Sunday, March 31, 2013

3/25 - 3/31 Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike, and Run Miles

After the disaster that was last week, it wasn't hard to top the overall volume levels on paper this
week. With that being said, although I felt better, I was still weak and had little if any quality sessions. The exception to that was today where I had some semblance of power on the bike and I had a run that wasn't fast, but was still faster (and with less effort) than all the other runs this week.

As I have said before, this weekly update has become a pretty good diary for me and it was interesting to look back at my weeks post Ironman Louisville, Ironman Wisconsin, and Ironman Florida. I am actually blown away by what I was able to accomplish and I cringe how I put together the late season schedule that I did last year.

Ironman Cabo and getting sick definitely took its toll on my weight as well. Midweek, I found myself at the morning weigh-in at weights I haven't been at since probably my junior year of high school - the 140s. And that was after eating a 15lb watermelon the night before. As I have battled with being too light before, I was worried that being in Mexico and being sick left me depleted of some crucial fats my body needed. As a result I made a conscious efforts to increase my consumption of avocados, salmon, nuts, and actually had some red meat.

Although mentally I was ready to race Oceanside, there was absolutely nothing I could accomplish by doing so. It was an easy race to scrap, however, the itch to race doesn't go away. In my mind, I
probably have nothing to accomplish at Galveston 70.3. That doesn't stop me from wanting to race and I wouldn't be surprised to see me show up on race day. The race is flat which certainly doesn't help me, but it is always windy in Galveston and that is a good thing. However, given my training, I would have to train right through the race and use it as a learning experience while gaining some fitness in the process. In addition, I have not ridden the same aero position for more two days within the last 45 days - ie lots and lots of change. The World's best fitter just happens to live in the middle of Texas so that is a little extra incentive to race.  We shall see.

My weekly swimbike, and run totals:

Total: 200 Miles / 18 hours 35 minutes
Swim: 20,050 yards / ~11 miles / 5 hours 28 minutes
Bike: 152 miles / 8 hours 27 minutes
Run: 37 miles / 4 hours 39 minutes
Core:  0 sessions / 0 hours 0 minutes

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2013 Ironman Cabo Race Report Professional Triathlete

Ironman Cabo... the first race of the season, an Ironman, and in a foreign country. What could possibly go wrong with this setup? It turns out a lot, however despite life's best attempt to throw me lemons, the result was some fantastic tasting lemonade that I couldn't be prouder of. Here is a recap of the race sans almost all of the adversity:

Race Strategy: During the off-season I made some nice gains in the swim and the run, however, I was also trying to cram all the early season training into too short of a time period. It left me pretty flat in the weeks leading up to the race. Although still confident, I knew I had to be smart with the way I spent energy on race day. Knowing that this was an early season race, I expected that many individuals wouldn't know their fitness, and that, in combination with a tough course, would lead to more than a few people blowing up. As a result I planned a conservative race.

Ironman Cabo Swim Start Pro Men
Pro men race in to the balmy 70 degree water
Swim (58:30 / 19th): The water was 70 degrees, but given my conservative strategy, I opted to go with a sleeveless wetsuit as I didn't want to risk overheating. I did the swim research prior to race day and I knew it would be a quick "make or break" situation with regards to hanging off the front group. The gun went off and it was definitely the later. It wasn't a super tough swim effort-wise, but when gaps opened, I didn't bother wasting energy to close them. By the end of the swim I was on feet that had clearly died too early. I exited the water and I was a little disappointed with the time, but it was a long day, and I was confident my conservative strategy would pay dividends later.

Bike (4:41:51 / 8th): Heading out on the bike I knew I was in for a challenging bike. The course had a little bit of everything including heat, wind, sustainable climbs, rollers, and plenty of sun.

I immediately got going and something was clearly wrong with my power meter. I'll let you look at the powerfile and maybe you can figure it out, but I opted to forget about power and ride by feel. Since it is easy to get carried away early on the bike, I paid close attention to keeping the effort effort-less in the first 15-20 minutes despite reeling in a group of 3. Maybe I was just really fresh and rested, or maybe it had something to do with the fact that this was the first race I was racing with "Free Speed" from Atomic Speed. Their specially coated chainrings, cassettes, and chains, in combination with upgraded wheel bearings and derailleur pulleys meant that I could go a little faster on the same effort.



Ironman Cabo Bike Thomas Gerlach
Salt rinsed off front but back completely white
As I approached the first turnaround at Cabo San Lucas, I was disappointed to see that I was already about 10 minutes down from the leaders only 15 miles into the bike. It wasn't ideal, but Ironman is a long day.

I continued on biking and I didn't feel good. I was starting to cramp early on in the bike, and in places I am not used to cramping like in my quads. My new 2XU "Dark Shield" long distance trisuit worked perfectly in reminding me that I was losing lots of salt and so I increased my salt intake. Although the suit is black, the special "Dark Shield" fabric resists heat and kept me cool despite the quickly rising temperatures.

At mile 30 I took the right turn to head towards the Los Cabos Airport on a private toll road. The toll road included a substantial climb and it took us out into the desert where temps increased into the mid 90s.

As I approached the turnaround near the airport at mile 45 I was relieved to see that I wasn't losing any time to the leaders. In addition I was starting to feel better. Maybe it was the fact that I was back in my home environment of the desert, and my body knew what to do in those conditions. Out of the Airport loop and back on to the main road to start lap 2.

Lap 2 was uneventful, and when I hit Cabo San Lucas for the second time I could see the time gap to the leaders was actually coming down. It was nice to see but I still wanted to be off the saddle. I continued on and by the second time up the climb I had already gone through the 2000 calories I had brought for the ride. I grabbed a couple of sport drinks at the aid station and went thru the 48oz immediately in route to finishing the bike.

Ironman Cabo Finish Thomas Gerlach Christine Anderson
At finish with long time friend Christine Anderson
Run (3:03:02 / 7th): The run was a continuation of the theme of the day: conservation. I knew if my competitors were going to blow that it would be on the hot and cloudless run. The course had many vantage points to see the competition and I needed to see how everyone looked in order to figure out how I was going to run myself up into 8th place and a paycheck. On a side note, I don't have an unlimited bank account like it seems so many "pro" triathletes have and thus I need to race for the paycheck to pay the bills.

I started out running a nice pace, but early on I got passed by eventual 2nd and 3rd place finishers Trevor Delsaut and Jozsef Major. They were not running much faster than myself, but it was too early to get too aggressive. At the turnarounds I got my glimpse of where everyone was at. I learned that multiple Ironman winner Luke Mckenzie had dropped out, and 7-time Ironman Switzerland winner Ronnie Schildknecht didn't look good. Everyone else looked good, and I had a nice buffer to the only real runner behind me who was Matt Russell. I sat in 10th place running 6:45s.

Towards the end of the loop an official on a bike came up to me, and from my best translation, told me that I was either disqualified or would be disqualified. Apparently he was concerned that a biker on the sidewalk, on the opposite side of the road, was "clearly" a friend who was supporting me. As pros we were warned about this in the pro meeting, and I tried to instruct the official that I came to Mexico by myself and that the man couldn't possibly be my friend. However it was futile and clearly taking French instead of Spanish was doing me no favors with this one.

I tried not to worry about it and told myself that I would deal with it at the finish, but little things like this tug on your heart and your mind. When you are already tired and irrational, it is little things like this that can quickly cause your race to tail spin. For me this situation was especially touchy since two years prior I had a similar incident during my last Ironman as an amateur. Despite traveling alone to that race (an 8+ hour drive) I had received 18 minutes of penalties for outside assistance. It turns out that the race the official had fat-fingered my race number when transcribing the penalties on to the computer. It was only after hours of research and trying to track down the official, that the Rev3 organization discovered the original hand-written penalty sheet and the error was discovered. In both situations it was frustrating to see real outside assistance going on with coaches or partners aiding their racers, and yet the innocent one goes punished. But I promised not to talk about adversity so I'll move on.




Lap 2 of the run was more of the same as I moved from aid station to aid station. As usual I was going through tons of Powerbar gels, coke, sports drink, and since the aid stations were every kilometer instead of every mile, I was trying to do the math of exactly how much I was taking in and that kept me occupied. I continued on at a steady pace and noticed that Ronnie Schildknecht was no longer in the race so that moved me up to 9th. I was also gaining on former Olympian Axel Zeebroek but at the same time Matt Russell was closing in. A few more miles went by and I could sense Axel was faltering and just before lap 3 he started walking as I made the pass and moved up into 8th place.

On to lap 3 I went and the course was starting to get more crowded. After passing, getting repassed, repassing myself, only to be repassed, I decided I would sit behind this particular age grouper who was all over the place. The 7:15s we were running was a little slower than the 7:05s I had just been running, but I figured it would give my brain a chance to think about how I wanted to run the remaining miles. It was either let Matt Russell run me down and grab 8th or get in gear.  I choose the later.

So with 6 miles it was time to Vamos as I only had 2 minutes on Russell. Then I passed a walking Paul Amey and I moved into 7th, but I didn't let up. I continued on running hard and was fighting for 7th and first american. It wasn't easy, but thankfully I had paced the marathon correctly and I was able to run the last few miles at the slightly increased pace as I finished 7th and numero uno americano.  Here is that finish video:


Overall (8:47:46 / 7th): I went in with a solid conservative game plan, executed it to the T (minus a few SNAFUs), and came away with a great result against some of the World's best Ironman athletes. I couldn't be happier with the result.

For me this journey has been all about the long road of slow but stable growth. Although, truthfully, sometimes I wonder about all the flashy athletes with their world renown coaches, training squads, and fancy speedos, I continue to remind myself not to try to "keep up with the Joneses", and I am thrilled with the growth that I have had. It is both an honor and privilege to be both a self-coached and a solo athlete, and this result gives me the confidence to keep the status quo as I look to keep the momentum rolling in 2013.

As always, I wanted to thank some of the great companies and people that help support me in my quest for an Ironman win including:

Trisports - for all the great tri gear you carry and for providing it in the most earth sustainable way. 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.

Atomic - for your endless pursuit of all the "free speed" I can get on the bike. Your specially coated chainrings, cassettes, and chain, along with wheel bearings upgrade and special derailleur pulleys give me that extra special advantage over my competitors. You to can get some "free speed" and save 10% in the process by using coupon code "TG-10" at Atomic.

2XU - for your wetsuits, compression gear, and everyday training gear that rocks!!  Despite the blazing temperatures and sun, your special "Dark Shield" fabric kept me cool.

Powerbar - for getting me to and thru races with your fantastic nutrition products!!

Steve Schwartz - for your continued support of my training, racing, and overall well-being. If you need a great Realtor in Madison, WI please consider Steve.

Nick Morals / Trijuice.com - for taking great photographs at Ironman Los Cabos

and lastly...

My competitors, for challenging me and giving me the drive to get out of bed every morning and work towards being the best athlete I can be. Without you I would never be the athlete I am today.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

3/18 - 3/24 Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike, and Run Miles

Finishing Ironman Cabo with long time friend Christine Anderson
Since returning from Ironman Cabo I have bounced between feeling ok at best to downright awful. When feeling awful I have had a combination of chills/fever, stomach ache, vomiting, headaches, and general fatigue. It has definitely been a rough week for me and as a result there has been very little training. Because of this, I made the decision not to race at the Tucson Triathlon today and I will also skip Ironman 70.3 Oceanside next weekend, along with possibly scrapping Ironman 70.3 Galveston as well.

When the body doesn't cooperate there is nothing you can do but give it rest. Hopefully with the appropriate rest I can heal my body and expunge any excess fatigue as I set my sights on the Wildflower triathlon in early May.

My weekly swim, bike, and run totals:

Total: 22 Miles / 2 hours 53 minutes
Swim: 5,400 yards / ~3 miles / 1 hours 38 minutes
Bike: 22 miles / 1 hours 14 minutes
Run: 0 miles / 0 hours 0 minutes
Core:  0 sessions / 0 hours 0 minutes

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

3/11 - 3/17 Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike, and Run Miles

Brushing up on my Spanish while in route to Mexico
I'll do a full a write up of my race at Ironman Cabo race at a later date, but first I wanted to make sure that I write my normal weekly update. I know this was a little late, but I had an epic travel day on Monday with so many SNAFUs, and then I haven't felt great since returning to the US.

Anyway, I always think it is important to document the training the week before an Ironman. If you have been following the lead-up to Ironman Cabo then you know that I definitely had some rough weeks leading up to the race, but on race week everything started to click. As always, I pay particular attention to how I am feeling mentally more than anything as that seems to dictate how I am feeling physically as well.

Overall the week was focused on recovery, and once I got to Mexico it was no different. While there was much to do in Mexico, I had nothing to do with it and focused on what I needed to do to show up on race day as rested as possible. This included staying out of the sun and off my feet. My training included:

Monday
Swim: 2900 yard, 49 min, MS: 6x200 descending on the 3:15 working up to 70.3 race pace
Bike: 34 miles, 1:53, MS: as 21 min, 13 min, 5 min at 70.3 race pace
Run: 3.5 miles, 25 mins, 1.5 miles at 6 min pace

Tuesday
Swim: 3000 yards, 47 min, MS: 1x200, 1x400 on 1:25 repeated 3X at Ironman race pace
Bike: 29 mile, 1:45, various intervals at Ironman Race Pace, longest of which was 6 minutes

Wednesday
Swim: - 2200 yards, 38 min, MS: 4x200 descending on the 3:15 working up to 70.3 race pace)
Bike: 8 miles, 30 mins, 3 min at race pace, rest easy
Run: 4.25 miles, 30 mins, all miles at race pace

Thursday
Travel / Rest Day

Friday
Bike: 30 min bike with some natural efforts due to the terrain
Run: 8 min run at 7:30 pace

Saturday
Swim: 25 min moderate swim @ the swim course
Run: 10 min easy
Bike: 12 min bike (rode my bike to drop it off at transition)

Sunday
Swim: 2.4 Miles, 58:30
Bike: 112 Miles, 4:41:51
Run: 26.2 Miles, 3:03:02

And my weekly swim, bike, and run totals:

Total: 238 Miles / 17 hours 20 minutes
Swim: 13,600 yards / ~8 miles / 3 hours 37 minutes
Bike: 194 miles / 9 hours 35 minutes
Run: 36 miles / 4 hours 16 minutes
Core:  0 sessions / 0 hours 0 minutes


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike, and Run Miles For Mar 4 - Mar 10

The bike heads to Ironman Cabo via Tribike Transport
Anytime a coach or athlete tells me that they "have all the answers" I get worried. I don't have all the answers, and I certainly haven't tried all the scenarios that exist when it comes to tapering for a big race. In general I take the path of least resistance and try to flow like water or electricity. This week was no different and I took what the week brought me.

On paper this week was a little bit of disappointment. It started with a rest day on Tuesday to work on the bike and get it ready for its voyage on Tribike Transport to Ironman Cabo. However, after the planned rest day, I had expectations of two solid days on Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday went fine with a 20x100 swim on a longer interval of 1:45. Then I backed it up with 40 minute accelerated tempo run. However, in the middle of the night on Wednesday I could tell something was wrong as I had some stomach pains and a low-grade fever.

On Thursday I was supposed to have an aggressive bike workout, but I didn't even bother and opted for an easy cruise ride and felt terrible by the end. On Friday I felt no better and Saturday was no different as a low-grade fever and stomach pains persisted. I opted for two more forced rest days.

Today I got back at it, although I still didn't feel back to 100%. I did the same swim as Wednesday, and I did a 20 minute accelerated tempo run.  By accelerated, I started at a 6:00 minute pace and ran the first mile in about 5:55, but ended up covering 3.65 miles in the end in the total 20 minutes which is a pretty aggressive ramp up as I go from 6:00 minute pace to 5:00 by the end.

On paper this week was a disappointment, however I am rolling with it and taking things in stride. Truth be told, my best over-performance ever - relative to my fitness - was at Ironman Kansas 2010. What I distinctly remember about the lead-up was that the previous weekend my best friend got married. I was the best man and in true typical fashion I got very little to no sleep, there was no training, and I got a few truly epics stories out of it. It was a forced break and sometimes there can be a silver lining in forced breaks. I am not making any guarantees for Ironman Cabo, but we will find out soon enough. As always, you can follow all the action on Ironman.com next Sunday.

Total: 91 Miles / 8 hours 40 minutes
Swim: 10,200 yards / ~6 miles / 2 hours 57 minutes
Bike: 71 miles / 4 hours 07 minutes
Run: 14 miles / 1 hours 35 minutes
Core:  0 sessions / 0 hours 0 minutes

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike, and Run Miles For Feb 24 - Mar 03

Kicking off the Ironman Taper with an Epson Salt Soak
Kicking off the Ironman Taper with an Epson Salt Soak
After weeks and weeks of training, I have finally reached the Ironman taper. Ironman Cabo is less than two weeks away, and outside of a few key sessions this week, most of the next 13 days are going to be spent digging myself out of the hole I have put myself in.

For the last few weeks I have walked a fine line between building fitness and being overtrained. It is certainly the tightest line I have ever walked, and ironically, I attribute it to being healthy. Yes, sometimes little nagging injuries can be a blessing in disguise and prevent athletes from going too far. To be fair, I did a good job of seeing the darkness and walking back out into the light, but also in truthfulness I have no idea what to expect at Ironman Cabo as I am really in uncharted territory here when it comes to overall fatigue level.

In addition, there are a lot of firsts for me at Ironman Cabo including being the first time that I have ever traveled outside of the country. This is the inaugural Ironman Cabo so all bets are off from a course/organization standpoint. From a fitness standpoint, my swim is better than last year, my run is better than last year, and my bike is where I left off last year. The heat and humidity will play a part coming from the dry desert, and you never know what will happen with race dynamics, but overall I am feeling confident about the race.

Here are my weekly swimbike, and run totals:

Total: 399 Miles / 28 hours 46 minutes
Swim: 15,000 yards / ~9 miles / 4 hours 0 minutes
Bike: 346 miles / 19 hours 38 minutes
Run: 44 miles /  5 hours 7 minutes
Core:  0 sessions / 0 hours 0 minutes