second lap. I really don’t remember too much from that second lap other than it really hurt and I had this inner dialogue going on where I was just fighting with my mind to keep pushing as hard as I could. I was trying to think of things to really push me harder. I was thinking about Ironman Coeur d’Alene, my dog Yuki and that this was my last race of the year. Leave nothing on the table today! I really think I gave it all I had.

Noone, at the aide station where someone yelled to me, ever said anything when I went by again. I don’t know if they left after that or were maybe embarrased to admit they knew this guy struggling to run an 8:00 min/mi or what. I did end up finding out later in the week that it was one of my Strava buddies, which was cool. I have the greatest ways of meeting them!

I ended up running the last mile with a young girl in front of me. She couldn’t have been more than like 11 or 12, but she was running a solid 8:00 pace. I passed her once and then she came by me again, so I decided I was going to let her escort me to the finish. She ended up making the turn around for the second loop and I kept on going. I finally made the left to the gravely road to the finish. My legs were smoked and I was slowing down before I reached the finish. I crossed the line in 49:31 which was about a 7:58/mi pace. It was a little over a minute faster than my last Steelman 10k, but an improvement nonetheless!

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Steelman Olympic-Run Finish

Race Finish: 2:30:47

Previous PR: 2:43:40

Overall Race Summary

 I would have to say it was a pretty successful race for me. I succeeded in getting in the top 10 of my age group with 8th place and I PR’d the race by about 13 minutes over my 2012 result. I improved in each discipline, except for T1 was 3 secs slower. So I may be getting older, but I am still getting faster, which makes me happy. I can safely say that I ended the season on a high note, but there is always a lot of things to work on going into next year.

I don’t really have anything planned for the rest of this season, but I may pick up a running race before the year ends. We have some vacation plans too, so I want to enjoy that a bit. Thanks for reading along this season and I hope that if you are reading this you got some enjoyment and maybe a few tips out of this. I would love to hear from you if you are reading and am open for suggestions. I hope to do a few reviews on gear and the books I have read throughout the year.

Enjoy your off-season!!

Prep for Steelman 2015 Olympic

Well I kind of fell off the blogging wagon a bit here lately(again). In my defense, IMLP vs IMCdA post took a bit of time to put together and I also needed to put together my next monthly post  for the iThlete HRV blog too. I have been training fairly steadily the past 3-4 weeks for Steelman Olympic which despite being a shorter distance event still takes up some time.

Ironman Recovery

I gave myself about a week and half of full recovery before starting back into training for Steelman. I was feeling pretty good after the week of vacation we had after the race in Coeur d’Alene, ID. I really took it easy that week and with the ongoing high temperatures out there it was fairly easy to do so. We took a ride over to Glacier National Park for a couple days, which was a bit cooler, and took in the beautiful views of the park.

Once we were back home, I used the first half of the next week to catch up on some home chores like cutting the grass. This provided a bit more active recovery too. By midway through the week I was eager to get back to it again. My bike arrived back to Keswick Cycle from TriBike Transport by the weekend, so I ran down there to pick that up on a Friday morning.

Yuki

One personal item that has been a bit of a stressor was the recent decline in health of my dog, Yuki. Yuki has been battling Lymphoma for the past 5-6 months. He had been doing quite well up until about two weeks ago. When we returned from our Idaho trip we noticed that his Lymph nodes had gotten larger again. He was still in good spirits for a few weeks after but then we started to notice him get a bit more lethargic. He would pep up though when we went for walks or when his nemisis, “Black Kitty” would stroll leisurely by the front of the house. Actually just saying the words “Black Kitty” would send him into a rage of barking.

Yuki with Tails a waggin'

Yuki with Tails a waggin’

A couple weeks ago Yuki started to turn his nose up at his food. We were cooking him organic, grass fed ground beef or turkey, with some rice and vegetables and he was scarfing it up every meal until the other week. Now he didn’t want anything to do with it. He would take a treat here and there, but that was about it. We talked to the vet they recommended some smelly fish, or canned dog or cat food. We got some of that Little Cesar stuff and the first one he gobbled down and my wife and I were high-fiving each other. That was short-lived because he just barfed it up about 15 minutes later. Ugh!

It wound up being almost a week of him not eating. He was still drinking water though and still walking. Last weekend he really started getting slow and was throwing up foamy stuff a lot. Then he was barely drinking any water. Last Sunday we took him for a walk but he kept slowing down. You could tell he was stuggling to keep up. Monday morning was not good. He had puked a couple more times and was just laying around in strange places. I had to carry him outside to pee. My wife ended up coming home early and we made the dreaded decision that I had not been looking forward too.

Yuki went peacefully in our arms on Monday morning(August 3rd, 2915) at around 11AM. Although it was a very well done process by our vet and as comforting as something like that can be. It still hit me & my wife pretty hard. Yuki was my best buddy and I will miss him. He made me laugh everyday with his antics. He was a very independent dog and his personality was surely unique, but despite that he was still my sidekick in his own way. The house is so quiet now and coming home is so anti-climactic without him around. It will surely take me some time to get over the loss of him.

Training

Despite the issues with Yuki, I still managed to continue training. I did miss a few workouts due to dealing with those issues or just not feeling up to it, but I still maintained some training consistency. The main theme though in the training for Steelman was Intensity! The workouts were much shorter than my typical Ironman routines, but I spent a lot more time with Mr. Zone 3 and Mr. Zone 4. Even had a few wranglins with Mr. Zone 5 too. What a jerk!

Training Peaks PMC Chart for Steelman 2015 Olympic

Training Peaks PMC Chart for Steelman 2015 Olympic

It was probably a good thing though to spend some time in these zones for me to get my speeds up a bit. My biggest weakness these days are my run speed off the bike. I need to work on this more this coming off-season as well. I think this time preparing for Steelman will be a big help here too.

Track Time! Workout speed

Track Time!

Surprisingly though, the increased intensity had a very positive effect on my Heart Rate Variablility(HRV) which I had not expected. Morning HRV readings went up into the high 80’s and 90’s and stayed up there for most of the time during my training.

HRV vs <a href=

TSS-June 29 to July 30 2015(QV)” width=”625″ height=”249″ /> HRV vs TSS-June 29 to July 30 2015(QV)

Lots of Green Dots in the Sweet spot - iThlete Training Guide-2015 Jul 30

Lots of Green Dots in the Sweet spot – iThlete Training Guide-2015 Jul 30

Pre-Race Speculation

My goal for the Steelman Olympic race is to get a top-10 in my age group. Looking at the past couple years results I think I should be able to do that. I would also would like to improve upon my last result there back in 2012. Despite being 3 years older, I think I have gotten a bit faster since then. I would love to get a podium, but there are a few really fast guys in my age group that seem to show up for that race year-after-year. I am not going to get my hopes up for that.

Other Stuff

My wife and I also ordered a couple inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboards a couple weeks ago. I thought this would be a good cross training activity and something we both could enjoy together. Xterra was offering a buy one get one free offer(Use Code: BOGO10) so I decided to give it a try. I have used their wetsuits for years now and they are great and well priced too. Reviews on the SUP’s were mixed, mainly due to a lack of customer service issues, but we gave it a try anyway. So far they have been great! I love the portability of the inflatables and they work just us well as the regular ones. That is according to my wife since I have never been on one until now. We took them out for their virgin tour at Smithfield beach on the Delaware River. It was pretty fun.

SUP on the Delaware

SUP on the Delaware

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for how Steelman goes. Can’t be worse than Ironman Coeur d’Alene right?

 

Race Review: Steelman Olympic 2012

Race Name: Steelman Olympic 2012

Race Location & Country: Lake Nockamixon, PA US

Date: August 12, 2012

Race Category: Male 40-44

Why did I do this race? Close to home. Very well organized. Third year I have done this race(1 year Sprint, 2 year Olympic), so provides good test of fitness and improvements for me. Challenging course.

The Swim

0.9 miles. Shape is kind of a rectangle and goes in a counter-clockwise direction(see image below). Usually a non-wetsuit swim since it is typically very hot in August in SE PA. Although previous 2011 was wetsuit legal. Lake is pretty clean and I typically enjoy swimming here. This year I overate at the vegan buffet the night before and paid the price during the swim. You can usually find clear water after the first or second turn buoy. Exit is on a boat ramp which can be slippery, but there is always tons of great volunteers here.

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The Bike

24.6 miles. Steep little climb out of the marina right from transition is always a rude awaking to the quads. After that it is mostly downhill to rolling until the first turn. Course is a two loops of the park road(RT 563) for Olympic and one for Sprint. There are several pretty good climbs on this course with ~1300 feet of elevation gain overall. Road is totally closed to traffic during the race, but can get congested with athletes. Doing two loops causes you to run into the slower triathletes on your second loop. There is usually around 1000-1500 entrants in the race, so it can get a bit congested despite the full road. I usually end up out in the middle close to the yellow lines on my last loop. The southwest end of the course has some pretty good uphills and downhills that keep the legs in check. The lane back into T2 can get crazy with overeager athletes. This year one guy went flying past me as I was coming into T2 and took out a bunch of other triathletes dismounting their bikes. I had a first hand view of the carnage and then just tip-toed through them to the racks.

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The Run

The run is probably my least favorite part of this race. It is run on a paved walking/bike path that parallels the shoreline of the lake. The path is only around 5-6 feet wide and supporting 2-way running traffic on here is extremely congested. Trying to pass a slower runner while not taking out another runner coming the other way is difficult. I have frequently had to turn sideways while passing someone. The Olympic race is 2 loops of the path and again running into more slow runners on the second loop is extremely time consuming. Path is mostly shaded, but can still get very hot and steamy. Must be from all the body heat in a confined space. Course is fairly flat with a few undulations along the way.

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Transition

Racks are assigned by wave/age group, but there are no bib number assignments on the racks which kind a stinks. If you get there late you are most-likely at the end of the row. Things can be a bit cramped too if you are in one of the big age groups(M 35-39, 40-44, 45-49).

Race Organization

Race is very well organized and communications are great. You can count on play-by-play emails the week leading up to the race. Swag is good. Good food post race. Usually pizza, fruit, bagels, cookies. Not a lot of vegan fare though. Plenty of volunteers and they do a great job. Port-a-potty line was huge this year, so get in line early. They also have an expo the Saturday before with some decent vendors if you come down for early packet pickup.

Since they close the main road into the race area. You and any family/fans have to be in the race area by 7 AM and you are trapped there until around 10:30AM. The 10:30 exit is usually not too bad if you are doing the Olympic distance, but if you are a faster sprint triathlete you could be hanging out a while. The early arrival for any fans and family is a big detractor to getting any additional fan support. I don’t really have any fan or family support other than my wife, so this is not an issue for me either.

Top Tips

  • Be prepared for non-wetsuit swim.
  • Put your bike in an easy gear heading out of T1 and easy spin up the hill out of the marina. You legs won’t have much blood in them from swim yet.
  • Save some legs on the bike there are some good climbs on 2nd half of bike loop and you have to do them twice.
  • Practice your running crossovers(grapevine)  for the run. You will need it on the run course.

How did you do?

Very good. This was my second time doing the Olympic course and I shaved off ~13 minutes from the previous year. My swim was a couple minutes slower due to no wetsuit and stopping to dry heave occasionally this year, but my bike and run were both faster. It was also not quite as hot and humid this year.

Verdict

Fun local race. Good indicator of your end of season fitness and relative to most of the local tri scene in the Philly-Lehigh Valley area. If you are looking for a smaller race(entrants-wise) this may not be for you. If you like to test your meddle against most other triathletes in the area, do it up.

Race Report: Steelman Olympic 2012

The day begun as a typical race morning with the alarm beeping away at 3:50AM. I slept well until about 1AM and then it was up every hour checking the clock. I stuffed down some chia seed toaster waffles with maple syrup and a cup of coffee. Then after a quick morning constitutional, I racked the bike on the car, through my gear bag in, and off we headed to Lake Nockamixon by around 4:45AM. The race “athlete note” said to be there by 5:30AM, so we were under the gun. I still had to pickup my race packet and decorate everything with the appropriate number placards. We decided to bring our dog, Yuki(pronounced U-kee and not after the Philly newscaster), along since he was so excited this morning. He actually followed me out to the car without me knowing it and he usually does not leave the house without a leash on. He seemed pretty stoked to go along so we tossed him in the car too.

The ride down there went pretty fast since the only people on the roads at that time on a Sunday morning are triathletes and bakers. Once we hit routes 313 and  563, it was a solid line of vehicles all with bikes mounted to them in some fashion. Once we got into the Park(Lake Nockamixon), we were directed into the upper parking lots. This really stinks since it is a 15-20 minute walk each way to transition. The thing that really sucked was the kids directing traffic started redirecting people back down to the Marina right after we parked. The marina is where the race start is. We made our way down to the marina and I picked up my race stuff and got marked with my number, 171. They were not bashful with the markings, and I don’t think there was any direction that you could not see my number. I sauntered into transtion and bumped into my coach and his wife who were doing the sprint relay together(btw…loved your shirt Scott! Smile ). After a quick chat, I was off to find a spot on the racks.

Steelman does not assign rack spaces based on your bib #, which makes it a bit of a free-for-all to find a transition spot if you are not an early bird. I was able to find a few inches of rack at the back of the 5th row from the Swim In and the one guy next to me moved over a bit too. while setting up my transition spot, I was starting to feel some pressure building in my lower digestive track. I then headed over to the outhouses after getting my space in order. As I came around the corner of transition, the shit-house line went on to infinity. Shit!(pun intended) I ran into my wife and Yuki and we headed to find the end of the line. It was 6:40AM and the race was starting at 7AM. The line moved fairly quickly though and I was able to get in there before transition was closed. Whew…much better!

I got down to the swim start for a quick warm-up. Water was really warm and it was not a wetsuit legal swim. I think the water temp was around 80 degrees F. My warm-up swim felt good which gave me some confidence. Getting out of the water was a bit chilly though as the air was still a bit cool. Good thing I was only the third wave.

The Swim(.9 mi)

I waded out to the start for my wave and stayed to the far right side. There were a few guys in front of me and when I realized that there was still about 10-15 feet from them to the start pylon, I waded out past them. The gun went off and we were off. The race start adrenalin got the best of me and I realized I was kicking much more than usual. Not having a wetsuit also causes me to kick more to get that same level of buoyancy too. I tempered the kicking and settled into a steady stroke. After making the first turn buoys I started to feel a bit of stomach malaise which started playing with my mind. Apparently, the buffet food fest I had at the Honey Underground Vegan Supper Club was not the wisest of choices for my pre-race dinner the night before. I had fairly open water, but still managed to get punched in the nose. I love when you think you are free and clear and some dude comes out of nowhere and cuts right across your line. Then he proceeds to take a stroke directly into your head. He then bounced off me and redirected back in the other direction. WTF??!

Thoughts of “blowing chunks” started to consume my mind. Where do I go to do that? Do I have to swim out of the general path of swimmers? That would be gross. I would probably follow me too. Eventually that subsided, but the swim seemed to take forever. I didn’t look at my watch the whole time so I really had no idea how I was doing time-wise. Eventually I reached the boat ramp exit unscathed and was glad to have that behind me. I don’t know how many times I have to screw up that pre-race dinner before it sinks in to eat something basic and don’t overeat!!! I hit the timer at ~32:00, which is about 2 minutes slower than last year. Given I didn’t have a wetsuit on this time, it isn’t horrible, but I just didn’t feel great like I have before.

Swim Result: 32:05 for .9mi(1500m) (Pace1:57/100 yds) 

T1

The run to transition was a light jog and several people passed me. I was still suffering from my “full” feeling in my stomach. My wife said I didn’t look good coming out of the water. I found my bike lane, but there was another guy in my lane with the exact same bike as me, so I studder-stepped a bit until I realized I don’t have Zipp race wheels on my bike. I wish, but they are worth more than my bike. Talking to this guy later I found this bike is a 2006 model. So my good friends at Cycles BiKyle sold me a 3 year old bike as new when I bought it in 2009. I had rubberband-ed my bike shoes to my bike to avoid another bad bike mount, but they both snapped when I pulled the bike off the rack. Great…here we go again. I actually had a good bike mount so it was a non-issue.

T1 Time: 1:55

The Bike(24.6 mi)

The bike went well. I kept a high cadence the whole time. On the climbs I dropped down to the small chainring and spun away. I saw so many people standing up pushing big gears and thought about how they will pay for that later. I also had a bottle of Skratch Labs hydration mix on board and did a bottle and a half of water, which kept me hydrated well into the run. The sodium and minerals in the Skratch mix really helps to get rid of the cramping on the run. I was actually a little full of water on the run, but not too bad. Tried to kick it up a bit on the 2nd loop of the bike and then ease up for the drive back into the marina. One guy went flying by me in the the dismount area and ended up taking out a slew of other guys and crashing to the ground. Was kind of humorous to watch really. Even though I felt like I was taking it easy on the bike my overall pace was faster than last year I think. I think this is testament to my training plan and performance this season. Also I have 15 lbs less weight to carry around too.

Bike Result: 1:17:27 for 24.6mi ( Avg Speed 19.1mph. Event results say 20.8mph)

T2

T2 went ok too. Had a little issue getting my shoes on but nothing too bad. I didn’t wear socks with my New Balance Minimus Zero’s and they were fairly new so I could be in for some issues on the run. They are very smooth inside though and I didn’t have any issues with them on short runs.

T2 Time: 1:28

The Run(10k)

The run started well and finished even better. I truly felt the best I have ever felt on a triathlon run. Holding steading on the bike really paid off here. This is the kind of thing where experience pays off. I started off running a <= 8:30 pace for the first half of the run and increased the pace up a bit on the second 3.1 miles. I saw high sevens during the end. There was one guy in my age group that was just ahead of me and I tried really hard to catch him in the end. I didn’t get him and he got me by 4 secs. Oh well. Still felt really strong at the finish and I think I am started to gain some maturity in my racing.

I hadn’t seen my wife and my dog the whole race, so I was wondering where they were all day. I eventually found out on the run. My wife ended up volunteering at the run aide station at the turnaround for the Olympic distance run. I dropped the water she handed me on the first loop and she said I was the only person to drop a water all race. I had asked her “where’s my dog?” and she said “over there.” So when I looked away I missed the cup. I wasn’t allowed to say anything to my dog as he would start freaking out if he saw me. It was pretty funny though because he was checking me out when I went by.

Run Result: 50:47 for 10k ( Avg Pace 8:12/mi )

Race Summary

Despite the swim, I think the race overall was personally successful. I cut off ~15:00 off of my time from last seasons’ race. If I was going to have a bad leg the swim is the best one to have it in, but I think that issue is the easiest to resolve. Although I seem to keep making that mistake over and over again. The difference between 23rd(my AG Place) and 10th place is only 10 mins, so if can chop off another 10 mins next year I could be in top ten. I will be moving up to the 45-49 group next season, so no idea what that will be like. Hopefully some of these guys retire!  As a reward to myself I had 2 slices of CHEESE pizza which was quite yummy! So I should be good on vitamin B12 now for a while. The weather today was perfect with moderate temps in the morning and low humidity. Was a great day to race.

Click here for the my actual race results…

Click here for the overall race results…

Overall Finish Time 2:43:40
Overall Place 135/380
Gender Place 109/229
Age Group Place 23/45

As of this writing I am feeling quite well. My coach published this weeks training schedule and it looks like a doozy. No rest for the weary! We are heading up to the Finger Lakes this weekend, which is a great place for a training weekend. Open water swims in Keuka Lake are always a good time. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!