2014 Race Plan

One of the fun things that has happened over the last few months has been coming up with a race schedule for the 2014 season.  I could go on and on about why these events and not others, but you probably wouldn’t care nearly as much as I do.  So here’s my schedule for 2014 and a brief word about each (I couldn’t resist):

April 25 – Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race, 25K – This is the 4th edition of the race directed by my friend Andrea at Epic Endurance Events.  I volunteered at the first one, but have missed the last two.  I’m excited to support Andrea/Epic by actually competing this year.  I fully expect to get my a$$ handed to me by legit trail runners, but oh well.  It may be ugly but not as ugly as if I’d gone for the 50K.

May 2&3 – 18hrs of Fruita – Relax, its a relay!  There will be eight of us.  But it is on dirt!  Oh YES, I bought a mountain bike this winter.  This will be a recurring theme in 2014, just wait.  We had a great time in Fruita last spring with friends and I’m expecting nothing less this year.

IMG_0826

rev3 knoxville2013-free-dsc_0185May 18th – Rev3 Knoxville AG Championships – I really want to come out of the gate strong with this one.  I qualified in a pretty good position and hope to back it up.  I’m just hoping its a little dryer than last year.

May 31st – Xterra Lory – Returning to the scene of my second triathlon ever.  With a much better bike.  I’m told its a beginner friendly mt bike course.  Last time I survived the same course on a 13 YO mt bike with no suspension and toe cages.  Hope this is just what I need to get my feet wet/muddy.

June 7th – Boulder Sunrise – Just trying to fill in an early season racing block without traveling too far.  I haven’t raced in Colorado much the last two years and this fits in nicely with my wife’s Ride the Rockies departure from Boulder the same day.  She’s riding 473 miles in 7 days and raising funds for the Davis Phinney Foundation.  If you’d like to make a donation click here.

June 21 – Xterra Curt Gowdy – Scares me to death!  Every time I say ‘Curt Gowdy’ to mountain bikers around here, they get this ‘are you serious, rookie?’ look on their face.  I hope to spend a few weekends their in advance, because…

July 12 – Rev3 Adventure Cowboy Tough Sprint Adventure Race – Also in Curt Gowdy State Park!  A ‘beginner’ adventure race.  If anyone wants to join me, I’d be happy to enter the team competition rather than solo.  I also might follow this up with a Rev3 Cowboy Tough Mt Bike race in Glendo, WY July 13th.

July 19th – Rev3 Adventure Casper Strong – Not a beginner race and also scary!  More on my affinity for these Rev3 Wyoming Adventure races in a another post.

September 7th – Rev3 Cedar Point 140.6 – I have some unfinished business here. I’m hoping it will end up like this unfinished business.  Despite everything you’ve seen above, I still really want to improve at this distance.  This will be the focus of my training after Knoxville.  Along with not injuring myself on the dirt.

I’m undecided after that, but probably one or two of Rev3 Anderson, Ixtapa, or Florida.  Right now, I’m way under my vacation-day budget and leaning toward warm beaches.

Wish me luck.

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Update

First of all, it has occurred to me that my previous post may not have come off as intended.  I don’t like to complain about these types of things, because life happens.  It happens to everyone, everyday, and there are many people more directly affected than me.  I set out to offer some explanation for why I hadn’t written anything for the last few months and I’m afraid my mind wandered.  I’m trying to get back into the swing of writing, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Secondly; for those who asked about my mom, she’s doing much better.  Four or five days in the hospital weren’t any fun, but she avoided the emergency surgery.  The infection is still lingering and surgery (hopefully only one) will be necessary eventually, but she is home and resuming limited activity.  Some unpleasant days are likely ahead, but there is no reason to expect anything but a full recovery.

Thanks for all your kind thoughts and words.

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Enough Already

Its been a tough winter here in Beeson Camp.  Off-season training has certainly taken more of a back seat than usual.  Our weather hasn’t been nearly as bad as the midwest, east coast, or even southeast.  But we’ve had an unprecedented run (for my life) of other life-events that have left me preoccupied with lots of things other than triathlon racing and training.

My grandparents (mom’s parents) health had been in decline for quite a while and in early November my grandma passed away.  I think it would be best described as natural causes.   We knew it was coming, but it didn’t really make it any easier.  It’s always great to spend time with family and friends at the Holidays, but it seemed even more important this year.

Grandma & Grandpa 60th anniversary

Grandma & Grandpa 60th anniversary

Then my grandpa passed away in early January, also of natural causes.  I’m happy that they were at home and comfortable until the very end.  But very sad that they are gone.  I spent A LOT of time with them growing up.  I worked on the farm with Grandpa every day of every summer beginning after 5th grade and continuing until I went away to college.  Technically, Grandpa was ‘retired’ those last two summers, but I saw them every day for lunch if nothing else.  I feel very fortunate to have had that time with them.  Grandpa especially, has always been, and continues to be a major influence in my life.

I guess I should count my blessings that I’ve made it to 38 years old without having to deal with many of these things.  I’m really not sure if I’m better, or worse, equipped to handle them now than people who deal with them earlier in life.  But when it rains it pours.

The day after Grandpa’s funeral another round of terrible news arrived: my Rev3 teammate, David, had suffered a terrible accident at home.  He would die a day later.  I suppose it was the timing, but it hit me pretty hard.  We had a lot in common, similar age, married, no children.  At the time, I was spending a few extra days at home helping my mom and uncle begin dealing with my grandparents estate.  I thought a lot about his wife and the importance of having your affairs in order.

David, Chris and I.  Boulder, Jan 2013

David, Chris and I. Boulder, Jan 2013

I’m thankful for the sound advice I received several years ago and feel compelled to pass it on.  Have a will prepared.  The unpleasant nature of such things is no excuse for burdening your survivors with the uncertainty and legal headache that will certainly ensue.  Grant someone the power to make medical decisions for you, and make sure they understand your wishes, in the event that you cannot communicate for yourself.   Make sure that the same someone will have access to your financial resources to pay for your care if you are incapacitated.  Once you do it, don’t forget to update it.  And that’s enough of that, just do it.

I returned home to find a belated Christmas card/letter from a childhood friend of mine (and college friend of my wife’s).  It stated, in a very factual, and surprisingly positive way, that his wife has been diagnosed with ALS.  That most ALS patients can expect to live 3-5 years.  But that because other health issues, she has likely been living with undiagnosed ALS for 1-3 years.  While I was amazed and encouraged by their family’s attitude toward the diagnosis, it was a really hard week for me.

I’ve tried to process these events individually, give them their due, do what I can, not rush things, etc.  But normal creeps back in, whether you think it should, or not.  Generally speaking, ‘back to normal’ is a good thing.  I think.  Training certainly helps, especially when its going well.  There has been time for a few fun training outings this winter too.  Planning races and booking travel help too.  I hope to get caught up writing about those in the next couple weeks as well.

As for now, my mom is in the hospital with a serious intestinal infection.  Things could get  a lot more serious if they have to operate before they can get the infection under control.  Obviously, we’re hoping for the best.  They say bad things come in three’s.  I’m not sure when I’m supposed to start/stop counting, so I’ve decided not to count at all.  I think I’ll go for a ride instead.

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Mickelson Trail Ride

Obviously, I wasn’t writing much at this time last year, but there were plenty of cool things going on.  One such thing was a Mickelson Trail Ride.  My wife’s sister and her husband live in South Dakota’s black hills.  They are friends with lots of active people, many of whom are mountain bikers.  One of their crew was planning a group (all dudes) ride along the entire Mickelson Trail for his birthday.  My brother-in-law was going to ride and our nephew (their son) was having his 1st birthday party the next day.

So I contrived an excuse to visit my project site and joined the ride despite the fact that I only really new one person (my B-I-L), and had met two of the other 14 guys. Oh, I don’t own a mountain bike, or cross bike. I only have road shoes, shorts, and gear.  I also don’t know anything about the caliber of riders I’m joining except; I can keep up with my B-I-L on the road and the birthday dude used to ride professionally (road).  I was pretty sure I could cover 109 miles though. I hadn’t drank THAT much beer since Cedar Point.

Pretty sweet ride for a loaner.

Pretty sweet ride for a loaner.

The Mick is a 109-mile, rails-to-trails conversion, that generally runs north/south through the heart of the black hills from Deadwood to Edgemont.  The trail is entirely crushed limestone or gravel, nothing greater 3-4%, and incredibly scenic.  Fall colors, bridges, narrow rock cuts, and the black hills.  My B-I-L borrowed a sweet cross bike for me, THANK YOU Bogart!

mapThankfully, we arrived at the trailhead early.  My bike was with the second car to arrive so I quickly set about changing pedals, adjusting the saddle height, loading food, water and clothes, AND learning how to shift SRAM, instead of mingling or getting to know anyone.  Just as the sun was coming up and I was getting the hang of shifting (without asking anyone) it was time to head out.

Before I shut up and let the pictures do the talking, there was one more unexpected element to this ride; Booze.  I knew it was a birthday party, but I never imagined a 109-mile booze cruise.  This crew had a 750 of Jaeger down well before Rochford (it was kind of chilly).  Collectively, we (yes, I had joined in) pounded a case and a half of beer in Hill City.  We stopped for lunch, at a brewery, in Custer.  We stopped at the bar in Pringle for a round, or two.  And the bus ride home from Edgemont was stocked with more beer and pizza than we could handle.  I can’t believe I missed it this year!

Out comes the bottle

Out comes the bottle

Happy Birthday Jon!  Its pretty easy to tell the bottle is empty and the shadows are still long.

Happy Birthday Jon! Its pretty easy to tell the bottle is empty and the shadows are still long.

The perfect weekend for aspens

The perfect weekend for aspens

All Day.

All Day.

All Day.

All Day.

How's that for a nutrition plan?

How’s that for a nutrition plan?

Only in Hill City, SD.

Only in Hill City, SD.

Next time, I'll have a beer jersey!

Next time, I’ll have a beer jersey!

Crazy horse

Crazy Horse

All day.

All day.

All Day.

All Day.

Outside the bar in Pringle.

Outside the bar in Pringle.

The End

The End

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Rev3 Anderson – Happy to be Alive

Saturday morning I was standing around the practice swim, waiting for the BlueSeventy worst wetsuit competition, talking with some Rev3 teammates and staff.  Eric, our race director asks me, “So, Anthony, why are you doing this race?”

IMG_0743I couldn’t really think of anything funny, smart-assed, or particularly clever so I just said, “Why not?”  I came up with something good a few minutes later, but the moment had passed.  That always happens.

The point is, I didn’t really have an agenda for this race.  I really wasn’t ready to hang it up for the season just yet.  I wanted to see some of my Rev3 teammates that I haven’t seen all season.  I wanted to go someplace warmer than CO.  Flights weren’t convenient (or cheap) to Rev3 Venice, FL.  I already have enough points to qualify for next years Rev3 Championships.  Rev3 Anderson was USAT half distance national championship.  I was kind of interested in how I would stack up to the field, but I wasn’t at all interested in going to Weihai, China for worlds.  (I think this is what Eric was asking about.)

Anyway, I kinda think this lack of focus may have contributed to a pretty disappointing, but extremely blessed, ending to my 2013 season.

Things got off to a rocky start in the swim.  I thought the starting line was a little narrower than it needed to be and given that it was a national championship race a wave including all men 39 and under was bound to be a bit rough.  I got hit pretty hard left and right for the first 30 yards of the swim.  Then things calmed down for a short while.  As we approached the first (left) turn buoy, the guy on my right surged ahead half a body length, then made a 45 in front of me and the guy on my right.  He appeared to get agitated when I contacted his ass with my elbow, because he gave a couple of viscous kicks to my chest.  I’ve never wanted to kidney punch someone as bad in my life.

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The practice swim was fun. Thanks Kristen for the photos!

After the first buoy, I dropped off the back of a pretty significant pack and swam by myself for the rest of the race.  It was hard to tell if I was swimming straight or the buoys were arched.  I told my self I was doing okay, because every time a guy from the next wave passed me, they came right up my tailpipe.  Guys that fast swim straight, right?

As I exited the water I hit lap on my Garmin.  Only my Garmin wasn’t there, at all.  I use the quick release attachment on my 910XT and all that was left was the wrist band.  I sighed and cursed while looking at my nearly empty wrist and trudged up the beach.  Several considerate volunteers told me I did great, it wasn’t that bad, to keep going, you can catch ‘em on the bike.  I wanted to explain to each of them that I wasn’t that disappointing in dropping 2-3 minutes in the swim, but I was pissed off about dropping $400 to the bottom of the lake.

I grumbled through T1, hopped on my bike and promptly dropped a shoe.  I stopped, walked back, put in on, and re-mounted my bike muttering and cursing the whole time.  I did my best to keep calm and pedal on but it took 10-15 minutes (a complete guess) before I felt like I was riding well enough to forget my misfortunes.

Then I started passing a few guys in my age group and it felt like I was racing again.  A few more and I started to feel pretty good.  I actually felt like I was riding well until I nearly died.

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Again, Saturday’s ride was fun…

About half way through the ride, I made a 90-dgree right turn onto a pretty narrow two lane road.  I spotted something (it ended up being someone’s saddle bag) on the road near the apex of the corner.  I either hit it, or by swerving to miss it, started to skid.  As my rear wheel tried to pass me (these things really do happen in slow motion) I realized that I was going to cross the yellow line.  I looked up and saw a car coming.  I remember thinking, ‘whatever you do, don’t end up underneath the car’.  Somehow my rear wheel came back underneath me and I got back onto the yellow line, I think.  At this point the car was upon me.  I pulled my left hand off the brake just before it hit the cars side view mirror.  Somehow, I passed down the rest of the car without touching it.

I stopped, exhaled, and checked myself over.  No damage to me or the bike.  I went back to check on the driver because I really thought I’d ripped the mirror clean off the car.  Turns out it had just folded in, but violently enough the mirror itself had flown off the housing.  She was more worried about me and I was more worried about her.  I’m not entirely sure what all happened but we were there for 5-10 minutes (don’t really know bc I don’t have a watch anymore) talking and exchanging information.  My day of racing was clearly over and that was okay with me.

So… I took a leisurely cruise back to transition.  If I’d had any idea where I was, I’d have tried to take a more direct route, but I followed the course in.  I was pretty clam and collected in the minutes after the accident, but the two hour slog back to T2 was more than enough time to think about how lucky I’d really been.  When I finally reached T2, I walked my bike in, handed my chip to a Rev3 staff member and walked to the timing trailer to update Tim.  After that I couldn’t get to the beer cooler fast enough.  I actually had a pretty fun afternoon cheering friends, teammates, and the last finisher.

As disappointing as my first DNF was, I never doubted that it was the right thing to do.  I don’t regret this one either.  In fact, I was pretty darn happy to walk away thinking about next year.

Congrats team Rev3!

Congrats team Rev3!

Burrito babies before the glow run, never a good idea...

Burrito babies before the glow run, never a good idea…

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Rev3 Cedar Point 2012 – My First DNF

So I never really got around to publishing this one last year.  But I had to write about my first DNF before I could write about my second.  Please forgive the mixed up tense.  I started and stopped writing this at least half a dozen times.

Okay, so the story of this race starts about 3 weeks before the race itself.  I had been working pretty hard a upping my biking intensity ever since CDA.  I was really starting to feel it working, but could also feel my mind starting to wander, becoming less focused, ready for a taper.  Well, about a week after my last hard weekend of training I kinda fell off the deep end.  You could say life got in the way; I had some difficult work travel, I spent some time with my Mom when she visited, but it was really pretty easy for me to miss 5 straight days of working out.

I got back in the swing of things, not really worried about having lost any fitness.  I felt rested and healthy, but rusty instead of sharp.  Exactly seven days before the race I went for a run around the neighborhood.  I probably started out to fast and/or chose the wrong route, because by the time I reached the top of the first hill my right calf had started to tighten up.  Instead of just calling the whole thing off, like I would have if I hadn’t just missed six days in a row, I found a way to manage it by changing my gate slightly.  Calf cramps/strains/pulls are an old nemesis of mine and it usually means something is wrong with my mechanics anyway.  Well, I finished the run feeling glad I’d found a way to manage it without making anything worse.

Fast forward to race weekend and my calf still isn’t feeling 100%.  I tried, pretty successfully, to not worry about it and just ‘see what happens’.  It definitely felt a little weird to be so relaxed, dare I say nonchalant, about racing a fullRev, but that’s pretty much how Cedar Point felt.  I traveled by myself, stayed in a house with a bunch of Rev3 teammates, most of whom were racing the half and pretty comfortable with their race prep.  It was a great environment for staying relaxed.  I began to worry that I was too relaxed.

So I started the swim with 400 other full Rev participants, which was really quite pleasant.  No bumping or jostling.  In fact, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I could have used a few more people around because I couldn’t swim straight to save my life.  I wish I could blame my 1:17 swim split on the calf somehow, but I can’t come up with anything.  I just felt weak, a bit rusty, and all sorts of discombobulated.  I stopped once to de-fog my goggles and at least three other times to secure my swim cap.  Hard to believe I just learned this, but don’t shave your head the night before the race!  Add a little sunscreen and you swim cap won’t stay put.  I don’t know what anyone else had on their garmin but mine said 2.79 miles.  I honestly don’t know if the course was a little long or if I was that crooked.  Either way, I exited the water with a bad feeling.  Then I looked at my garmin and the feeling got worse.

Focusing on the mechanics of T1 did a pretty good job of clearing it out of my mind.  But starting the bike I saw a few people I recognized and knew and immediately realized it wasn’t a long course, it was me.

Since CDA I’ve been focusing A LOT on improving my cycling.  Increasing my average wattage on the bike was definitely my biggest goal for the day.  A lot happens over 112 miles, but here’s what I remember:  Riding solid at the low end of my target wattage range for the first 20 miles or so.  Then focus on eating and drinking for the next 40 miles or so.   Then having a hard time staying under the top end of my wattage range for 35 miles.  Then paying for it for the last 20 miles.  I think I finished reasonably strong, but my neck and shoulders were getting reallllly uncomfortable and I was certainly less focused on my cycling.  Overall, mission accomplished!  I added 15 watts to my average power from CDA, which combined with a much flatter course, took almost 28 minutes off my bike split.  Now, if I could only run.

The run started off okay, but don’t they always.  The course is insanely flat and entirely on roads/bike path.  About 3 miles in my right foot started hurting, at 4 miles I stopped to adjust a bit of extra padding I had added beneath the insole.  At 5 miles I stopped and ripped it our entirely.  At 6 miles my left foot started hurting in the same manner.  At 7 miles I stopped to adjust the padding, at 9 miles I trashed it entirely.

I wish I'd have seen this!

I wish I’d have seen this!

Somewhere around this time the weakness/strain in my calf started to talk to me.  I adjusted my gait and it went away.  Another 2-3 miles and it didn’t seem to make any difference what changes I made, I could feel it give way increasingly often.  I was approaching the end of the first loop and my mind was seriously messing with me.  I tried to tell myself that if this was a one loop course I wouldn’t even consider calling it quits right now.  I made the turn and started out on my second loop.  I stopped to use the restroom at the mile-14 aid station.  When I resumed running the calf let go again big time.  I knew I’d be walking/hobbling the last 12 miles.  I’ve done that before and decided not to repeat it.  I took the next available ATV ride back to the finish, which just happened to be with Rev3 owner/founder/bossman Charlie.  How embarrassing!

rev3-cedar-point-finisher-jacket-for-sale-600px

Would have been nice to have one of these babies!

Also embarrassing; walking through the wrong end of finisher’s chute to turn in your chip, turning down volunteers at they try to give you a finisher’s medal and t-shirt, and to top it off, telling everyone that you had to drop out.  I distinctly remember discussing with my wife how glad I was to have finished IM Canada two years ago even after walking the last 14 miles.  When people asked if I finished (and many did), I was proud to say ‘yes’, even if I came up short of all my other goals.  90% of people didn’t care about that, only that I finished.  It was kind of a cool feeling, a reality check, I guess.

Missed out on all the bling :(

Missed out on all the bling :(

I certainly had some remorse after calling it quits.  But, I did a good job of drowning my sorrows with my awesome Rev3 teammates afterward.  And the next morning I knew I’d done the right thing.  I could barely walk because of my calf.  I don’t ever want to DNF again, but I can’t imagine how I would have even walked the next day if I’d shredded it for another 12 miles.

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Outside the Lanes

Usually, I’m pretty excited when triathlon makes it into the mainstream sports media.  I think it’s great when media giants like ESPN take notice of what we’re up to.  However, I don’t subscribe to the ‘any publicity is good publicity’ school of thought.  So this article from ESPN’s Outside the Lines really made me cringe.  I’m actually a big fan of the show and its central premise.  I just know that swimming is a barrier to our sport for some people and this article really doesn’t scream, ‘come on in, the water’s warm.’

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photo from the ESPN OTL article

To be fair, I witnessed one of the incidents cited in the article.  Dr. Wiggins.  It was one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen in my life.  I’ll never forget it.  I had a hard time thinking of anything else while finishing the article.  Does that make me over sensitive to the subject, yeah probably. I found the interactive graphic in the middle of the article especially powerful.

Schreeeeeech…(that’s the sound of me dragging out my soap box.)  I think the authors do a great job of describing the risks and responsibilities of the athletes, organizers, and  sanctioning bodies and identifying the gray areas (actual or perceived) in between.  I’ve always been firmly on the side that believes swim safety is the athlete’s responsibility.  If you don’t think the conditions are safe, you don’t have to go in the water.  I don’t care about the entry fee, or if everyone else is doing it.  Didn’t your mother ever ask you if you’d jump off a bridge just because everyone else is doing it?  Mine did, repeatedly.  I don’t think any athlete should leave it up to the race director to tell them what is safe and what isn’t.  I also think it’s incredibly unfair to ask race directors to judge safety based on the lowest common (or present) denominator.  It’s probably unfair to fellow competitors too.

Ultimately, I think people will see what they want to see in articles like this.  If you’re looking for a reason not to try triathlon, here you go.  If you already participate, you probably see how much safer it is than driving a car.  Hopefully, you see that the event organizers are looking for ways to mitigate the risks that are within their control.  I personally hope it makes all of us athletes a little more accountable for our actions and decisions.  At the very least it should remind us that we are making a choice.  This is fun, right?

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Rev3 Branson – Race Report

My training after Whistler left a little to be desired, to say the least.  All that work stuff that ebbed just before Whistler, really started flowing when I got back.  I joked that I’d become a weekend warrior, only finding time/motivation for long workouts on Saturdays and Sundays.  It wasn’t entirely true, but a far cry from what I’d been doing.  So I adjusted my expectations accordingly and set out to enjoy the weekend with family, my team Rev3 friends, to compete with whatever I could muster, and not get too concerned with results.

I was a bit concerned about the potential for hot and humid weather in southern Missouri.  But it turned out to be a beautiful weekend and cool temps in the mornings were more of a problem than heat in the afternoon.  The water in Lake Table Rock was still pretty warm, like barely wetsuit legal.  (The practice swim was VERY comfortable without a wetsuit.)  The air temp on race morning was in the low 50’s, which made for this…

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Its a lot tougher with your eyes 2 inches about the water.

Which made it really tough to sight from water level.  Maybe its just me, but the clip in the recap video (2:25) looks like people are going 11 different directions.  I felt that I got out to a good start and swam reasonably well.  Then about half way through, I lost contact with the guys in front of me, mistook a kayaker for a buoy, and then started my traditional meander to the finish.  I still thought I was doing reasonably well, until the last 400yds when I got passed by a group of about 8 guys and couldn’t hang on.

222As I removed my BlueSeventy Helix, I was immediately reminded that it was 50-something degrees and T1 was still in the shade.  The first 20 mins of the bike were pretty chilly until my kit dried out.  Sunshine was my friend, shade my enemy.

Describing this bike course in really difficult.  Its certainly hilly, but that doesn’t quite do it justice.  I can’t say there are any climbs on the course because nothing seems that long.  I can say, I don’t recall a single flat spot.  Most of the hills are 3-10 minutes long and don’t even allow you the choice of powering over them.  You just settle in and spin up, time after time after time.  The course is also great because it gives everything back on the downhills.  Except for 5 miles at the beginning and 8 miles at the end, the course is on a 4 lane divided hwy with huge shoulders that is completely closed to traffic.  It is AWESOME!  The recap video (2:30-3:00) gives a great perspective of the course.

I made it through the bike with reasonably good legs.  I don’t think I got passed at all, but couldn’t make up much ground on anyone.  I dropped my chain once, which was frustrating, and made a fueling mistake with about 30 mins left.  I felt I’d ridden pretty well and at one point was still wondering if I was going to crack 3hrs for a bike split.  2:51 and 20.09 mph sounds pretty pedestrian, but I’m telling you it’s a fun course.

Thank goodness the run course is incredibly flat.  It wouldn’t have been hard to find hills for the run, but they kept us close to Lake Tanneycomo, running 3 loops right along the water.  The run had to be one of the most spectator friendly courses in the history of triathlon.  Shopping, dinning, expo, finish line all smashed into 3, 4.5-mile loops.

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Thanks Eric Wynn for all the great advice and photography http://www.ericwynn.org.

I really didn’t know what my legs would have to offer, from my lack of training and the bike course.  Things felt pretty good after the first 1.5 miles and I probably got a little carried away for the rest of the first lap.  Starting the second lap, I could tell things were grinding down.  By the time the third lap started, I was in survival mode.  Thankfully it appeared the same thing was happening to the guy right behind me (my AG).  Multiple lap courses with out/back sections aren’t really good for the phyche when things start to fall apart.  Watching people chase you down is not a good feeling.  It can provide some good motivation though.  Somehow I picked it up and finished with a 1:31 run split.

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Free finisher photos are always nice.

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The big finish with Anna and Logan!

It still wasn’t enough to crack 5hrs, 5:00:51 total time.  Good enough for 6th overall amateur and 1st in my age group.  Which also brought my Rev3 AG points total down from 3 to 2.  The 35 lowest totals (best two races) qualify for the AG championship wave at next year’s Knoxville race.  So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

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Congrats teammates Maggie and Summer, 1st and 2nd OA AG women!

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Rev3 Branson – Vacation Report

So, I have to admit that I purposely didn’t plan any races after Whistler because I’d hoped to qualify for Kona.   I’m definitely a planner, so this type of self inflicted torture was really wearing thin leading up the race.  Afterwards, it actually felt good to start planning again.  Rev3 Branson was a natural choice, race with my team, support our title sponsor, direct flights from Denver to Branson on Frontier (at a reasonable price, too), and we have some family friends that live an hour or so away.

My mom had previously dropped the phrase, “we’re ready to go somewhere in October”.  So I called to see if she wanted to come down and meet up with her cousin.  A day or two later a family vacation was born, mom, dad, my sister, brother-in-law, two of their kids, and mom’s cousins were planning a weekend in Branson.  I really started to look forward to it, Rev3 events are great for family and kids and Branson has plenty for young and old alike.  You know, when the race isn’t entertaining enough.  Branson has a great little riverfront shopping and dining area that covered both the finish and expo/T2.  I’m not sure about the rest of the family, but I enjoyed watching finishers from the restaurant patio with a beer, chips and quac.

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Glow Run = fun for everyone!

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You’re never too old to make a fool of yourself, your niece, or brother.

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The smiles got even bigger when we started moving!

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How can that be anything but fun?

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Race mornings are early.
This is also as close as Nick got to being on camera. He was behind it most of the weekend.

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Anna with Pam and Shirley, who we don’t see often enough these days.

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Grandpa Fred even got in the act.

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The big finish with Anna and Logan!
Hopefully, Eli will be finishing with me soon.

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Post race celebration begins!

For years, I’ve wondered why my parents came to these events.  Track meets I can understand, but cross-country, marathons, triathlons, IDK?  A 5 hr event where I’m in view for a grand total of 173 seconds?  It’s just never added up to me.  But now that my niece and nephews are old enough to join in the fun, its starting to make sense.  I certainly don’t get to see them enough, but I’m glad they’re being exposed to these events.  Mom and Dad are half marathoners (and soon to be marathoners) as well.  I’m doing things I didn’t even know existed when I was their age.  Its fun to show them what is possible.  Who knows what they’ll be doing when they’re my age.

A quick apology to my St. Louis friends; next year I’ll provide more notice.  It would be great to meet up in Branson.  I’ll even try to give you enough time to start training….

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IM Canada – Race Report

First a quick summary of the Whistler IM Canada course: split transitions with mass transit to the swim for athletes (no cars for spectators).  Deep-water, mass start, two loop lake swim.  The bike course goes out of town, uphill, for 20 miles, then back downhill, thru Whistler and out (still downhill) the other direction.  Turn in Pemberton for some super flat winding road until mile 75, U-turn, repeat flat section, then climb back to Whistler.  The run course is also two loops, a third of which doubles as an out/back, mostly within the village.

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No nearly as bad as it looks. Much nicer than CDA last year, maybe it the Canadians?

The Swim – I loved the rolling start at Boulder so much that I was a bit concerned with the mass start.  As it turned out, I was quickly reminded that mass starts don’t bother me.  Things  were pretty calm to first turn buoy, even then not too bad.  I felt strong and straight until 2nd half of second lap, and then I could tell I was fading a bit.  I wasn’t swimming as straight and other swimmers were coming past me.  It seemed to get pretty crowded again in the home stretch as the swim exit really wasn’t that big.  I had no idea how long my swim took, my Garmin lost satellite reception while we were treading water.  So when I hit start, it was expecting something else.  Needless to say, there really wasn’t a good time/place to try again.

The change tent in T1 was super busy, so I immediately started assuming I had a slow swim.  I took a couple of extra seconds to get my Garmin right for the bike, I was going to need good data.  Running in bike shoes through T1 turned out to be the worst part of the day for my ankle.  T1 – 3:54

The Bike started off okay, it was pretty cool, but not enough for extra clothes.  I just needed to dry off and then was pretty comfortable for the entire ride.  There was plenty of rolling terrain leaving the lake, coming back through the Village, and out to the Callaghan valley.  The a long climb up to the Olympic nordic skiing park.  This was the first time I started to feel that the course was not ‘as advertised’.  I’d worked pretty hard preparing for the climb a the end, but hadn’t done climbing like this early in my training rides.  I just stared at the power meter, bumping into my wattage ceiling, and just grinding away.  The descent was fast, but a bit crowded at times.

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Thank Heaven for Rock Tape! I never felt my ankle at all during the race. But now, it still hurts to run without tape.

Then the long undulating slog on Hwy 99 began.  I know this was generally down hill, but there were plenty of efforts involved and lots of back and forth with people who climbed short hills hard and coasted down.  Somewhere along the way a guy recognized my tape job and told me he followed me the entire swim.  I had to pass him back just to ask how fast we swam.  1:04 he said, not as bad as I was imagining and definitely good to know. Officially it was 1:04:31.

I found the course mentally challenging, lots of up and down.  I don’t mind climbing, to get up and then coming back down.  But it seemed like we climbed the same 100ft 15 times.  It also didn’t seem to match my recollection of the profile and I was starting to wonder how the long climb back was going to feel.

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I tried to remember to smile.

The special needs bags arrived just in time.  I was plowing through calories pretty quickly.  Powerbars and Gel Blasts were going down easily, likely because it was cool and I was actually ahead of my fueling schedule with no signs of trouble.  The flat section of the course finally arrived and it was a great road with beautiful scenery.  It was probably my favorite part.  After I saw the men’s leaders on their way back in I started getting pretty anxious to see how far back I was in the field.  Then I saw two very large packs of guys riding together and it kind of got under my skin.  At the 140K mark (there were no bike course markers in miles), I started pushing over my watt ceiling.  There were some drafters catching me and I really let it get to me.  As it turns out we were all catching at least one of the large packs I’d seen at the turnaround.  I got caught in one of these groups as everyone let off the gas for a turny section through Pemberton, but I rode hard up the first hill outside of town just to get away from these guys.  From then on (roughly the 92 mile mark) it was all climbing back to Whistler.  I was still feeling strong and rode HARD all the way to T2.  I was still ahead of my nutrition schedule, but had missed a few bottle hand ups.  I may have been behind on my hydration schedule, but it was cool and I was peeing A LOT, so it didn’t seem like that big of a deal.

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Pretty close to the end and still smiling.

My bike split (5:18:41) was right in the range I’d expected, but I also knew I had given a greater effort than I planned.  Generally speaking I rode according to plan, except there was more climbing early than I expected.  I also started pushing hard at mile 85 instead of 92 and I rode a bit harder those last 30 miles than I’d anticipated.  I was still feeling strong and always have confidence in my run.

T2 (1:56) was very easy and I remember very little except my feet hurting a little bit.

I left T2 with a group of guys that turned out to be some very stiff competition.  My plan was to use the first 2-3 miles to settle into my goal pace and just try to get comfortable from there.  I let them go, thinking I would get them back eventually, but I just never really got comfortable.  I got to 7:30 pace right away, but the faster miles just never came.  I was also getting passed by guys who looked like they were flying and getting dropped by guys running my pace.  It was not something I’m used to and didn’t feel good.  Around mile 4-5 I started battling the tingly ‘my feet are falling asleep’ feeling.  It passed with some changes in terrain, but it didn’t do anything to help me feel comfortable.

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This must have been early in the run.

I’m trying not to sound arrogant, but for comparison sake; I usually pass roughly 10 people for every one that passes me.  This run I was lucky to get 3 for every 2.  It was quite discouraging, many of them were in the 40-44 AG also.  So there’s that to look forward to.

Things settled down for a while though, miles 6-12 were less painful, just not at the pace I wanted.  Then just before the second lap, the pain in my quads started.  I could tell right away that nothing was injured or seriously wrong. Just that typical ‘two days after a race’ muscle soreness, only I still had a half marathon to go.  My pace fell off, but I was holding position.  I was digging deep and trying to stave off the inevitable.  For a while I was hopeful that the same thing was happening to everyone around me.  It was false hope.

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Must not have been that bad, huh?

I knew I was going to make it to the finish.  I did a little math and thought I could still scrape in under 10 hours.  I just couldn’t respond to any of the guys who went past me.  Its amazing how hopeless a 8:30 pace feels when a 7:30 pace goes by.  I gutted it out and crossed the line with a smile and my arms in the air.  3:25:53.

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Taaa-Done! Thats a sigh of relief.

Its really quite a testament to how much, how strongly you finish the race has to do with how you feel about it.  I know that 3:25 isn’t that bad, it isn’t even that far off my goal pace.  I even know how much its supposed to hurt, but the way it went down makes it feel a lot worse than finishing strong in 3:20 and feeling like you left a few minutes on the table.

I’m really proud of a 9:54:55, its a 15 minute PR and anything under 10hrs is beyond head hanging territory.  I just don’t feel that it was THE race I’m capable of.  I’ve been racking my brain for a week trying to figure out the hows and whys, but that’s for another post.

It feels like there are hundreds of thank yous in order.  First to my wife for another 140.6 training season, race day and everything in between.  None of us could do it without our support teams.  To all my sponsors for the tools to train, recover, and race to the best of my ability.  TeamRev3 thanks for all the Twitter and Facebook support during and leading up to the race.  There just aren’t enough blue Rs in the Pacific Northwest!  Powerbar for great race nutrition and fueling plan – this was definitely not the problem.  Pearl Izumi for a super comfy kit and shoes, 140.6 with no blisters or chafing is quite a feat!  BlueSeventy for outfitting one of my better swims.  NormaTec and Compex for helping my through the travel and race recovery, I’ve needed them more than ever this week.

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