All posts by bud_winn

Oceanside 70.3 – 7 April 2018

This was my 2nd triathlon of the season and 1st 70.3 (Half Ironman).  I used this race as a check to see if my fitness is on track for Ironman Santa Rosa on May 12th.  I also wanted revenge on last year’s poor showing as I lost my 2-year “sub-5” streak.  Suffice to say, my revenge was complete and I managed a PR.  I made many mistakes but things are coming along.

Ironman 70.3 Oceanside – 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run

Game Plan – Here’s the original plan and the goals I laid out:

      1. A” Goal – Swim 32:30 (1:33/100y), Bike 2:23, Run 1:24: <=4:30
      2. B” Goal – Swim 33:30 (1:35/100y), Bike 2:28, Run 1:27: <=4:40
      3. C” Goal – Swim 35:00 (1:40/100y), Bike 2:35, Run 1:33: <=5:00

I played around with Best Bike Split for different wattage levels and TSS (FTP = 290, Body Weight = 155, CdA ~0.23):

180 TSS:

80% FTP:

My goals were a bit aggressive but I figured I’d attempt it and crash/burn on the run if necessary.

Pre-Race – I didn’t really taper and still biked 100 miles the previous Saturday (March 31).  I took a few easy days before the race just to loosen up and rest.

Here’s the fitness leading into the race as of Friday, April 6:

ATL – 67

CTL – 87

TSB – 11

These numbers mean I was decently rested going into this race.

Thursday, April 5 – I slept in a bit, then got up and did a quick trainer workout on Zwift followed by a short run.  I geared up then rolled out around 11.  I was planning on stopping at a diner, but construction blocked it so I stopped at Denny’s instead.  I left South Bay around 1200 and entered Oceanside around 1330 (blazing fast for SoCal).  I checked in and got my packet, then roamed around the expo to get some gu’s.  I then got some groceries and met up with the AirBnB folks to get the keys.  I bummed around for a bit then met up with a fellow D3 teammate at The Privateer, which makes this my re-occurring ritual for Thursday night dinners since 2014.  I then went home and passed out.

Friday, April 6 – I got up around 0800, then jumped on the bike to do a quick spin around the block.  This wasn’t really for fitness, just to stay loose and see if everything on the bike worked (power meter, wheels, bike computer, helmet, clothes, shoes, etc).  Once I finished, I showered then threw the bike into the car and headed to IHOP.  This is also my Friday pre-race ritual at Oceanside – eating a massive breakfast.

I then went back to the harbor to drop my bike off.  I managed to get in line with some of the “old timers” at 1030, waiting for transition to open.  We formed a big enough line that they let us in early.  I racked my bike and quickly left.

I went back home but was still a bit tight, so I went to Massage Envy and had a light massage / stretch to get the blood flowing.  After that, I stopped to get some lunch (Pad Thai) and headed home to rest.

The roommates staying with me in the AirBnB started to filter in, so I just stayed home to let everyone in.  I usually eat at Olive Garden (The OG) the night before the race (soup and salad) but just opted to pick up a soup, salad, and bruschetta from one of the local “boojey” Italian spots around the corner from the house.

Once I ate dinner, I made sure all my gear was prepared, shaved my legs (terrible), then was in bed around 10pm.

Race Morning – I got up at 0300 then ate breakfast (2 english muffins with almond butter / honey + banana) and coffee.  I was still stuffed from all the food from the previous day, so I was a bit concerned.  I left the house at 0430 and was parked at the expo around 0445.  I then walked to the bus and shuttled/walked over to transition and was inside by 0500.  I geared up pretty fast and bummed around until 0600, then put on my wetsuit and went to find Mike, Courtney, Matt, and Jess.  Once I found them, I warmed up with bands (shoulders) and a band around my legs (glutes).

The chute started to fill up so I pushed my way through with a few other guys around 0640.  We made our way to the “30-35 minute” sign which had moved to the front.  I entered the warmup area and got a quick lap in, then got back in line.  I saw Christin and Camacho but they had already left by the time I warmed up.  I lined up with strangers and off we went.

Swim – The water was 61, but we stayed in the bay and didn’t have to deal with running into the waves.  There wasn’t much chop so this was a technically easy swim.  I just focused on staying steady and not surging.  By the halfway point, we turned directly into the sun, which sucked.  I realized I was swimming too easy, so I started to pick up the pace.  I felt fine as we got closer to the finish, but there was a lot of churn as everyone converged and the last bit turned into a giant “washing machine” of arms and legs.  I kicked hard the last bit to return the blood to my legs.  I stopped my watch right when my feet hit the ground, then ran through the chaos.  I wasn’t tired at all and saw my finish time, and I was quite pleased considering I took it easy.

Final Swim – 34:05 – link here

**Note – My garmin times are different than the official times. I stopped my watch as soon as I hit ground, but I think the timing chip portion was a little bit north of the swim exit. My transition times and bike times throughout are the same, so the “official” times always stand.

T1 – as always, T1 at this race is a big cluster.  We have to run through the chute and it’s like a giant maze.  My bike was racked all the way by the bike entrance so I ran through the entire transition to make it to my gear.  I learned from Desert Tri and just put on my small running socks, so I was in and out pretty quick (not counting the run to/from).

Final T1 – 4:18

Bike – This bike course has traditionally given me trouble as I don’t enjoy the hills…I like staying in aero and just cranking out watts.  However, I felt strong so figured I could do some damage.  I held back in the beginning as the first 4 miles is just getting out of the harbor and onto Camp Pendleton.  Once we were on base, I started to crank it up and press.  My watts looked alright and HR wasn’t too high.

I wanted to experiment with some different bike nutrition.  On my long training rides, I had concentrated Gatorade Endurance, Nuun tablets, L-Glutamine, and BCAAs to the point where each bottle is roughly ~400 calories and ~1900mg of sodium.  This had worked well in training, both on the bike and running off the bike, so I wanted to see if this could work as preparation for Ironman Santa Rosa.  One of the reasons I wanted to try this was to avoid the logistical issues of having to take multiple salt pills and gatorades which adds more movement on the bike.

Over the first hour of the bike, I took in one full bottle (BTA) and kept cranking, so things were on track.  However, after the first hour, my gut locked up.  The combination of all the food the previous day (probably previous 2 days) and super-concentrated gatorade finally decided to act against me.  I realized what was happening and had to dial it back a bit.  I let the fast guys go as I had been burning through a lot of folks.

For the next hour, I just focused on keeping it steady but my watts and HR were starting to dip.  At one of the aid stations, I took in a lot of water to help flush out my gut.  I also was able to pee on the bike which helped ease pressure on my sit bones so I could hold aero better.  When I can’t pee, certain things swell up and holding aero is tough, but peeing seems to help relax everything.

Once we got past the big hills, my energy came back so I slowly sipped from my second bottle.  My energy came back towards the end so I cranked out the last 10-12 miles at what I should have been pushing the entire race.  We wormed out way through the chute and I was off the bike.

Final Bike – 2:33:01 – link here

T2 – We enter transition where we came in on the swim so it’s a boondoggle.  I made it to my gear, racked the bike, threw off my helmet, then put on my shoes and grabbed my hat/sunglasses/run bottle and bolted.

Final T2 – 2:04

Run – I had severely underbiked but was still clogged up and coming in low on sodium and nutrition, so I realized this run would prove to be tough.  I felt alright starting out, and just focused on keeping a consistent pace and holding good form.  This went well for the first 10K, but after the turnaround, I could feel the wheels starting to come off.  My stomach had settled enough to take in more cokes and salt pills, but I was still way off of nutrition.  My form also degraded and my back arches when this happens, so my quads take over and they were taking a beating.

At mile 9, I took my emergency gu and that seemed to save my run.  I started to pick it up slightly the last few miles while focusing on nutrition.  Once I hit mile 12, I picked it up and my pace seemed to come back a bit.  I managed to hold it together and come in fast on the finish, but couldn’t catch the last guy in the chute.  I was pretty spent when I finished and it was one of the tougher runs I’ve done.

Final Run – 1:30:55 (PR) – link here

Overall Time – 4:44:24 – link here

Results – 22nd AG, 96th OA – link here

Based on my goals going into this, here’s the breakdown:

Actual Swim – 34:05 – Lower than B but above a C, so B-

Actual Bike – 2:33 – Lower than B but above a C, so B-

Actual Run – 1:30 – Lower than B but above a C, so B-

Actual Total – 4:44 – Lower than B but above a C, so B-

I give this race an overall “B-” ranking my actual times vs. predicted.  I improved my time at this course by 18 minutes from last year (previous best here was 5:02) and achieved my goal of getting revenge.  I also improved my bike by 11 minutes and run by 5 minutes compared to last year.  Additionally, I set a new overall PR (previous PR was 4:48).

However, I still made several tactical mistakes, namely nutrition which had worked in the past, but I got greedy and wanted to see if there was a shortcut…but there ultimately are none.

Key Takeaways:

  1. I need to curb my gluttony leading up to the race and eat a bit cleaner 2 days out.  I usually carb up heavily, but I was so bloated it hurt.

2. Race Nutrition – stick with what worked.  What works in training under less duress may not work in race scenarios when the pressure is on.

3.  My training days are far harder than this.  Since I’ve been doing some monster training on the weekends, this race was relatively easy fitness-wise, and if I hadn’t botched the bike nutrition, I think I could have gone significantly faster.

4. Bike Fit – after Desert Tri, I had tweaked up the bike fit slightly as I was still using too much quad.  This paid off greatly and I was able to summon up my full power here.

5.  Mobility – my hips / hip flexors are absurdly tight, so mobility work is a top priority.

Overall, I’m pleased with my fitness leading into Ironman Santa Rosa.  I PR’d with little taper and gaffing up nutrition and even PR’d the run on fumes.

Congratulations to everyone who raced!



Desert Triathlon – 4 March 2018

This was my 1st triathlon of the season.  I usually open with a running race or sprint distance triathlon, but I was sick in February when I normally race the Redondo Beach 5k/10k.  My original goal here was to treat the bike as a FTP test and then just survive the rest of the race.  Things didn’t turn out that way but I still had fun.

Desert Triathlon – 1500m swim, 40K bike, 10K run

Game Plan – I just go into Olympics and redline and hold on for dear life.  I had come off a weekend of triathlon camp the week prior, so I wanted to use this bike as a FTP test.

I dabbled with BBS just to give me an idea of the course.  The link is here

Pre-Race – I had completed a triathlon camp the week prior so I was a bit fatigued.

Fitness – bit tired, here are the stats for the day prior (March 3):

ATL:  84

CTL:  78

TSB:  -13

These numbers mean that my fitness was high, but I’m racing tired.

Race Morning – The day before the race, we had a gaffe with the AirBnB so we left South Bay on race morning around 0300.  We got to the race around 0530.  I had 2 bananas and some coffee, then checked in, got my packet, and geared up.  The nice thing about this race (or bad) is that the Olympic distance didn’t start until around 0830, so we had ample time to mope around until the race started.  There was a slight wind but it had died down, so the conditions were very calm.  The lake was cold but not choppy.  The buoys were hard to see though and the sun had risen, so the sighting would prove difficult.

Swim – I was tired starting out, so I just kept this easy peasy and cruised.  There was a big stretch where it was hard to see any buoys, so I just followed feet as best as I could.  I got out and wasn’t too tired, just slow.

Final Swim – 25:41 – link here

**Note – My garmin times are different than the official times. I stopped my watch as soon as I hit ground, but I think the timing chip portion was a little bit north of the swim exit. The “official” times on the IM website stand, but these are what I have based on what I hit on my watch.**

T1 – I dicked around with putting bike socks on after the swim, and it was a mistake.  I was still wobbly, trying to fit on socks and it cost me time.  This was one of my sloppier T1’s to date.

Final T1 – 3:54

Bike – I had only ridden aero once (the week before at Tri Camp) since October, so this would prove interesting.  We escaped transition and immediately hit a climb out of the lake area.  The road quality was a bit meh and we finally made it to the flats.  The first stretch had a nice tailwind, but some of the other sections had a huge headwind, so this bike was a bit tougher than I anticipated.  My quads were on fire here for the first ~38 minutes or so until my glutes finally kicked in.  I just focused on staying low and pushing through.  I had experimented with some gatorade on the bike in anticipation of pushing some decent watts (FTP test attempt), but it was a miserable failure.

Final Bike – 1:01:15 (PR) – link here

T2 – no real issues here – I was in and out pretty quick.

Final T2 – 1:05

Run – I started off well and felt great.  However, my gatorade bike experiment came back to haunt me and I had massive side stitches after the first mile.  I spent the next 4 miles with my hand in my rib trying to ease out the cramp.  I slowed down considerably, but was able to get another wind on mile 5 and pick up the pace.  My run here was pretty pitiful so I wasn’t too thrilled at the end.

Final Run – 43:13 – link here

Overall Time – 2:15:14 (PR) – link here

Results – 5th AG, 21 OA – link here

I managed to PR for a season opener while fatigued, so I’ll take it.  However, I was not too thrilled with any of the legs, so everything still needs work.

Key Takeaways:

1. My quads were on fire, so I went to tweak up my fit from Jim at ERO and we actually raised the saddle a little bit and moved my saddle back.  This helped tremendously and would prove crucial at Oceanside 70.3 (different post).

2. For Olympic distance events, I can’t take too much nutrition on the bike as it cramps me on the run.  However, depending on the race, I sweat a lot and lose a ton of salt an hour (~1800mg), so for hotter races, I still need to take something.  I’ll experiment with nuun and water for Olympics – it will have enough sodium but no carbs / calories to cramp me up.

Congrats to everyone who raced!

2017 Totals – 31 December 2017

Here’s the annual training summary – I just copied last year’s format for ease of use and changed the numbers.

I checked both Strava and Training Peaks / WKO4 to get the numbers.  The swim/bike/run totals were accurate across both programs, however WKO had kept my total hours based on all my strength / Pilates work that I logged into Training Peaks and not Strava.  I’ll continue to add strength work / yoga / Pilates to the annual totals from now on.

2017 Totals:
Swim – 371,075 yards –> 211 miles // 109 Hours // 141 Swims
Bike – 2,517 miles // 154 Hours // 124 Rides
Run – 983 miles // 134 Hours // 177 Runs
Strength / Pilates / Yoga – 47 hours
Races – 15 (10 triathlons–> 4x HIM, 2x Olympic, 4x sprint)
Total – 3702 miles
Total Time – 454 hours

For comparison, I’ve put the 2016 and 2015 figures below:

2016 Totals:
Swim – 317,679 yards –> 180.5 miles // 102 Hours // 159 Swims
Bike – 1830 miles // 159 Hours // 148 Rides
Run – 908.6 miles // 127 Hours // 179 Runs
Races – 17 (11 triathlons–> 1x HIM, 1x IM, 6x Olympic, 3x sprint)
Total – 2919.1 miles
Total Time – 388 hours

2015 Totals:
Swim – 320,710 yards –> 182.22 miles
Bike – 2418.8 miles
Run – 909.6 miles
Races – 13 (10 triathlons–> 3x HIM, 1x IM, 1 OWS, 2 bike TTs)
Total – 3510.62 miles
Total Time – 442 hours

My swim volume went up nicely this year due to staying consistent with a Master’s group.  December kind of fell of due to travel and illness, so I missed my 400k goal.  However, I swam less sessions than 2016 but had a higher overall volume – most likely due to some of the monster sessions I’ve done at Masters.

My bike volume is the highest it’s been since I started triathlon in 2008.  This year I’ve finally started to gain some “bike legs” so all the miles have added up over time along with my use of a Wahoo KICKR / Zwift / ERG mode.

My run volume is a little higher due to an end of season open half marathon where I finally PR’d and went sub-1:30.  I still need to break 1000 miles in a year…looks like it’ll be next year.

Here’s some of the nerdery:

Strava log is here

2017 was a good year.  I built up to my big “A” races in May, then took June easy before I started the training onslaught again in July.  By August, I was in race shape and raced 3 weeks in a row in September and hung on to the wisps of my fitness.  I did bare bones training in October for the final sprint triathlon, then kept up some fitness in November for an open half marathon.  December was a wash, so it’s all up from here.

Things I did well in 2017:
1. Race Weight / Nutrition – I’ve been able to finally cut down my weight and body fat to a decent race weight (~153 pounds @ 5’8’’). I’m still planning on getting down to 150 and cutting more body fat, but the nutrition plan has worked. It’s a bit expensive but worth it for me.
2. New PR’s all around – looks like all the consistency paid off this year. I lowered my Olympic and 70.3 PR’s. I don’t really feel tired coming out of swims as much as before and I’ve been able to lay down some pain on the bike. I even lowered my open half marathon time down by 5 minutes.
3. Improved aerodynamics – I got re-fit earlier in 2017 and tweaked a few things up on the bike (latex tubes, etc). It’s seemed to help as I’m moving decently fast in aero and not pushing as many watts as before.
4. Picked up Pilates – this helped tremendously to improve my “feel” for how to use my body and it has paid off in my running.

Things I need to work on for 2018:
1. Strength / Mobility – I’ve let this go over time and I’m hanging on to scraps of my strength via Pilates, but lifting some heavy things for a bit should help. For mobility, focusing on releasing my left hip flexor and loosening my ankles will help with my swim and run.
2. Run – I plan on adding a bit more volume this year to prepare for the 140.6 onslaught. I’d like to get a little faster on the track as well.
3. Bike V02 / Hard Pacing – I need to ride outdoors so I’m aiming on finally getting a good road bike to put some serious miles in. I’ve found that I can hold 70.3 speed pretty well on a race, but I haven’t been able to hold my top end yet on an Olympic or Sprint, so I’ll need some work on pushing that high-threshold and holding it.
4. Swim – this has always been the bane of my existence due to being an adult onset swimmer. It has gotten tremendously better this year due to consistent Master’s work, but I still have a long ways to go. The technique is devilry – I think I’m doing things right then I see video and I look like a cripple.

Thanks to all my friends and family for the support this past year.  I’m looking forward to 2018!

San Antonio Rock and Roll Half Marathon – 3 December 2017

This was my last race of 2017 after a long but productive race season.  I visited my family and friends for the holidays so figured I’d race while I was home.

Pre-Race – I had brunch on Saturday with some friends and ate some egg dish, so nothing too heavy.  My friend Lexa took me to the race expo to show me the best parking spots and we scoped out the area.  For dinner, I ate Italian with Suzy and had a Veal Parmesan, so nothing too heavy.  I ended up staying up until ~1230am playing World of Warcraft and preparing my gear.  I got up around 430am, grabbed 2 bananas and coffee, then headed out.  I got to parking downtown at 545am then walked over to meet Lexa and her run crew.  We did some band warmups and dynamic drills then I got a quick run in.  The weather was so humid that I was already warmed up and my heart rate was high (100-110 bpm) before the race started.  I snuck to the restroom at the last minute then worked my way through to Corral #1 and waited.  We went off around ~720am.

Weather – terribly humid, overcast and not too hot, with some sprinkles of rain before the race started.

Run – I’ll break this up a bit:

Mile 1-3:  I let all the fast kids go while I malingered in the back and focused on settling in a good pace.  I focused on staying under a 6:40 min/mile pace and going from there.  Nothing too hard, but my heart rate was already redlining towards 180, so I knew this would run would hurt.  I took a lot of water and gatorade during the first 3 aid stations to prepare for the onslaught ahead.

Mile 4-6: I had settled in a rhythm and started picking folks apart.  A lot of people went out way too fast and were gassing out, so I dropped them and kept my pace consistent.  We didn’t hit any hills at this point so my goal was to focus on keeping my hip drive alive and using arms to gain momentum.  This still needs a lot of work but it’s coming.

Mile 7-10:  We got a nice splash of rain around mile 7-8 so the humidity went down a bit and we got to cool off.  My legs were starting to feel the beatdown and my form was breaking down, so I just kept focusing on pushing forward.  I still continued to take lots of water and gatorade from the aid stations.

Mile 11-13:  We hit some gnarly hills that knocked the wind out of me and hurt my pace.  Another runner that I had passed made a move and surged at mile 11 so we battled it out a bit.  Thanks to the hills, we had a series of descents.  At mile 11.5, we both started turning on the afterburners but he dropped me as I couldn’t hang.  I managed to pass several other folks during the last half mile as they were gassed.  I sprinted through the finish line and I was cooked.

Final Time – 1:26:48 (PR)

Race file is here

Strava Results is here

Official results aren’t up yet, I’ll post those once the link goes live.


Official Results are up – 9th AG, 55th OA – link here

Conclusions / Misc:

  1. Here are the splits from Garmin (link here)

Of note, I redlined this entire run and barely kept it under 180.  If this was in California or somewhere not as humid, my HR either would have been lower at this pace or I would have had a faster pace at the same HR.  I don’t do well in humidity and I’m glad it wasn’t too hot…otherwise I would’ve crumbled hard.  The pace had fallen off a bit at mile 10 and 11 when we hit the hills, but sped up quite nicely on the last 2 miles due to the descents.

2.  I hadn’t weighed myself since the end of September so I had assumed I only put on 1-3 pounds.  However, I weighed myself this morning and came in at 161.6 pounds, so that’s about ~9 pounds heavier than I was during the tail end of my race season.  That’s far heavier than I anticipated so I realized this race may not be as fast as I had predicted.  However, I was still able to move alright so having the extra “padding” during the off-season will help when I slim back down for Oceanside in April.

Best Race Weight of 2017 – 153 pounds

Current Weight (Dec 2017) – 162 pounds

How much faster could I have moved if I was at race weight?  Unknown, but I hazard a ~1:24 may have been in the cards then.

3.  After the race, I weighed myself and was at 158.8, so I lost roughly ~3 pounds (this was after I ate/drank at the expo post-race).  The humidity wrecks my body and I lose a lot of sodium and fluids, so I may need to supplement even during an open half marathon which I haven’t done yet.


4.  My limiter in these open races is not endurance – the engine is good.  My limiter now is technique, mobility, and strength.  My calves, quads, and glutes ran out of juice towards the end of the race and I lost all my hip drive, rebound, and snap.  Pilates has helped greatly with learning how to use my body and I owe much of today’s race to the Pilates training.  The next phase of training will be to focus on releasing my left hip flexor so my left glute is firing properly and balancing both legs so they’re performing equally.  Then, it’s off to strength work to get stronger.

Overall, I’m pleased with this race effort, especially since I’m at off-season weight and have spent the last few days doing nothing but playing World of Warcraft  and Destiny and eating lots of lumpia, adobo, fried rice, and Mountain Dew.

Congrats to everyone who raced today!

Trick or Tri Olympic Triathlon – 28 October 2017

This was my 10th triathlon of the season and 3rd Olympic distance triathlon of the year.  I had just kept up the bare minimum training since the end of Superfrog 70.3 and did this race for fun.  Two relays challenged our work directorate so I figured I would race against them – 2x teams of 3-people vs. me seemed alright.

Trick or Tri Olympic Triathlon – 300m swim, 40k bike, 10k run (swim shortened due to fog)

Game Plan – No real plan here, just hammer it and see what was left in the legs.  My fitness and training were bare-bones for the month but I’ll post the numbers for posterity.

Tail end of fitness, here they are:

ATL – 43

CTL – 61

TSB – 12

This means I’m rested but my fitness was a shadow of its former self…so this would hurt.

Race Morning – I stayed locally so the drive to the race site was short.  I was up around 0415L, ate 2 bananas and coffee, then geared up and rolled out.  I got to the race site around 0530L and checked in to pick up my packet.  Everything was chaotic and since there were no wristbands, transition was a free-for-all with anyone coming and going.  The transition racks were small clamps that went around the rear bike wheel.  These sucked and I was not a fan.  Once I was setup, I warmed up with my StretchCordz and continued to warm up while I socialized.  The fog was thick, and the swim was delayed.  After waiting another 20-30 minutes, the swim was shortened to 300m for all participants.  I removed my wetsuit as I figured it would take me longer to remove it in the small transition area as opposed to grabbing the shoes, helmet, and going.  We all migrated towards the lake and waited.  The folks doing the 70.3 distance went off first, then we waited 20 minutes.

Swim – This was a slugfest.  Lots of kicking, punching, grabbing, and general mayhem.  I did what I could but it was so short it was so short and chaotic that this was just a tough push.  Nothing too special here, just getting it over with.

Final Swim – 4:23 – link here

**Note – My garmin times are different than the official times. I stopped my watch as soon as I hit ground, but I think the timing chip portion was a little bit north of the swim exit. The “official” times on the website stand, but these are what I have based on what I hit on my watch.**

T1 – Packed and crazy.  2 college kids ran by me in transition with their bikes while yelling for folks to get out of the way, so I vowed revenge for their impudence.  I got to my bike, threw on helmet / shoes / race belt with number (rule at this race), then gently grabbed the bike out of the clamp and threw the throng of folks and escaped.

Final T1 – 2:23

Bike – We headed out of the park and then made a U-turn, then eventually made our way to the dam/reservoir.  The roads were smooth as silk and I started to throw down the hammer.  I passed the folks doing the 70.3 distance and all of the folks who had exited the swim before me.  I caught the college kids at mile 5 and kept pushing.

I noticed a guy who was ahead of me then passed him, but he stayed with me, so we spent the rest of the race leapfrogging back and forth.  This was a 3-loop bike course, so he exited the turns far more crisply then I did, so his bike handling was far better and he made decent headway into me.  Once on the straights, I would push it and pass him, and this went back and forth for the rest of the race.  After the third loop, we started the last straightaway into transition.  We both exited together so our splits were essentially even.

Final Bike – 1:02:16 (PR) – link here

T2 – Since we both came off the bike together, I realized this would be a tight race.  I hustled to my bike spot, threw the bike in, ripped off my helmet, threw on my shoes / hat and took off.  We both exited T2 together and it was fast.

Final T2 – 0:58

Run – I opted to push a little bit out of T2 so I could make a gap on the other guy.  I thought he was done and gone so I settled into a rhythm and just focused on breathing / form / technique.  My stomach started cramping so I unzipped the front of my tri suit to let my flabby gut get some breathing room (took ~360 cals / 1200mg sodium on bike).

The run was 2 loops, and we spent most of it on the asphalt, but we hit some gravel / trail for a bit so I lost some speed here.  2 college kids came and dusted me on the run and I let them go – they were moving so fast it wouldn’t do any good to try to keep up unless it was the last mile.  I was fine until mile 5, then I heard some shuffling behind me and realized the guy from earlier had hung with me for the entire run, so I knew this would be a tight finish.

At mile 5.1, he peeled off slightly to grab some water but I pressed ahead as I didn’t want him on my shoulder.  I started to pick up the pace and build up speed so he wouldn’t get next to me for a final chute sprint.  At mile 5.8, I turned on the afterburners and pressed.  I wanted to make sure he stayed behind so I opted to run the last bit as a track interval, which I usually don’t do at a race until the bitter end, so that time had now come.  I managed to push and cross the finish line 5 seconds ahead of him.  This was one of my closer races in awhile and I was pleased that I was able to hold the surge and block an attack.  I’ve learned over several years of racing to time your kick at the right moment, otherwise it’s game over.

Final Run – 40:32 – link here

Overall Time – 1:50:32 – link here

Results – 1st AG, 4th OA – link here

Key Takeaways:

  1. Bike for show…run for dough.  Always save some gas in the tank on the run, and know when to time your kick.
  2. When the main part of your racing season is over, keep training one of the disciplines…for me it’s the swim, and I can pick up the run and bike back pretty quickly.  With swimming 3-4x a week still, I kept my endurance / cardio while letting my legs rest from the beatdown of September.
  3. Once done with your season, enjoy the break, both mentally and physically.

I was quite pleased with my results, considering October was just holding onto scraps of fitness while I focused on moving into a new apartment.   I managed to beat both relays that challenged us at work so I achieved my primary objective and won my age group to boot, so I figured this was a good way to end the season.  I also PR’d on the bike and managed to get the 2nd fastest bike split of the entire race, so it looks like all the bike work on the trainer paid off.

Congrats to everyone who raced!


Ironman 70.3 Superfrog – 24 September 2017

This was my 9th triathlon of the season and 4th 70.3 (Half Ironman). This is my third week in a row of racing (I raced the Santa Cruz 70.3 14 days prior and the Malibu Olympic Triathlon 8 days prior).  I was a bit tired going into this race, but the goal was to rip it and get revenge from last year’s attempt

Ironman 70.3 Superfrog – 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run

Game Plan – Here’s the original plan I put together.  Here are the goals:

      1. A” Goal – Swim 33:30, Bike 2:15-2:21, Run 1:37-1:40: <=4:40-4:45
      2. B” Goal – Swim 34:30, Bike 2:22–2:27, Run 1:40-1:43: <=4:46-4:51
      3. C” Goal – Swim 35:30, Bike 2:27-2:30, Run 1:44-1:50: <=4:52-5:00

I had tweaked Best Bike Split to account for different wattage levels, so these were at 85% / 83% / 80%.  I figured I’d aim for an aggressive top end, even though I was tired from racing over the last few weeks, but I figured I may be able to hold at least 80% or higher because the course suits me (flat and windy); the screenshots are below and the link is here:




Pre-Race – There wasn’t anything too special leading up to the race.  After the last few weeks of racing my overall fitness had stayed about the same but my bike fitness was on its last legs while my swim and run were still alright.  I was still nicely tapered and rested leading up to Sunday.

This is a screenshot of the PMC and the highlight is on race day.  Here are the stats leading into the race as of Saturday, September 23rd:

ATL – 49

CTL – 70

TSB – 17

These numbers mean I was rested and ready.

Saturday, September 23 – I slept in a bit then got up to shower, eat, and pack the remaining gear into the car.  I noticed an oil leak at this point (I’ll allude to this more later) and was out of the house and on the road by 9am.  I got to Imperial Beach around 1130am and grabbed my packet and other gear.  I put the stickers on my bike and did a pre-ride for ~15 minutes to test the legs and make sure the bike was in proper condition.  I dropped the bike off in transition then got in a 15 minute run.  Everything felt fine, so I grabbed some food by the pier and headed to the hotel.

After I checked into the hotel, I took a nap then got up to get to dinner around 6pm.  When I was getting more gasoline for the car, I noticed the oil was leaking more.  On the drive to dinner (Olive Garden), I noticed that the temperature gauge on the engine was starting to climb.  I made it to OG then ate (soup and salad combo, always wins!).  After dinner, I walked over to target to get more engine oil.  I topped up the engine and things seemed fine, so I started driving back to the hotel.  On the way back, the engine kept heating up and I was getting worried.

I made it back to the hotel parking lot and my coolant was boiling when I went to check on the engine.  I walked on foot from the hotel to an Autozone that was about 10 minutes away.  I grabbed some coolant and then ran back to the car to top everything off.  I kept the car at park and idled the RPM from 1000/2000/3000 just to test everything out and the temperature wasn’t rising.

I drove the beast around the parking lot and the temperature was still rising.  I figured that my best course of action was to make it to the race (13 mile drive) and then deal with the car later.  I went back to the hotel room to finish prep (make gatorades, lay out food and clothing, etc) then tried to catch some sleep.  I finally fell asleep around 1am and my first alarm was set for 3am.

Sunday, September 24 – I got up at 330am to eat and prep.  I wanted to leave the hotel early in case I had car issues and I wanted to be on-site right at 5am so I could lay out my gear and get in the restroom line before it filled up.  I was out of the hotel around 440am and on my way south.

My car looked to be alright, but on the drive down, the engine started to heat up again.  I knew I was almost to race parking, but when I got off the interstate to make the exit, my car stalled.  I made it up the short climb and barely turned (power steering and engine were gone) and parked on the curb with my hazards on.  I called my insurance and requested a tow truck come claim my vehicle.  I waited about 20 minutes and the tow truck came around 515-520am.  We tried driving the vehicle onto the tow truck but it was toast, so the driver had to use tow the beast up the ramp.  I then asked the driver to drop me off at the race site which was 3 miles away.  Once he dropped me off, I asked the driver to drop off the beast at the Toyota dealership in Chula Vista and I’d come to claim it later.

I managed to make it to the race at roughly 530-540am then geared up.  While still preparing, my insurance called me and told me that the Toyota dealer was locked up, so they had to put the beast into storage and that I would have to coordinate with them later to take it to the dealer.  I wasn’t too thrilled about any of this but opted to just focus on the race and deal with the rest later.

Both bikes next to me failed to show up so I had a generous amount of transition space yet again (same as Santa Cruz 70.3).  I had no issues preparing but realized I left the anti-chafe in the car so had to borrow some from another gentleman.  I warmed up with the StretchCordz, took a salt pill and gu, then rolled out to swim start.

The water was in the high-60s and the surf was negligible, so this was going to be a relatively easy swim compared to the previous year.  However, they reversed direction of the start/finish so we wouldn’t get as much of a current as last year.  We self-seeded and I started at the front of the “30-35 minute” sign and figured I’d attempt to roll with the big dogs.  Note that this swim is a 1 lap swim, followed by a run back to start, followed by another 1 lap swim, then a run to exit and off to transition.

Swim – this was relatively straightforward.  There were 3 buoys total – a red turn buoy that had us turn left, followed by 1 yellow sight buoy, followed by another red turn buoy that had us take a left towards shore.  I just focused on finding a good rhythm and draft pack.  The current was taking folks to the left of the first turn buoy so a few of us swing a bit wide at the start to angle in and it seemed to work.  There wasn’t much of a melee at the turn buoy but I thrashed a few folks who were bagging.  On the second turn, we had to swim east directly into the rising sun, so sighting was very tough.  I just followed feet and hoped they were angling straight.  We made it through the surf for the first loop and I had swam ~14 minutes, so realized this was good.  The run back to the start arch had me gassed, but I kept moving and then jumped through the surf to start the second loop.

The second loop was a bit slower than the first.  The run gaffed my rhythm so it took a minute to get in a groove.  On the final turnaround, the sun got me again and I lost all feet, so I angled more towards the pier until a lifeguard pointed me to the masses, then I managed to catch a draft pack and swim in.  I swam faster last year in harder conditions but we had a current then, so this was pretty much a full effort swim with no aids, and I was pleased with my time and the fact that I wasn’t too gassed when I ran out.

Final Swim – 32:23 – link here

**Note – My garmin times are different than the official times. I stopped my watch as soon as I hit ground, but I think the timing chip portion was a little bit north of the swim exit. The “official” times on the IM website stand, but these are what I have based on what I hit on my watch.**

T1 – This was a bit of a smokefest.  We had to wind down a snaky-chute past a bunch of the bikers so it was a bit chaotic.  I moved as quick as I could but wasn’t too fast here.  I got to my bike, ripped off the wetsuit, threw on socks and shoes, then helmet, then grabbed my bike and was out.

Final T1 – 4:44

Bike – This bike course was 4 loops which was mentally tiring, but these courses ultimately suit me as I can time the splits and calculate how fast I need to go to reach a certain time.  It took us about a mile to meander through town and get onto the Silver Strand Highway, so I just focused on making sure everything was working and started to wake up the legs.

Once we hit the strand, I started to let it rip and settle into aero.  My HR was in the 170s by this point so I knew that the last few weeks of racing were catching up to me.  I focused on keeping up with nutrition and maintaining a cadence that wouldn’t spike my HR too high.  I managed to lower HR in the mid-to-high 160s and figured that was good enough.  My quads weren’t fully 100% but since this course was flat with no climbs, I was able to tuck in and start laying waste to the field.  The rest of the bike was relatively tame.  I had no one pass me the entire time but I wept as I watched my watts get lower and lower after each lap – I couldn’t hold 80% so just opted to do what I could.  I realized I could hit a PR bike still so managed to push the last bit, but the bike was closer to 57 miles so I hit 56 at ~2:22 but didn’t hit the final mat until 2:25.  This was a PR bike for me but I realized I was under-strength here – I’d like to do this bike again at full strength.

Final Bike – 2:25:31 (PR) – link here

T2 – This was pretty fast.  My bike rack was right by the bike in so I leapt off the bike, racked everything, threw on shoes, grabbed my hat/run bottle/sunglasses and was off.

Final T2 – 1:33

Run – Based on last year’s race, I categorize the Superfrog 70.3 run as the hardest 70.3 run I’ve done.  This run is 4 loops, but there is a big stretch on the sand that adds up to ~7 miles.  My legs can handle the sand, but I can’t maintain much speed as there’s no rebound.  On the first lap, I followed the 1-2 guys that got off the bike with me (19 year old and 44 year old males) and we hit the soft sand right away.  We then swung a left onto the pavement and into the aid stations.  Once on the pavement, I booked it and dropped both of the guys, but once we hit the sand they overtook me and we played leap frog together for a few miles.  On the sand stretch back, we stayed as close to the shoreline as possible to hit the hard sand as this saves more energy and you can move faster.

The rest of the run was pretty miserable up to mile 7.  I just focused on sticking to my fuel plan and keeping and even pace.  This ended up paying off.  At mile 7, all the salt pills, gu, coke, and gatorade finally kicked in, and I was able to start really moving.

My friend Rebecca and her SOAS race team spectated and cheered on the course, so seeing them was a good boost of energy and they snapped several race photos, so I was grateful for their presence.

The other 2 guys I was jostling with faded and I started picking things up.  I got faster on the second half of the run so I was quite pleased.  Once we hit the final turn after the 4th lap, I sprinted through to the finish line as I had a guy right on my tail.  I managed to improve my time from last year but it looks like the run was a bit short…probably to make up for the longer bike.

Final Run – 1:44:52 – link here

Overall Time – 4:49:03 – link here

Results – 8th AG, 27th OA – link here

Based on my goals going into this, here’s the breakdown:

Actual Swim – 32:23 – A+

Actual Bike – 2:25:31 – Solid “B”

Actual Run – 1:44:52 – Solid “C”

Actual Total – 4:49:03 – Solid “B”

I’ll give this race a B based on my actual times vs. predicted.  My swim went very well, my bike was alright, and ran was about what I expected based on this course.  I was hoping I could go under 1:40 but I need more work on the sand apparently.

Here’s a breakdown of 2016 vs. 2017 on the same course:

2016: S – 32:32 / T1 – 3:53 / B – 2:34:22 / T2 – 1:30 / R – 1:47:33 / Total – 4:59:51

2017: S – 32:23 / T1 – 4:44 / B – 2:25:31 / T2 – 1:33 / R – 1:44:52 / Total – 4:49:03

I was able to improve my time at this course by ~10 minutes, so I achieved my objective of getting revenge from last year and getting a faster time.  This was also my second fastest 70.3 time, and considering I was a bit gassed going in, I’m happy with the result.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Don’t let “real life” issues interfere with your race – this is easier said than done.  The entire debacle with my car wasn’t ideal, and there will always be things that happen outside of your control.  However, you can control how you react to it.  I’ve seen very physically prepared athletes crumble because they lack the mental strength to deal with adversity when something bad happens.  I still struggle with this in training (tired from work, don’t want to train, etc), but when it’s race time, it’s time to throw down and focus.
  2. When you feel like crap on the bike/run, focus on your plan – I couldn’t hang onto my planned watts on the bike so I focused on fueling properly and keeping my HR low for the run.  I felt like trash for the first ~7 miles of the run until all my nutrition kicked in, then I started to negative split the back half.  When all else fails, stick to your plan.
  3. Have a plan to deal with real world events – I realized my car may potentially break down so I prepared everything even more carefully the night before and planned to leave extra early in case something did happen.  Since I left early, I had enough of a buffer for the tow truck to come.  In hindsight, I should have just took an Uber to the race and deal with the car later – this will be a good lesson learned for the future.
  4. I need to work on transitions.  I’ve gotten sloppy and it shows, so I need get some tri-specific shoes and get back to the good old “flying mount” like I used to do in my 20s.
  5. Bike – I’m starting to finally hit a point where my bike fitness / prowess is overtaking my run fitness.  All the time spent training in ERG mode on the indoor trainer has paid off.  I still have plenty of glaring weaknesses on the bike (hard for me to redline, hard for me to hold race watts for a long duration) but compared to a few years ago, my bike is leagues ahead of where I was in the past.  This is a combination of improved bike fitness and improved aerodynamics as I’ve found I’m quite slippery in aero compared to others.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with this effort.  I managed to deal with some unfortunate pre-race issues and almost PR’d at a course that negates my strength in this sport (run).  This was my last “major” race of the season and now I’m about to enjoy the off season.  However, I still have to deal with the car issue and move into a new apartment, so October will be a “maintenance” month until I can get back to real training in November.

I feel good going into the next block of training as Santa Rosa 140.6 will be my big race of early 2018 as I’m focused on qualifying for Kona.  I still have a lot of work to do and I’m slower than my peers that I need to compete against for a slot, but things are moving along.

Congratulations to everyone who raced!


Car Update – ignore if you’re a triathlete, this is simply for my own posterity:

After the race, I called the tow truck company to haul my vehicle over to the dealer.  However, they couldn’t move anything out of storage on the weekends (what kind of policy is this???) so I had to stay in San Diego for the night.  I ate lunch with the SOAS crew and made some new friends.  After lunch, my friend Mike picked me up from the race along with all my gear and took me to La Jolla.  I stayed with Colleen as she swam as part of a relay team with other SMOG swimmers for the La Jolla relay swim.

On Monday, I called my insurance and they instructed the tow truck folks to drop my car off at the dealer.  After we checked out of the house, we drove down to Chula Vista to see the dealer.  The car was there and the service folks were starting to work on it to figure out what was going on.

I roamed around San Diego a bit the rest of the day – I went downtown to the library, got a massage, ate some ramen, then headed back to Chula Vista.  The service folks then let me know what happened:

Evidently, the main cylinder head gasket wore down and broke (235,000 miles on my car) and the engine got flooded with coolant or other gunk.  This took out the radiator and thermostat.  The bill is roughly ~$4k for labor and parts replacement and probably would be more as I would just have them replace the timing belt while they were there.  After looking up the price of my car on Kelley Blue Book, I sadly realized that “The Beast” was not worth as much as I thought, and the cost of repairing the car was far more than the actual car itself.

I asked insurance if they could cover this but they told me they couldn’t (normal wear and tear), so I’m working with the dealer to see how much they want for this.  In the meantime, it looks like I’m getting a new car…I’ll be enjoying this new car payment for a minute.

RIP “The Beast”:  2007-2017



Malibu Olympic Triathlon – 16 September 2017

This was my 8th triathlon of the season and 2nd Olympic distance triathlon of the year.  This is my second week in a row of racing (I raced the Santa Cruz 70.3 6 days prior).  I came in somewhat fatigued and did this race for fun.  My goal was just to push as hard as I could and see what I could do.

Malibu Olympic Triathlon – 1500m swim, 40K bike, 10K run

Game Plan – I didn’t plan this race out like my usual 70.3s – I just go in for Olympics and redline the whole thing and hang on to the bitter end.  I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do – push the swim hard, push the bike hard, and push the run hard – there isn’t as much tactical planning for one of these compared to the longer distances.

I had played around with Best Bike Split to give me an idea of what I could possibly do – I put in 0.9IF and the goal was to see if I could hold 250 watts throughout – the link is here.

Pre-Race – I took the entire week leading to this race pretty much off after the smokefest that was Santa Cruz 70.3.  I swam Wednesday morning with the Equinox crew, then did an hour of Pilates Thursday morning followed by a massage Thursday night, and that was it.  Friday night, a sync’d up with some friends and was out and about, so I didn’t get to sleep until roughly ~1130pm local, then got up the next morning at 330am, so I was a bit tired.

Fitness wasn’t anything spectacular – the big peak was for Santa Cruz so I’m starting to get on the fumes of the summer build and can hold on for a bit longer.  The highlight above is for the night before the race, so Friday, September 15:

ATL – 48

CTL – 72

TSB – 18

These numbers mean that I was rested on paper, but sometimes what’s on paper doesn’t reflect how you really feel.

Race Morning – I was on the road by 0415am and off to Malibu.  I ate two bananas on the way as that’s my normal nutrition for an Olympic or Sprint.  I got to the Zuma parking lot right at 5am and made the long haul to the expo.  Packet pickup was quite smooth and I got my bike stickers on fast, then checked in.  I racked my bike and had plenty of room next to me so there were no issues.  Once I got situated, I made my rounds to the restroom and to see some folks, then warmed up with my StretchCordz for a few minutes as I usually swim better after I use these.  I had put anti-fog on the goggles and let it soak for awhile, then grabbed the goggles/swim cap/wetsuit and rolled out of transition by 0630am when it closed.  I met up with some of my fellow racers (Emily, Kristen, Christine) and headed to the pre-race meeting.  After that, we walked down the beach to the swim start.  I jumped in the water to test everything out and I felt alright – the water temp was in the mid-60s and the surf was negligible, so I figured this would be a good swim.

Swim – We were the second wave and we started at 0705am which was 5 minutes after the first wave (young kids and elites).  I hovered in the back and let the faster folks go in front once they blew the cannon.  I started off smooth then started dropping folks right away past the first turn buoy.  I got in a good rhythm and just focused on having a good pull and calm breathing.  I managed to draft with a guy who was my speed so we formed a duo and stayed together the rest of the race.  We started overtaking the slower swimmers from the previous wave and thrashed them pretty good (sorry breaststrokers) then kept moving forward.  My chest was hurting from the breathing as I hadn’t done much training during the week, and the buoys seemed to take forever so I thought that I was moving pretty slow.  We rounded the last buoy then rode a wave in.  Once we hit solid sand I checked the watch and was still with the other guy so we congratulated each other, then I ran past him into transition haha!  Overall, this was my fastest swim as I PR’d and I wasn’t too gassed, so the swim fitness is there.

Final Swim – 24:53 – link here

**Note – My garmin times are different than the official times. I stopped my watch as soon as I hit ground, but I think the timing chip portion was a little bit north of the swim exit. The “official” times on the IM website stand, but these are what I have based on what I hit on my watch.**

T1 – I was wobbly coming out of the swim and during the run.  Once I got to the bike, I was still wobbly and dizzy and it took a minute to get everything under control while I was putting on my shoes.  Once they were on, I threw on the helmet, grabbed the bike, and escaped.  This transition wasn’t too bad, no real issues.

Final T1 – 3:41

Bike – I hadn’t biked since the race 6 days prior so I figured this would hurt.  The first mile was spent getting out of transition and Zuma beach so it was a bit slow.  We then went under a bridge and rode onto a man-made plywood bridge that went over some water.  This was a hairy but luckily there weren’t too many people so I didn’t have issues, even though some other folks I knew did (congestion, etc).  Once we got onto PCH, I started to drop the hammer.  My quads were still wrecked from the week before so I just focused on staying in aero and doing what I could.  I had attempted to hold 250 watts at 0.9IF but that wasn’t going to happen, so I just hammered what I could.  I had loaded my BTA bottle with gatorade endurance so I made sure to stay on top of that as I knew I’d need some more gas in the tank for the run.

The rest of the bike was uneventful.  The course is a combination of flats and rollers so I just kept pushing.  I hit the turn-around in ~30-31 minutes with no real issues.  From mile 13-20, the fatigue started to set in and I was a bit gassed.  I had watched my heart rate on the Garmin and saw that I was in the mid to high-170s for the entire ride, so I was almost redlining the entire race at this point.  My cadence dropped and I kept the watts at ~80% IF for a bit.  At mile 20, I got my energy back and started pushing the pace for the final few miles as I wanted to PR.  The last mile was getting through the parking lot so I lost a bit of time, but still managed to PR.  No one passed me on the bike and I was pleased with the effort, even though I couldn’t crank out full watts and wasn’t at full strength, so I’ll take it.

Final Bike – 1:03:34 – link here

T2 – this was pretty easy.  We dismounted then I rushed to my transition area, dropped off the bike, ripped off my helmet, threw my shoes on, then grabbed hat/sunglasses/race belt and put them on while running – no issues.

Final T2 – 1:37

Run – I realized this run would be tougher than my normal Olympic runs because of the combination of the previous race and pushing the HR on the bike.  I started off fine and my legs actually felt quite good, so I just focused on form and breathing.  I held pace for awhile and took water in at the aid stations.  I was passed by one guy who was 35 (age on left calf) and I couldn’t touch him so he was gone.  The gaps in front of me were quite big and I figured I wouldn’t catch anyone unless they totally crumbled.  I saw the folks behind me and they were far enough back that I wasn’t overly concerned with them catching me unless I started walking.  The last 2 miles were pretty shitty as I was feeling it then.  I was pretty ragged on the last mile but just focused on form, technique, and breathing.  I crossed the finish line and I was spent – my legs were torched and I had redlined the race so I went and grabbed some snacks and just wandered around until they opened transition.  Overall, this run was pretty slow for me, but I was pleased to hang on and only let one guy pass me.

Final Run – 42:05 – link here

Overall Time – 2:15:50 – link here

Results – 2nd AG, 27th OA – link here 

My official time and Garmin time were a bit off, and I was bummed to not get 2:15 officially, but oh well.  The race results at the expo initially had me as 4th in my AG, but they took out the elites and put them into their own brackets, so when they announced the winners on stage, I went from 4th to 2nd – I was quite surprised.

My friend and fellow “Killa B” from our Equinox crew got 3rd in her AG and she knew the guy that beat me, so we all took a photo.

Key Takeaways:

  1. I may need to start experimenting with nutrition on Olympics.  Usually I just gun it and hold on, but I’ve found that if I don’t get my full sodium (I need like 1800mg an hour, insane), then I start crumbling hard.  However, taking in too much nutrition on an Olympic sometimes leads to stomach disasters on the run, so I need to play around with this.
  2. I was surprised I was able to move as fast as I could 6 days after a 70.3.  Finally getting down to race weight helped greatly here.

Overall, I was quite pleased with this effort.  I PR’d on both the swim and bike and my overall time (2:17 to 2:16).  I also PR’d when I wasn’t at my full strength and fatigued, so if I had focused on racing an Olympic as an “A” race, I think I could do considerably better.  I have one more big race left next weekend (Superfrog 70.3) so I’ll see what my body can do then.

Congratulations to all my South Bay, Equinox, and triathlon racers!

Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz – 10 September 2017

This was my 7th triathlon of the season and 3rd 70.3 (Half Ironman). This was my first triathlon in 2 months and first 70.3 race in 4 months.  This was my “A” race for the year so I felt pretty prepared.  I’ve lost roughly 12-13 pounds since my last race in July and I’m down to ~152 pounds, so the nutrition and training are now in sync.

Santa Cruz 70.3 Triathlon – 800y swim (shortened due to fog), 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run

Game Plan – here’s the original plan we put together.  Here are the goals:

      1. A” Goal – Swim 33:30, Bike 2:22-2:28, Run 1:28-1:31: <=4:30-4:35
      2. B” Goal – Swim 34:30, Bike 2:29-2:35, Run 1:32-1:35: <=4:36-4:45
      3. C” Goal – Swim 35:30, Bike 2:36-2:45, Run 1:35-1:38: <=4:46-5:00

We tweaked the power around in BBS a bit and I was aiming for 85% or 0.85IF.  This is about the highest top-end that I would want to do for a 70.3 race…anything higher than this and I’d probably have to walk the run.  The link is here

Pre-Race – I got into a bike crash on Saturday, August 12 and that was the last long ride I had until this race.  I kept my bike legs alive on the trainer but coupled with the crash, missing some longer rides, and a wedding, my bike fitness was not at the point-end as it was in mid-August.  However, my swim and run were there and I was well rested and tapered, so this was the best I felt going into a race all year.

I forgot to grab a screenshot of my CTL / ATL / TSB from Training Peaks the morning of, so I’ve put the screenshot of my PMC above with the values for race day.  Here are the stats from Saturday, September 9th leading into the race:

ATL – 50

CTL – 73

TSB – 19

These numbers mean I was pretty rested and ready to crush it.

Friday, September 8 – I slept in and took my time to leave.  I was on the road around 9am and got to Santa Cruz around 4pm.  I went straight to the expo to pick up my packet and get some gu’s.  After that, I went to our VRBO house to meet Genn and her husband, then we had dinner downtown.  I prepared the bike by putting all the stickers on and swapping out race wheels, putting on the aero bottle and bento box, and testing out the bike computer.  I was in bed by about 10pm.

Saturday, September 9 – I was up around 7am so I could start my warm up bike and run.  I biked around the block a few times.  I hit a bump and my entire front end went down, so I had to pull over and tighten everything up and re-adjust.  I had gone into ERO Tuesday to make some tweaks because of the bike crash so I was a little spooked by this new development, but everything seemed fine after I tightened the bolts.  I got in a quick 15 minute run with some quick strides but nothing crazy.  Our friend Mike came by the house so we all had breakfast and were done by around 11am.

I then left alone to drop off my bike at the race expo and I was done by ~1220pm.  We had a D3 lunch I had to setup at one of the local restaurants so I was there by 1240pm.  We all met at 1pm and it was a good time.  We broke around 230pm so I headed straight home to rest and prepare the remaining gear.

Courtney, Mike and I met up at 5pm to meet Peggy and her crew at an Italian place downtown.  Dinner was good, then we were back home around 7pm and I was in bed by 9pm.

Sunday, September 10 – I was up by 330am to cook and gear up.  Normal breakfast and coffee, no real issues.  I was out of the house by 440am with Mike and Courtney to find a good parking spot.  I had scoped out a public parking area next to the race so we got situated and headed into the madness.

I was setting my gear up and tried to calibrate my power meter, but I quickly realized my PM battery was dead because of the red light.  I used my spare but that was dead too, so I ran to Mike to get his backup battery which worked.  If he didn’t have a spare battery, I would have had to bike by pure feel…and that’s always a crapshoot depending on how you’re feeling.  Once that debacle was cleared, I got the rest of my gear in place.  The two bikes next to me never showed up so I had plenty of real estate – the other athletes next to me remarked on how I was “setting up camp.”  They didn’t compalin when I offered them the real estate to store their bags though…

Mike and I warmed up with our swim bands then we all exited transition at 630am.

We headed to the swim start and got in some good warmups out in the ocean.  However, we were quickly informed that the swim would be delayed due to the intense fog – we couldn’t even see the pier that was a few feet in front of us.  We roamed around for a bit looking for some extra food and water.  When we got back to the swim start, the announcers said that the swim was being relocated to the other side of the pier and wouldn’t start until 8am.  All 2000 racers then started walking over to the other side of the pier, and we were all herded into a giant corral to wait.  I had to pee in my wetsuit 9 times before we finally started the swim.  In total, we waited around 75-80 minutes from when we were supposed to start the swim and when we actually began, so I had to do some nutritional math in my head to adjust on the bike.  Due to the time delay and fog, the swim distance was shortened from 1.2 miles to 800 yards…good news for average swimmers like me!  The race folks finally got everything going and we were in the water around 820am.

Swim – since this was only 800 yards, I slammed it as fast as I could.  I had deliberately chosen a bright pink swim cap and put purple KT tape on my calves so that Mike and Courtney could tell it was me so we could form a draft pack.  Mike and I stayed together and we proceeded to crush everyone in our path…it was glorious.  We hit 3 yellow buoys on our right then made a sharp right turn at the first red (right on red).  On the second right turn, Mike got on my right and we stayed together.  However, my goggles fogged up and I lots him – I just chased feet at this point.  I was also pretty gassed as I went all out and evidently I need work on my 800 yard all out efforts…whoops.  I was hoping for the whole distance swim so I could test out my 70.3 swim fitness, but we’ll have to wait another time.

Final Swim – 12:55 – link here

**Note – My garmin times are different than the official times. I stopped my watch as soon as I hit ground, but I think the timing chip portion was a little bit north of the swim exit. The “official” times on the IM website stand, but these are what I have based on what I hit on my watch.**

T1 – this was long!  We had a slog to get from the swim exit to the soccer field for our bikes.  I moved as fast as I could and ran by a bunch of folks.  I got the shoes on, then helmet, then grabbed my bike and rolled out fast.

Final T1 – 5:53

Bike – I was worried about being able to throw down and hold some real watts so I figured it was time to lay down the gauntlet.  It took about 4 miles to get out of town and on PCH because of the course setup, so I pushed it while staying upright.  I also took in my spare gu since we waited so long on the swim.  Once we got to PCH, I dropped the hammer and let it rip.  I just focused on pushing hard but keeping my HR under 170.  I knew that if I stayed in the 160 range it would be uncomfortable but I could hack it.  I passed everyone I saw.  A few people passed me, but I passed them right back and no one actually overtook me during the entire race.  I hit the first 28 miles in 1:10, so I realized that I could potentially go around 2:20 if I was having a good day, so I let it rip again on the back half.

However, not all was perfect here.  I dropped my salt container with all of my salt tabs at mile 15 of the bike right after the first aid station.  I was on a descent so there was no way I was going to recover it.  I did some more nutrition math in my head and realized I would hit the minimum amount of sodium I needed per hour, but my run was going to hurt.  I stuck to my gatorades and gu as scheduled then decided that I would get extra salt on the run.

We hit the final 4 miles into town so I couldn’t keep up my pace due to turns, people, etc.  We hit T2 and I was pretty pleased as I had finally PR’d my bike after 2.5 years.

Overall, this bike race course wasn’t too bad.  It was like riding PCH here locally – cold, flat, a decent amount of rollers, and car traffic surrounding you.  This bike course suits me because I can just hold aero the whole time and let it rip.

Final Bike – 2:25:59 – link here

T2 – this was fairly easy.  I ran in, racked my bike, slipped into my socks and shoes, then grabbed my hat, sunglasses, race belt, and run bottle at once and put them on while running out – no issues.

Final T2 – 2:00

Run – I knew this one would be tough because of losing my salt.  I started taking more salt tabs right away to try and stem the damage.  I hit my first 3 miles around ~6:50 and felt great.  I kept drinking my coke and took in gatorades at the stations.  As the run wore on, we hit some hills, ascents, and descents.  Around mile 5-6, we hit the trails that went around for awhile.  I was feeling the misery by this point as my pace was dipping into the 7s.  I just focused on holding on and kept taking in more salt tabs while grabbing more cokes and gatorades at aid stations.  There was no shade or wind on the trail section, and the sun was out in full force so the heat was building.  The last 3 miles were pretty miserable.  Luckily, we hit the pavement with the ocean breeze so it helped me to keep a stable pace.  The last mile was god awful so I just powered through it.  I finished and was glad it was over because I was about toast.

This run was surprisingly tougher than I expected.  I was told the run was “flat and fast” but I thought that the combination of hills, ascents, descents, trails, and heat made this run far more difficult than I had prepared for.  Coupled with the salt debacle, this run was not pretty for me.

Final Run – 1:33:27 – link here

Overall Time – 4:20:13 – link here

Results – 8th AG, 61st OA – link here

Based on my goals going into this, here’s the breakdown:

Actual Swim – 12:55 – no ranking (not comparable to real 70.3 swim)

Actual Bike – 2:25:59 – Solid “A”

Actual Run – 1:33:27 – Solid “B”

Actual Total – 4:20:13 – ?

I can’t really rate this race because it wasn’t the whole distance.  I’m pleased with my effort and training but we’ll have to see how I do on a full 70.3 course with no shortened swims/bikes/runs.  I’m bummed that I lost my salt and I think it cost me my run, so I took a note to have a backup salt canister with me on the bike (2 canisters total) in case this happens again.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Bring multiple CR2032 batteries in case the backup power meter battery fails.  Mike and I had just talked about this the night before the race, so good thing we did.
  2. Have backup nutrition on the bike if you can fit it – if it’s small enough and doesn’t add too much weight, bring it.
  3. Push harder than expected on a 70.3 bike – I had to push several times and hold way more than my normalized power to get the numbers for both average and NP up.  I include zeros in the calculation (coasting, no pedaling, such as descents, etc).  Therefore, I had to slam it decently.  However, this didn’t adversely gas me out as my fitness was decent.  My VI was at 1.05 and my TSS was way under the high point so I was able to get away with it.  If I went purely on feel, I would have either overbiked or underbiked…but the following the power made it just right.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with this effort.  I felt great on the bike and I was finally able to hold the right amount of watts (0.8IF).  My run, even though I struggled, was still a PR.  I PR’d on the bike and run and got top 10 in my AG, so it was a good day.  The old adage of “follow the process” is bearing fruit.  I have a few more races left this season so the goal is still to enjoy the process and continually become a better athlete.

Congratulations to all my fellow D3 and South Bay racers!

Hermosa Beach Triathlon – 9 July 2017

This was my 6th triathlon of the season and 3rd sprint.  I started to build back up again after returning from a work trip to Ohio so I came into this race pretty fatigued.  I also challenged a relay team for dominance, vanity, and bragging rights.

Hermosa Beach Triathlon – 500y swim, 10 mile bike, 3 mile run

Pre-Race – There wasn’t much prep work going into this.  I got up around 0500L then ate 2 bananas, geared up, and headed down to the pier.  This was a 5 minute bike ride for me so nice and easy.  I got to transition and setup with an alright rack spot (right in the middle).

We had to clear out pretty fast so I didn’t get any band work in.  I talked to some friends then headed out to get a warmup.  We did some beach running to get a sweat going and I added about 30 pushups.  We then headed to the swim start and I spent about 4-5 minutes in the chop doing some sprints to get primed up.  I worked up a sweat and was ready to roll.

Swim – We were the second wave and we hit it hard at the beginning.  I pushed through some folks and hit this swim as hard as I could and held on for dear life.  I was pushing my max pace and my HR was already redlining, so I was feeling tired by the time I cleared the first buoy.  I just focused on chasing and holding on.  I managed to catch a wave riding in and hit my watch as soon as my hand hit the sand, then I got up and ran in.

Final Swim – 7:55 – link here

**Note – My garmin times are different than the official times. I stopped my watch as soon as I hit sand, but I think the timing chip portion was a little bit north of the swim exit. The “official” times on the website stand, but these are what I have based on what I hit on my watch.**

T1 – I was gassed coming out of the water so I looked like a beat-up degenerate crawling out of the pub.  I focused on getting the wetsuit down while running and moving as fast as I could towards the bike.  Once I got there, only one bike was gone so I was quite happy.  I got everything off, put my shoes and helmet on, ran out with the bike, mounted up and rolled out.

Final T1 – 2:55

Bike – We had a “climb” straight up Pier Ave directly out of transition, so this was a good way to get the legs warmed up.  Once we hit the top, we took a left and started the three-loop bike course.  I focused on slamming it as hard as I could and chasing everyone down.  Before the race, Dana Staggs said “Don’t let anyone pass you on the bike” – I took his advice to heart and set about to crush everyone in front of me.

They kept the right lanes closed for cyclists but the left lanes open for on-coming traffic, so parts of the bike course were very narrow and started to get congested.   Since I started on the second swim wave, there weren’t as many cyclists out on the roads yet, so I managed to get through the first 2 loops without much incident.  By the third loop, there were more folks coming out so I was constantly yelling “ON YOUR LEFT” to folks to clear the way.  This wasn’t just new triathletes racing for the first time, but seasoned folks who were hugging the left lane.

On the final stretch, I took the descent down Pier Ave but kept my feet in my shoes because I was leery of the transition entrance (lots of beginners, etc).  I took the descent pretty slowly and came to a complete stop at the bottom, then ran through transition with my shoes on which hasn’t happened in quite awhile, but I was alright with that due to the congestion of people running out with their bikes.

I redlined this bike and my heart rate showed, but my legs were jelly throughout so it was hard to sustain any decent wattage.  I also had to surge a lot to pass folks or come out of turns, so this wasn’t my ideal ride – I enjoy longer rides where I can settle and hold vice surging.  However, training has been going well and even with jelly legs I was able to get a decent bike split.  Based on race results, I had a top 5/6 bike split overall, and that was with low watts, jelly legs, and course congestion, so my “slippery” aero position and surges seemed to help.  I also had no one pass me on the bike so I’m holding my “sprint bike streak” alive.

Final Bike – 23:18 – link here

T2 – There was nothing special here.  My bike rack was very close to the bike in entrance so I moved fast.  I saw no bikes on my rack so I was pleased.  I racked the bike, ripped off my shoes and helmet, put on shoes and socks, then grabbed hat/visor/sunglasses while running out.

Final T2 – 1:06

Run – Since I had redlined the swim and bike, I was tired starting out.  I came in with some guys off the bike but they were gone and I couldn’t catch them so I just settled in.  I knew this would be a “hold on and survive” run so I wasn’t focused on making any surges as I had burned most of my matches and was on fumes.  I managed to pass a few folks and not get passed by anyone.  I saw the same guy that beat me at the Redondo Beach Triathlon in June when I hit the half-way mark, so I knew that he could take me if he got within sight of me, so I managed to start picking it up towards the end.  I held on and finished without him catching me so I was happy for revenge.  This was one of my tougher sprint distance runs because of my HR being high the whole time and just feeling wiped the whole run.

Final Run – 19:29 – link here

Overall Time (per Garmin) – 54:43 – link here

Results – 5th AG, 17th OA – link here

I wanted to redline this race and push hard while fatigued so I’m quite pleased I was able to place.

However, I failed to beat my friends in their relay team, “In it to Winn It” as they defeated me by a 2 minute margin.  I’ll get revenge on them next year.

Here are some key takeaways:

  1. I find that if I’m not completely fresh, I can’t push any real watts on the bike.  Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out but I can push decent watts on tired legs on the trainer, but in a race I’m usually zapped from the swim so by the time I hit the bike, my quads are toast.  It takes me roughly 5-15 miles for my legs to wake up after this so on a sprint there isn’t much relief.  Therefore, if I need to push hard on an “A” race, I need to rest my legs up well in advance to get the real power.  This was the case in Santa Rosa 70.3 when I had forced rest due to illness, but my legs were in perfect condition then and I was able to push hard with minimal fatigue.
  2. Heat – I still don’t race well in the heat / humidity as my HR was already high going into the swim.  There has been a heat wave here in South Bay and I don’t have air conditioning, so coupled with hard training, I came in pretty drained and tired and this adds up.  As of Monday night’s writing I’m still a bit gassed from a sprint triathlon which shouldn’t  be the case.
  3. Testing out the mantra “Don’t try anything new on race day.”  I tried my new one-piece D3 Tri-suit the day before in the weekly SMOG swim to see if I could swim with a long-sleeved top under a wetsuit.  I was fine so I opted to race in the new kit.  I had no real issues except I need to wear it more.  When I race, my stomach expands and in a tight suit, this gets pretty tight around my stomach and things can cramp up.  Luckily this was a short race so I didn’t have many issues but I’ll need to test this suit out more and drop more weight before Santa Cruz in September.

Overall, I had fun doing this local race and seeing all my SB Tri and Equinox friends.  Kudos to my friends (Courtney, Mike, Ivan) for holding me off on their relay team and giving me a reason to do this race faster next year.  This will be my last triathlon for 2 months so I can focus on hard training until Santa Cruz.

Congrats to everyone who raced!

Redondo Beach Triathlon – 11 June 2017

This was my 5th triathlon of the season and 2nd sprint.  I’ve been just maintaining since Santa Rosa 70.3 so not much progression outside of the swim.  I was rested up going into this race but legs and glutes were still a little tight.  I managed to do better at this race this year compared to last  year and had a big breakthrough in the swim, but I got crushed on the run and dropped, so I still need to lose weight and keep pushing towards race weight for the rest of the summer.

Redondo Beach Triathlon – 1000y swim, 6 mile bike, 2 mile run

Pre-Race – Since this was a fast sprint, there wasn’t much prep.  I had one banana then biked down to race start since it’s about 3 minutes away.  I racked up on the closest rack to bike out and on the end of the rack so I had plenty of room (always get to transition early).  I saw a bunch of my friends from the local SB Tri Group, SMOG swim group, and Equinox team, so I spent a good deal of time chatting with them.  I went down to the beach after transition closed then got in the water to test things out and loosen up.  We then made the long jaunt to the other end of the beach close to the rocks and got in our corrals.  I did some pushups and band work beforehand so I was ready.

Swim – The gun went off and my wave hit it hard from the start.  We smashed through the breakers and hit the first turn buoy very fast.  The group then split up and it was a free for all.  There was no real melee here as most of the folks in SoCal are decent ocean swimmers so everyone seemed to know what they were doing.  I just focused on hitting it hard, sighting, and continuing to push.  This was the hardest I’ve ever pushed on a swim in any race, so I was pleased I was able to hold it together.  I managed to draft off a young kid towards the end and we came in together.

Final Swim – 15:09 – Link here

**Note – My garmin times are different than the official times.  I stopped my watch as soon as I hit ground, but I think the timing chip portion was a little bit north of the swim exit.  The “official” times on the website stand, but these are what I have based on what I hit on my watch.**

T1 – This is usually a long run up the beach and around the stairs to get into transition.  I pushed but everyone is hurting at this point so I just focused on moving forward.  I got to my bike, stripped off the wetsuit, put on shoes and helmet, then rolled out fast – no real issues.

Final T1 – 3:24

Bike – I pushed very hard on the bike.  I only wore a pair of shorts, so no t-shirt and no heart rate monitor.  I tracked everything on my Forerunner 920XT watch.  For some reason, my power meter didn’t sync up so I should have done that beforehand just to make sure my watch picked up the PM.  I just focused on pushing as hard as a gear as I could.  I burned through probably 10-15 folks so almost everyone who swam in front of me got dropped.  There were a  few who escaped my wrath but not many.   I’m still pissed that I didn’t capture any power data because I think I was holding at least 300-320 watts based on how hard I was pushing…I’ll have to wait until next year.

Final Bike – 16:01 – Link here

T2 – No real issues here.  My rack was right next to bike in so I rolled in, dropped off the bike, ripped off my helmet, put on my shoes, then grabbed hat/glasses/belt and put them on while running.

Final T2 – 1:06

Run – The run is usually my strength but I had pushed very hard on the bike and I was bagging.  I caught the first 1-2 guys in front of me and just kept a good rhythm.  However, I got caught about 0.5 miles into the run at the pier by another dude.  I worked to keep him in sight so I could surge at the end, but I was gassed so just held on for dear life.  I had no one behind me so just kept working on trying to catch anyone in front of me, but it was game over.  This was probably one of my shittiest runs at a sprint race.

Final Run – 13:18 – Link here

Overall Time – 48:57 (per Garmin) – link here

Results – 2nd AG, 16th OA – link here

I didn’t have any expectations for this race so getting on the podium was a surprise.  I had to pop smoke and race to LAX to catch a flight to Ohio, so my friend Christine picked up the medal.

Here are some key takeaways:

  1. Race weight – I’m still too heavy and I think that cost me my run and first place.  I talked to the guy who dropped me at the end, and he commented “You move pretty fast for a bigger guy.”  After hearing that, I knew that I could have had him and need to square this away.

2. Sprints for breakthroughs and experience – I’ve long been a proponent of racing sprints for race experience.  When I started triathlons in 2008, I raced sprints and didn’t even do my first Olympic until 2011, then Half Ironman in 2012, then Ironman 140.6 until November 2013, so in 5 years I would say I raced far more sprints and Olympics than anything.  This has given me a lot of race experience so I’m relatively unfazed in adverse conditions and I know how to push myself.  A lot of folks dropped me on the swim as usual, but I was able to come from the back and start dropping folks.  I also saved time over others due to race transitions as I chalk that up to experience.  I find that I’m unable to push myself to my true max on some types of events unless it’s at a race, so I encourage newer triathletes to race often and have fun for the first few years to get some quality experience.  I’ve seen plenty of folks get into the sport and immediately start to tackle half ironman or full ironman distances wanting to get a certain time or goal, but ultimately fall short and get burned out and disappointed in themselves.  Triathlon is a process sport, so if you don’t love the process of training, then you’ll never be happy in triathlon.  Race often, have fun, and over time, the results will come if you put in the hard work and enjoy the sport…extrinsic rewards are a poor driver for success in triathlon.

3. Swim Breakthrough – I pushed as hard as I could on the swim and wasn’t too obliterated at the end.  I saw my swim time and was pretty thrilled.  I credit this to consistent hard work in the pool and things finally clicking where my technique is starting to catch up to my engine.  I still have a lot of work to do, but things are moving in the right direction on the swim.

I had a great time seeing my other SB Tri, SMOG, and Equinox friends, so congratulations to everyone who competed in the RB Tri!