Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ironman Arizona Bike Watts Power Data, Nutrition Report, and Mile Splits

Earlier I wrote a race report on my experiences at 2011 edition of Ironman Arizona. Today I wanted to dive a little further into the numbers.  First things first -- my nutrition plan. 

Race Morning Nutrition: ~1510 calories

I had a lot of trouble sleeping and actually could not go back to bed after I got up at 1:30 in the morning.  At 2:30 I pretty much conceded that I would NOT be doing any more sleeping and I had a nutrition shake.  Then I had two more nutrition shakes at 4am.  Each one is 250 calories.

- Nutrition Shake (750 calories)
Now Extinct CarboPro 1200
- 3 gel packs (300 calories)
- Gummy treats (160 calories)
- Carbo Pro 1200 (300 calories worth) (sipped on this throughout the morning)


Bike Nutrition: ~2000 calories or about 400 calories an hour

I started the bike with the following bottles:

- 1 pre-mixed bottle (2x salt stick pills, 400 calories of Carbo Pro 1200 + H20, 1 Crystal Light packet)
- 1 pre-mixed bottle (2x salt stick pills, 1600 calories of Carbo Pro 1200, 1 Crystal Light packet)

Once I finished the first 400 cal bottle I switched to sipping the concentrated bottle and washing it down with water.  I had 4 salt stick pills on the bike.

Run Nutrition: ~2000 calories or about 666 calories per hour

For some reason I was ravishingly hungry and thirsty at this race.  Coincidence that I fell apart on the marathon digesting 666 calories per hour????  I don't know but it all seemed to be going down just fine.  I'm not sure if it was the dryer climate or what but I was grabbing two Powerades and two Cokes at nearly every aid station.    I estimate that I had:

- 50x 2oz cups of Cola (1200 calories)
- 35x 2oz cups of Perform (615 calories)
- Gummy treats (80 calories)
- 1 gel pack (100 calories)
- 10x 2ox cups of Water (0 calories)

It should also be noted that I started the run pretty swollen and bloated but by the end of the run I looked like a skinny-mini.



Swim Speed:

Although there are no numbers for swim speed I will reiterate that I swam well below my ability.  I had no moments of pressure requiring surges.  Clearly I should have gone out harder but live and learn on that one.


Bike Watts:

The goal of the bike was to bike extremely conservatively for the first hour and then dial it up every so slightly.  That was a nice goal, but it didn't happen.  Instead, I went out hard and it went all downhill from there.  I would say that I was solo or at the front of a group for 65% of the race.  At about mile 60 I started to have significant digestion issues and decided to stop eating and drinking.  I greatly dialed it  back until the turnaround back to Tempe at mile 94.  I put in two surges in an effort to drop some riders but both attempts were unsuccessful.

5 feet 8 inches with a race day weight of 151 lbs or 68.5 kilos

1st 20 mins - 249 watts @ 149 BPM
1st Half - 245 watts @ 143 BPM
2nd Half - 213 watts @ 134 BPM
Total - 231 watts @ 139 BPM


2011 Ironman Arizona Bike Power File Graph In Watts With Heart Rate



Run Pace:

The goal of the run was to keep a comfortable relaxed pace and see where it took me.  The beginning of the run felt so easy and after reading a whole bunch of race reports and talking to a whole bunch of people it sounds like I was not alone.  However, the run course at IMAZ is actually quite challenging and has many turns, overpasses, and a few sustained climbs that all took their toll on me.  Because it is 3-laps everything you do is also done three times and it seems like the wheels fell off most wagons somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd laps - my race was no exception.

2011 Ironman Arizona Marathon Run Mile Splits




Putting It All Together:  On paper the race looks good, but it could have gone a lot better.  For starters, I should have swam harder.  Looking back on it would have allowed me to come out of the water with better bikers who were at more my level.  Instead I spent too much time leading the charge in the 2nd half of the race.  I would have been better coming out of the water two minutes ahead with the next group.  I think I would have had an easier bike with less time at the front.  You never know what would have happened but regardless I learned some things that I can put to work in my next Ironman.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Best Triathlon Running Compression Socks For Travel and Recovery - 2XU Refresh Compression Recovery Socks

2XU Refresh Recovery Compression Socks
After finishing Ironman Arizona I decided to start the off-season with some Thanksgiving travel.  Traveling to see family and friends is a great way to spend time, but all those long hours in planes, cars, and awkward chairs can really slow down the Ironman recovery process.  Thankfully we have compression socks to help and so I did this compression sock review of favorite pair.

For the record, compression socks have existed for medical use well before they became a triathlete's fashion statement.  Today compression socks are all the rage, but long before they existed in Triathlon you could find me donning the elastic socks as I stood for hours on end in the operating room or for travel. 
Over the years I have tried many different pairs of compression socks and have developed a taste for what is the perfect sock.

Objectively, the easiest way to determine my favorite is by counting the number of times I pull out each pair of socks and wear them.  Although I haven't kept an official record, for the past six months I keep pulling out the same pair of compression socks.  The sock: well the winner is my 2XU Compression Recovery socks.  In full disclosure I do have a sponsorship with 2XU, however, I would never let a sponsor cloud my objectivity and I do find it remarkable that despite have so many pairs that I pull out the same pair.

The reason I continue to grab the 2XU Compression Recovery socks is as follows:

Durability - after countless washes and uses the 2XU Recovery socks honestly feel like the day I got them.  I have tried numerous medical-grade and triathlete marketed stocks and I have had socks lose their compression or rip in as few as 3 washes.  None of the socks I have ever test have ever come close to the durability of my 2XU socks.

Compression - I buy socks for compression.  Truth-be-told there is a fine balance between too little and too much compression, but I have tried numerous triathlete marketed socks that are nothing more than glorified tube socks.  If you are buying compression socks and paying top dollar then they should be true compression socks.  These 2XU socks are solid and offer just the right amount of compression for my tired achy legs.

Fabric: The fabric on these 2XU socks does a great job of keeping feet dry and fresh.  This is a benefit that I can't say is true of the socks that are made up of more cotton-like fabrics.

Color:  Although I don't wear compression for aesthetics, I do prefer the dark color of the 2XU recovery socks.  Often times I find myself sitting on the grass after a triathlon and white socks or light colored socks are simply more susceptible to staining.

Cons: My only suggestion for improvement is to add some light-colored guidelines in the toe box to help straighten out the sock when you put it on.  2XU has been active in updating this sock over the years and I hope this feedback makes it in for future releases.

If you are looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for someone than you can't beat these socks.  They can be purchased from Trisports.com and you can always save 20% with my Coupon Code. Each code is unique for you so please contact me thru the above "Contact" tab and I will email you back the 20% off code. Codes can be used at anytime - no waiting for a special sale. They expire 12/31/14. Please remember to fill in your email address so I can reply back to you. If you don't provide an email there is no way for me to contact you. You can also tweet at me or message me on Facebook if you prefer.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Best Triathlon Running Compression Socks For Travel and Recovery - Compression Sock Review

2XU Refresh Recovery Compression Sock
After finishing Ironman Arizona I decided to start the off-season with some Thanksgiving travel.  Traveling to see family and friends is a great way to spend time, but all those long hours in planes, cars, and awkward chairs can really slow down the Ironman recovery process.  Thankfully we have compression socks to help and so I did this compression sock review of favorite pair.

For the record, compression socks have existed for medical use well before they became a triathlete's fashion statement.  Today compression socks are all the rage, but long before they existed in Triathlon you could find me donning the elastic socks as I stood for hours on end in the operating room or for travel.
Over the years I have tried many different pairs of compression socks and have developed a taste for what is the perfect sock.

Objectively, the easiest way to determine my favorite is by counting the number of times I pull out each pair of socks and wear them.  Although I haven't kept an official record, for the past six months I keep pulling out the same pair of compression socks.  The sock: well the winner is my 2XU Compression Recovery socks.  In full disclosure I do have a sponsorship with 2XU, however, I would never let a sponsor cloud my objectivity and I do find it remarkable that despite have so many pairs that I pull out the same pair.

The reason I continue to grab the 2XU Compression Recovery socks is as follows:

Durability - after countless washes and uses the 2XU Recovery socks honestly feel like the day I got them.  I have tried numerous medical-grade and triathlete marketed stocks and I have had socks lose their compression or rip in as few as 3 washes.  None of the socks I have ever test have ever come close to the durability of my 2XU socks.

Compression - I buy socks for compression.  Truth-be-told there is a fine balance between too little and too much compression, but I have tried numerous triathlete marketed socks that are nothing more than glorified tube socks.  If you are buying compression socks and paying top dollar then they should be true compression socks.  These 2XU socks are solid and offer just the right amount of compression for my tired achy legs.

Fabric: The fabric on these 2XU socks does a great job of keeping feet dry and fresh.  This is a benefit that I can't say is true of the socks that are made up of more cotton-like fabrics.

Color:  Although I don't wear compression for aesthetics, I do prefer the dark color of the 2XU recovery socks.  Often times I find myself sitting on the grass after a triathlon and white socks or light colored socks are simply more susceptible to staining.

Cons: My only suggestion for improvement is to add some light-colored guidelines in the toe box to help straighten out the sock when you put it on.  2XU has been active in updating this sock over the years and I hope this feedback makes it in for future releases.

If you are looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for someone than you can't beat these socks.  They can be purchased from Trisports.com and you can always save 20% with my Coupon Code. You can always help support me as an athlete by using my 20% off coupon code for Trisports that is tied to my name. Each code is unique for you so please contact me thru the above "Contact" tab and I will email you back the 20% off code. Codes can be used at anytime - no waiting for a special sale. They expire 12/31/14. Please remember to fill in your email address so I can reply back to you. If you don't provide an email there is no way for me to contact you. You can also tweet at me or message me on Facebook if you prefer.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ironman Arizona Race Report - 2011 Triathlon


In 2006 I completed my first Ironman on a cold and rainy Wisconsin day.  It was only my second triathlon, and at the time I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It was a tough day on a tough course and I was thrilled to go 10:52.  Immediately after completion I vowed never to do another Ironman, however after a couple of days rest the itch to Ironman returned.

Fast forward five years later and I have now completed my 10th Ironman and my first as a professional.   It is the beginning of new era for me, and admittedly I still did not know what I am getting myself into.  Overall I had a good day and went 8:57.  Here is a recount of the sub-9 performance at the 2011 edition of Ironman Arizona.

Exiting Tempe Town Lake in my 2XU V:2 Wetsuit
Swim (57:04): I have been working on my swim and I know that it is crucial to my success at the professional level.  My goal for the swim was to pick a swimmer who was slightly faster than me and hang on for as long as I could.  I swam out to the swim start and settled in between Michael Weiss and Jordan Rapp as I awaited the gun.

The gun fired and I was off.  Much to my surprise it wasn't all that chaotic and I felt very relaxed as I found some feet.  At about the 400 meter mark I started to get concerned that the pace was too easy but I wasn't going to waste any energy forging ahead solo.  The pace stayed consistent, but we were actually starting to catch up to other swimmers who had been dropped from the packs ahead.

At the halfway point I decided to take a look at my watch and it read 26:XX.  I was happy with that and actually quite surprised.  We got a little off track on the way back in, but it is better to sit in the pack and swim a little extra, than to forge ahead solo.

On The Bee-Line Highway
Bike (4:43:37):  Coming out of the water I didn't know where I stood in the overall field, but I never looked back and I focused on moving up the ranks. As I moved out of Tempe towards the Bee-line highway I picked off male and females pro with ease but the power was high. Once I got onto the Bee-line there was a stiff wind and I decided to back it off and wait for some other riders. It was only a matter of time until Matt Russel came whizzing by, towing racers like skiers behind a boat.  I happily grabbed a rope, and even though I knew I was biking above my pay grade I committed to sticking with the group.

We forged ahead on the Bee-line highway towards the turn-around as we climbed into a headwind.  It was slow work and the average speed was falling into the low 20s.  It reminded of the climb to Hawi and I was greatly looking forward to the turnaround.  Finally we reached it and our speed was up into the middle 30s as we made quick work of the ride back into Tempe.

Struggling In The Wind
Lap 2:  After the turn around in Tempe we headed out for the second lap of the three lap course.  Matt Russel finally decided he had enough and dropped everyone.  And the pace had clearly taken its toll on the rest of the riders as the group of ten had been decimated down to Dave Harju, Ryan Rau, and myself.  We picked up the female leader - Amanda Stevens - and despite my best efforts I could not drop her.  Ryan and Dave helped out a little, but much of the work was done by myself and it was taking its toll on me.  I stopped digesting nutrition and it was going no where but up.

Lap 3: I continued to do a lot of work off the front but the lack of nutrition was really starting to take its toll on my energy levels as I watched my pace drop further. I was ready for the bike course to be done, but I still had 38 miles to go.  I climbed out of town and to the turn-around where I received a very unwelcome surprise.  The wind had changed directions and the tailwind I was supposed to have home was now a raging headwind.  To make matters worse I was starting to get tunnel vision and I knew I had to get some calories down.   I backed it off even further in hopes that I could right the ship before the start of the run. The wind would prove to be too much for Amanda and Dave and they would drop off the back as I rode it in with Ryan.

At The Trisports Aid Station
Run (3:12:27):  After a race best T2, I started out on the first run lap of the three loop course.   I felt surprisingly fresh and it was in stark contrast to how I had just felt on the bike  The Garmin displayed a quick 6:10 pace - it was faster than I wanted but I felt fresh and my form was strong.  I continued running and knocking out miles in the 6:25-6:40 range and was starting to think about a sub-3 hour marathon.   Everything seemed right on track, except I was going through and inordinate amount of food and water at the aid stations.  My appetite was insatiable as I grabbed at least two cokes and two powerades at every aid station.  And for the first time ever I reached out for Gu packs. To my surprise everything was going down and I was feeling better.

Lap 2:  I continue on a torrid pace in lap two and through the half way point in 1:28.  Then the wheels started to fall off.  The Ironman Arizona run course is very rolling with lots of turns and concrete.  The pounding was starting to take its toll on my quads, and my hamstrings started cramping.  I got to an aid station on an uphill and decided it would be a good strategic point to visit the restroom.   I let my body cool down, rest, and recover as I prepared for the journey to the finish.  Miles 14-18 were the tough and I really had to focus through them.  I finished lap two and I was thrilled to have only a lap to go.

Rally Cap Time
Lap 3:  I focused on keeping good form as I worked my way through the age groupers.  At one point, I took a look back and saw a fast charging Linsey Corbin.  I knew I was on sub-9 pace for the race, but I needed to knockout some quick miles and I decided to go with Linsey.  I shadowed her stride-for-stride as the TV camera's focused in on us.  Not a word was muttered, but both of us were breathing heavy.  After four miles Linsey's torrid pace would get the better of me.  I was laboring and a complete black out was not out of the possibility - I made the tough decision to let Lindsey go.

I continued on alone and knew that I could go sub-9.  At mile 25 I saw a guy down on the ground with an oxygen mask on, and I just hoped I could keep it together for one more mile.  At .5 miles to go I past Tim O'Donnell - he had bonked but toughed it out.  I patted him on the backside and headed towards the finish with a mix of emotions.   As I entered the chute I could hear Mike Reilly's voice welcoming me on as I reached out and slapped hands with anyone I could find.  I crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face in 8:57:00.

Summary (8:57:00 / 27th Pro): Finishing Ironman Arizona was a flood of emotions - it was my 10th Ironman and my first as a pro.  I have come a long way from that first Ironman back in 2006, but the experience of finishing never gets old.

This race was confirmation that all the hard work and effort has paid off.  Although I did not have as strong of a run as I would have liked, I could not be more proud to be able to cover 140.6 miles under the 9-hour mark.   I learned so much about strategy at the pro-level and I look forward to using what I learned in my next race. Although mentally I am ready for my next Ironman, I know my body needs a break, and I am going to give it an extended rest as I get ready for 2012.

Trisports' New Retail Location In Tempe
Thank You: As always, I want to thank Trisports for believing in my dream.  It has been so wonderful to get to know everyone from Trisports this year and the team kicked some serious ass at Ironman Arizona.   I am also proud to announce that in 2012 I will be racing for Trisports and I look forward to growing with them.  For those that are not aware Trisports is opening their second retail location in Tempe that is just one block from the IMAZ race start.  Look for it in 2012.  In the meantime, you can always save 20% at Trisports.com with my coupon code. You can always help support me as an athlete by using my 20% off coupon code for Trisports that is tied to my name. Each code is unique for you so please contact me thru the above "Contact" tab and I will email you back the 20% off code. Codes can be used at anytime - no waiting for a special sale. They expire 12/31/14. Please remember to fill in your email address so I can reply back to you. If you don't provide an email there is no way for me to contact you. You can also tweet at me or message me on Facebook if you prefer. I also want to thank 2XU for their support in providing some of the best training, racing, and recovery apparel that I could ask for.

For those of you who don't follow Team Trisports, here is a quick summary of the IMAZ performances: Leanda Cave won the female's race, Torsten Abel took forth, owner and super-dad Seton Claggett won his age-group and finished in 9:14. Charisa Werrnick went 9:22 and Billy Oliver had an amazing race despite crashing and went 10:24.

I also want to thank my homestay for their wonderful hospitality.  Dana and Bill Jones have been great and theirs sons Austin and Logan are some of my biggest fans.  The boys always help me out with whatever I need, and on this trip they taught me all about geo-caching!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Best Spare Tubular Tire For Ironman Triathlon and Half-Ironman Races - Tufo Elite Tire

Triathletes using tubulars usually carry a spare for Ironman and Ironman 70.3 triathlons. Here is my recommendation for a spare tubular tire for your next race.

Simply put, you want to carry a track tubular as a spare. Don't take it from me though, I actually learned this trick from former Ironman World Champion Peter Reid. The reason for this is because they roll up to nothing, weigh nothing, and despite what people believe, they are actually fairly robust.

Tufo Elite Jet (Top) - Normal Butyl Tube (Bottom)
My preferred spare tubular is the Tufo Elite Jet <120. As you can see it rolls up to practically nothing. Because of its small size it is easy to find places for it it to hide on your bike. It weighs 120 grams and is 21mm wide. This tire is easy to get centered on the rim. I find beefy tires never go on quite right the first time around and in a flat situation you want the tire to go on right the first time. If the tire is not centered it is going to wobble.

Now unfortunately this specific Tufo Elite Jet is very hard to find (this was originally written in 2011) but they do have one that is just a bit heavier - 135g, and is also 22mm wide. It is the Tufo Elite 22.

My personal experience with this tire is that it is a fairly robust tire. At Ironman Wisconsin in 2009 I actually had to change a flat and ride this tire for 55 miles and it handled like a champ.

If you want a spare tire with a protection strip my recommendation is the Tufo Elite Jet Hi-Tpi <160.

I always prefer to glue my tubes with Vittoria Mastik One but if you don't want to pre-glue your spare, Tufo Tape is probably your best in race solution for a secure bond between tire and rim. If you are looking for my recommendation on normal tubulars for racing my recommendation is Continental Podium TT, but I don't race tubulars and prefer clinchers now.  You can read about my recommendation for clinchers here.

Vittoria Mastik One Tubular Glue

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Amica 19.7 Triathlon Race Report - 2011 Phoenix Sprint Triathlon


This year I have tried to limit my racing, but lately I have had the itch to race. When I saw that the Amica 19.7 Phoenix had moved from the hardest course possible - Lake Pleasant - to a pristine flat course I knew I was in. Now don't get me wrong, I am all for hard courses, but I was just looking for a nice course that would make for a great threshold workout, with no recover time needed, and that would allow me to practice a pro swim start.  Oh ya, and the race was close enough that I could sleep in my own bed the night before the race and drive up on race morning.

Shaking My Head About The Swim
Swim (11:53 / 11 of 12): The swim took place in a man-made lake used for motorboat racing and was filled with salt water. As we were lining up I saw Big Matty Reed trying to sneak to the far left side and Lewis Elliott followed. I figured I had a reasonable chance of staying on Lewis' feet so I tucked in right behind him. The official called an impromptu start and the chaos ensued.

The first 100 meters was rough and I was definitely red-lining it, but I wasn't at all concerned with the situation. Then we rounded the first buoy and we started to get tangled up with the racers from the Olympic race - don't ask me why the race was setup this way. Anyway, I tucked in behind someone from that Olympic race and then before I knew it the pro pack was gone. I backed it off and swam the remainder solo. Looking back at it I should have pushed hard but that was a mistake I made.

T1 (:23 / 1 of 12): After the disgusting swim, I knew I had to make up some time in transition to be apart of the race. Now being short course racing you would think the other racers - who can all run faster than me - would surely be able to transition fast. Not so, even Matty Reed couldn't transition faster than the long-course racer. Anyway I made quick work of transition despite another female pro believing that my transition spot was hers.

Bike (38:27 / 6 of 12): The bike was a 3-loop, 16 mile bike course with plenty of 90 and 180 degree turns per loop. Although I am cornering more confidently, I was not exactly excited about all the turns and knew it would slow things down considerably. Nonetheless it would be good practice for future races and it would give me many opportunities to check out the competition.

Now I had come into the week and had absolutely destroyed my biking legs, but for some reason they were firing just fine despite the accumulated fatigue. I got passed right away by Matt Russell but I was determined to catch up to AJ Baucco and Jason Pederson who had roughly a 30 second lead. I pushed hard on the straightaways, anywhere between 330-375 watts, and I slow-pedaled through the turns. Time check after time check the split was coming down albeit it vary slowly. I am always amazed how much effort can go into biking for the small incremental speed differences that are gained. It just makes me respect guys like Chris Lieto for the strategy they always employ. Anyway, by the end of loop three I had finally caught AJ and Jason. I decided not to pass and instead just backed it off and gave me legs a 30 second rest.
USAT Official's Are Always Looking At My Helmet ;)

T2 (:21 / 1 of 12): I knew I could make up some more time in T2 if I planned everything out in my head. However, what I didn't plan was for AJ rolling over my back leg with his bike, and then tripping and sliding his bike right underneath me. No worries, I high-stepped over it and would still manage the fastest T2 of the day. I find it shocking that the slowest runner in the field can transition faster than these ITU peeps. I guess I don't put my pants on just like everyone else.

Run (17:04 / 10 of 12): Coming out of T2 my legs felt absolutely awful, but it didn't come as a total shock as I pushed it pretty hard on the bike. My fast T2 had netted me 10-15 seconds on AJ and Jason, but it wasn't long before Jason came flying by. I knew I couldn't match the pace and decided to wait for AJ. AJ made the pass at the half-mile mark and I tucked in right behind him. I matched his stride and I could feel my energy stores rising and my heart rate falling. At one point I thought about making the pass, but I knew I was saving too much energy by letting AJ lead. At 1.5 miles we were passed by USA Duathlete Superstar Josh Merrick, and I figured it would by my only chance to gap AJ. I hung on Josh's heels for about 600 meters and that was all I had. However, that 600 meter stint got me 10 seconds and that was all the gap I would need on AJ.

Overall (1:08:17 / 10 of 12): I got rocked in the swim but I earned more confidence in the process. I biked well and I was even cornering well. I know I bike conservatively, but I am risk-adverse and I'm not a fan of crashing. My move on the run was a real strategic success that even Macca would have been proud of. And clearly I can tie my shoes faster than anyone else.  Overall, I couldn't be more happy with the race and the outcome and it was nice to mix it up and race fast for a change.  For a comparison Olympian Matty Reed went 1:04:16 with splits (10:05 / :24 / 37:31 / :33 / 15:41).

Saris CycleOps Fluid2 Trainer
As always, I want to thank Trisports.com - use Trisports my coupon code to save 20% on your next order. Each code is unique for you so please contact me thru the above "Contact" tab and I will email you back the 20% off code. Codes can be used at anytime - no waiting for a special sale. They expire 12/31/14. Please remember to fill in your email address so I can reply back to you. If you don't provide an email there is no way for me to contact you. You can also tweet at me or message me on Facebook if you prefer.

With winter approaching now is a great chance to buy an indoor trainer.  Check out the Saris CycleOps Fluid2 Trainer that is currently on sale for $279. You can save an additional 20% by using my coupon code. Each code is unique for you so please contact me thru the above "Contact" tab and I will email you back the 20% off code. Codes can be used at anytime - no waiting for a special sale. They expire 12/31/14. Please remember to fill in your email address so I can reply back to you. If you don't provide an email there is no way for me to contact you. You can also tweet at me or message me on Facebook if you prefer.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tinfoilman Sprint Triathlon Race Report - 2011 Tucson

While most people were busy preparing their Halloween costumes, this week I got to work making myself into a real-life walking zombie.  I knew hit the mark when I walked into Trisports on Saturday for the Tinfoilman packet pickup, and the staff actually commented on how much I looked like a zombie.  But that was the plan, and with both the Amica 19.7 Sprint Championship and Ironman Arizona fast approaching, I had little time for rest during my hardest training block ever.

The goal of the Tinfoilman was to get in a fast threshold workout and compare it to a race earlier this year on the same course.  Now to be fair, I had crashed 10 days prior to that race, but I thought it would be a wash with the extra fatigue for this one.

Swim (9:59):  The Tinfoilman features an 825 yard swim in the University of Arizona pool.  The race features 10 waves, with 30 athletes per wave, and 2 athletes per lane.  

As I was standing on the deck I introduced myself to my swim lane competitor Neil Segel.  Fortunately for me he mentioned that his team - the Tricats - had just picked up a very talented freshman by the name of Ben Kanute.  However, I was all too familiar with Ben - he has been rocking me in the sprint distance for quite sometime.  For those unfamiliar, he is one of the USAT golden boys on the road to the 2016 Olympics.

I embraced the news as I planned for an even tougher threshold workout.  My wave was up, the gun fired, and I took off down the lane.  Surprisingly I had half a length gap on everyone - that is until I hit the wall - and then I found myself suddenly half a length behind.  Now seeing as I don't believe in doing flip turns, and nor do I believe in pushing off the wall, I knew that I would sacrifice some time here.  I can only imagine what it looks like from the pool deck, but based on the number of coaches that have watched me swim thru the years, I am pretty sure it is a horrid site - but hey it's Halloween!

Usually I keep good tabs on my pace in pool swims, but today I forgot my pool goggles at home, and my open water goggles don't allow me to see my watch clearly.  It probably was a good thing as it allowed me to focus on swimming as hard as I could.  As I exited the pool I took a quick glance ahead of me.  I didn't see Ben and I knew I was easily a minute behind. 

Bike (28:17): The bike is a relatively flat, 12-mile, 3-loop bike course around the U of A campus.  The roads of this urban bike course go from smooth as glass to "hold on for dear life" rough, and they can be quite challenging with cars, dogs, and competitors to watch out for.

The bike is where I expected my legs to be most fatigued and sadly they didn't disappoint.  Nonetheless, I pedaled as fast as I could as I tried to close the gap on Ben.  The power on the smoother sections was good at 330, but I couldn't put out any power on the bumpy sections and with all the turns the final power only came in at 279.  In better news, as the laps rolled by the split differential was coming down.  After the 1st lap it was at 1 minute, by the second lap it was down to 40 seconds, and when I rolled back into transition it was down to 20.  This was all good, but I knew I needed a great run to win.

Run (17:17): I got back to transition, racked my bike, and swiftly put on my run shoes.  I had a GPS watch that I was going to use for data, but it served little purpose in trying to chase down a future Olympian.

I took off on the run with the mindset that I was only 20 seconds down - surprisingly the legs felt pretty good.  It always amazes me how much fresher legs feel after short races than the longer races that I am accustom to.  On the downside, fresh legs means there are no excuses but to run fast.

The run is a flat 2-loop course that offers multiple opportunities to grab splits. That first opportunity came at about 1K and I was roughly 250 meters down.  Ben looked strong, but the gap didn't seem unreasonable so I pressed hard.  I was flying by other participants from earlier waves but my gap to Ben was growing and the signature smile was fading to a grimace.  I continued down the homestretch and could only mustard a faint "on your left" as I flew by participants.  I left it all on the table, but in the end I would finish nearly a minute and a half down.

Overall (55:34):  I had my best swim ever swimming 825y in 9:59.  That may not impress many - but it continues to show that my swim work is paying off, and a strong swim is key to my success at the next level.  The bike was lacking today but I knew it would be and the run was on par.  Overall my time was 55:34 and good for second place and was a good minute faster than my race back in May at 56:37.

For the record, the last time I raced Ben Kanute was at the 2009 Tri-Shark sprint triathlon in Normal, IL.  At that race he beat me by nearly 4 minutes - here it was only a minute and half.  A big part of improving is looking at my peers.  Considering he was only 17 at the time I feel like this race was a success.  In addition, it was good preparation for going fast and I look forward to next week's race at the Amica 19.7 Sprint Championship.

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