28 April 2015

RR: XTERRA West Champs

Happy to be back racing with the gang (PC: XTERRA)
The big ones are underway, after a great winter in Tucson training it was time to start a rather lengthy road trip back to Colorado, first stop was in Las Vegas for the XTERRA West Champs.
Headed out for a pre-ride. (XTERRA)

Spread out front group, I am tucked in there somewhere.

The weather was cooler leading up lead to the race and with a cloudy cool morning it was a +2XU X:3 wetsuit swim as expected.  A number or old road tri friends showed up to race and made for a large front pack on the swim, I got out well and got the arms moving and settled in trying to conserve but making sure that no one was going to get away.  Ben Allen as usual did get a little gap on the group by the end and the chase was on as we mounted the bikes headed for the lunar landscape course on the bike.

Up one of the early climbs, still had the Rudy's with me.

Rocky river bed, just about to loose the Ergomasks.
I managed to transition quick and was quickly into 3rd and charging to catch Ben and Francisco Serrano.  I really attacked the first lap of the bike trying to catch up and put as much distance as possible between me and Josiah who would be charging hard from behind.  I stayed steady and really pushed the hills but was a bit more tentative on the looser downhills than I should have been.  With the cooler temps it is easier to forget but just as critical to get your nutrition and I did a decent job getting down a bottle of +First Endurance EFS Pro nutrition on each lap.  Josiah caught me about three quarters of the way through the first lap and I immediately latched on his wheel and stayed with him up a decent little climb, unfortunately I had lost my +Rudy Project Ergomask's earlier in the race and once we were on the dusty trails along the fingers of the lake I had to back off a bit so I could see and not ride into the lake.  Thankfully Josiah didn't get away that quickly and it was a nice confidence boost.  The second lap was a bit tougher but I kept pounding away, focusing on sections of the course at a time breaking things up.  About half way through Chris Ganter caught me a bit by surprise, I knew he was a guy that could not be over looked as he had been getting better and better through out last year and knew that he had some solid training behind him coming into this year.  He races smart and I didn't get a chance to latch on to his wheel, I kept chasing hard but he opened up about a 30-40 second gap by the time we reached transition.
2015 XTERRA West SRM Powerfile

Proof that the run is getting stronger, both feet off the ground.
I grabbed my flask of +First Endurance Liquid Shot as I headed out of transition Craig Evans and Karsten Madsen were coming in and I knew they would be chasing hard.  I was stoked I felt great going out on to the run and focused on holding a nice steady pace for the first half.  Once the larger hills were behind I really started to turn it on as I could see that I was pulling back time on Ben Allen but Chris but he was pulling away a bit.  I slowly cranked up the pace really focusing Ben and knew he was suffering.  About a mile out a friend told me he was cramping bad and I responded pushing harder through the last uphills.  

Once I hit the last downhill segment on the pavement I was in a full on sprint to catch Ben.  At the line we were separated by three seconds, Ben just held strong to hold me off and I crossed in 5th.

Always great being back racing at XTERRA a great family of racers
(L2R-Ryan Ignatz, Francisco Serrano, Me, Josiah Middaugh)
Always good when you can post a pic of the podium (L2R-Ben Allen 4th, Josiah 3rd, Francisco 1st, Chris Ganter 3rd, Me)
It was a great first hit out of the year and though I would have liked to of placed a bit better I walked away from the race very positive about how I had competed and raced especially mentally through the race.  This is a bit of an easy week of training as I am not in St. George for the North American 70.3 Pro Championships, it is a world championship caliber field and it will be a great battle on Saturday.

Another reason to be grateful the +XTERRA America Tour has started is the Cut-a-thons at the races that Paul Mitchell hosts.  It is a great cause, you get a free hair cut they ask for a $15 donation and all of it goes to the +Challenged Athletes Foundation.  Paul Mitchell is also extremely enviromentally focused as well and during Earth Month (April) they are planting trees with Reforest Action.  If you race an XTERRA this year Paul Mitchell will plant a tree in your honor, if you are not racing one they will plant others if you go to www.paulmitchell.com/reforestaction click through the links and use either code SPORTATREE or XTERRAME
Getting my mop cut down to race style thanks to Kalena, Ross and the Paul Mitchell Crew
Race Details:
Race Kit: 2XU Custom Teamwear Long Distance Tri Top and Compression Tri Shorts
Swim: 2XU Project X:3 Wetsuit, 2XU Race Goggles
Bike: Pro Cycling S-Works Epic with SRM 1xCrank (PWR Avg 270, NP 306)
         Tires both with 80ml of Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex
         Front: Fast Trak Control 29x2.2 @ 23psi
         Rear: RaceKing Protection 29x2.2  @ 26psi
         Rudy Project Windmax Helmet
         Rudy Project Ergomask Glasses (till I fumbled them putting them on)
Run: Colorado Running Company TrailRoc 245
         Rudy Project Noyz Fluo
Race Nutrition: 1st Endurance Triathlon Nutrition Plan

14 April 2015

Marquee Tri and what lies ahead.

Refreshing the Caffelatex with 30ml in each wheel after 2 years.
The Lifetime Fitness Marquee Triathlon was Sunday and was the last little rust buster for me before the season gets going. Unlike the previous few races of just rolling into the races, this one I went through a more typical routine the night before of getting things ready and getting to bed earlier for the early start.  I broke out the race wheels and refreshed the tubular tires with 30ml Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex of sealant, it is a very quick and easy insurance against having a flat tire ruin a race. Thanks to the stability of Caffelatex I only need to do this maybe once every 1-2 years, so depending on how much you race and the tires, you could easily wear out the tires before you need to refresh it. 
The swim was in Tempe Town Lake and the weather had cooled things off enough to make it wetsuit legal.  I would have preferred non-wetsuit but it was good to get in my 2XU X:3 in preparation for the next two races that will likely be wetsuit legal.  The race was an amateur race but there were a couple other pro's there using it for the same purpose I was and I would have some good competition with Pedro Gomes and Tyler Jordan.  I swam well leading out of the water and put 30 seconds on Pedro and a couple minutes on Tyler.
I transitioned quick tossing on my Rudy Project Wing57 and jumped on my bike. I did not position my Ergomask glasses well on the bike to put on and they fell off the bike and I rode straight over the lens.  A volunteer ran and grabbed them as I turned around to grab them and told me they were broken, I saw the pieces from a far, he said he would get them to lost and found and I could get them later there, and I took off on the bike.  The course was a two loop bike, on the first I had smooth sailing with a clear course and really pushed, unsure for the first 8 miles if I was gaining or losing ground to Pedro.  I clocked an estimated split of about 1:15 or so on an out and back that I was ahead and was hoping to put more time on him.  The second loop was a bit messy though as more athletes from later waves were headed out on to the course.  There was a lot of dodging athletes and trying to be a good representative of what you needed to do on the course with the narrow lanes of staying to the right and only moving just enough to the left to pass.  On the out and back section I was able to spot Pedro again and estimated I had maintained the gap around a minute ten with only a few miles left to go and worked on continuing to use the other athletes to slipstream further ahead.  I had a smooth transition to the run and hoped was moving well enough to hold Pedro off.

SRM Power Graph for the LTF Marquee Tri

I had done well on my nutrition thus far in the race taking in all of my First Endurance EFS Pro and a good swig off of my EFS Liquid Shot flask during the bike.  I felt strong and my legs felt like they were turning over well but I was not moving quite fast enough as on a few sections of the two lap run I could see Pedro was gaining on me.  Towards the end of the first lap he caught me, I made a little surge to stay with him but did not commit to it hard enough and he pulled away.  I kept pushing though the second lap and used the other athletes that were on course as carrots to keep gaining ground and keep Pedro as close as possible.  I did not know that Tyler Jordan was gaining on me and closing things down.  I crossed the line in 2nd and found out later that Tyler was only 10 seconds behind.  Overall I smoothed out my transitions and my effort on the swim and bike were right on.  The run was not up to par with my training and I need to work on the mental part of my run a bit more.  It was great having Spooner Physical Therapy there after to help loosen my left glute and hamstring out which was a bit tight on the bike.  I got my Rudy Ergomasks back after the race and the best news is that the lenses did not break, the removable ear piece came off and there is a good scratch on the lens, as to be expected riding over them,  but with Rudy's Replacement Lens Guarantee I will have clean clear vision at the next race. 

I now have a week left in Tucson before leaving my wonderful winter training grounds in Tucson and the real racing begins.  It will be a solid mix of XTERRA and half ironman distance triathlons through the year.  Below is where you will be able to find me this year there are a couple races later in the year that may change.  Let me know what races you may be at and best success with your seasons as well.

4/25   XTERRA West
5/2     IM 70.3 St. George
5/16   XTERRA Southeast
5/31   IM 70.3 Raleigh
6/14   XTERRA East
7/5     Challenge St. Andrews
7/18   XTERRA Mountain
8/1     XTERRA Mexico
8/16   Challenge Pocono
8/30   Challenge Maine
10/4   IM 70.3 Silverman
10/18 Challenge Rancho Cordova
11/1   XTERRA World Championship

09 April 2015

Lets get the ball rolling, what has been up for the past 4 months

Have been silent for quite some time and frustration will do that.  After a less than desirable race at USA Champs last year and a horrific performance at XTERRA World champs it took some time to come back around.  There was a lot of self reflection and over analyzing trying to figure out what was going on and why I was not connecting some great training to my racing.  Derick and I decided that we needed to change things up a bit and took a bit longer break over the winter before heading in to any structured training and focused on more mental training for the first part.

What I wouldn't miss is heading back down to Tucson to train over the winter and just after the New Year I headed down to start getting back into some solid training.  Tucson is an excellent place to come in the winter for training, it doesn't take long to learn some basic training routes and then you can branch off from those and explore more of the area.  There is a great masters swim group at the University of Arizona that offers 3 practices a day Monday through Friday and one on Saturday.  There are a few group rides the most notorious being the "Shootout" on Tuesday and Saturday.  It is a hotbed for cycling and there are many national and world class mountain and road pro cyclists on US Continental to UCI World Pro Tour teams that come down and train and the group ride on Saturday grows from about 50 during the summer months to over 200 in the winter as guys and gals are down putting in the miles.  So it isn never hard to find some one faster than you that will help you push your limits.  Tucson has been improving its network of mountain bike trails over the years and there is and increasing number of options each year, the only downside is that they are a bit more spread out than the trail options in the Springs, but there are a great network of bike paths and bike lanes to get around easily.  Those paths have been great for running as well, with the Santa Cruz and Rillito River Paths for some great flat open paths for pace work or up in the rolling hills of on the west side roads in to Tucson Mountain park for close trail running.  I have also been playing a bigger focus to some strength training over the winter as well.

I have been steadily building over the past couple months and doing a few random races here and there as well.  Started out with the Sun Run 5k to get an idea of where my run fitness and speed was at in early January and over all the run went well.  Only issue is that about 2.5 miles in the course crosses and intersection and the police were there doing their job but a guy riding was on the wrong side of the crosswalk right as I was turing to cross the intersection and our shoulders collided and I went spinning through the air something like this:
Took about 30 sec to gather myself grab my Rudy Project Agon glasses that went flying, check to make sure the rider was okay and then continued on to the finish.  With that taken into account I was pretty happy with my overall time and how it ended up.  We kept the training rolling and kept racing as well.  Part of the mental aspect that I have needed to work on has been in races and makings sure I don't give in and to stay with guys when they pass me and after working on some goal setting and some of the mental pieces in training I applied it to racing.  

In the fight for 2nd less than a mile in.
The next race was the Sunrise at Old Pueblo 4 Mile, it was a race I won last year and was hoping to keep that rolling.  One guy was too quick and there wasn't a chance of staying with him but I had a great battle for 2nd with another guy.  He really forced the pace for the first 2 + miles and made things uncomfortable for sure but I knew that I couldn't let him go I would give it everything to stay with him.  He cracked slightly at about 2.5 miles and I was able to get a small gap on him but he was holding very strong and I had to keep pushing.  I managed to hold him off and took 2nd.

Just past 3 miles in 2nd but 3rd is just lurking, can see him just off my hip.
Off on the 2nd run (PC: Deb McMullen)
Next up was another race that was advertised as an 8k, once it was all said and done it was more about 5.5k.  I guess that is what you get when a fraternity act as the race organizers and they are just trying to copy maps off of mapmyrun.com.  Around this same time I had been working on getting all the pieces of my new mountain bike together to build it up and it was almost 100% complete.  I can't thank Logan enough for loaning me his drive train since the parts I ordered were held up at a shipping yard in San Diego while the workers were on strike.  With the bike up and running I headed up to Scottsdale for the Desert Classic Duathlon, it is a great race that has been held for quite a while and Angie and her crew at Chasing 3 did a fantastic job putting it on.  They offer two events, a standard road duathlon and an off-road version, they both used the same trail run at the beginning and the end with the chosen road or mountain bike leg between.  I elected for the off road even though I had only been on the mountain bike 3 or 4 times to test things out.  There were some quick runners which gave a great opportunity to really work on chasing and staying with other athletes.
Feels good to be on the top step.

On the mountain bike I had a good lead and really tried to focus on really pushing the pace since I didn't know who was behind me.  About half was through the bike a local mountain biker caught me and it really made me have to push and attack the course more to stay on his wheel and not let him get away.  I stayed with him all the way back to transition and then took off on the run.  There were other road duathletes out on the run as well and I was able to use them to focus on and try to catch.  I was slowly reeling in 3 guys ahead and was going to make a big push in the last 3/4 of a mile to catch them when boom I hit the ground.  I had tripped over a rock, after a sec gathering myself I took off to the finish but lost the opportunity to try to catch the guys ahead.  It was still very nice to take the win and start to get the flow of going through transitioning between the sports again.
Sampling 1st Endurance & Enduro Bites 
After a few more weeks of solid training I headed back up to Scottsdale for the Fat Tire 40 Mountain bike race.  At packet pick up I got to meet a lot of the racers some very experienced and some that were just entering the sport as I did a sampling and demo of the First Endurance and Enduro Bites.  It was a great time getting to listen to some of the other products that athletes were using and any issues they had with them and letting them try the new EFS Pro hydration sports drink and take samples of EFS Liquid Shot and Ultragen Recovery Drink.  They could also try the Dark Chocolate and Espresso and Fig and Dark Chocolate energy bars from Enduro Bites.  The race overall went well, I mainly need to work on my hole-shot sprint at the start so I don't get trapped to far back.  I was in the lead group but the 3 strongest guys got away out front and I had to battle my way past a few guys to try to catch up but it took too long to get around and they opened up a gap that I couldn't close down and they were working together and going well.  It was a good hard effort unfortunately I rode all alone but I was getting more and more comfortable technically on the bike.
 TriZona Sprint Triathlon, T1 on the rough of the golf course.
      I was continuing to string together some great training and the new 10 day/3 day plan Derick had adjusted my training to was really going well.  After the struggles last year we needed to at least try a new approach in my training and after a bit of an adjustment period I really began to understand the process.  I have always been able to string together some great volume for weeks on end then take a rest week then do it all over again but we both felt that I was slowly digging myself into a hole.  So we made the change and I am working really hard over a 10 day period and then taking 3 days of rest/light movement and the results are showing.  The first triathlon of the year was at the TriZona at Starr Pass two weeks ago, it is a unique event that is a must do.  Barry and Jodee Siff of 5430 Sports put it on and it is a great low key event.  It starts like no other triathlon out there, down the waterside at the JW Marriott Resort at Starr Pass then two laps AGAINST the current in the lazy river, it was and absolute blast.  I headed out on the bike and had my work cut out for me as Olympic Mountain Biker Todd Wells was doing his first triathlon so I knew his bike would be very strong and I really had to swim and run well.  The three lap bike is very challenging rolling hilly course, I felt good as it was the first really big effort on my TT bike this year.  Just at the end of the bike Todd went by, after a bit of a smoother transition I headed out on the run just ahead of him.  Because of the time trial start I needed to finish 40 seconds ahead of Todd to take the win, let it be known that Todd can run as I was only able to just barely out run him.  I was first across the line but Todd kept me close enough to take the win.

The winter has been great being down in Tucson and I have been staying down here a bit longer than normal as I am house and dog sitting for some friends that are over in Italy, one is a lecturer for the University of Arizona and had the opportunity to go over and it couldn't be missed.  It has worked out as a great trade that I get to be down here and train while they get to go on a grand adventure and work a little on the side too.  The only negative is that I am in Arizona for 4 months and it takes me away from Bri.  She makes some adjustments at work and comes down every few weeks for a long weekend and we get to have some fun.  She joined me in racing at the Sunrise at Old Pueblo 4 miler, took on a 6 winery (out of 11) tour around Sonoita, went on a mountain bike ride together for the first time and had a blast using Hunter and Aimee's cruiser bikes riding around town to get to dinners and events during the year.  By far the best weekends are always these ones.

Only have two more weeks down in Tucson before a start the journey back to Colorado.  I am doing one more tune up race at the Lifetime Fitness Marquee Triathlon in Tempe this weekend before the big events start.  I will head up for the first XTERRA of the year for the West Championship on April 25th in Las Vegas and then head to St. George for the Ironman North America 70.3 Championship the following weekend.  It has been a great few months and I always enjoy my time in Tucson but I will enjoy being back home in Colorado.