Tuesday, May 29, 2007

World Champion Weekend

The Memorial Weekend was a great weekend of training - a mini camp I suppose. Two fantastic athletes made their way to our place: Katie Mactier (MACK-TEA-UR) and Ben "Boom Boom" Collins. Ben was up from a job interview in San Jose and Katie was in for the Mt Hood Stage race. The weekend started with a nice long swim where I probably had the worst swim of all time. I was tired and simply had to really focus in order to swim. I couldn't get a rhythm and couldn't site to save my life. I think Ben had more fun and definitely got more out of it - though I did get some good and specific feedback on my Total Immersion-based stroke. Long reach (like a bear), solid catch about 2:30, bent arm to grab the water and a natural recovery following the path the arm wants to travel. Lot's to work on before my next race on June 9.

We then saddled up with Katie (Olympian, World Champion and Current Australian Nation Road Race Champion), Lisa Hunt (her US team director and Cat 1) and my regular training partner: Ian Charles (just starting his taper for Honu). We did a 40 mile ride with a few climbs - funny thing is that when you take 40 miles and add in two pro women and nearly full-time roadies, it turns into 50+ miles. I haven't ridden 50 miles since January - so it was a tick rough. I don't think the ladies ever stopped talking (think: 2 women sitting down sipping cappacinos for 3 hours), gesticulating wildly while riding into some nasty headwind. Like a gentleman, I let the ladies go first for the first 2.7 hours. I took the front for the last .05 hours. Ben Collins just rocked the ride and took off gapping everyone - riding like a madman despite the fact I don't think he ever sees his HR over 150 nor do I think he gets mad. He did a few efforts and dropped everyone hard - Ian stayed on his game plan, rode easy peasy for his taper and then turned around at exactly 20 miles. The ride concluded with a long hot tub and a fun but short dinner out. Everyone from my 2 year old Piper to Katie were all tired and the entire house was asleep by 8:30pm.

Sunday was another rough day - starting with a 75 min run up and over Ring Mountain with Ben. We grabbed a quick breakfast and then left again with Lisa for a trip up Mt Tam. Ben and I broke off after 45 mins to return to our base so that we'd do something closer to our typical triathlon rides - 90 mins. I waited in the hot tub with 3 kids for Katie and Lisa to return while Ben took a nap. I found there isn't much in the way of rest when you've got 3 girls all under the age of 4 in your charge. Ben found this out when 2 or 3 of the girls ran naked into his room yelling something about Cinderella underpants. Katie left to head up a few hours north for the start of the stage race and a month of hard road racing.

Monday started wtih a slow moving morning and another climb up Mt Tam.

What I learned:

Katie Mactier is an amazing athlete and person. She wears her jammies a lot, eats like a normal person (cookies even!), smiles a ton, loves kids, calls me 'a legend', and chats with her partner - some cyclist named Greg. Despite her incredible racing resume she's an incredible lady to know and a fantastic role model for anyone. We hope to see her again soon when she's taking a break from her wind tunnel testing this fall.

Ben Collins only weakness is his inability to go "easy peasy" (Katie's term of choice). He swims like nobody I've ever seen, rides hard uphill, down hill and can pull forever on the flats, and after all that - he can run. He's going to be a superstar in triathlon on the big stage. Even bigger if he cuts his hair and shaves his legs. He's got more sponsorship offers than some pros and he's still an age grouper. One of my most favorite Podcasts is from my friend Stu. He covered the topic of going easy as well as the science as to WHY you go easy (peasy) here. It took me a long while to understand why my coach had me in Z1 for a number of months - but after listening to this, it made a lot of sense and has since shown itself in my racing.

My wife Greta is supportive beyond words for allowing me to bring in triathletes and cyclists from all over the world to stay with us for a long weekend. She tollerated lots of spandex, people spending hours poking through the fridge, lots of napping, laptops spewed all over the house, water bottles on the counters and a lot of showers.

That's all,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

UVAS South Bay Triathlon Race Report and Black Panties

I'm hesitant to post anything because my results are so sad that I was just happy to get a free swim cap and bagel out of my race yesterday. I didn't want to participate in the keg party and BBQ afterwards since it was only 10am - so I should note that I had that option.

I did the UVAS Triathlon (Not sure what UVAS means) in San Jose .75/16/5 (miles). I did find that as you get closer to San Diego people get faster, tanner and skinnier. I also found that any town starting with San something is probably going to be hilly and hot, San Jose was no different.

•This is my first season of racing (I did race many years ago, but I couldn’t even drink then)
•I’ve been training for less than 1 year, I started at 220lbs, I’m 175 now
•I didn't start swimming until Nov 2006
•I was worried about getting dehydrated in a sprint race – I did in my last race
•My tri-suit was on backwards (I got dressed around 3:30am in the dark and didn't notice it until I got to the run - 6 hours later) – can’t wait for that race photo!
•I am not Ben Collins

Lesson learned:
Do not try and hydrate for the entire race 2 hours before it starts. I think I put down 80 oz of water before the race started. I should have trusted my training and nutrition to know that I probably needed 2 bottles.

Race report:
Swim, try not to throw up. Drank too much water before the race. Finished in the bottom third in my last race, finished in the top third this time. 39th out of the water, tried not to throw up on the uphill run to the transition, too knackered to get my wetsuit off.

Bike, try not to throw up. The bike was pretty bad - it was rolling (actually, just rolling up and up and up) and with my stomach feeling the way it was, I never got into a rhythm. I slept terribly all week too - and I think that kept me from getting my HR over 174 on the bike (usually it's no sweat). I also didn't have 3 easy days leading up to the race. I tried eat 3 clif blocs at the start of the bike and that was all I could get in without throwing up. I would have had better luck with a pot roast sandwich. Had the #7 bike.

The run was ok - still started slow due to my stomach and when I tried to take some water it felt awful. Try not to throw up. I actually began feeling better by mile one and had a good solid pace going - not sure what it was - but it didn't feel too sluggish. I just ran smart and picked up the pace every mile - started with 175 and by the end I was 195-200 (max is ~203). Around mile 3 noticed that my tri-suit was on backwards and ran miles 3-5 hoping that no one noticed me. If anyone needs their Inside Triathlon race kit - it's me. I just hope it has a tag in back so I can figure it out in the dark. You’d figure that the zipper was a good indicator (yes, I actually zipped it up behind my back – just like a wetsuit – and I didn’t even notice).

Race highlight:
If there was a T2 challenge - I'd take on anyone. I actually look forward to T2. That was the highlight of my race. Fly in, living on one pedal, shoes off, barefoot and leap onto the dismount line at about 14 mph. Scare the hell out of those guys telling you to slow down.

Didn't throw up. Embarrassed to even post this but figure everyone does something dumb like this.

Good news:
A few lessons learned.
Improved my swim, took 20 sec off my per/mile pace and still can ride in a near death state, didn't dehydrate.

Swim: 27:06.2 (39/55) .75 miles
T1: 01:17.7 (7/55)
Bike: 45:25.6 (7/55) 16 miles
T2: 36.1 (2/55)
Run: 36:26.3 (16/55) 5 miles

The Lorpeedo.

PS - you're probably wondering where the black panties are. In 2 days I've seen 2 different pair of black panties on the side of the road. It isn't as if I live in an area where you might expect to see a lot of this sort of thing or where people might be chasing me to 'slap my butt' - so I had to mention it. Tomorrow I'll be on the lookout.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sacramento International Triathlon - race report

Sacramento International Triathlon
Sprint .75mi/16mi/4mi

This was my first triathlon in over a dozen years. I stopped racing tri’s to race bikes exclusively (as a Cat 3) and because I hated water and running. Fast forward 12 years, move 3,000 miles and here I am at the Sac. Intl Tri. It was truly international as I heard a handful of Aussie’s talking about something in ‘nohn-teehn-nonny-non’ – which roughly translates to '1999'.

A lot has changed in 12+ years. First of all, there are a LOT of people who can swim, bike and run – but luckily not all at the same level. I used to be a ‘runner’ back then – if you weren’t a runner, you were a swimmer (they were terrible at everything but swimming then) or a biker – but not really a lot of ‘triathletes’. These days, I’m really a Triathlete who is good at biking, has genetics to smoke the run and I still hate swimming.

Ok, it’s about 6am and there are some 500-600 people milling about as they do, sizing each other up and drooling over the cool bikes (I think of mine as one of the drool bikes – a HED V04 w/HED TT bars, DA parts and HED Stinger 60s – HED has taken great care of me) and many of the guys over the collegiate women. The swim was in a river I think, I didn’t see a current, but am told it was a river. Just days before I told my wife that all triathlons are held in nice locations: at beaches and state parks, along golf courses, in Hawaii, and in pristine lakes. The Sac Intl Tri was no exception – except that the pictures from the year before did not show that it was really in the middle of a freaking INDUSTRIAL MINING COMPLEX. Yeah, that’s right – bulldozers, big trucks, dirt, rocks and lots of scrap metal looking chunks. The swim was in the aforementioned ‘river’ which was down a dirt road, down a paved road and then down a gravel path. After the first trip down I realized that the 1/3 mile run+ would be better with flats on – so I ran back (as a warm up I guess) to grab my sneakers.

It’s 8am, swim start. I don’t like water, I don’t like open water and I don’t like water that you can’t see your own hand when it’s 2 feet from your face. Luckily, this race had all that and more. It was murky – like gravy but thicker and less tasty. Swim start: kick, kick, left arm, right arm… cough, panic. It wasn’t pretty. I did eventually get to buoy #1 somewhere in 150th place (out of 163). I passed a handful of people who actually stopped to hold on to the swim buoy to have a quick conversation. The water flail continued for what seemed to be a shortened version of eternity (think about when you had to go shopping with your mom for clothes for HER when you were a kid – it seemed THAT LONG). I finally figured out that I just had to swim like I do 3-4 days a week and it just started to work. I finished the swim in 126th place – I looked back and there must have been 20 people who drowned because there weren’t many people left.

I (so wickedly smart) got my shoes on and hauled it with a HR of 189 from the water to the transition area – passing some 20-30 people who ran that long distance in bare feet (Lesson 1 learned, recon of the transition areas). I had a lightning fast transition (because I actually practice them 4-5 days a week – no joke) and was out on the bike. I’m at home on the bike like nowhere else – so it was now more fun except for the wind. Actually, for me the wind isn’t bad. I’m 177 lbs and commute in a brutal headwind along the San Francisco waterfront, across the Golden Gate bridge and through Sausalito. I’ve training in 20-40mph headwinds every single day. The course was a clover leaf so you had a headwind then a sidewind and then a tailwind (my friend Stu would call this a ‘wickedly fast’ tailwind). Into the headwind I could hold 18-21mph, sidewind was 22-23 and the tailwind was 27-33+mph. The good part about being a bad swimmer and a good cyclist is that you can pass a LOT of people. I passed well over 100 people in 16 miles. It was fun. But then I had to run. (it was the #2 bike split BTW and I’ve been training 10 months total).

After leaping gazelle-like-gracefully off my bike at EXACTLY the bike dismount line (which again I practice 2x a day x 6 days a week) I T2’d into my shoes and was off. Within 20 meters I realized that I had changed my Yankz! but didn’t adjust them to actually fit my foot (remember that really old lesson about not changing squat before race day? – I didn’t think I could screw up lacing, but then again I did it with my 2 year old daughter on my lap). My feet were asleep before I even hit the run course proper. Since I was there to race, I just kept running. I ran and ran and found out that I could run ok with no feeling in my feet – 2 less things hurting. I passed more people saw my HR go from a delightful 174 on the bike (my max is 194 and my AT is 174) to 180… 182…186 – which was fine because my max was 194. I hit the turn around, grabbed some water and got it all over myself (I still don’t understand how you’re supposed to run and drink from a cup). Heading back I looked down and saw that I had 2 feet still and a HR of 196…198…203. Yah, new max HR. I started thinking about whether or not I could afford to die and figured that since I had already registered for a race on May 20th that I should slow down a tick and try and make it for the next race (I could not see my wife getting a refund from a race direction since they most-always post that ‘NO REFUNDS’ thing which would make my death all that more painful). The finish is now just ahead of me and 4 jackals sprint past me with 200m to go –but I remembered that it was a long season. (it was the #3 run split).

Then end. It was over. I was 5th overall. 126th at the swim exit and 5th overall. It’s a long season.


Monday, May 7, 2007

It's Weird Here in California

Normal Stuff:

Just regular training for the past week and onto the next race on May 20. Had a real hard weekend with a solid bike going into Z4 on the hills - which are plentiful. I followed that long bike with a Z2 start, Z3 middle and Z4 end run. I was pretty cooked at the end of the run and could have stood to have taken more food on the bike. Sunday was a hard 60 min TT (Z4) with 30 mins in Z2 afterwards - I chose a very windy and undulating course - something I'd expect a race director to throw at me. I've been real comfortable training on comfy roads with predictable climbs, etc... - so I'm searching to find some stuff I normally wouldn't do because it's not that enjoyable - just hard. It's in the 80's here too, sunny and hot.

Weird Stuff
1) No Helmets - they wear a lot of baseball caps - even the guys who should know better. They should have seen the guy I saw yesterday on a board dumping blood all over the road. He apparently beefed it on a gravel-covered corner. The blood stain on the road was pretty big.
2) Training in race set ups - I've seen numerous Cervelo P3s with Zip 404's on - on a training ride - even saw one guy with that set up AND a full on aero helmet (he was hauling it though). I train on some pretty heavy wheels with Mr. Tuffy's in them - I race on my HED Stinger 60 tubulars - it's a huge difference come T2.
3) Mash potatoes not gears. Climbing any hill in the area you'll see most riders at 40-60 revs - I see a lot because I pass them as I spin up in my low gears. Even running a 44x27 on the TT bike. I'm reving higher than people I see with triples (which are a crime).
4) Lots of touring cyclists. They don't go fast. I've caught 2 groups now riding while I was out running - so they're ticking out 6-7 mph. It's good to seem so many people riding - maybe that isn't weird.
5) Hotter than hell. No matter what the weather, over 50% of the people out riding will have on tights and a long-sleeve jersey/arm warmers or a jacket. It was 85 yesterday and I still saw them.