Monday, September 18, 2017

Chattanooga 70.3 World Championship Report

I honestly don't know how folks who travel for work do it. Being away from the family for just two nights was hard, and I know it was very hard for Katie back at home with Hannah and Jackson. Doing this race wouldn't have been possible without Katie's love and support, and I am in debt to all of the time she spent with the two little ones while I was away! In terms of travel, I flew south on Friday morning, renting a car, and then driving to Chattanooga from Atlanta.

Wetsuit legal. That's a phrase I usually love to hear as a rather weak swimmer, and one most folks weren't expecting in the lead-up to for this race. The thing is that cool nights have a way of lowering the water temperature, and it managed to just sneak under WTC's 76.1 'legal' temp. The unfortunate part was that I hadn't packet my wetsuit due to only taking carry-on bags and assuming it wouldn't be needed. Sure, in the week leading up to the race there was some speculation about wetsuits being allowed, but I was calling bs. This was my second time in nine years of doing triathlons that I was left in this situation, and being the world championships, it kind of sucked. Looking at my swim time compared with others I've raced in the past, it seems like not having the wetsuit cost me in the four minute range. Looking around as my wave headed towards the water, I think I may have been one of only three sans wetsuit. The moral here is simple - always bring the wetsuit!

Other than the wetsuit my biggest worry heading into this race was non-race logistics. I was cutting it a little close with my flight getting into Atlanta around noon on Friday with check-in closing at 5 pm. There ended up being an accident on Rt 75 heading into Chattanooga, and I only had an hour or so once I parked to get to registration. On the tail-end, I was a bit worried about getting home due to Hurricane Irma's approach. It wasn't supposed to get to the Atlanta area until Monday evening/night, but I was more concerned about connecting flights. As it turned out everything was ok.

This was my third time doing the 70.3 World Championship, and my third location. In 2012 I was pretty much a rookie when I raced in Vegas. In 2014 I was battling through an IT Band injury and had pretty minimal run training heading into that race. This year I was healthy, but my run fitness wasn't where it was last year. I felt if everything came together I could be right around 4:30 for an overall time.

As I said before, I arrived on Friday afternoon, and I immediately ran into a Team Zoot teammate - Bryan Dunn. We hung out for a bit, and, after registering, I went for a short 25 min run, hitting a bit of the run course. The hills didn't disappoint, but the legs felt great. On Saturday morning I got up an hour before my alarm was set - my body is wired to get up for early workouts and in setting the alarm for 6 am I knew I'd probably be getting up earlier. I ended up doing a short looping run around the hotel parking lots in the dark in the area of my hotel, had breakfast, then searched for where to get in a short swim. I found a location a bit upstream of Chattanooga and got in a quick 600 yards in the swimskin at 1:30 100/yd pace - I was hoping that would carry over to the race.

Daniela making it look so easy

Following the swim it was down to the transition/race area to spectate for the women's race. I was able to see Daniela Ryf absolute demolish the race and cruise into the finish. Her time was only topped by a couple age group men, and she was apparently not at full throttle. If she's anywhere near 100% in Kona, barring any bike issue, the race is probably not in doubt - the battle may be for the other two spots on the podium. I was psyched to see that my friend Jana placed 4th in her AG and had one of the top bike times.

I was then able to head over the Tri Bike Transport and begin to get it race ready. Around 2:15 I went for a quick 20 or so minute ride on a little bit of the first few miles of the bike course. That section was in pretty rough shape. As I was returning from the ride I was stopped at a light and I chatted with a woman who had raced earlier. She gave me a few tips, which included: the roads were in pretty poor condition and to err on the lower side with PSI, the first climb was hard, but there were several more miles with harder climbs before the 'top,' and to take the first lap of the run easy to have a solid finish. These were definitely helpful ideas to have in my head.

After returning to the transition area, I got my bike and gear bags all set and checked things in. 70.3 World Championship events are a bit like IM's with gear bags needing to be checked in the day before. It's a little more work, but it makes for a little less work on race morning. When everything was set up it was time to head back to the hotel to rest up, have some dinner, then get to bed. Of course sleeping isn't always great prior to a race. However, I feel I got a decent night's sleep. I think I was less nervous about this race simply because I knew I wouldn't be vying for a podium spot or attempting to qualify for another race. I probably got 6-7 hours of sleep, which is about average with
two little ones at home.

 

Jorge Gomez - 2x 70.3 WC Champ!
On race morning I was up around 4:30, having my usual HIM/IM breakfast of applesauce w/raisins, Gatorade & a Cliff Bar - that's around 700 calories. Over the next few hours I also had a Powerbar and another Gatorade, then a Powerbar gel 15 minutes before the swim, for a total of around 1200 calories. I set my bike up pretty quickly, with my shoes on the pedals, 700 calories of Infinit in an aero bottle, one BTA water bottle, half a Powerbar on the base bars, and the bike computer. I then went back to where I'd parked my car and did a short warm-up 1.5 mile run in different shoes. It was cool to see all the pros and I took a pic of who I thought would win - turns out I was right!

YIKES!!! Look at that time!
I changed into my sandals, left my phone & wallet in the rental car, and 'hid' the car keys near the car. I didn't want to take the chance of leaving them in my morning gear bag and somehow having the bag go missing. After all of this I still had around 30 minutes before my wave went off at 8 am. I was a bit lucky in this regard because some waves weren't starting until nearly 9:30. I believe that this race was the first one where they went to time trial starts within each individual wave. There was around 10-12 minutes between each wave, and I think the format worked pretty well. If I was a lot faster my only gripe would be not knowing exactly where you were in relation to racers you see on the course due to not starting in a wave start, but this wasn't an issue for me.

I dove into the water of the Tennessee River a few minutes after 8 am, and it was game time. I actually felt decent in the water, but I could tell that lots of folks were moving faster then me. The course was a net up-river swim, and although the flow was lessened for the race via a dam, it was still noticeable. I was hoping that I'd still come out of the water in the 33-34 minute range, but seeing 37:xx when I climbed the steps was an 'oh crap' moment. Already a few minutes down from what I was expecting. My transition wasn't all that speedy, but eventually I was out onto the bike and onto my strength.
My climbing buddy, David Cruz and I traded
positions on the way up Lookout Mtn

The four or first few miles were pretty flat, and this section had quite a few turns, railroad crossings (it's Chattanooga, right????), and pretty crappy roads. All of the road hazards were well marked, but it was pretty bumpy. Eventually we made a right turn and were met by a pretty short 'wall' that marked the beginning of the Lookout Mountain climb. I was aiming to ride the climbs at or slightly above FTP, and that's pretty much what I did. Most of the climbs were in the 330-350 watt range. Other than the first section and a few sections later on there wasn't anything super step. It was just a pretty long grind, but very doable.

At the top of the first climb there's a decent downhill section, but then there is another good stretch of ups and downs with some short steep pitches to deal with. The climbing really didn't end for good until just after mile 20, which was also right around an hour. At that point I was a little concerned that I was a bit over my power targets. I was right around 285 AP, but the NP was at 304. I didn't need to worry, because on the next set of long descent the average power dropped by nearly 20 watts. It was also during this 4-5 mile section that I got stuck on two occasions different cars. I had to slow down significantly - from fully tucked at 45+ mph, to riding their bumper closer to 30-35 mph. It was quite frustrating, and in both situations I was able to eventually pass, but I think these two instance easily cost me 1-2 minutes.


I had been hoping to finish the bike in just under 2:20, but my time ended up being a bit over 2:21. The traffic definitely played a role in the slightly slower time. So, it was then onto the run. I planned to be pretty conservative on the first loop and feel out the course. The basic course was out about two miles on a highway-ish road, then back on a path, over a bridge, immediately followed by a steep up and down, turn around, repeat the steep up and down, back over a different bridge, then repeat it all another time. The steep section on the opposite side of the Tennessee River was not insanely steep, but it was a good climb, which was essentially done four times. It was definitely a change from the Eagleman run, which is pretty much pancake flat!









At the end of the first loop I was feeling good and decided to up the pace a bit. Miles 8 and 9 were around 6:45 pace, which I felt I hold through to the end. Unfortunately, I ended up getting some abdominal cramps starting around mile 10 and the pace dropped a bit as a result. In the end I ended up running 1:32, about two minutes slower than what I felt I could run based on fitness. My final time was a bit over 4:38. Given the challenging course and quality field, I feel like I finished about where I expected. Had things gone perfect (and I'd brought along my wetsuit) I could have been closer to 4:30. It was a good way to end the season, and stepping stone for next year. I've signed up for Lake Placid in July, so training will be focused on that race, starting to ramp things up around March or April of next year.

One part of logistical worry was being able to leave quickly after I got my bike. Transition wasn't opening back up until 2:30 pm, and I would need to be on the road by 3:00 to have enough wiggle room getting back to Atlanta for my 7:45 pm flight. I was able to get my gear bags and bike, quickly drop the bike off with TBT, then get back to my car. Traffic was fine on the return to Atlanta, and I was home and in bed by 11:30 pm that night and back to work the next morning. Of course when I shared with my third grade students they asked me if I had won the race!

With the school year starting up, and Katie going back to school after taking a year off last year with Hannah, it will be hard to fit training in. We'll make it work somehow! Hannah just turned one and Jackson had his first day at pre-K!



Monday, August 28, 2017

Cranberry Olympic Report & WC Preview

Somehow summer is nearly over, and that means school is about to start up once again. As a teacher, I love my summer vacation, but I do look forward to going back to another year with new students, which always brings new challenges to conquer.

As summer has come to an end, I did one final race before school begins. Back in 2010, my first year doing triathlons, I raced my first Olympic distance race, the Cranberry Olympic. This year this race was the New England Club Championships, and I decided to do it along with many Northeast Multisport teammates. In 2010 I finished the race in 2:19 and couldn't comprehend how anyone could go faster than that. My splits were somewhere around 26, 1:07 and 43 plus transition times.

Going into this race I was prioritizing training for the 70.3 WC three weeks later, so I essentially did regular training through Thursday, then some easier stuff on Friday and Saturday. I was hoping to go under 2:05, which would be an Olympic PR. I have really only done a handful of Olympic races over the years, so my 2:09 PR was pretty 'soft.'

I arrived at the race a bit before 5:30 and had plenty of time to set up transition, get in a warmup run, and then get into the water for a few hundred yards before the start. I was racing in the Elite wave, partially due to having open roads on the bike, but also having hopes of making the overall podium.

I knew I'd be well back out of the water, and with a few former college swimmers I was down 4-5 minutes on the top few guys, including Michael Emmons. My friend Colin Cook was racing in M35-39, but I knew he would probably end up a few minutes faster than me. Robert Hollinger was also racing, and he has been first amateur at several 70.3 races. I was hoping I could beat Michael and take 3rd.

In the end, a guy 13 years younger than me ended up running nearly 35 flat in the run to sneak ahead of me on the overall podium by 5 seconds. It was probably a good thing though, because it meant I could head home much earlier than sticking around for awards.

Overall, I'd say my swim was what I expected (course was only .8 miles), bike was solid, and run was pretty good. I was only around 5 sec/mile slower on the run than in sprints earlier in the season, so I'll take it. At 2:02 the time was a nice PR. The bike course is 26.2 miles, so it makes up for the short swim.





Looking forward, I have just under two weeks until the 70.3 World Champs in Chattanooga. I have no expectations of coming close to the front of the field, but I still hope to have a solid race. The swim is in a river, and a portion is against the current. The swim waves are roughly every ten minutes with a rolling start for each AG, which is a different approach. It will be non-wetsuit, so I'd think a time in the 33-35 min range, while not fast, would be what I expect. The bike has a good climb in the early miles, than is pretty fast for the remainder. Best Bike Split has me somewhere around 2:18-2:19 for the ride. I'm hoping to have a better run than at Eagleman - close to 1:30 would be solid considering my run fitness, the heat & humidity, and the hilly course.

In terms of training, I've been pretty consistent since Eagleman in early June. Other than two days directly after the race, I've only taken one day off, and that was due to a long travel day to California for a wedding in late July. I've been able to get in long rides most weeks in the 2:30-3:15 range and long runs of around 13-17 miles each week. I'm looking forward to putting it all out there on race day!


Friday, August 11, 2017

Always On The Go! (well, almost)

This summer has so far been a real whirlwind. We have spent more time away from home, but things are starting to settle down before the start of the school year. Here's a breakdown of where we've gone since our trip to Nova Scotia:
- Three nights near Tanglewood in the Berkshires
- Trip to Nantucket for triathlon & visit with the parents
- Long weekend in NH to visit Storyland with friends
- Three day trip to Truckee, California for a wedding
- Four nights in Southwest Harbor, ME

One thing I've gotten very good at is packing up our car! Traveling is nice, but it's also really nice to be able to sleep in your own bed. With all of the travel, trying to fit in training has been a little tricky, but I've been able to get it done for the most part.

In Mid July we headed to Nantucket to visit the folks and for me to do the Nantucket Triathlon. I think this was my fifth time racing on home soil, and I was hoping to better my 3rd OA position from last year. Knowing that Beau Garufi was racing meant I was going for 2nd place. He's a former D1 swimmer, and there's no getting around that!

The weather wasn't exactly ideal - there was a bit of wind (headwind on the 2nd half of bike) and quite a lot of rain. The rain definitely slowed things down on the bike course. My power was pretty comparable to last year - around 315-320 watts - but my time was a minute slower due to taking things more carefully with slick roads. Coming off the bike I was about three minutes behind Beau, and knew there was no way of catching him. I was pretty much in no-man's-land, and tried to get the legs turning over. It was to no avail, as I haven't done that much running faster than 6:00 pace, with the focus on the 70.3 distance. I was able to average around a 6:15 pace, and it was good enough for another 3rd OA at the end of the day. One good take away was having quick transitions compared to the other top folks.



Consistent pacing on the bike - damn wind and rain!

Pretty even splits on the run.

OA Podium
Clean setup on the bike. 
At the end of July we headed west for a wedding in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Our college friend Tom was getting married in Truckee, and we were bravely taking along 'little one,' AKA Hannah. This was actually her fourth plane trip, but the longest one thus far. Overall, she did OK on the plane, but I did end up walking a lot with her in the aisles! The return flight was a red-eye on which she slept maybe 2/3 of the time. We, on the other hand, got very little sleep. I just can't seem to get comfortable in a seated position on a plane.


The wedding was great, although we were a bit thrown for a loop when we found out that the dress code was 'mountain formal.' WTF is that???? Ties were discouraged, and Katie attempted to dress me well for the event. It was awesome to see so many college friends. It seems that the only time we see many of these friends is at weddings, but those are getting fewer and fewer.

I got in a nice 14 mile run the morning after the wedding, going around Donner Lake twice. The altitude definitely impacted things, and my pace & HR were definitely off of 'normal' a bit. On Sunday we drove back to SF, but the traffic was pretty horrendous! It took well over five hours to get into the city, and we managed to have a short visit with my sister-in-law, before getting to the airport.


A few days after getting home we were again off! This time there was no plane involved, but a rather long drive to Mount Desert Isle, ME. Along the way we stopped off at Bates, where Katie and I both went to college. It had been five years since we'd been back, and quite a few new buildings had popped up during our hiatus. It was the first time on campus for both Jackson and Hannah. It was a good 'break up' spot, as Hannah wouldn't have survived the five hours straight in the car. Bates is almost the halfway point, so it worked out well. One thing that we wanted to do was get out to see the new boathouse for the crew team, but that will have to wait until our next visit. 


We were able to get in a short hike, and Jackson found a great place to throw stones in the water, one of his favorite activities! The weather was cooler than in the Boston area, which is always a nice change. 


I got in a few rides while were there. I always love getting out early, and my rides were pretty free of vehicles. I've found that I like doing bike intervals on Sergeant Drive and longer rides going into the park on the Park Loop Road. I also got in a swim at Echo Lake, and there was a nesting loon right near the beach where I began my swim.


Right after getting home from Maine we went into Boston for our first 'Sox game of the year. It was a great game and Jackson had a fun time, although waiting in line for 40 minutes to get a balloon 'Wally' wasn't so awesome.

The next few weeks before school begins include an Olympic race on August 20th and another visit to Nantucket to visit my parents for a few nights. I'm then headed to Tennessee for the 70.3 WC on September 8th. Fitness isn't what it was last summer, but I still hope to put together a decent showing.




Friday, July 7, 2017

Going Back Home


This is the view from the deck of my parents house looking out over Margaree Harbour (Canadian spelling) in Cape Breton. My Dad bought this 30 acre farm there in 1970 after staying in the house, which was a bed and breakfast at the time, and offering to buy it because of the amazing location. I was born in Sydney, which is a two hour drive away, and my parents lived in this house year-round for eleven years, my Dad painting and my Mom weaving and making textiles. They were a part of the hippie generation, partially getting away from the Vietnam War, and going back to the land. They had cows, sheep, chickens, and a huge garden. I spent every summer here as a kid, and have so many fond memories of the place. My Dad taught me how to fly fish for salmon here, and we could often see the salmon jumping in the harbour on their way up the river. My summer days were spent outside from sunrise to sunset, which is nearly 10 pm with the time change, playing with other kids. We had no TV and didn't need it! We built forts in the woods, created our own games, and I had an amazing summer childhood.

It had been five years since we'd been back to Margaree. My brother got married here in 2012 and we hadn't planned on taking so long to get back. My Mom has been back every summer, but my Dad hasn't made it since the summer of 2013. Needless to say, it was a very sentimental trip, and it was sad to leave. However, the house had a few drawbacks (well, really a lot!). The house is 100 years old this year, is full of lead paint, has only one bathroom, and two sets of rickety stairs. Having a 9-month old who wants to crawl everywhere meant Katie or I had to be super vigilant at all times. We tried to get out of the house to do some things, but there isn't a ton to do in the direct vicinity that is of interest to 4 year old Jackson.

Backing up a bit, after the Eagleman race in Maryland I had to go back to school for one more day. A few days later we headed to Nantucket for Father's Day weekend. It was nice to see my Mom, Dad and Grandmother. I got in a longer ride and run there, but the run legs weren't quite back yet.

Two days after getting home we were off for four nights in Stowe, Vermont, staying at a time share that Katie's parents have at the Trapp Family Lodge. During our stay, Katie had her birthday. I gave her a new pair of trail running shoes, and Hannah really liked the box (and Cliff Bloks too). We managed to get out and play a little mini golf. Jackson had a hard time following the rules and just wanted to whack the ball as hard as possible!


I hoped to do more riding in Stowe, but the weather didn't cooperate, and I only got in one ride. I went from the Stowe side up and over Smuggler's Notch. I didn't exactly have the proper gearing on my tri bike (53/39 w/an 11-25 cassette). It was still a fun ride and had some nice views on the climb.



Katie and I were able to get out on some rented mountain bikes for two hours one afternoon. It was a great ride and the weather was perfect. We managed to get lost a few times on the trails around the Trapp Family Lodge, but eventually found our way back. The ride makes me want to get a mountain bike and explore some of the local trails around our home. The time share had two pools, a 20-yard indoor one and a 25-yard outdoor one. I swam each morning and got in a bit over 10k yards while there. 


We returned from Vermont on Friday and on Sunday I did a local sprint race. I really hadn't done much specific training in between Eagleman and this race, and didn't know quite what to expect. I had registered in the Elite Wave, which had eight folks in it. The RD made the decision to start the elite racers in the 3rd wave, trying to spread things out. This made for a very tricky bike ride, as there were tons of folks who had no f-ing clue what they were doing. I know I'd probably be last out of the water from the elites, and that was the case. I had hoped to be no more than a minute down, but it was a bit more than that.

Before the race I debated with myself which shoes to wear - the modified Giro ACC's or my Shimano TR9's. I knew the TR9's were much easier to get into, but the Giro's were more aero. I chose to go with the Giro ACC, but was never able to get my left foot in. I ended up spending the first two miles trying to get my foot in, then decided to f-it and rode the remainder of the bike course with my foot on the shoe. I probably wasted close to a minute of riding time (coasting) trying to get the shoe on. Hindsight is 20-20, but the TR9's would have been a better choice. I've since adjusted the lacing on the ACC's so they are easier to get into.



As I said before, being started in the 3rd wave, and with the 1st wave comprised of complete newbies, the ride was quite harrowing. It was only a 12.5 mile ride, but I probably screamed 'on your left' 50 or more times. How hard is it to ride on the right???? Anyway.....rant over. I had hoped to be around 320 watts for the bike leg, but only averaging 250 for the first two miles led to an AP of 302 and a NP of 317. The last 10 miles were right around 320 watts and 27 mph. 


Coming off the bike and into transition, I could just see the bright green helmet of one of the other elite racers at our racks. He ended up having a sprint to finish 2nd OA. I was really in no-mans land, being nearly a minute behind the other elite racers in front of me. I had hoped to run around a 6:00 pace, but ended up at 6:11 for the race, and finished 5th overall out of a bit over 800 racers. It was a fun race, but I wish I had executed the bike a bit better and had a stronger run. The swim is what is holding me back a bit, but I'd really need a strong focus, and with two little ones that isn't going to happen. What usually seems to happen is that my swim comes around during the season - last year I ended up with a 31 flat swim at Pumpkinman. Hopefully this will happen again this year.

After driving home from the race we had a few more days at our house before heading off to Cape Breton for the week. My Mom arrived on Tuesday, and on Wednesday morning we got up early to drive to Logan Airport. The flight to Halifax is relatively short, at just over an hour. Once there, we got a rental car - well van actually. It was a pimped out Chrysler Pacifica with dual rear screens and tons of techno gizmos. Jackson wanted to 'watch something,' as he puts it, but the screens didn't get used. After a four hour ride, we finally made it to our family house around 4 PM. I won't bore with too many more details about our time in Cape Breton, but will add captions to a few pics.


I managed to get to the beach twice to try to swim. Both days were windy and wavy and the troops (Katie, Jackson, and Hannah) weren't all that happy. I ended up with only 600 or so yards or body surfing and floundering in the surf. 


On July 1st, Canada Day, we visited some friends of my parents. We managed to find a few Canadian themed objects for a Canada Day selfie. 


Our barn, which is in relatively good condition, once housed many animals. My brother is going to spend around five weeks here this summer trying to restore my Dad's 30 foot schooner, which is in the barn (part sticking out).

We went on a nearly 6 mile hike in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. In the past we've seen lots of moose, but all we saw was their crap! Jackson was a pretty good trooper, but I ended up carrying him on my shoulders for nearly half the time. I managed to get in 77 miles of hilly running during our week, including a nice 18.5 mile loop up and down the Margaree River.


We had a mini get away during our vacation, driving a bit over two hours to Louisbourg, and staying in a hotel nearby. Louisbourg is a French fort that was taken twice by the British (then retaken by the French) in the years leading to the American Revolution. It has been restored and has period actors. Jackson really liked all of the cannons around the fort but wasn't so sure about the soldiers.

Hannah didn't actually have her on airplane seat on the way home, but she liked it!

This is the summer of being on the go. In two more days we are headed to the Berkshire's for four nights, and then we'll be going back to Nantucket in a week to visit the folks and race in the Nantucket Triathlon. I finished 3rd OA last year, and hope to better that placing this year. After that we have a bit of time at home before going to California at the end of the month for a wedding. Somehow I hope to get in 12-15 hours of training a week to be in decent shape for races in August and September.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Eagleman 70.3 Report and Thoughts

My primary goal heading into Eagleman was to secure a spot to the World Champs in Chattanooga in September, and I was able to meet that goal. However, my run seemed to let me down and I ran much slower than what I though would be my 'worst case scenario.' I knew my fitness wasn't quite as good for this race as it was at the end of last summer, but I felt with a decent run I'd be able to get close to the low 4:20's mark. Here are my splits, courtesy of sportstats.ca, the timing company for IM. They do an infinitely better job of updating splits during races than the ironman website!!



I began with what I feel was a pretty good swim considering how little swimming I did since last season. For a majority of the months from September - February I swam once a week. In March and April I tried to add in a second swim on some weeks, and by mid May I was able to get into Walden Pond to do a few open water swims prior to race day. The swim ended up with a time of just over 34 minutes, three minutes slower than my 70.3 swim PR, but about what I expected. I feel like I sighted well and swam the buoy line, and I'm not sure of the accuracy of the 2400 yds my Garmin (in swim cap) gave me. The new Zoot Wikiwiki felt great as well! Regardless, I was out of the water and ready to hammer on the bike.


The run into transition was maybe 200 yards, and I took advantage of the strippers. My only regret is that I had no tip for their fine service! Into T2 and I put on my helmet, stashed my flat kit in my rear pocket, and was off. I was hoping for a bit quicker transition, but looking at others in the AG, it wasn't that slow.

Based on training, I felt that targeting the low 270's for watts was the goal, but I wanted to ease into it a bit, knowing my HR is always high for the first 10-15 miles of the bike. After getting out of town I began to settle into my watts, trying to hold the best position possible, and passing tons of folks in the process. As can be seen below, I was pretty consistent in terms of speed and wattage range.


Somewhere just before the 34 mile mark I managed to drop my concentrated bottle of Infinit as I was taking it out of the cage. Being my only nutrition, I quickly stopped to retrieve it. In the process of restarting I rushed and managed to drop my chain. This whole fiasco, which seemed to take about an hour, only cost me a minute or so. However, I knew I had been on pace for a ride of right around 2:10. As you can see below, I had a peak power of a bit over 550 watts in trying to get back up to speed. I knew it was unwise to try getting that wasted time back, so I again settled into my wattage range and cruised by many folks.


I've heard that Eagleman is a flat race, and the profile below the map does it justice. There were a handful of virtually flat bridges scattered throughout the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge that accounted for about 100 total feet of elevation. For the most part, the road surface was good, but there were definitely some bumpy sections that killed the speed. Any road hazards were clearly marked with spray paint, which was great!


In terms of gear for race day, I feel like I'm always trying to add a thing or two each season to get a better position. Last year I added in the new Giro helmet, and this year I added in the Giro shoes with elastic laces. The pics below are poor screen shots, but I feel I've got a pretty decent position. I really tried to shrug the shoulders and tuck the arms in right against my water bottle. After loosing some nutrition via my rear bottle holder I went to a X-Lab Gorilla that is zip-tied in, and it worked great. The new Team Zoot kit was great. I'm not all that psyched about the fit of the two-piece suit I have, especially the top in regards to wrinkles and a bit low neckline that sometimes grabs air. However, I was able to have the fastest amateur bike split on lower than goal wattage. On the back end of the course there were some sections where I was fighting a head wind and really trying to get as narrow as possible to maximize my watts.



Coming into T2 I knew I wasn't going to go under 2:10, which was a bit frustrating. The last little bit of the race is a slight downhill into T2. I came in at my 'normal' speed, taking my right foot over the saddle and planning on running with the bike, my left foot hitting the ground first. However, this didn't exactly happen correctly. My best guess is that when my left foot hit the ground it was a bit behind my center of gravity, because I did a complete somersault, managing to not hit my head, and having my bike mimic my acrobatics. A bit scraped up, but not injured, I quickly jumped up, grabbed my bike and a shoe that had popped off, and ran into transition. This fiasco, coupled with my bottle drop definitely hurt my chances of a sub 2:10 ride, but I knew I was still in a good position. 

Unaware, I was actually 1st in my AG after the bike coming into T2, having been 41st after the swim. I had decided to throw on a running singlet and run with a nutrition belt. The belt has two small bottles, one of which had three gels, and the other had eight salt taps dissolved in water. I actually felt pretty good heading out on the run, but made a very concerted effort to take it easy and target a pace in the 7:00-7:10 range and a HR under 160. I ran 1:29 at Florida 70.3 last spring - it only got to around 80 that day, but it was a hilly course. The forecast for Eagleman was to get into the low 90's. However, I feel the real difference was that the run at Eagleman is nearly all exposed and the radiant heat coming off the pavement makes it feel much hotter. 

I made it to around mile three with a HR of just under 160, and was still feeling good. However, somewhere between there and mile five I began to 'feel' the heat. It is a bit hard to explain the feeling, but my pace began to drop and my HR began to rise. The effort got more intense, and I made a point to take the aid stations slow and take in lots of fluids. I was in the 2nd wave of my AG, and around the 5-6 mile mark I was passed by someone from the wave that was 4 minutes in front of me. As the miles ticked by slower and slower there seemed to be nothing I could do to even try to maintain the pace of the previous mile. I was passed by another two fellow AG-ers, but could only watch them run away from me. Talking to others after the race who were from New England or other colder areas, it was agreed that training for the heat is damn hard if you don't have consistent heat to train in! Seems like a no-brainer, but without heat to train in, I melted. The 70.3 WC in Tennessee should be warm in September, but I will make a point of getting in lots of training during hot and humid conditions over the summer.


Nearing the finish, trying to speed up to 7:30 pace felt like closer to 5:00 pace. Finally crossing the finish line, I still felt like I probably had a WC slot, but with the two waves for the AG it was unknown. I found some shade and chatted for a while with other racers. I had a chance to talk with Eric Wheeler about his race. I also got a chance to meet Mike Gadzinski, and guy who's owned Eagleman, and who has inspired me to get faster in the sport. 

Eventually, we were allowed back into transition. I was able to grab my phone and see that I'd come 4th in the M35-39 AG. Not what I was looking for, but I probably didn't have a shot at 1st in the AG. Without the bike mishaps, slightly quicker transitions, and a run that was 4-5 min faster I could have been 2nd. However, hindsight is always great to speculate about, but I'm not Hermione Granger with a time turner (Harry Potter reference), so it ain't happening!

Looking forward, the school year is done today! We have quite a bit of traveling planned, including time in Stowe, VT, a week long trip to Cape Breton, visiting the folks on Nantucket, and a wedding at the end of July near Lake Tahoe in Trukee, CA. Sprinkled in there are two sprint races and an Olympic. I hope that training can be consistent and that I have a strong showing at the WC in Chattanooga. My goal for that race is to be pleased with my effort and execute against a strong field of racers.