There are many things we do in order to be faster at our next race. It may be purchasing a lighter or more aerodynamic part. Training longer, or training more intensely to improve your fitness might work. We may even change our diet to include special foods or supplements. All of these potentially have huge expense in either time or money. The return on investment however may be very miniscule, but even miniscule gains may be necessary.

There are so many ways to save time in a triathlon that require very little investment. Practicing specific skills can make a big change in your overall race time without challenging your financial or time budgets. Even one second can make a difference. Sometimes this is obvious, but often it is not in triathlon where there are wave starts. I lost to a friendly rival by 1 second at Ironman California 70.3 without realizing it until I saw the final results. “Where could I have made up that 1 second” has run through my head many times.

Med Fit Racing has been practicing some drills to improve efficiency, technical skills and to overall become better triathletes. Drills can be the primary focus of a workout, or just a component mixed into the workout or warm up. This last week we practiced the “circle of death”. Sounds ominous, but it is merely trying to go as fast as possible through two opposing U-turns. The distance between our U-turns was just long enough to get up to high speed before entering the turn. Another version would be to keep the turns closer, and just focus on higher overall speed since there is not as much opportunity to accelerate out of the turn.

Although this was called the “circle of death”, obviously you don’t want to get hurt while doing this. Falling and injuring yourself is definitely not going to make for a faster race.

Getting through U-turns quickly is a super important skill to have if you want to do a fast triathlon. Event organizers go through painstaking detail to make course lengths very accurate. Many athletes have GPS tracking, so they know if the course distance is off. Out and back U-turns are pretty common in triathlon to help make the distance close to the advertised distance. Some races have a lot of them, and most have at least one. Hopefully the U-turn was designed well, in that the exit of the turn is as wide as the entrance. If you are going into a turn at a fast pace, take a quick glance at the exit. If it is narrower than the entrance, you are at risk of sweeping too wide, which could bring you into a dangerous area such as a car or pedestrian zone.

To take the turn quickly, follow the steps below. Note that many of them are happening simultaneously.

  • Stay wide going into the turn. This will helps you maintain momentum through the turn.
  • Slow going into the turn just enough using both brakes. Of course your hands should be on the bullhorns, not in aero!
  • Keep the bike upright as much as possible. By keeping the bike upright you will have better control if you hit gravel, trash or other debris. If you do start to slide, let go of the brakes for a split second.
  • Keep your weight on your outside pedal which should be at the 6 O’clock position.
  • Bring your face down as close to your turn-side hand as possible while looking through the apex of the turn at where you want to go. This will drive your turn.
  • Accelerate out of the turn. You want to reestablish your momentum so that you can get back to business in the aero position.

Nathan.Bike.IMCdA2015 Nathan Duncan at IMCdA 2015

Practice to gain confidence and to refine your skills. Practice with others as during triathlons there is usually a bottle-neck effect at these U-turns. If somebody is trying to pass you during a turn, focus on your own turn. If you try to think about what the rider behind you is doing you’ll end up sacrificing a lot of speed and probably some safety as well. Having the confidence and skills to execute U-turns quickly in a race can give you a huge advantage over your competitors.

Sign up for our email list and join us for our next set of drills.

Besides U-turns, where do you feel you are losing ground during your races?


After 16 years of marriage and as many years as my #1 fan, my wife did her first sprint triathlon. It was great time watching her doing the backstroke as she circled multiple times around buoys, being absorbed by multiple waves of swimmers. Her bike was much too large for her, and she was clearly a novice, having to stretch just to reach the handlebars. She managed to finish looking strong and showing off her smile despite the pain she was feeling. She was instantly hooked, and no longer just a spectator. Sure, I laughed a little, but was really proud of her getting out there and doing something I knew she found very intimidating.


Later that summer she was in a beginner swim clinic when somebody mentioned doing an Ironman. “I’ll never do an Ironman!” At the time I believed her. After all, my first Ironman was twenty years after my first triathlon.

Now that I’m getting ready to do my 10th Ironman, and my wife will be doing her 2nd, I’ve come to realize what Ironman represents. Below are five reasons why you should do an Ironman. If you aren’t a triathlete, maybe you should become one!

Reason #1: The Ironman is terrifying!

That may not sound like a reason to do an Ironman, but it certainly is! Doing an Ironman is a scary thing, every step of the way. The decision to go for it, dealing with self doubt through your training, and having the guts to get up to the starting line are just some of the challenges. What is keeping you from committing? Fear of swimming in a crowd? Thinking of starting a marathon with exhausted legs? Wondering if you have what it takes to finish? Your fears are valid, but they can all be conquered!

Reason #2: Celebrate your health

I always wanted to be in great shape going into an Ironman. Thinking I didn’t have time to train ideally held me back for many years. The fact is, you may already be in the best shape of your life and not realize it. You cannot take your health for granted, and training for and completing an Ironman will show you what you are currently capable of. If you choose to decide that you cannot do such an event, you might not be taking advantage of the health you have currently.

Reason #3: You’ll be a part of an elite tribe

It’s not necessary to shave your legs, get an M-dot tattoo or wear spandex on your commute if you finish an Ironman. Even if you prefer to be incognito, you will always wear that confidence of having completed an Ironman. The decision to go for it, the training in preparation, and the commitment to keep moving forward. It becomes a part of you. Even though there may be 3,000 athletes at any one Ironman event, they are from around the world. Very few will be from your neighborhood or office.

Reason #4: The atmosphere is intense

You aren’t the only one terrified at the start of the race. Everyone is anxious. The swim shakes off some of the nerves, and as you near the end of the bike you start to realize “I’m going to be an Ironman!” It’s a long race and there are tough moments, but then you see the most excited spectators that are absolutely amazed at your pursuit. Endorphins spike throughout the day, and then the finish is glorious. If you finish after dark, it is like coming out of a dark cave into blinding light with tons of spectators screaming and you find more energy than you started with. If you finish in the daylight, there are still a ton of racers behind you!

Reason #5: Ironman is epic

There are a lot of great events out there, but the Ironman creates intense memories from the moment that you register through the awards ceremony. Certainly there are other great events out there, and they are full of Ironman veterans. There is arguably no substitute for Ironman.

Maybe you’ve decided you’d never do an Ironman. Why not?! Post your comments about what is holding you back, or better yet, what you have overcome to do an Ironman.

I began doing triathlons in 1986, and I figured I was pretty much good to go. I was competing in both cross-country running and swimming in high school. The triathlon excited me because it seemed like a sport I would naturally be able to do. Swimming and running seemed like to only challenge. Afterall, everyone know how to ride a bike, right?
I’ve always said that you learn the most from your first triathlon. That was my experience at least. I was surprised how the swim and run were much harder than I expected. Oh, and I was clueless about generating any speed on the bike! Through brute force and volume I learned to race in triathlons confidently. It was difficult because I made it difficult, and figured that was the correct way to train. Eventually though I realized my training strategy was not getting me any further.
I thought about this recently when I spoke to an athlete that had figured out what he needed to get better at triathlon. He wanted help with swim technique, but not with his training. He said he got in all the bricks and other workouts that he needed to do. In our conversation it dawned on me that he thinks he know what he needs to do, but probably doesn’t. It’s easy to have blinders on and not see what is missing from your training to take your performance to the next level. I’ve been there. Hitting a wall in performance, and realizing you’ve exhausted every effort you can think of to reach your goals is humbling. I look back now and think what could have been if I had a coach earlier instead of committing years to doing it my own way.
What is holding you back in your performance? Do you even know? You might want to consider how much disappointment you might be avoiding by hiring an experienced coach.
Have you had personal experiences with a coach in triathlon or other sports that brought you to a new level of fitness and performance? Post your comments below.

I received an email recently from the Ironman Cozumel team that showed the following:

This is such a big deal I cannot pass up the opportunity to write about it. I’ve written a lot of posts of race reports, but those are all after the fact. This is something that anyone who is looking for an Ironman event to do and hasn’t done this race needs know about. I did this race in 2012 with three friends, and it was a spectacular race then. The change to the swim course will undoubtedly make it an even better event.

This race has sold out the past five years. It is definitely a destination race since it is on the island of Cozumel which is by far the best place I’ve visited in Mexico. The industry in Cozumel is tourism, and the island is committed to being a premier tourism destination. The race can be on the warm side, and there are winds on the bike course to battle, but overall it is a fast course with spectacular support from the community.

The swim is amazing, but the new design will make it even better. Previously the course began in a depth that required treading water, and it began in the opposite direction that is shown in the picture. The current is so strong it definitely gave an advantage to strong swimmers, but it was so strong that there were a lot of athletes that couldn’t even get across the start line, and more that couldn’t make it past the turn to start heading to the left as pictured above. Finally, the old course ended up coming back into the strong current for the finish.

The swim definitely makes the triathlon an interesting event, but it is such a small component of the race that having a challenging race ends up ruining a lot of athletes’ day. The strongest swimmers make great triathletes, not because they are strong swimmers, but because they are strong cyclists and runners too. There are plenty of marginal swimmers that end up finishing on the podium, or qualifying for Kona, because they are great on the bike and run. The swim is generally not the deciding factor for who is on the podium. It does affect the weakest swimmers that are not podium contenders and just need to get through the swim within the cutoff time so that they can spend the rest of the day on the bike and run to finish an epic event that may have been a lifelong goal. For athletes looking to qualify for Kona, this is a great race to do that. It is at the end of the year, when fitness is at its best, and then you get to roll into the winter months for a break. If you qualify, you have all year to prep for Kona since you’ll be racing in October 2015.

Besides the new point to point swim course, this course is amazing for any triathlete. The water is warm, so it is not wetsuit legal. The warm water is so comfortable though, and it is so clear that it truly is a joy to swim in. The bike course is just as amazing. It has some windy sections, but the views of the coast are incredible, and overall it is a flat and fast course. The run goes through the town and resort areas where there are so many local families out cheering for you as well as tourists cheering with a margarita in one hand and a cowbell in the other.

The race is on November 30, 2014, and Thanksgiving is on November 27, so it is a different but spectacular way to spend this holiday weekend. Check out the Ironman Cozumel website and register here. If you are interested in having a coach for this event, please contact me. I am familiar with this event, including the travel, the lodging, and exactly what you will need to do to have a great race whether that means qualifying for Kona, or finishing before midnight.

A question I received recently was “I was wondering what your opinion was on long ride/long run workouts back to back (for example: Long ride-brick on saturday, Long run on sunday). I have read mixed pros/cons about doing them back to back and was just wondering what your opinion was about it.”

This is a common question, with arguably no right answer. One advantage of having a coach is you can work with your coach to determine when to schedule these workouts.

I feel that the long workout(s) are the most important ones in the week for endurance athletes. Every workout I write is important, and has a purpose, but if you had to prioritize the workouts the long ones come out on top. If a workout is not important, then maybe it shouldn’t be scheduled because rest is also important. Where to place each workout in the week can be a challenge because it has to fit into your schedule where work, school, or other obligations also have to fit in. Most of these other obligations are not very flexible, so the 5-15 workouts per week need to be fit around everything else.

For a lot of athletes there is more time to fit in long workouts on the weekend. The weekend also is a time when it is generally easier to do group workouts, and long workouts can be much more fun with company. I end up scheduling most of my triathletes for a long ride on Saturday (possibly a brick workout), and a long run on Sunday. This combination works because I really want them to get a lot out of the Saturday workout before being too tired, and then do the long run on tired legs. Triathletes have to be familiar with running on tired legs. After this huge training load I will try to give their legs a rest day on Monday. Rest days are relative to the athlete and where they are in their training, so this might be a complete day off, or a swim, or an easier bike ride.

Is the heavy weekend load ideal? Maybe not. A long run during the week might allow the athlete to get more time on the bike with Saturday and Sunday rides. This can be a good approach especially if the long run has a lot of Zone 3 and 4 running in it where I’ll want the athlete to have fresher legs. If I really want to answer the question of what would be ideal, I would have to assume that there were no other obligations, so that long workouts could occur on any day, and there was time for naps and/or relaxation between workouts. Most competitive triathletes are trying to fit in a lot of workouts with an already busy life.

This challenge isn’t unique to triathletes though. Competitive athletes of any sport can also find themselves doing multiple workouts a day. It is pretty common for swimmers to swim an hour in the morning, and two-three hours in the evening. Runners with high mileage may run an easy run in the morning, and then have a focused run in the evening. Cyclist may need to have several workouts during the week that are two-four hours long in addition to long weekend rides.

The question on when to schedule your long workout becomes much more complicated in that you have to schedule all the other workouts too. There may be drill focused workouts, speed days, tempo workouts, recovery workouts, recovery days, core strength and cross training days. Every coach has some of their own preference, but I have found every athlete has a different schedule that can benefit from having personalized plans written and monitored by a personal coach. If one approach isn’t working, then have that discussion with your coach. Below is a (simplified) sample plan for a triathlete with 11-12 workouts per week.








Swim distance 

Run speed 

Run drill

Run tempo 

Swim drill

Long bike

Long run

Or day off 

Bike tempo 

Swim speed

Bike drill

Bike speed

Transition run


I have written about this workout previously:

Why write about this now? It’s pre-season, and I am putting this workout into some of my athletes’ workouts. I also am doing 20 second intervals. Looking over these posts I see that I was doing them in preparation for Superfrog Triathlon on 9/11/2011. My race report is here. I did well in the race. These intervals weren’t the only reason why I did well, but they were part of the early prep to my build up for a peak Half Irondistance event.

Intervals of such short duration and high intensity are not the core of long distance triathlon. To race a triathlon (that is not draft legal) well you really need to have a high Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and a big aerobic engine. This allows you to maintain a high power over a long period of time. The triathlon does not have a lot of surges or sprints that require a high power. If all training is focused on zones 2-3 this does not improve your peak power, which is a significant metric for strength.

During the early season I focus on getting a lot of zone 2 work in. This improves aerobic fitness which is essential in order to tolerate the high workload that will be necessary later in the season. Mixing in some very high efforts, such as 20 second intervals, early in the season provide some stimulus outside the heavy zone 2 work without taxing the athlete so much that it interferes with recovery and other workouts.

Another consideration for early season, or base training period, is high cadence work. Having the ability to spin a high cadence provides the athlete with more gears. Ramping up the cadence before shifting up is more efficient and effective than just shifting up and then pushing that heavy gear. I like doing these 20 second intervals with a higher cadence, usually 100+ RPM. I usually get a couple intervals in that are at lower cadence, like 60-80, but feel that the rapid turnover is valuable practice during the early season. With the lower cadence there is more torque because it requires more force per pedal stroke to generate that power. The force though is still relatively very low, although it doesn’t feel like it. There are other workouts that are better at generating max force.

Thanks for reading. If you are interested in joining our team and/or looking for a coach, we are getting ramped up for the 2014 season. Leave a message or send me an email at


December 1, 2012

Although there is still another month left of this year, I am at a point where I can say this year has ended, or maybe more importantly that next year is beginning. The relative silence on this blog isn’t because nothing was happening, but rather my focus hasn’t been so much on my own training and racing. In addition to working my first job out of residency with a lot of focus on how I want my clinics to function, I have been spending more effort on coaching. Coaching without coaching certification didn’t seem like a big deal to me before, but after I obtained my USA Cycling Level 3 Coach and USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach certifications I realize that these certifications are a beneficial part of developing a coaching business. Also this year I began a triathlon club, Med Fit Racing.

I can say that I’ve exercised fairly well this year, but haven’t really trained well for anything. Living in a new area I wanted to experience some local races, but still ended up traveling quite a bit to other events. Last Fall I did several running events such as a 10K, a 10 mile, and a marathon, but after cycling really dropped off due to the shock of the cold. In many ways I feel like I didn’t do much this year, but actually raced in a handful of criteriums, several 5K runs, a 10K, an 11 mile run, two Olympic distance triathlons (ITU San Diego, Big Foot), two Ironmans (Wisconsin, Cozumel), Leadville 100 MTB, a Gran Fondo (San Diego), two road races, and several cyclocross races. I didn’t write race reports for any of these, but I remember them all well and had great experiences with all of them.

The year began with a criterium series in Kenosha, WI. It was very cold, but these races were safe and a lot of fun. The Masters fields were generally very experienced and fairly quick, but smaller than most other criterium series races. I raced with Activator Cycle Club, and our club president Bob Ruggles managed to get a good showing for some of the events. Molly also decided to give criteriums a try and found out how much fun they can be. We did a couple other crits in the spring that were much larger and the courses were more technical, but it was still freezing cold. In the spring we also did the Leland Kermese, which was a road race with much of the roads being gravel roads. It was freezing, but at least dry this year, and I managed to have a great race despite losing the peloton early in the race.

The first triathlon of the year was ITU San Diego. The race was fun, and it was awesome watching the pro’s race for spots at the Olympics. In June we raced at Big Foot Triathlon in Lake Geneva, WI. This race was awesome. It was our first local race and we were impressed by how well it was run. There were a lot of clubs racing, but no single dominant team. I looked at these teams and how they market their triathlon club and felt that they were a bit too exclusive and that I could develop a team that was more welcoming to athletes of all abilities to provide camaraderie. I couldn’t find a club locally that was anything close to what the Tri Club of San Diego was like. So it was the beginning of Med Fit Racing, a club for newcomers to competitive athletes. Triathlon can be a lonely sport, but it doesn’t need to be and it is much more fulfilling when you become friends and train with people that have similar values and goals.

I added a new bike to my arsenal this year too. A 2013 Kona Jake the Snake. It is so cool. It rides similar to a road bike, but can ride over anything. I have fallen three times during races, but despite that don’t feel that I’ve really tested the limits of what this bike can do. Molly and I got a matching pair from Activator Cycles when they were first available, and since they have been selling a ton of those bikes. I’ve done several races, including a night time race, and they are a blast. I haven’t figured out how to race these fast, and even got beat by an 11 year old at one race. That’s alright, I still had a blast. The cross bike has also become my favorite bike to commute on because I can ride through grass, on and off sidewalks, and have no worries with it.

The biggest races this year was the Leadville 100 MTB, Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Cozumel. Leadville was awesome. I don’t really know how to ride a mountain bike, and I didn’t do anything to prepare for this race. A friend of mine, Joe Mattingly, let me borrow his custom steel frame hard tail 29er. It was perfect. Last year I went to the race to help Strava promote their app, so I was provided an entry for my efforts. I had to do the race even though I had no idea what I was getting myself into because it is such a famous mountain bike race. They say that Leadville is not technical, but for a novice like me it seemed very technical. I had my eyes opened to what it is like riding on a course like this that is super crowded, and somehow managed to keep myself out of trouble. No falls, and a strong finish at around 10:35 to earn a belt buckle was pretty sweet. I don’t usually race by heart rate, but for this event it was perfect. I didn’t know how the elevation and terrain would affect my perceived exertion, so I just settled in on a heart rate that I was confident I wouldn’t burn out too quickly.

Ironman Wisconsin was only a month after Leadville. I had signed up 1 year before the event, and had ambitions of qualifying for Kona. Later that year I decided to sign up for Cozumel as a ‘back up’ race. This back fired a bit because I ended up backing off on my training for Wisconsin. Anyway, the race began with a decent swim and bike, but I never found my legs on the run. Despite not training well, my swim and bike were decent enough that if I had a fair run the Kona spot would have been mine. I immediately realized I need to get quick for Cozumel just 11 weeks later. Unfortunately it took me longer to recover than I had expected. Two weeks after the race I still felt like I couldn’t get my run pace up to where it had been. Then the weather started turning cold and everything became tougher. I went off to Ironman Cozumel having lost a lot of my fitness.

I am in the Cancun airport as I am writing this, having finished Ironman Cozumel just 6 days ago. This race was really amazing. Although some people complained about the heat and the wind, I though both were rather moderate and tolerable. The swim had a strong current, which unfortunately a lot of athletes couldn’t overcome to get across the start line. Most of these athletes were women. Although they had entered the water, the officials determined that they had not started the race because they didn’t cross the start line (some of them swam for an hour to never cross it before they were forced to get out of the water). It’s bad for those athletes that had invested a lot of time and money and hope into this race, but it was also bad for the females that were gunning for Kona spots. The Kona spots are allocated after the start of the race based on the numbers of athletes that started in each age group. With so many women marked as DNS instead of DNF, some spots previously expected to be given to women were given to men. This affected one of my athletes, Maurin Scheetz, who placed 4th in her division, but the allocated spots were reduced from 4 to 2. One person’s bad day become another’s good day though because there were men that were not expecting to qualify that did.

The bike course was super flat and consisted of 3 loops. Some of the roads were rough, and some smooth, but they were all clean and free of hazards. Aid stations were plentiful and the crowds were out in full force. Kids were collecting Gatorade bottles and putting rocks in them, creating maracas. The roads were completely shut down for the race. Although there were few police out, not a lot like in US races. The island didn’t have any other business that day besides the race.

The run was also super flat and was 3 laps. The crowds and aid stations were incredible. My fitness was low, so I wasn’t too surprised my swim was slower, and that I felt very fatigued half way through the bike. I had no speed on the run, but overall had a blast out there.

So what’s next? I have decided it’s time to get my act together and qualify for Kona 2013. I have self-coached fairly well in the past, but this is a very tough way to perform well. It first involves having the knowledge of how to train and race, but also it requires a lot of effort to see what is and what is not being done right. In 2009 when I qualified for Kona I worked with Coach Jim Vance April-July, and learned a lot from him. It was a tough time for me to have a coach of that caliber because I was in residency and had a lot of other responsibilities. Now things in my life are more predictable, but since I am coaching I end up spending my efforts looking at my athletes and not at my own workouts. I contacted Coach Vance this week and he’s agreed to help me get back to Kona. It’s going to be a difficult but awesome year as I focus on my own goals and help my athletes achieve theirs.

It’s December now. What are your goals for the coming year?

Being new to the area, I don’t know anything about Bull Valley, or McHenry County, but Activator Cycle Club member, Omar, recommended this route. Molly and I headed out west on some familiar roads, but soon we were in new territory. Here we are about 30 miles into the ride, seeing the Fox River for the first time.


It was a beautiful day out here, after yesterday’s ‘scattered thunderstorms’. 

At the mid way point of the ride was a loop with some hills. That’s right, HILLS. They weren’t too bad because we only did one loop, but as Omar points out, doing repeats of this 5 mile loop provides some good hill training. The climbs were mostly 6-9%, with the steepest grade I saw on my Garmin being 17%.

We finished the 84.4 mile route in time for lunch while watching the Tour before I head out for a long run. Looking forward to the recovery at the Bluffinia Summer Concert tonight.

My ride on Strava is here.

It seems fitting that since I was awarded with Monday off for achieving an ‘Outstanding’ on the PRT (the Navy’s semi-annual fitness test) that I would spend the weekend exercising and racing. Saturday Molly and I went for a 50 mile road ride around Wauconda. Saturday evening after a party we headed up to Lake Geneva, ready to race on Sunday and Monday.

Sunday’s race was the Lake Geneva Triathlon. I was excited because this was going to be my first local triathlon since we’ve moved here last September. It was an opportunity to see what the local talent was like, and time to become familiar with the races in this area. Monday’s race was the 5th race in the Tour of America’s Dairyland, the Greenbush Road Race.

I have competed in many triathlons in the past 26 years, and have to say that this race was put on very well. The venue was great, but so was the course, and the organization was spot on.

The race began with a 1.5K swim along the shore of Lake Geneva. It was a great swim and I kept it smooth. I finished the swim in 24:18, which is a couple minutes slower than I’d like, but actually about the time I expected with the swim training I’ve been doing. The fastest swim was by Bill Bishop at 18:10.

The bike course was full of rollers, and I love rollers. My age group wave start was pretty far back, so I had a lot of people in front of me that I was screaming by. I think that gave me the feeling that I was doing better than I actually was. My normalized power was only 287 watts, where I think it should have been about 320 watts. Because of the rollers I had a lot of strategic surges and coasts, but even with that my power should have been at least 10% higher. I had one mechanical that caused me to stop for a minute, which really sucked. I don’t like to give up any momentum like that. Overall my time for the 38K bike was 57:58, the 11th fastest time (another indication that I should have been riding harder). The fastest split went to Adam Zucco (go figure) at 55:10.

Bike Course

The run was a 10K run on trails and grass in Big Foot State Park. Much of the course was shaded, which was good because it was warm and humid. The trails were rolling and there were a lot of roots (trip hazards) but the organizers had the worst of them painted yellow. A couple short descents I thought my legs were about to buckle because I was going as fast as I could down them. Overall I thought the run went well, but 10 more pounds of weight loss would have cut 2 more minutes off my time of 43:14. The fastest run of the day went to Todd Byers at 37:26.

Run Course

Overall I finished 19th, 3rd in my age group. The first female was almost 6 minutes behind me (one small victory), but really I would have like to been in the top 3 overall (who wouldn’t). I am not used to finishing 3rd in my age group at a race with 500 finishers. Although I see I can make some quick improvements of about 2 minutes in each event, that only accounts for 6 minutes and the winning time was 1:57:34. The next triathlon is the Wauconda Triathlon, Olympic distance again, on July 22.

After the awards Molly and I headed out to Kohler where we stayed at The American Club. It was a fantastic place to stay and relax before we headed to Greenbush on Monday morning for a road race. That report will have to be in a separate post.

It’s been over a week now since ToP ended. Oh how quickly we get back into our regular routine as vacation ends, and it writing this post was something I figured I would do sooner than later. Well, at least I’m writing it now, which is a good thing. My boost in fitness from ToP is setting me up nicely for a good summer and fall, so I don’t write this post now it won’t happen.

This is my second ToP, last year being my first. Last year I planned on attacking early on day 5, but never got the chance since everyone was attacking, and my plan turned into survival. About a mile of slow roll out of the hotel I decided to go for it. Ooops. A little too early since there was a stop light just a quarter mile ahead. I did learn from it though that Mike Brown wasn’t going to let me go. Not too surprising. Mike generally doesn’t let anyone get away. Another mile though and I went for it again. Mike was on me, and I think the whole train was, but every time I caught my breath I attacked from the front again, and again, and again. I generated a gap that gave me a little extra motivation, but unfortunately was caught a few miles down the road. It was untimely, as I eased off and rested on a wheel right past the next turn. If I had maintained the gap I certainly would have made the turn and there was a beautiful descent that would have been in my favor. Even if some people caught me, there wouldn’t have been many.

I had to play Andrew’s game for a while, as every time I started to move ahead he grabbed onto my jersey pocket and pulled me back. We eased down the descent, and through Petaluma. That’s right, the Petaluma that Snoopy always wanted to go to and become a world champion arm wrestler. At our first van stop was the rest of the group, the ones that didn’t take the wrong turn. I had actually forgot about the turn for a minute. We slow rolled out from the van stop and I got a flat. Curt and Scott, two of my team mates offered to help, but I really didn’t want to hold anyone up. After I fixed the flat my CO2 didn’t seem to fill my tire as much as I had expected. I’m not sure there was a full 16 grams of CO2 in there. I thought about starting my chase, but instead rolled back to the van which was just a couple blocks away and filled it with a pump. Yeah, only had 60 psi from the CO2. I was glad I stopped. I then started my solo chase, hoping that I would catch up at the next van stop before the climb up Mt. Tam. I knew they would stop there for sure.

What I didn’t know was that Marc, from the Orange County team, had instigated a chase by the Brown brothers by leaving the first van stop early, getting ahead, and then hiding behind a parked vehicle while the group rode past. Marc then jumped on the back. A couple people back there saw him, but the Browns were taking turns pulling, chasing the phantom Marc that they just could see. Marc reported that the pace was getting to be ridiculous, so he eventually went up to the front and said “do you want me to take a pull?” A classic move, but it certainly didn’t help me as I was chasing with no help.

I rolled up to the second van stop, where there were about six or eight riders, but my team wasn’t there, and the top guys weren’t there. I rolled in, and said “I need help!” I swear I heard crickets. Damn it. I grabbed a Coke and a handful of chips and rolled on. I rode up Mt. Tam hard. It was an awesome climb, and I was just amazed that I could never catch sight of anyone. There were a lot of false summits up the climb, which many epic climbs do have, but eventually I was riding along the top ridge of the mountain. The redwoods had vanished, and it was just grassland. I could see Stinson beach way down off my right. It was a beautiful day, and amazing. I wanted to take pictures, but just pushed on. The descent finally came, and I was ripping through the turns thinking “I’m sure I can make these turns faster than Tommy…where the hell is he?” I had been riding solo for hours. Finally near the bottom I saw Marc, Mike Armstrong, and Jerry Logan ahead. I got up to them, and they didn’t even jump on. Damn. Still solo. I pushed on. Unfortunately my route sheet had blown away early in the day, so I was navigating purely off my Garmin. Not a big deal when you’re in the country and there are very few roads, but when there are a lot of roads intersecting I took some crazy turns. There was a 20% (or more) descent that I was really unsure of, and worried because I didn’t want to go back up it. Fortunately it was the right way.

I kept hammering through Mill Valley and Sausalito, and somewhere just missed catching Tommy, Mike, and Jeff who stopped for a sandwich break. Fighting the crowds across the Golden Gate proved interesting. I ended up rolling into the hotel to see Molly there with a new camera to greet the first rider in.

I wasn’t the stage winner though. We had agreed pre-ride to end the race in Mill Valley so that we wouldn’t be racing in the city streets.

ToP ended with a chill get together at Carter’s buddy’s place, so it was a private venue and a great way for us to mingle and share war stories. The war stories became more and more interesting as the beer and wine inventory dwindled.

To my surprise I was awarded a new jersey for Most Aggressive Rider. The Tour recognizes a most aggressive rider, so I thought this was pretty cool. The award is also known as the Combativity Award, or “Le Prix de la combativité in French”. The jersey winners are shown below: Sprinter – Andrew Lee, KOM – Mike Brown, Best – Tommy Brown, Most Aggressive – Jerald Cook, Best New Rider – Jeff Tomaszewski.

Why is Mike so serious in that picture? It must be because he is thinking about winning the Texas sprint triathlon championship, earning himself a pro-license, which he managed to do 1 week after ToP.

My ride is loaded here on Strava.

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July 2018
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