Tucson Triathlon Race Report

The Tucson Triathlon takes place around the University of Arizona campus and features an 825 yard swim, 12 mile bike ride, and 3 mile run. Last year I did this race a few days out from a nasty crash, and against better judgment, I did it all wrapped with tegaderm and compression sleeves to keep everything in place. This year I was crash-free, but my body was at the end of an intense 14-day lactate threshold block. My goal for the race was to keep it as a sub-threshold workout requiring minimal recovery so I could stay fresh for Leadman this weekend. Despite the threats of fellow local pro Jesse Vondracek and Xterra stud and teammate Bryce Phinney I was able to execute the race to plan, and ended up with my second win in less than 24 hours of racing.

Transition prep where the race is really won
Swim (10:11 / 7th): The swim was the most difficult element of the day and I was clearly in rough shape from the previous days swim which I had taken out way too hard.  I took it out a little easier on this day coming thru the 100 in 1:10 and the 400 in 4:53.  After the 400, I actually started to make up ground on pretty much everyone in visual sight of this pool swim and popped out in 10:11.  I headed towards transition and I saw Jesse V right in front of me and Bryce was just leaving.  I was right where I wanted to be knowing that Jesse couldn't bike with me and Bryce wouldn't be able to run with me

Biking for show
Bike (28:19 / 1st): I headed out on the bike with the main goal of just surviving.  Anyone that has done this race before knows that the course is a little bit like playing Paperboy for the original Nintendo and only gets worse as the roads continue to deteriorate. I actually told Bryce the day before that we should just bring our mountain bikes and have at it.

Anyway, I focused on catching up to Bryce and it took nearly 3.5 miles to do so.  I then took an opportunity to recover a bit and get in some fluids and waited for my opportunity.  That opportunity came about 3 miles later on gradual rise with a nice headwind.  I bumped up the power and encouraged Bryce to come with but it appeared he was done as a gapped opened immediately.  I then laid out some more power for the remaining 5.5 miles and created a big gap that had grown to at least .5 miles.

Running for the dough
Run (17:02 / 2nd): I started out on the run and knew I had a comfortable lead which allowed me to start out at relaxed pace. Trisports was shooting for an upcoming catalog and I really wanted to make sure they got some usable photos so I just focused on the best stride I could manage and a bright smile.

The course is a nice looping course and it gives a few places to check out the competition.  At roughly the half-mile mark I got to see that I was roughly a minute up Jesse Vondracek who was now in 2nd place.  I came thru the two-mile mark at 10:43 and I had actually made up more time on Jesse despite what the Tricats were yelling at me.  At that point I just shut it down and ran it in for the win.

Ironically despite turning it off I did PR on this course by a single second despite a slower bike and swim.  It always amazes me how much easier running is when you don't smash the legs on the bike - or maybe, just maybe all the hamstring stretching I have done in the off-season is actually helping my form ;)

Post race with fellow Trisports.com teammates
Overall (55:33 / 1st): It was great to be able to defend my title at the Tucson triathlon especially with the block of training leading up to the race including the Team Trisports Triathlon the day prior.  Unlike many other professional athletes, I find that it is important to take part in the local triathlons - especially ones that take place early in the year.  They are a great way to practice race specific skills before major races where mistakes can be much more costly.

This weekend I am racing at the Leadman Triathlon and I will need all the help I can get against the stacked field of Ironman winners including 2X Ironman World Champion Tim Deboom, Jordan Rapp (2X Ironman Canada and Ironman Arizona winner), Maik Twelsiak (Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Lake Placid winner), Chris Legh (Over 70 triathlon wins), and Matt Russell (2x Duathlon National Champion).   The forecast is for winds over 50mph - hopefully the race still takes place.

Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike and Run Miles For Mar 19th - Mar 25th

Miserable Monday Morning In Tucson
March 19th - March 25th:  On Monday I woke up to hail storm that had the twittersphere blowing up with negativity.  I saw it as the perfect opportunity for a hard, long swim.  Unfortunately the 86 degree pool water didn't mesh well with that idea.  I tried to swim hard but eventually had to back it down as the body was badly overheating.   It was too miserable to get on the bike, and despite being at the track on Sunday for mile repeats I decide to return to do a single 3-mile TT run in the winter wonderland.

On Tuesday I got out on the bike to do a single 20 min interval followed by some shorter intervals.  I started out too hot on the 20 and had nothing left in the tank at the end but did manage to bump the wattage up from 341 to 343 watts for this week.

On Wednesday I took an easier day to prepare for what I knew would be a brutal Thrusday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  When I say easier, I went to the pool and knocked out some descending 100s in two sets with half above threshold and half below along with some easy biking.

On Thursday evening I went to track practice with the Tricats but I knew I had substantial fatigue built up from the previous 10 days of training.  When given the choice of doing Ben Kanute's workout or the rest of the team's sadly I chose the easier option.  It was a good choice because after running the first interval I quickly realized that I had a lot of residual fatigue and it ended up being my worst track workout of the season.  Although I felt better by the end of the workout I knew I was riding the rivet of fatigue.

On Friday Team Trisports camp started with the annual Trifest ride up Mt Lemmon.  I ended up doing this ride from the back of the pack so I could actually execute my 90 minutes hard without getting involved in the rest of the testosterone battle.  In the afternoon, we went out to run some technical trails at Starr Pass in the Tucson Mountains.

On Saturday we had the second annual Team Trisports Triathlon.  Last year I won this thing and this year my plan was only to do a few harder intervals on the bike, but when our sponsorship coordinator put some store credit on the line for the winner I decided I had to win the darn thing.  Now win I did,  but to be fair I was the only pro-card carrying athlete in attendance.  TJ Tollakson was pool-side for a bit and I'm sure he would have handsomely handed it to me had he done it.  That doesn't mean it wasn't tough and the Trisports team has a ton of talented athletes including Xterra stud Bryce Phinney who really made me work for the win.

On Sunday some of the Team Trisports members - myself included - did the Tucson Triathlon. Last year I did this race all "tega-dermed up" from a bike crash but I still managed to win the thing.  This year I was crash-free but I was fatigue stricken.  Fortunately the fatigue was enough on this day and I successfully managed to defend my title.

All-in-all it was a pretty good week with lots of hard, but short workouts.  I decided to scrap weekly weigh-ins and the food journal because it was just too crazy of a week with temperature extremes, race-loading, race-bloating, and just the lack of consistency for it to really mean anything.   I'll make it up in a few weeks with a detailed list of exactly what I eat in a typical week.

I race at Leadman in five days.  I'm not sure how I will be feeling and I may have over-cooked it in the last two weeks, but I won't know until the race.  Worst case scenario, I'm not recovered but I got in some solid lactate threshold work as I build towards Ironman St George.

Here are my weekly swimbike, and run totals:

Total: 252 Miles / 26 hours 14 minutes

Swim: 17,500 yards / ~10 miles / 4 hours 54 minutes
Bike:  216 miles / 13 hours 21 minutes
Run:  26 miles /  3 hours 29 minutes
Core:  3 sessions / 4 hours 30 minutes

Weight: N/A lbs (average over the 7 days)
Body Fat: N/A%

Calories Consumed: N/A / ~ N/A (as of Sunday at 5pm)
Calories Burned: N/A / ~N/A per day

Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike and Run Miles For Mar 12th - Mar 18th

Came upon this little fellow on my way home from the pool
March 12th - March 18th: Wow, where has all the time gone?  I find myself in the middle of March and my first big race of the season is less than two weeks away. My training has been on fire as of late and everything seems to be going a well, a little too well. I'm a fairly superstitious person so I'm going to knock on some wood real quick. Ok, so this week I really got back to my ways and everything was either super easy or rather difficult.

For the bike I got in three key confidence building sessions including a session as 3x10 with equal rest at 345, 361, and 373 watts.  That gets me back to or even a little ahead of this time last year, but on much less volume and I'm a tad lighter too.  I also did 35x (1 min on, 1 min off) in the 320-400 range on my TT bike.  Finally I got in a single 20 minute interval at 343 watts including the last 4 minutes of the interval on a steep descent.

For the run I didn't run much but got in back-to-back smashfest tempo runs after considerable amount of swimming and biking earlier in the day.  Both were on the track and were short little efforts of 1 mile warm-up, 3 miles tempo, 1 mile cool-down but I felt great.  I also did another run on the track consisting of a similar session but I did 6 descending 400s with 400 jog instead of the 3 mile tempo.  My last run was during a rare Tucson blizzard on the track Sunday afternoon and consisted of 5x1600 with 400 recovery at 5K pace.

For the swim I got in some hard swim sessions with some emphasis in doing a little preparation for the Tucson triathlon that takes place in less than a week.  Those specific sessions included mainsets of 2x825 fast with 175 yard recovery.  I don't do flip turns and it costs me anywhere between .5 seconds and 1 second per turn on average but I did them in 11:03, 11:00 and then followed it up the next day at 10:43 an 10:32.  The Tucson triathlon features an 825 yard pool swim and I hope to do it in around 9:45 or faster.  I realize that I am giving up 30 seconds in that race but I am just out there for a good workout and my only real goal is to show improvement in the swim and given the nature of the course it is a highly repeatable way to check my progress.

Here are my weekly swimbike, and run totals:

Total: 226 Miles / 25 hours 42 minutes

Swim: 26,100 yards / ~15 miles / 7 hours 27 minutes
Bike:  187 miles / 10 hours 31 minutes
Run:  25 miles /  3 hours 14 minutes
Core:  3 sessions / 4 hours 30 minutes

Weight: 157 lbs (average over the 7 days)
Body Fat: 6.5%

Calories Consumed: 38,796 / ~ 5,542 per day (as of Sunday at 5pm)
Calories Burned: 32,722 / ~4,682 per day

Desert Classic Duathlon Race Report

The Desert Classic Duathlon is always a fiercely contested battle and with prize money only going to first, second, and third I knew that my chances of collecting a paycheck were slim.  With two-time duathlon national champion Matt Russell in the house, and uber runner/biker Chris Foster, I knew that the third podium spot would be a real dog-fight among the other pros.     In addition, it didn't take a rocket scientist to look at the start list and realize that nobody else was signed up for the pro mountain bike race.  As a result I did what any reasonable Kellogg graduate would do - no I am not a Kellogg graduate - and I opted for the mountain bike race. With the help of fellow pro Christine Jeffrey I had a race worthy hardtail that would be suitable for the course and I was excited to give my first off-road duathlon a try.  Here is a recap of that day:

On race morning I was excited to see that I was still the only other male pro in the mountain bike race along with a couple of females.  That was great news because it meant I could back it off and just focus on getting in a solid catered training day.  As long as I finished I could walk away with some cash and minimal damage to the body.

Run 2 with 2XU Compression Socks
Run 1: The plan for this run was to start running and  stick with the last runner in the pro field.   Unlike last year this run was pretty much shelled from the beginning when Chris Foster and James Burn took of like bats out of hell and we actually had a pretty long string of guys straight from the beginning.  I was surprised to see Matt Russell next to myself and I was actually confused as to why he wasn't up there with the leaders. Running behind Matt Russell had me really interested in seeing how their race would unfold.  Anyway back to my race,  I continued on running and used the "talk test" to make sure I wasn't pushing it too hard.  It also gave me the opportunity to cheer on some of my other Trisports teammates as they were heading out and I was heading in to T1.

Bike: This bike is a 19 mile non-technical course, but the beginning miles were challenging with a few steep grades.  After navigating thru the first few miles the course opens up and it is a gradual climb up the Pemberton trail and then a gradual descent back down.  The trail is mostly a mixture of hardpack dirt and sand with a few spots of deeper sand.  It is the perfect beginner course and I had an absolute blast bombing down the back side of the course as I skidded through sandy turns like a slalom skier cuts through water. Based on my trial run the day before I felt confident that I would be able to beat the on-road men back to transition - their bike was 30 miles.   That almost happened but Chris Foster passed me right before we got back to transition.

Run 2: The second run is a real beast and actually uses some of the more technical mountain bike trails in the park.  There are plenty of steep sections, twisty sections, and the relentless sun adds an additional challenge.  Anyway, I started on the second run just a few seconds down from Chris Foster.  Then I went around a couple of blinds turns and I never saw him again.  The plan for the second run was to open it up a little more on the flat sections.  I continued on and hit some of the more technical sections and really backed it off to reduce the impact on the quads.  There was still no sign of Chris Foster.  I knew he was extremely fast but I found it tough to believe that he was fast enough to run out of sight.   I also looked back and I didn't see anyone behind me and was starting to think I was lost.

I continued on and saw an aid station and I knew I was still on track but instead of taking a left turn at the aid station I went straight.  I ended up at the finish running around the parking lot asking where I was supposed to go.   I back-tracked back to the aid station and that is when I realized I was supposed to go left at it.  It turns out that one of the volunteers at the aid-station was standing right in front of the "turn left" sign and they did not know they were supposed to direct people left.  At this point there were a few other pros who were now ahead of me so I used them as a guide as I jogged it in from this point.

Summary: Thankfully there were no other pros in the men's off-road race so my extra mile of running just ended up making it an even better training day.  Unfortunately for the on-road race there were a bunch of people who took wrong turns on the course and it cost them a payday.  It is unfortunate that it happened, but that is part of racing.

I'll be doing another training race next week at the Tucson Triathlon before finally opening the 2012 season with Leadman 125 in Las Vegas.  If you are itching for some early season racing and you want to be a part of this exciting race then sign up.  You can save 15% off registration with coupon code: LTFTRI18

For those interested in the bike route for future years or first just riding then here is my Garmin file.


Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike and Run Miles For Mar 5th - Mar 11th

My Ride For The Week - 29er Hardtail 
Mar 5th - Mar 11th: The plan for this week was to have a normal week of training, but on Monday morning it become very apparent that it just wasn't going to happen. I felt absolutely awful in the pool and as a result I really made an effort to dial back the swimming and running, while still focusing on the bike.

As for the bike, I got in a decent single 20 min interval on my road bike that came in at 331 watts.  It was a 90-95% effort and I didn't have time for a second one otherwise I would have gone again.  The rest of my biking was focused on getting ready for he off-road portion of the Desert Classic Duathlon.  This entailed borrowing a bike from Canadian Xterra Pro Christine Jeffrey and then learning how to ride it.  I went out to the Tortilita Mountain Perserve on Wednesday and Thursday to do a few all-out loops on the bike.  On Friday I headed up to the race venue for the Desert Classic Duathlon and got in a pre-ride of the course.  I knew that I very well might be the only one in the Pro MTB race so I wanted to make sure I knew the course from a marker standpoint but also how much traction I would have in the sandy corners at full-speed.

On Saturday I did the Desert Classic Duathlon and lucky for me I was the only male pro.  That meant that as long as I finished that I would be going home with a decent paycheck.  It also meant that I didn't have to get in a dog fight and instead just turned it into a tempo run, smash-fest bike, and then an easy run on the second run.  The second run ended up being the mostly brutally difficult trail-run and would have left me recovering from days had I run it at full-speed.  After the race I got in a solid swim and core workout, and then decided to test my fatigue on Sunday with a long easy bike looking for any residual fatigue markers.  Definitely no fatigue as indicated by a key metric for me avg hr 106 / avg watts 204 / time 4:36.  Any time I can go for a long ride and keep the watts over 200 watts with a heart rate in the recovery zone (100-120) then I'm good to go.

Here are my weekly swimbike, and run totals:

Total: 226 Miles / 22 hours 36 minutes

Swim: 12,200 yards / ~7 miles / 3 hours 41 minutes
Bike:  192 miles / 12 hours 01 minutes
Run:  27 miles /  3 hours 24 minutes
Core:  2.5 sessions / 3 hours 30 minutes

Weight: 157.9 lbs (average over the 7 days)
Body Fat: 6.9%

Calories Consumed: 36,118 / ~5,160 per day (as of Sunday at 9:30pm)
Calories Burned: 30,249 / ~4,321 per day

Desert Classic Duathlon - Pro Recap and Some Thoughts on the Race

Here are some quick thoughts on the pro race at the the Desert Classic Duathlon today.  For those unfamiliar it is the first major multi-sport pro race that takes places in the US for the calendar year.  It always amazes me who how many athletes turn out for this race given the relatively small prize purse and this year was no exception.   I didn't do an official count but there was a good number of pros including Matt Russell, Chris Foster, Ben Hoffman, Lewis Elliott, Jozsef Major, Kevin Taddonio, Brendan Halpin, Jesse Vondracek, James Burns, Jason Pedersen, and others.  On the female side it was Linsey Corbin, Amy Kloner, Christine Jefferies, Lisa Ribes, Kelly Fillnow, and some others who I can't recall or don't know. As for me well I took the "easy" way out and was the only male pro in the pro mountain bike duathlon along with at least two other females.

Anyway the drama of the day was that many of pros went of course and it likely shifted their entire race.  What could have been:

1st - Chris Foster
2nd - James burns
3rd - Matt Russell

 Ended up being:

1st - Jason Pedersen
2nd - Brendan Halpin
3rd - Kevin Taddonio

I say "could have" because you just never know.  What happened specifically is that a few of the pros went straight instead of turning right - the pros that went straight not only went straight but followed the course for quite some time with no idea they were off course.  To be fair, the run is a crisscrossing mountain bike park and sometimes someone that looks like they are just in front of you is actually on a completely different trail making things extra deceptive.

There was a lot of discussion after the race about how to handle the situation and I think the RD did the best job he could in handling the situation.  In my opinion there are lots of pieces in triathlon besides just swimming, biking, and running but many people simply don't want to do the little things that make you successful.  The place the pro's went of course was not at all confusing to me as I had surveyed the course the day before.  Now did having a smash-fest on the course the day before the race affect my race adversely - absolutely - but I know enough to know that when you are racing a complicated trail course that maybe it might be a good idea to become familiar with it.

If you have ever lead a race before you know that all kind of things occur from wild dogs roaming around, to unready volunteers, to traffic cops sitting in their police cars and NOT directing traffic.  It is just the simple the nature of being first.  Now maybe I simply know this because I have had my fair share of adverse events at races.  But in this case some age-groupers got misdirected so I have some sympathy for the situation.  In my opinion all courses could be better marked and mistakes can be made, and this simply reminds me that any time a race course changes or is a new race course that extra recon is needed.  This is especially true when the course doesn't involve streets with memorable names such as "turn here if you want to win".

Overall I had a great time in my first ever mountain bike duathlon and I'm already looking forward to next year.   An official race report for my race is in the works.

Professional Triathlete Training Log - Weekly Swim, Bike and Run Miles For Feb 27th - Mar 4th

Blond Hair - Constant Reminder of all the Swim Yards
Feb 27th - Mar 4th: Over three months have gone by since training began for the 2012 season.  I have put in countless hour in the pool, on the bike, and in my running shoes and I'm looking forward to the start of race season next weekend at the Desert Classic Duathlon.  Last year the Desert Classic Duathlon was the start of a series of disasters for me including bike crashes, flats, and a slew of other problems - hopefully I can avoid any earlier season disasters and put together a solid spring race season. Although I am racing the Desert Classic Duathlon I am continuing to train through the race and will train through the Tucson Triathlon as well before finally taking some rest heading into the Leadman 125 in Las Vegas.

As I reflect on the last three months there are two things that really stick out.  One is my commitment to the pool.  My hair for all practical purposes is blond and is an everyday reminder of all the yards I have put in.  I have not missed a swim session since January 27. The second thing that has impressed me is my commitment to sticking with core as the weeks of training get longer and harder.  Core is often the thing that gets bounced out as time comes at a premium, but this year I am sticking with it.  I am not going to lie, some sessions have been a struggle, but nonetheless I have got it done.  

As for this week, well it stands in stark contrast to last week.  Almost every workout this week was fast with three track workouts including, 2x3 mile tempo in 17:54 and 17:42, a 10K team trial with Ben Kanute in 28:57 where all my 400s were between (1:07-1:13), and post 2x20 bike brick run in 19:15 for the 3 mile.  The last run was a reminder to why you can't spend all your energy on the bike in a race.

On the bike I had two days of intense mountain biking that included 2x45 min hard, and then another day with 1x45min all-out.  In addition I did 2x20 repeats twice on the road at 90-95% effort. I did tri bike repeats done on Tuesday at 289 watts and 304 watts.  My road bike repeats were done on Sunday with watts of 314 and 320.  I'm a little bit behind where I want to be on my bike but the mountain biking has really helped with my bike handling so I hope that adds some free speed and makes up for the lack of power at this stage in the game.

Here are my weekly swimbike, and run totals:

Total: 225 Miles / 27 hours 58 minutes

Swim: 24,600 yards / ~14 miles / 7 hours 09 minutes
Bike:  179 miles / 12 hours 04 minutes
Run:  32 miles /  4 hours 15 minutes
Core:  3 sessions / 4 hours 30 minutes

Weight: 155.2 lbs (average over the 7 days)
Body Fat: 6.4%

Calories Consumed: 39,374 / ~5,625 per day (finalized)
Calories Burned: 33,994 / ~4,856 per day