Pro Ironman Taper Triathlon Taper For 2013 Ironman Arizona

The Ironman Taper: Keeping the fire going,
while recovering is always a delicate balancing act
In this post I will precisely outline my Ironman triathlon taper for the 2013 Ironman Arizona race. No two tapers are the same for me, but the key to the Ironman Arizona taper was that it also coincided with the end of the season. That meant there would be no races afterwards to worry about. This resulted in an adjustment to my taper to include more work just below, at, or above race pace, than I typically do. It didn't differ in any meaningful way from the taper I outline before the taper began. I have not included warm-up, or cool-down efforts, just mainsets. I always warm-up and cool-down at a very easy pace. In addition, all race pace efforts were also done at a race pace cadence which for me is about 95. Here is the that taper:

Thur (Day 10): Bike 1:38:25, 35.18 miles, 254 NP, 211 AP. Mainset as 2x longer intervals at, or just above race pace, in this case 16 mins at 283 watts, 20 min at 290 watts, then some work above goal race pace, 4:17 at 347 watts. The times were just a function of the limitations of the road I was riding on. Then 4x1 min, at or just above threshold, with 90 seconds recovery between efforts.

Fri (Day 9): 6k swim with 4000 time trial as mainset. Easy 30 mile bike to and from pool, 177 watts, 1:52:43, peak 1 min 264 watts.

Sat (Day 8): 10 mile run, midday in scorching heat and sun on varied terrain at race pace for most of it. Miles were, 7:00, 6:53, 6:43, 6:49, 6:49, 6:25, 6:49, 6:55, 6:44, cool-down.

Sun (Day 7): Swim 5K in the pool with wetsuit on. Mainset 4x(400 @ race pace, 50 kick, 50 easy), 4x400 on 6 with paddles, long interval to allow body to cool down from wetsuit, sunny and warm. Goal was to get familiar with wetsuit swimming again as it had been nearly two months since my last wetsuit swim. Bike to and from pool, 30 miles, 1:56:03, 185 watts. 5x intervals, 1-3 mins in length, at race pace.

Mon (Day 6): Run 7.19 miles, 53:20, mainset 7x 1/2 mile intervals at or slightly faster than race pace (6:23-6:43), with ~1:15 recovery between intervals. 4 strides working up to threshold pace at end of stride.

Tue (Day 5): Commute to PT, 15 miles, mainset 3x10 minutes near race pace with 2:30 rest between, 260 watts, 257 watts, and 269 watts. Commute to pool easy 5 miles, Swim 4K with mainset as 10x200 on the 2:45 in 232, 231, 229, 229, 228, 227, 226, 225, 224, 222. Easy commute home in dark. 35 miles total, 2:11:36.

Wed (Day 4): Run 5.48 miles, 41:08, mainset as 4x 1/2 mile, at, or slightly faster than race pace (6:27 - 6:46) with 90 seconds recovery. 2 strides working toward half-IM pace.

Thur (Day 3): Commute to the pool, 15 miles easy, swim 45 minutes with the mainset as 4x200, 8x100 descending on the 1:30. Wall times were 237, 234, 231, 229, 116, 115, 114, 113, 112, 111, 111, 111, 111. Bike home with 3x 1-2 min intervals at race pace, 10 mins near, but below race pace (252 watts), 5:30 near, but below race pace (243 watts).

Fri (Day 2): Rest Day with travel & pro meeting, visit Atomic and 2XU at the expo.

Sat (Day 1): 20 minute swim in Tempe Town Lake with a few efforts bridging up to other swimmers, then resting for 15-45 seconds, and then bridging quickly to the next group of swimmers and so on. After completing one lap, hopped out, and hopped back in to do another half lap or so. Biked 27 minutes, ~9 miles, with 3x3 at race pace, the rest was easy spin.

Sun (Race Day): 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run

2013 Ironman Arizona Race Report

Going into Ironman Arizona I wasn't sure what to expect. If you have been following along then you may have noticed that since moving back to Arizona I did a 180 on my training. I threw out the TT bike and I threw out most of the structured bike work in favor of completely "ad hoc" biking. That biking consisted of catching roadies on my commuter bike and playing games with the traffic lights. I also let the run down a bit in favor of the swim. In the end the strategy paid off in my opinion. Although my day of racing fell apart around the 18 mile mark of the run, it wasn't for lack of run fitness, I simply fired a few too many bullets during the bike. The result was painful last 8 miles but I still hung on for an 8:25:01 12th place finish, as 3rd American at the 2013 Ironman Arizona. Here is a recap of the day:

Right before hopping into the abyss that is Tempe Town Lake
Swim (53:49): One of the EMTs was late to the event and thus we were delayed getting into the water. Normally we hop in around 6:30 but we weren't allowed in until just after 6:40. I was the first one in the water and I was surprised that I was also the first one to swim the 200+ meters to get to the start line. Usually there is some turbos that come flying by. My initial plan was to stick far right. I started there the previous year and it worked out real well, but the announcer Mike Reilly, and the support crew on kayaks, was telling everyone to start left. I was confused on why they were telling us that, but everyone seemed to be shifting to the left and I followed suit. However, instead of finding myself next to guys I wanted to swim with, I found myself next to guys I didn't. It was too late, the gun was about to go.

The gun fired and the sloppy mess of strokes and contact started immediately. It was absolutely brutal, by far the most violent swim of the year and I wasn't getting anywhere in it. Mentally I had prepared to be aggressive but these people just seemed to want to waste energy instead of conserve it. At one point I took a look back and it seemed like I was dead last at the 200 meter mark. I also saw a nice big group that had formed far to my right and was now about 50 meters ahead. Although there is always safety in numbers I decided to leave the comfort and safety of the pack and veered at a 45 degree angle to the right. At the time I was thinking, "what are you doing", but I swam hard and the gap was falling. I kept swimming and told myself I had to catch that group - that was my race.

Exiting Swim with Trevor Wurtele
After a few hundred meters I did the unimaginable, I had clawed on to the back of the train. I rewarded myself with some rest and recovery from the surge it took. To my surprise I wasn't overheating like I normally do after such a high effort. After a bit of recovery I continued clawing forward. After a few hundred more meters I found myself sitting at the front behind the lead swimmer, and in between the two swimmers directly in front of me. I knew the swimmer ahead to the left was fellow Illinois pro Jared Milam because of the sleeveless wetsuit he had on, and I knew the swimmer to my right was Trevor Wurtele because I could read the number on his cap. I was exactly where I needed to be.

From there on forward I just took it easy. The pace grew a little weak in the middle portion of the swim but I wasn't going to waste any energy in moving the group forward a little faster. I exited the swim with guys, or ahead of guys, that had been handing it to me all year.

Checking out who else is making haste out of T1
Bike (4:20:35): With so many guys coming out at once I wanted to make sure I had a quick transition be the the first one out of T1. Coming out of T1 someone told me that Jordan Rapp was only 30 seconds up. I took a quick look and saw Trevor Wurtele making haste and decided I would gamble early and see if I could get a visual on Rapp. In retrospect it was a match that didn't need to be burned, and I would have loved to have that one back.

After wasting that match, I held back and waited for the others to catch back up. For the first 25 miles it would be myself, Trevor, and Jonathon Shearon trying to string out the riders and make them suffer. A few more matches were burned, a few guys got dropped and I put the matchbox away and let Trevor do most of the heavy lifting as we completed lap 1.

On lap 2, Victor Del Corral (eventual winner) must have grown leery of trying to ride in the back of a group and the natural accordion effect that starts to occur as we pass age groupers on their first lap. He moved to the front and I was happy to have to two pre-race favorites pushing and dictating the pace. I myself also wanted to stay at the front so I wouldn't have to burn any more matches closing large gaps that can occasionally open up.

Sitting 3rd wheel out on lap 1 behind Trevor Wurtele and Jonathon Shearon
Lap 2 is also where we started to catch some of the swimmers who got kicked out of the lead group. This always presents a problem because they almost always want to latch on to the group, but 4 out of 5 times they quickly decide the effort is too great and drop off. It requires a delicate balance to recognize a rider who is jumping off the train and giving the train too much ground that is left to close. I haven't mastered the process yet and I still seem to burn mini-matches in the process.

Assessing the competition

On to lap 3 and the time gap to the lead pack was quickly coming down. Jordan Rapp had made his way to, and completely passed the front group. Pedro Gomes was the only one not to be decimated by Rapp's pace and sat in 2nd. 5 miles into loop 3 and we picked up and spit out the lead swim group. That lead group included: Matty Reed, Joe Umphenhour, and ITU speedsters, but Ironman rookies, Matt Chrabot and Ritchie Nicholls. In the process I noticed that we had completely cracked most of our own initial group with the exception of Denmark's Jens Petersen-Bach, who I knew was riding a very smart race and would finish 3rd.
First few steps after 112 miles are always painful

Run (3:07:01): I came off the bike in 3rd place with Victor Del Corral and Trevor Wuertle and we were 6.5 minutes back from Jordan Rapp. I made a quick transition and I was the first to exit transition, but 3rd place wouldn't last long as I was quickly passed by Wuertle and then Del Corral. Then Jens Petersen-Bach came by, as did Denis Chevrot from France, and Marc Duelsen from Germany. I had quickly found myself in 8th place and in the last money spot but with a nice gap to the rest of the

I was running ok but I didn't have that snap, snap, snap in the legs that I'm still trying to find. Although, I did do a good job of staying cool, keeping hydrated and fueled up. It was 1x gel every 3 miles, with some cola in between and a salt pill as well. Towards the end of the first lap Matt Charbot made the pass and I fell to 9th.

Onto lap 2 and the crowd support was there as always. I saw TJ Tollakson who reminded to increase my cadence and lift my hips. I did the best I could in kicking over the feet and clawed my way back to repass Charbot and back into 8th. I would run in 8th giving it everything I could until friend and fellow American Matt Russell made the pass for 8th. I tried to go with him but I only lasted 200 meters and I knew my day was done, it would now be to get to the finish and focus on 2014. Along the way I got passed by a few more guys and would end up 12th but mentally fueled for 2014.

End of a long 2013 season, 2014 starts soon
Overall (8:25:01 / 12th Pro): I was happy with the race. I burned a few too many matches on the bike
that I would have loved to have back on the run, but overall I can't complain. I went in knowing I was going to go for it on the bike and I did just that. I was super stoked with the swim and the swim progress I made. Some others said the run form looked better too which is a step in the right direction. I am also stoked that I was able to keep the bike at the highest level ever - 3 watts more than 2012 - while only having 5 TT rides since mid-September. It is exciting because it means I can keep getting the majority of miles from bike commuting and that keeps one less car off the road!!!

Although I am on the Ironman Cozumel start list and I am mentally fresh to give it a go, I am choosing to head home for Thanksgiving to see family instead. The race schedule is not set for 2014 but it will likely look similar to 2013. Here are some of the people and companies that helped make the 2013 Ironman Arizona race a success:

Thank Yous:

All the volunteers - Ironman would never be possible without the countless number of volunteers who take time from their busy lives in order to help put on this great event.

All the Ironman officials - for giving us the cleanest race we could have.

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.

2XU - for your wetsuits, compression gear, trisuits and everyday training gear that rocks!! Thanks for your support since my days as an age-grouper. We have come along way since then.

Atomic - for your endless pursuit of all the engineered "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 engineered "free speed" and save 10% in the process by using coupon code "TG-10" at Atomic.

Cobb Saddles - for allowing me to stay aero and keep my bum comfortable for nearly 5 hours on the bike. Your saddles provide the foundation for every bike ride I take.

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

Proactive PT - for keeping me injury free with Gua Sha and massage work. I would have never made it to the start line healthy without your help.

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 Morales of TriJuice  - for capturing all the excitement that comes with an Ironman.

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.

And all of you for taking the time to read this, follow my journey, tweet, share, like and support me as an athlete :)

10/28 - 11/10 - Professional Triathlete Training Log and Update - Swim, Bike, and Run Miles

These bike workshop repair units
around Tucson are a big help to bike commuting
As many have noticed, I have fallen off the pace the past few weeks with my normal weekly updates. It has been nearly two years of writing every week and although I believe in consistency, I am re-evaluating how much I want to write in the future. As I wander through the internet, and casually talk to friends, I get this incredible sense of burn-out right now in the pro ranks. I actually can't believe it. Everyone seems just to be shutting it down and I have read so many postmortems that it reminds me of the financial crisis of 2008. Contrasting that, this is the time of the year when so many "young guns" destroyed their fellow age-groupers and have decided to move to the pro ranks. They have unbridled enthusiasm, and want to start their onslaught immediately.

As I turn things back to me I can't help but wonder why I have this calm balance. I'm happy with slow, but steady growth, and I attribute that philosophy for getting me to where I am today. Patience is what I constantly remind myself. Truthfully, despite a long season, longer than probably any other athlete, I really see no reason for it to end. Yes I have my final race at Ironman Arizona in 6 days. And yes, I'll probably take a little bit of time off afterward, but I'm already excited about working on my weaknesses in preparation for the 2014 season. Simply put, I enjoy the process of being a triathlete. I enjoy the lifestyle of a triathlete. I enjoy the simplicity that I have created in my own lifestyle, and I attribute that simplicity to allowing me to train as hard as I do and race as often as I can. 

But getting back to my weekly updates, I didn't want people to think the lack of consistency had anything to do with the rest of the doom-and-gloom from my fellow peers. I had been thinking about changing the frequency of updates, especially in the winter months, but it mostly had to do with a hefty change to my lifestyle. Those changes included a heavy dose of hard swimming, while combining that with more commuting miles, and workouts strung together without the few hours of rest that I am used to. I have been figuring out a way to incorporate strength work back into my schedule and I took some time to do some other interviews, one can be found at the following if you are interested.

I'll post more about Ironman Arizona later this week. I will say that I am feeling really good despite an abundance of volume. I have tapered down the run mostly in an effort to keep the legs fresh. I have gone into almost every race this year on tired legs and I want to see how they can perform with a little rest while keeping the bike and swim volume high. On the one downside, I did pick up a little bit of tendinitis in my knees that most likely was the result of the high-load, low cadence bike work that I have been doing in excess. Although it continues to get better and better, and I have no doubt that I will barely notice it on race day, it is one of those things I will evaluate on race day.

My weekly swimbike, and run totals for October 28th - November 3rd:

Total: 223 Miles / 22 hours 46 minutes
Swim: 31,700 yards / ~18 miles / 8 hours 22 minutes
Bike: 182 miles / 11 hours 14 minutes
Run: 23 miles / 2 hours 39 minutes
Core: 0 hours 30 minutes

My weekly swimbike, and run totals for November 4th - November 10th:

Total: 305 Miles / 24 hours 42 minutes
Swim: 21,400 yards / ~12 miles / 5 hours 43 minutes
Bike: 263 miles / 13 hours 46 minutes
Run: 31 miles / 3 hours 42 minutes
Core: 1 hours 30 minutes