Tuesday, October 12, 2010

US Open in Dallas

The culmination of my season for the fourth year in a row was the US Open in Dallas on 10/10/10. My history at this race goes something like this…first year = 9th, second year = 16thish, 3rd year = 19thish…and this year it came full circle as I placed 9th amateur overall once again. I did however come away with some hardware since I was 2nd Open Elite Amateur in the race that basically excluded the lifetime fitness championship wave and pros.

This year the race got a new home in Rockwall TX and did away with the point to point race which made it better for spectators. The swim was off the pier of their beautiful harbor and a really nice location for the start and finish of the race. The elite open wave went off 5th and was a dive start from the doc which was the first time I had encountered that type of start but I have to say it was as much fun as it looked! Although a better start performance for me then in past seasons I still found myself unable to latch onto the lead handful group of guys and settled into my pace by myself. By the end I was just catching a couple of my group as we exited the water. Time = 23.29

What a fun transition…Out of the water we ran UP a pretty steep homemade ramp, ran UP a walkway to our transition, then mounted our bikes and immediately had to bike UP the steepest section of the entire course for 30 meters. That’s enough to get the heart pumping. Needless to say I did not repeat my performance from last year of having the fastest T1.

The bike was not a challenging course but a bit technical with lots of turns. There were a few rollers as well but nothing major. I biked a bit conservative knowing me legs weren’t as fresh as I’d like and I knew I could gain time in the run. The most enjoyable part of the day was to finally be in an early wave which made the course nice and open. I only encountered a few other cyclists from my wave and even reeled in a couple women pros and one male pro before I returned to transition. Time=61.55

The run headed right back up the hill out of transition for about a half mile. I kept my strides short and quick to combat the fatigue I was feeling in my legs and was thankful to hit the top and be able to start striding out more on the level. I rolled through the first several miles at 6min pace thinking I’d have no problem dropping the last 3 to sub 5.45 on the return trip which was cumulative down hill from the turnaround. Unfortunately history repeats itself and I made the same mistake I made the last 2 years at this race which was to avoid the provided powerade due to worries about indigestion from not having trained with it. At 4.5 I bonked and immediately knew I should have taken the discomfort with powerade opposed to the discomfort of bonking. I decided to take it at the mile 5 aid station even though it was too late and of course it was the one station that didn’t have it so I went on by. 37.45

I faked the last mile getting passed by a couple of pros in the last downhill and coasted across the line like a car that just ran out of gas in 2.05.05. I was pleased to finish with no major problems and in the top 10 for not feeling 100% at the start. My sponsors and support team were just amazing this year cheering me on at all the events and making sure I had what I needed to compete. I’m already looking forward to next season.

Looking ahead to the offseason I thought it might be fun to do some occasional short posts about the training I go through during that time. Thanks for continuing to check in on my racing and thank you all for your support.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ironman Branson 70.3

This past weekend I was at the Ironman Branson 70.3. We were looking to combine a little work with pleasure by staying most of the next week after the race on table rock lake. The vacation didn't disappoint. Of course when it came to the race its just too much to ask these days for things to go smoothly and I rolled out of transition only to hear the sound of 130 psi pushing its way out of a tiny puncture in my rear tire within the first mile.
Everything to this point was going great. My training lead up for the race was on, as was my taper, to put me at the start feeling very rested and energized. The start of my swim was never so easy as I found myself jumping out with the lead guys and not having to use mixed martial arts to find open water. The second half was hot as I baked in my wetsuit in water just below wetsuit legal temperature. I maybe went out a little too fast and felt myself drop off in the last 500m. I still managed sub 30min and 8th best swim in age group, 44th best overall, which is better than I usually do.
The run up the hill into transition was like a cattle shoot and the pace a forced walk. In the lets-try-it-and-see-if-it-works category we were not allowed to keep our shoes on our pedals and forced to run in them to the line for safety reasons before mounting our bikes. Probably a good idea for the majority, I could have done without it since I had never done it...ever.
The aforementioned flat tire incident brought me right back to the startline following the failure of my fix-a-flat to hold, and where I knew the closest bike mechanic would be. I'm glad I chose that route over the borrowed tire route because it took 2 guys 15 minutes to get it off. For those of you that don't use tubulars this is probably why. Total time lost was 25 minutes and I headed back out now officially at the back.
Now out of the race I decided to still stick with my plan and just try to put down some good times. The very hilly bike went well considering I train where there are none. I finished with a 2.33 which was about top 5 in my age group and top 15 overall as well as I can figure. It felt comfortable but the run showed the hills and quickly climbing heat were probably a little too much.
I started off fairly slow and slowed down from there. The heat was climbing to the low 90's with high humidity into the run and it just wasn't there. I even started cramping half way through which never happens. I ran a 1.37, slower than I've ever run that distance before I think. Even after the 25min delay and extremely slow run, because of the tough course and conditions I still placed 53rd overall out of about 1300+ starters with a total time of 5.11. Less than 1000 finished. It doesn't really pay to say "what if" since the results are what they are... but I had to figure it out anyway. Just dropping the 25min stop time would have put me at 3rd in age group, 6th amateur, 16th overall.
One more to go this year with the US Open in Dallas in 2 weeks. A finish without incident is looking better and better no matter what the time... I think I'll still go for a fast time though.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another win at Salty Dog

I enjoyed my second year at the Salty Dog by posting a new course record of 50.18, about 1 minute faster than last year. This was comfortably about 7 1/2 minutes ahead of second. I also had the fastest of each discipline 400 Swim = 5.33, 10M Bike = 25.15, 5k Run = 17.44. Always extra pleased to get that swim.
As always I pushed the swim to see where I was at, rode steady but hard on the bike, and then just cruised the run in since I was training through this race and had a fairly hard run workout coming up on Monday I wanted to be ready for. I continue to be pleased with my swim times dropping and look forward to testing it in open water again at Branson. Since it was a pleasant day and I was in need of some additional biking for the weekend I went ahead and rode home following the race to get an additional 40 miles in. Even enjoyed some of the first rain we'd had in weeks near home.
I will not be racing again until Branson and will be using the next few weeks to finish my final season build to sharpen my training for Branson and the US Open.

Monday, August 2, 2010

First at Rock N' Route Triathlon

I walked in following my run on Saturday thinking this one will be interesting. It seems that even with this many races on my schedule they're never routine. I had just finished what would normally be an easy 2 mile day before run that ended up with me having to walk within the first mile and walk/jog it home due to extreme discomfort in my chest and back. I was fighting off some bug that had declared war on my body and this was the first attempt at a run in several days. Amazingly my pre-race run the next morning felt good and my hopes were renewed that I could still race the entire distance. From there it was mostly routine minus the energy the bug had stolen. I pushed the swim and bike just in case I was unable to run well but in the end settled in for a comfortable 3 mile run around the lake. This race had not disappointed last year with the prizes and this year I was awarded a very nice garmin 305 watch for the win. To top it off I won a road ID certificate in the door prizes and wouldn't you know it today I got a call from the on site masseuse who I had made use of and found out I won the free massage as well. I will definitly be cashing that in between branson and the US Open. Next up is the Salty Dog in Hutchinson, Sat. Aug 14th. A good spectator course if you're looking for something to do at 7am on a Saturday :).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

First place and sub 2 hrs at Mudwater

Another warm morning greeted us for this years Mudwater at Lake Afton just outside Wichita. This was the first year to include an olympic distance and I gained my third straight win at this venue. Although the bike was .9 mile short of a true olympic distance my 1.56.37 would have still adjusted to 1.59 or just under so I think I can still chalk it up as my second sub 2 hr olympic race. I executed my race plan quite well focusing on a fast swim and a quality run. My swim time was 20.52 which is a personal best at that distance (with or without a wetsuit) so I was pleased to see my recent hike in swim training is paying off. Trying a new tactic on the bike with the warm conditions I left the aero helmet in the car. It appeared to pay off, and though I gave up some time (57.03 for 24M), rode into T2 feeling much more refreshed and left with a little more bounce in my step and a more controlled HR. The run was much better then a few weeks before at El Dorado with similar conditions and I was pleased with my 37.43. Even though it wasn't close to my fastest run for the distance it felt quick for the conditions. This is the KSRVTC's club race and so I did treat it like an A- race giving it a few days of taper to have fresh legs and help represent the club. The coordination by the club and volunteers is absolutely amazing and to their credit they put on a first class race.
I ended my last post with hopeful thoughts of quick swim times which I feel I achieved exiting 3rd from the water and moving into first just out of transition. My thoughts for the future are of sub 20 swim times which when coupled with proven sub 60 bikes and sub 35 runs in previous races would produce a very competitive result at a larger race. But first, its time to rest. Thanks to my fellow club members supporting me before, during and after the race. We make a great team!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wire to Wire in El Dorado

The El Dorado triathlon was new this year and though I had never been there I was pleasantly surprised with the isolated swim area and overall course design. I'd recommend it and I suspect this race will grow in popularity in the future. Right after the gun I found myself in uncharted waters so to speak by leading out the swim. Though it was a small race I've never led start to finish and found myself glancing behind me at the corners on the first lap to make sure people were actually following me. The swim course was admitted to be long by the director and as shown by the slow times but it was the best I ever felt in a swim and just cruised a long for the 3 laps. All my extra swimming may be paying off finally, though its tough to tell since I'll never know the total distance.
My goal for the rest of the race was just to go controlled and hold the lead which I successfully did with a sub hour ride and a little slower than I'd planned run but with the temps climbing to near 90, effort was relative.
My primary reason for doing this race was to get a better handle on my nutrition for olympic racing. I felt I succeeded at this and am looking forward to another in two weeks at the new mudwater distance at lake afton. With any luck I won't be coming out of the water so many minutes down to start my day there as has happened in the past.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

3rd overall at Kansas 70.3?...nope, but first Kansan.

If you have checked the preliminary results looking for my finish time you may have looked to far down the list. Right there in 3rd overall behind Chris Lieto (also apparently from KS?) and Andy Potts is an unknown age grouper...ME! As much as I'd like to tell you this actually happened, the truth is an accident in the timing will be the only way I am mentioned with these 2 greats for now. Or clock a 3.47 for that matter.
Following my finish I soon found out my chip had malfunctioned and I spent several minutes in the timing trailer figuring out where I had finished. Although they figured it out pretty quick, it has not been fixed in the preliminary results. I'm guessing they still need to add the start time of my wave. I actually finished similar to last year with a 4.23 which put me about 27th overall, 17th amateur, 6th age group and first Kansan out of about 2000 racers. A somewhat sub par performance considering my training leading up to the race showed I was capable of a sub 4.15. The great thing about sport however is the ONLY thing that matters is results, so I continue to wait for the breakout performance that I know I'm capable of at this race distance.
It was actually a beautiful day, calm and warm. The swim was wetsuit legal by .5 degrees at 77.5. This is a catch 22 in that you get the benefit of the wetsuit but at that temp you still get extremely warm by the end of the swim by being in it. My main goal in the swim was to stay out of trouble and not aggravate my injured shoulder. Well that and not swim slow. I was full length suit since thats all I have and was hot getting out of the water. On the bike it became evident how much when I looked down to see my HR at 180. For comparison of what that means last year my avg HR on the bike was around 160. This trend of high HR for moderate work rate continued and I knew would cause problems with speed later in the race if I couldn't get it under control.
We had a chance to practice our cycle cross skills mid race when someone spilled oil all over the road and we had to dismount and run through the ditch to avoid it and hop back on. The ride went well and I held back just a bit as I watched my HR still high (avg 166). Time was 2.25.
Out on the run it was as I feared as my HR was humming in the high 170s at a 6min pace right away. By comparison last year it was in the 150's as I cruised at a 5.30-40 pace in the early miles. I was overheating and I continued to try and stop the bleeding with ice and cold water with little success. Although we had 2 good weeks of warm weather leading up to the race to acclimate I think an entire month of training in Hawaii next year should do the trick :). I can tell my recovery will be quicker this year and will look forward to doing some local races as I prep for Branson 70.3. Thanks to my support crew and sponsors for doing everything they do.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bruised and battered...but still 4th at TriZou

We were welcomed to Columbia, MO for our 4th TriZou triathlon by our friends Joe (triathlete) and Amy, who we'd met in previous trips to this race and had invited us to stay with them this year. We gladly accepted. Completing the full house was accomplished pro triathlete Andrew Starykowicz who was also competing.
The rain stopped just enough the day before to allow us to ride the course and then continued to rain the rest of the night. Race day was a bit foggy and overcast but otherwise warm and calm. The pros and elite amateurs combine for an elite wave for the 400 pool swim each receiving lane assignments. I had a good swim in the 5.40 range and used the long run transition to my advantage to make up for some lost time in the swim. By 2 miles into the bike I had moved into 4th place behind Joe where I remained for the rest of the 14 mile ride. That is until with about a half mile to go on a sharp turn back towards transition my front tire caught a seam in the road and skipped sideways. To regain my balance I steered to correct which took me right into the path of an oncoming triathlete. We bumped shoulders and I went down. I got back on and coasted in somehow remaining in 4th and took to the run bleeding from my left shoulder, hand, knee and hip. I was having an extremely hard time breathing at faster tempos and so I was forced to jog home with a disappointing 4th place finish and a run 1.5 min slower than last year. Although I had slowed to a speed to make the turn you just can't be too careful in blind corners like that and the outcome could have been much worse.
All was not lost since there were cash prize awards and I collected a small amount for my troubles.
I'm out of the pool for a few days while the wounds heel but no serious injuries were found. I'll have the next 5 weeks off for hard training with my next race Kansas Half Ironman.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

3-Peat at Emporia

This past Sunday all Spring Migration participants were pleasantly greeted with excellent race conditions at a race which is typically plagued with wind. I was back for my 3rd year continuing to use this race as my season opener to dust off the cobwebs. Team Nickel was in attendance. All in all it was a solid race with swim, bike, and run with some minor mistakes in transition that typically happen when I haven't practiced them.
The 400m swim was uneventful with a 5.32 split (2nd). That still has to be the slickest side walls in a pool I've swam in. After biffing the swim/bike transition that included not getting my helmet clasped on the first few tries and a shoe coming unclipped from the pedal before I had it on my foot, I settled in on my new Felt B2 for its break in race. I'm absolutely loving this bike. And though I'd like to give all the credit of probably my fastest bike split in a sprint (12.43 miles in 28.45 according to my bike = 26.0mph avg) to my superior off-season training, there is no doubt the upgrade in bike made a difference. And for those of you keeping score... pace motorcycle - 1, Kevin - 0, just couldn't catch him.
A slightly better bike/run transition, and I cruised to a 16.52 5k which I think includes transition so maybe more like a 16.30ish. Overall time was 52.52, 2 minutes faster than last year and good enough for a 4 minute win over 2nd place.
I want to thank all of my returning and new sponsors (links on sidebar). They make it possible for me to compete at the level I do and are not only tremendous businesses I would support without their sponsorship but are fantastic people that I trust.
Next stop, TriZou Missouri in 2 weeks.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Swimathon a success

In its second year the NW YMCA swimathon was set up as a battle of the sexes men vs women. I drove up this morning before church with a friend of mine to put in some time for the men. The allure of a tshirt had me aiming for 10,000 yds. It took me right around 2 hrs and 20 minutes. The overall effort was not as bad as I was expecting having not gone that far before, however it became a little hard to lift the arms out of the water in the last 1000. The most amazing part was the support given by friends and family in the amount of $150. I continue to feel very blessed to find these different ways I can use my talents to help others and know that there are many people supporting my efforts.