Nov 06 2013

UWC Triathlon a.k.a. my surreal Bahamian weekend

Published by under Cervelo,Champ-Sys,Hincapie,Races,Travel

20131103_102150A few times in Triathlon I’ve been invited on trips that seemed too good to be true. Like in 2007 when I received an email from a former Olympian, Victor Plata, asking if I’d like to go an an all expenses paid trip to Brazil in order to race on live Brazilian television and in front of 40,000 onsite spectators. That time I didn’t believe it was real until the start of the race.

20131103_114434This time the invitation downplayed the experience that was being offered: a spectacular weekend in the Bahamas with a select group of professional athletes and a chance to spend quality time with people who care a great deal about the sport. (and an Olympic distance triathlon in paradise). The UWC Triathlon is the result of a tremendous amount of effort put forth by Barbara Ann Bernard, who directs and plans the race in an effort to raise money for scholarships to UWC, an international college preparatory program that helps students gain exposure to a global community of scholars.

Barbara Ann invited me to come to the race in 2012, but when Hurricane Sandy postponed the date of the race I was forced to cancel my trip. This year I was thrilled to be invited again and after hearing stories from last year’s race there is no way Abby and I were going to miss  it.

Friday Abby and I were greeted in Nassau by a perfect sunny day, a meal prepared by Scratch Lab’s Biju Thomas, and a homestay overlooking the Lyford Cay (pronounced KEE) golf course. Before Biju’s dinner we were invited to a wine tasting at Mahogany House, a nearby upscale  restaurant, but after a long travel day we opted to put our feet up by the pool and relax while we waited for the rest of the athletes to arrive.

That night’s dinner was a relative feast, but it was only a glimpse of what we could expect for the remainder of the weekend. I saw Rich Hincapie helping cook and found out that he and his brother, George, would be doing their first triathlon with us on Sunday. The other news of the week was Jarrod Shoemaker’s “win” of the open water race held that morning. I put “win” in quotes because both Sarah McClarty and Lauren Brandon beat him in the race – a fact that I would taunt Jarrod about if I hadn’t been out-split by Sarah in the swim at several races this year.

Saturday was more of a normal pre-race day. I rode with Tim Don and James Hadley (who were staying at the same home as Abby and me) over to the race site. We swam and rode the course together. My favorite part of spending the day with those guys was listening to their British banter back and forth. The two of them would keep a running commentary of everything we saw, but with the addition of the accent and dry British sarcasm. I wish I’d had a camera on my bike, I’d give you a highlight reel (presented by the Garmin Virb, obviously).

That night were were presented with another meal masterminded by Biju – Indian food. Now, typically Indian is not what I would seek out the night before a race. While it is my favorite cuisine, in my mind it fosters images of burning belly or race morning “issues”. It was not the case. Biju insisted that the spice (which was very mild) would help us get to sleep, and the mix of rice and lentils was a tried and true combination with the BMC cycling team. And he was right. I felt great the next morning and slept like a baby.

Sunday we raced (Yes! This really is a race report, I just wanted to give you an idea of the tone of the weekend. We were treated like professionals and given the chance to interact with a really special group of people supporting the triathlon.) Because the race is kept to a small number of participants it feels like a local race. There’s very little stress getting set up in transition and there’s plenty of space to warm up in the water.

20131103_102032I finished my warmup as a band started to play the Bahamian national anthem, after which I lined up with the other professional men and women, plus George Hincapie and the rest of the amateur triathlete field. It was really cool to be able to start the race with the amateurs division. While George never caught me on the bike, I knew he was back there and my only advantage was what I was able to gain in the swim.

After the two lap swim I darted through transition and took the lead of the race right away. After last week’s Miami 70.3 I didn’t have a whole lot of “umph” in my legs, but I was able to drop everyone except Tim Don, who stayed right behind me for the entire 4 lap ride.

The run was on a trail and I knew it would have to be special day to hang with a former ITU World Champ and one of the best runners in the sport. I did for about a kilometer, but the heat of the day and the fatigue of Miami formed the reality that it would not be that special day. Jarrod ran up from the second pack and passed me at the first turnaround of the two-lap run. Behind him were a bunch of athletes and I was sure they would be following Jarrod past me soon. I toughed through the next mile and  half and by the midpoint of the run it was Leon Griffin alone behind me. I could tell the heat and Miami fatigue (he was 4th in Miami last week) were affecting him as much as me and I put my head down to see if I could keep holding him off.

I held on that second lap and finished third. Jarrod ran up to Tim and won in a sprint finish on the beach. Leon faded and finished in fourth. Alicia Kay won the women’s race, making her and Jarrod the most successful couple of the day.

At the finish the pro field looked wiped from the heat. Chris Foster and I floated in the ocean for a few minutes then grabbed a quick massage and food before the start of the kids race. This was another really magical experience. Every professional triathlete there, 20 men and women in total, came out to help with the kids triathlon. We did a quick Q&A on the beach then cheered the kids on through a 100m swim, 5k bike and 1k run. During the swim I stood near the finish guiding and cheering in the group of kids, then headed to transition to encourage them onto the run. At the finish I handed out medals and high fived all the smiling kids as they ran through. I really wish I’d been part of an experience like that when I was a kid.

The rest of the weekend was equally memorable, but I’ll try to sum it up for my readers. The pro field was invited by one of the participants to do a dolphin experience at Atlantis ( a massive resort on the island), we had more incredible food and celebrated the end of a long season with some of my favorite people in the sport of triathlon. I’m so appreciative of Barbara Ann for putting on this race, and I really hope that I helped to raise the profile of the race and attract further donation to the UWC program. I can’t wait to come back next season.

Oh yeah, and while he didn’t catch me, George Hincapie rode about 2 minutes faster than me, splitting 50 minutes. I want a rematch!

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Oct 27 2013

Miami 70.3

Published by under Races

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A week after finishing up the Lifetime Triathlon Series, I headed to Miami to prove that I could finish a half ironman. I chose Miami because I wanted to compete against the best field (there were two smaller 70.3 races to choose from the same weekend) and because I LOVE racing in Miami.

I finished in 3:45, but that was only strong enough for a 5th place on the day. I rode 2:02 and ran 1:16, which were both about four minutes slower than my goal times, but when we get to the end of October it’s good just to be fit enough to race.

The short version of the play-by-play is this: I swam with the front pack, I went solo on the bike and had a 3 minute lead at the turnaround. Unfortunately I gave up a bunch of that time on the second 28 miles and by the second mile of the run I had already been passed. My first mile was under 6 minutes, but then I ran about 5 miles in the 6:40 range and dropped to seventh place before recovering enough to resume fast running and move into 5th.

Memorable moments of the race:

I was blown sideways at one point by a helicopter filming me that got too close.

There was a Ferrari on the course that drove next to me for a short period of time while I was leading the bike.

Even though I wasn’t sure I could run when my legs started cramping off the bike, the second half of my run was in the 5:40 pace range where I wanted to be – I didn’t know that could happen!

I’m pretty happy with the race. Anyone who has been following me knows that the half-iron distance has been frustrating for me this year, and while I certainly wanted to ride 56 miles in less than 2 hours again, I’m really happy just to prove that I can ride hard and still finish a half marathon. Plus, the effort was there for a sub-2 hour bike ride, even if my end-of-season strength was less impressive than the 1:58 I posted in San Juan (on my way to nearly killing myself).

Next up is the UWC Bahamas Triathlon next weekend, which is the last race of an awesome year of racing. I’m learning so much this year, and I can’t wait to put it together in 2014. Until then I have to finish up racing and school.

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Oct 20 2013

Oceanside Lifetime Fitness Championship

Published by under Races

The seventh and final race of the 2013 Lifetime Fitness Triathlon Series was the most unique experience of the series. I came into the weekend feeling secure about finishing top three in the series, but knowing that I could move up into second or first if I earned three points more than Hunter Kemper or Cameron Dye.

At the final each finishing place is worth 2 points less than the place ahead, and each prime (fastest swim, bike, or run) is worth one point and a tie is settled by the finishing place in the final. Thus, if I had the fastest bike and finished one place ahead of Hunter or Cameron AND that person didn’t get a prime, then I would tie that person’s score and beat them in the series. I was hoping to beat both of them and to do it with the fastest bike split.

The morning of the race was beautiful, but right as the race started a thick fog moved in. We were swimming in a harbor and were never far from shore, but in the middle of the first leg of the race I couldn’t see anything. I remember spotting, but seeing only white with the silhouettes of arms in front of me. Even though I was near the front of the swim group I couldn’t see the lead paddle boarder, and I had no idea where the buoys were until we were right on them. I just had to trust that the person ahead could see a paddle board and wouldn’t get lost.

We came out as a big lead group and within a few miles on the bike it was the usual suspects, plus a couple young guys. Joe Maloy and Eric Lagerstrom were riding really strong. Cameron had the lead, and much like in Dallas he wasn’t up for being passed. We were riding really hard, but every time we hit a turnaround those young guys were still with us and Stuart Hayes was right on their wheels. In that moment at a turnaround where I could see Cameron’s face I could tell he was as shocked as me that people were hanging with us.

The fog was thick throughout the race and there were times on the bike that, much like in the swim, I couldn’t see beyond a few meters. It was eerie, riding over rolling hills with no clue of our surroundings. The air was cold too, and the thick fog condensed onto my bike and legs at such a quick rate that water was running down my P5 frame.

I entered T2 side-by-side with Cameron, but managed to claim the fastest bike split. In the last 10km we had put a sizeable gap between us and the young guys plus Stuart. I did a quick pep talk to myself, “you’re a running Ben, it’s your race to lose”.

Exiting T2 we heard the time gap of just over 3 minutes. This was an equalizer format race, which meant that the women started 10 minutes ahead of us and if I beat her to the finish line there was an extra $50,000. That made for a 95,000 difference in prize money between winning the race and catching Alicia versus finishing behind Cameron and Hunter and finishing 3rd in the series.

I thought about the money for a second, but then refocused – “you’re a runner”. Cameron took the lead and I decided to run on his shoulder until I got my legs under me. I felt pretty good, and my mantra seemed to be translating to reality.

But then reality set in. Rather than sitting on Cameron’s shoulder I started falling back. He slowly drifted away a few meters at a time and by a mile in I was running on my own.

The run course went out and back North from transition, then out and back South, twice around. This meant we saw spectators a bunch. Normally this is good, but today I felt like I was letting them down. Half way through the first lap I was running in second. The next time we passed I was third and on the final pass before the finish I had faded to 5th. Stuart ran to the lead and won the race, Eric ran to second, and Joe finished fourth behind Cameron. Hunter finished sixth behind me.

For the series this meant that Alicia won the equalizer and the women’s race, Cameron won the men’s series, and Stuart passed me to finish second. Thus, even though I managed to stay ahead of Hunter and earn a prime over him, that ended up allowing me to stay in third rather than moving up. Looking back I don’t know why I discounted Stuart’s ability to move up in the series, but I should have known a crafty guy like he is would be a serious threat.

I finished third in the series for the second year in a row, but I’m much more proud of that result this year. In 2012 I was devoted to Triathlon. I spend the majority of the year living at the Olympic Training Center and had all the services and resources an athlete could ask for. This year I’m a student, I live on my own. I shop for groceries and cook and walk my dog. I pay for my massage and physical therapy and doctor visits. This year I did just as well as last year, in some ways better (I won three races this year, up from one in 2012) but I did it from the real world. I learned a ton about myself this year – about what I need for recovery, about how to train with a busy schedule, about stress management and life balance. Finishing third in the Lifetime series is no small feat, and to be able to do that with everything else I added to my life this year is awesome. Yes, I wanted to win the race and walk home with $108,000 (if I didn’t want that then I shouldn’t be racing), but I was beaten by great athletes and I beat great athletes. I’m happy that I get to be a factor in the race.

Next weekend I race the Miami 70.3, followed by the UWC Bahamas Triathlon November 10th.

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Oct 07 2013

Lifetime Fitness Dallas

Published by under Cervelo,Champ-Sys,Races

I have mostly wonderful memories of this course from last year. I came into Dallas in 2012 having finally rested enough to show off the fitness I had built up over the summer training with Greg Billignton, and I raced fast.

This year I was excited to do even better. I’ve been riding crazy fast, and I felt like a hilly and challenging course would be a great way for me to exploit my strength against some flimsier athletes.

Sometimes facts are more important than dreams.

I started off racing like planned. I haBV5gKOSCcAEegCId a good-enough swim and came out with the leaders. Cameron Dye and I were off the front within a few miles and I spent most of the race just behind him. Every time I tried to take the lead he would surge to come back by me, so eventually I settled into second and held my stagger. The fact that he could surge back past me repeatedly should have been an indicator, but I naively assumed that the ache in my legs would go away as soon as I started running.

It didn’t. The run is where Dallas offers the most challenges. There is not 100 meters of flat pavement on that course, and the first half mile is straight up. My legs failed within a few minutes of the start of the race and I watched Cameron trot off into the distance. You know that feeling when you finish a set of squats and your legs are wobbly and ready to buckle? That’s what I felt like trying to run up and down the hills. My run was a full minute slower than last year’s time, which allowed Hunter Kemper and Stuart Hayes to pass me by.

I was fourth at the finish line, Just about a minute down from Cameron.

Lessons Learned:

  • Fastest bike splits are great, but you have to have an accurate gauge of your fitness. It takes beast strength to back up the fastest bike split with a race-winning run.
  • I’m not training in Colorado anymore. Perhaps how I perceive my ability on hilly courses is no longer accurate?
  • In the two weeks since Tempe and Vegas I barely recovered and only had a few days of hard training before Dallas. Perhaps training through a tough double like Vegas and Tempe takes a greater toll than it’s worth. I may have been better off resting for the double then getting back into tough training sooner.

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Sep 24 2013

A Double Header–Part 2

Published by under Races

Before my heart rate could drop from the Vegas Super Sprint on Thursday night I hopped in a rental car with Jarrod Shoemaker and headed down to Arizona for the Lifetime Fitness Tempe Triathlon. This new addition to the Lifetime Pro Series is held at the same venue as the Ironman Arizona. The race just doesn’t get so far out into the dessert.

I had an awful race. but I (re)learned a lot.

In the swim I found myself fighting with TJ Tolekson after 800 meters of futile attempts to get him to stop physically landing on my hip every stroke. I learned my lesson about fighting in the swim back in 2009 at my first World Cup in Mooloolaba, but perhaps lessons need to be reiterated every few years. Being rough in the swim slows everyone down. In Mooloolaba it cost me the breakaway, in Tempe it cost me about a minute to the swim leaders.

I spent the rest of the race trying to catch up. Passing a big pack of contenders, then starting the run in noman’s land – minutes back from Cameron Dye and Joe Maloy, and a hard-earned minute up from the pack of runners. Starting the run I immediately felt the fatigue left over from Thursday’s race. My legs were heavy and offered little support in my quest to catch the men ahead. Stewart Hayes passed me at 5k and I finished in 4th place.

Lessons learned:

  • Thursday to Sunday is not enough time to recover from races if you’re trying to train through. Cameron did well, but he came in from a big training block and Thursday was his “shake-out” session after a few days of rest. My training block, on the other hand had ended with the Super Sprint, and the race had pushed me into the depths of fatigue that required a solid rest week to recover.
  • Etiquette in the swim is a wonderful thing. But since it’s not enforceable, be strong enough to get away from the guys who don’t follow it. Don’t fight, just swim faster.

Next up is Lifetime Fintess Dallas Triathlon. Great course, and I have a couple of weeks to get my legs back under me.

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Sep 23 2013

A Double Header–Part 1

Published by under Races

This week I raced in Las Vegas on Thursday at the Super Sprint Grand Prix, then again on Sunday at the Lifetime Fitness Tempe Triathlon. I was 6th place in Vegas and 4th in Tempe.

StoryMensSwim1The Super Sprint, which is broadcast by Universal Sports in October was different and fun. The race was held in the parking lot outside the Las Vegas Convention Center. The swim was in a 10 lane, 25 meter, portable pool, while the bike and run were on a criterium course that wound it sway around the parking lot. Each “hit”, as they call it in the Grand Prix world, was a 300 meter swim, a 7-lap 5 mile bike and a 3-lap 1.5 mile run. Since the pool could only accommodate 10 athletes at a time, there were three single “hit” qualifying heats in the morning where the top 3 athletes from each heat would return for finals.

I won my qualifying heat and progressed to finals.

At 9pm that night, under flood lights and in front of cameras and spectators we raced a two-hit final. This means that after the first hit we ripped off our running shoes, grabbed a pair of goggles and dove right back into the pool for a second round.

182-632x421In finals I had a terrible swim. The way the pool was designed it was really hard to execute a proper flipturn and after nearly missing the wall on the first two turns I found myself behind the wake of the men around me. I exited the water last, but transitioned quickly and found myself on the back of a train being pulled by Cameron Dye. We bridged up to the small breakaway and the group started the first run together. I took the lead after the first lap and pushed the pace into T3. Diving back in I felt the familiar pain of the Super Sprint Sink – where your legs fall to the bottom of the pool and you feel like you’ve forgotten how to swim. Lucky for me, the other 9 guys felt the same way and I came out of the water right in the middle of the pack.

This time Cameron let some other guys take turns pulling, but the group entered T5 together again. Pulling my feet out of my bike shoes I accidentally unclipped a shoe and with only a few meters left before dismount I had to clip back in and get my foot out. I slowed and went from the front of the pack to the back. Worse, when I got to my running shoes I found the insoles pulled out and I had to shove them back in before I could get my shoes on. I left transition last with a gap in front of me, and my shoes were still not on properly. The first lap I heel striked to try to get my feet to seat into the heal-cup properly and wished I had taken the extra half second to adjust before I started running. Still, I’d lost about 5 second in transition and the group was running harder than on the first hit. I fell to 8th place and was looking at a gap in front of me. The second lap I started moving toward the stragglers and entering the third lap, with 800 meters left, I decided an early kick 281-632x421was my only shot. I passed Tommy Zafares, I caught Cameron Dye and heading into the final turn I reached the shoulder of Luke Farkas. But my kick was in it’s twighlight and those guys were ready to respond. Luke left me in what felt like a drag race between a corvette and a a smart car. I leaned toward the finish but Cameron came back from behind and edged me out. I finished sixth, but the top 7 were only about 7 second apart.

I love the Super Sprint format. It’s exciting, the spectators are close enough to be part of the entire race, and the high pace leaves no room for error. It’s great to have enthusiastic race organizers pushing the envelope of triathlon as a spectator friendly sport.

Here’s a promo video from the event:

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Aug 26 2013

Chicago Triathlon 2013

This year I put a lot of attention into preparing for the Chicago Triathlon. Last weekend marked one full year since I moved in with Abby in Hyde Park, and the Chicago Triathlon was to by my hometown race. Not everything went as planned, but I had a strong race and came in second against a great field on one of the hottest days Chicago has seen this year. To make it more interesting, the professional field starts at 11:30am and races in the heat of the day without a shadow to be found. Oh Chicago, my home sweaty home.

Leading up to the race I was pretty stressed. That stress was summed up when right before the start Matt Chrabot told me, “don’t melt out there.” Basically the late starts just give me time to sit around and stress out about things I can’t change. Luckily, once the gun goes off I can tip my hat to luck and put my energy into things I do have control over. Like swimming my butt off.

The swim is done in Monroe Harbor, right in front of Grant Park. The out and back swim has historically been like swimming in a washing machine, but with an offshore breeze it was waveless. I found myself in the middle of a big pack and came out with all the contenders of the race: Matt Chrabot, Stuart Hayes, Hunter Kemper, and Jarrod Shoemaker.

Chicago features a half-mile run between the swim exit and the start of the bike, which strung things out, but within the first few miles of the ride I took the lead and tried to put some time into the pack of chasers. I managed to get about 40 seconds on Matt, Stuart and Hunter, but in the heat I tempered my effort a bit to make sure I would finish strong.

There was a rumor that during the race a group of women would be doing a topless protest on the bridge above North Avenue Beach. I didn’t look up, but I didn’t hear anyone cheering for me, so clearly they weren’t there.

Starting the run I had trouble focusing on anything but the heat. After two collapses at longer distances this year it’s definitely gotten into my head a bit, and even though I’ve been training in this weather I had not raced in 90 degrees successfully yet this year. About two miles into the run I Hunter caught me. I was in no-man’s-land. I didn’t know how slow I was running until I saw Hunter stride by me. I picked it up, but started feeling defeated. At the turnaround, 3.5 miles in, I was passed by Stuart and saw Matt just a short ways back. Finally something clicked in my brain. I used Stuart as a carrot. I just focused on him and stuck with his surge. He put some time in, but I kept my eyes fixed. I really didn’t expect to catch him, but I had to try to stay with him. I wanted to make it a race.

At mile 5 Stuart turned around and saw me and I made a move. I passed him and just kept going. I ran the last 2k faster than any of the first 8 kilometers, and actually put time back into Hunter. I finished 40 seconds down, but managed to take back second place.

Looking back, I think I could have run faster. I wish I had. But while staying focused is a hard piece to master, regaining focus once it’s been lost is even harder. I did that on Sunday, and that’s something to be happy about.

Next up is Hy-Vee 5150 Championships in Des Moines, Iowa this coming Sunday. Aside from being one of my favorite race, the Hy-Vee triathlon is also the most competitive non-drafting Olympic distance triathlon in the world. They aren’t offering the primes this year, so I have no incentive to go crazy off the front. But I also don’t have a broken foot, so maybe I’ll set myself up for a breakthrough run. It’s Des Moines, crazy things happen at this race every year. I’d like to think that me carrying the American Flag across the finish line is just one of those crazy possibilities.

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Aug 14 2013

Rev3 Wisconsin Dells

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This past week has been pretty awful, but I finished it on a high note, finishing 2nd place at the Rev3 Wisconsin Dells. That makes for three podium finishes in three weeks, and even though this wasn’t a third win, it was my best performance of the three races.

Wednesday I failed the bike workout Mike gave me. This happens from time to time and I don’t worry too much about it. What was bad is when I failed it again on Thursday. Basically I found my limit with training and my body was telling me to shut it down and recover. Friday and Saturday that’s exactly what I did. I focused on school and getting to Wisconsin, and on sleeping and eating healthy food.

When I got to the race Sunday morning my body was starting to come around, but the weather had done the opposite. It was pouring as I warmed up. As much as I love the rain during races, it makes warming up really miserable. On a different day I may have cut the warmup short, but after two full days off from training I needed a long warmup to get my body moving.

Things started going well when the race started and I found myself swimming next to Dustin McClarty. That was only for about 100 meters, but that’s like hanging onto a ballistic missile while it launches. Cameron Dye, Eric Linkemann, Kyle Leto and I ended up swimming together in a pack.

Out of transition Cameron took over the race. I rode next to him for about 5 miles, trying to take the lead, but when we hit the first long grind of a hill Cam dropped me. I held him steady for another 10 miles after that but eventually he started creeping away, entering T2 with over a minute lead.

I ran really well. The split of 34 minutes and change doesn’t show that, but with a really hilly course I felt like I was running quite strong. I closed about 25 seconds on Cam (the results say I did that in T2, but there is a lot about the splits in the results that doesn’t really make sense). I finished 2nd with a solid 45 second lead over Kaleb VanOrt, who just edged out Brooks Cowan at the six mile mark.

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I feel like I’m finally starting to get some fitness back after a strange summer of inconsistent training. In two weeks I’ll be racing the Chicago Triathlon here at home, and I’m hoping to put on a good show for my new city.

I want to thank (in order of appearance) Garmin, Blue Seventy, Cervelo, Vision, Champion-System, Rudy Project and Brooks for their support this year. I hope I can keep living up to the potential of their equipment.

On a different gear. Abby also did the race. It was her first triathlon and she finished with a smile on her face. Will she do another? Maybe. First priority is med school and getting a job where we can afford our growing dog food bills.

Abby on the last stretch!

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Jul 29 2013

5150 Giant Eagle Triathlon

photo (3)Sunday I raced in Columbus Ohio at the 2013 Commit To Be Fit Multisport Weekend 5150 Giant Eagle Triathlon. I won in 1 hour 42 minutes and 20 seconds, which is about as long as it took the announcer to finish saying the name of the race.

This race was fun. And I know I say that about a lot of races, but this time it was because the guys racing all seemed relaxed. A few guys were trying to secure spots to the HyVee 5150 Championships next month, but the majority of us were there to enjoy a race within driving distance from our homes without all the stress of travel. Between the start gun and the finish line was painful and intense, just like any other race, but before and after the race there was just a lightness in the atmosphere that reminded me of the local races on Oahu that got me hooked to the sport of triathlon. For me, it’s the people that make triathlon such a great sport, and Columbus had some great people, both on the sidelines and the course.

It turns out that there are a lot of good triathletes living within driving distance of Columbus (and a few others like Jordan Rapp who flew in). Kaleb VanOrt, for one, lives in Indianapolis. He’s a great runner, so I knew going into the race that I would need to have a great swim and bike to be able to cross the finish line ahead of him.

I started off well in the swim. I led both laps of the 1500m swim (I don’t think I’ve done that since San Francisco in 2010, but maybe I was just stoked on the ne PZ3TX I got this week from Blue Seventy) and came out leading a few guys through transition. Ryan Bice – a member of USAT’s Elite Triathlon Academy – passed me heading out onto the bike (maybe I need to do some ITU races to remember how to get through transition faster), but once I had my feet in and tied down I took the lead and never looked back.

The bike course is point-to-point, starting from Alum Creek State Park into downtown Columbus. There’s a net downhill, and according to my Garmin 910XT the course was also about 2km short. The roads were completely shut down to traffic, and most of the way was newly paved. All this added up to a really fast bike, though I still missed my goal of breaking 51 minutes. (I have no idea how the photo (4)South Beach course is so fast, but I can’t seem to set a PR 40k anywhere else).

Besides a fast course, I was also testing out some new equipment from Vision. I rode a TC50 front wheel and one of the new Metron Disc rear wheels. The combination of which made my Cervelo P5 handle like a road bike.

Heading out on the run is where I started feeling my lack of rest heading into the race. My legs were like led weights, and I had no idea how far back the other guys were. I struggled the first couple of miles to run a mediocre 5:40 pace, and pictured Kaleb and the other guys chopping down my lead by 30 seconds a mile, easily. At the 2.5 mile turnaround I timed a gap of a little over two minutes with Kaleb leading a pack of four guys and looking relaxed and strong. I kept pushing, but never really did find my running legs.

At the finish line I saw Abby and Odin waiting. Odin jumped through the fence to greet me, but I guess Abby wasn’t as excited.

Kaleb came in second, Brooks Cowan third. Both ate a solid bite out of my lead during the run, but I know that when I give my legs a few days rest they’ll respond with the speed I need.

It feels good to be racing strong again. I’m really looking forward to a full schedule this fall. I’ll be racing every other weekend from now to November! Next up is the Rev3 Wisconsin August 11th – it will also be Abby’s very first triathlon. I fully expect her to decide I’m nuts for doing these, then sign up for another one.

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Jul 23 2013

ITU Mixed Relay World Championships

Published by under Random Thoughts

Last weekend was the ITU Mixed Relay Triathlon World Championships held in Hamburg. The US team did really well, but from the results it was hard to see how things played out. Below is a graph that makes it easier to see how each leg of the race contributed to the final placing, but because ITU didn’t post individual swim / bike / run splits for each athlete, we can still only guess at what happened within each leg. For the US it was Sarah Groff, Ben Kanute, Gwen Jorgensen and Cameron Dye. As you can see, the Kiwis only got us by a sliver in the very last moments of the race. Must have been awesome to watch. Great Britain was doing well until a crash in the third leg, which is where their line abruptly stops.

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The X axis is the leg of the race, the Y axis is the time behind germany, and the blue horizontal line is the German team. It looks like they took over in the third leg and then extended their lead in the final leg.

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