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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.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Without a great finish at Lincoln Park, I thought about letting this race report go. I’m out in Los Angeles on The Avenue of The Stars for a conference this weekend. Since I’m stuck here with no time to race (just a run in the morning and spin at Equinox in the evening), I might as well recall and record the pain I tried to endure last weekend.

Going into the weekend I was excited because I was going to get two days of racing in. Since I haven’t figured out how to place in a bike race yet, my best chance at upgrading to Cat 3 is to do as many races as possible with the hopes that I’ll get into better shape and figure out bike racing more. Leland Kermesse on Saturday proved to be painful. My heart rate was in Zone 4 or 5 for nearly 3 hours during that race, and when I got up on Sunday I realized my legs had been there too. Molly and I drove down to the race, while Chris was just going to let his son race (smart man), and Ruggles was going to ride his bike down to the start (really glad I didn’t do that). It looked like a great day, but Chicago often looks that way. Then you step outside and realize it’s bitter cold with ferocious winds.

My first race (Cat 4) started at 0830. I was lined up in the second row, and at the start the guy in front of me couldn’t get into his pedals (rookie). I was patient (super rookie fatal flaw) and after he finally got into his pedals I fumbled just long enough to find myself alone. Yeah, 5 seconds into the race and I’m off the back. I hammered for the next 35 minutes and got a great tempo workout in, just to finish 52/55. I saw fell ACC rider, Omar Patalinghug at the start, but since I rode alone the entire race our opportunity for team tactics was shot.

Molly did her race, and although she had been dropped too, she was able to out sprint a competitor for a nice finish. Sometimes we have to settle for the little victories.

My second race (30+ 4/5) started right after Molly’s. It was becoming windier, and my clothes were soaking wet from the first race. I was shivering at the start. Shivering is a great way to use up your glucose so that it’s not available for the race. The start was good, but I could only get my power up to about 80% of what it was in the first race. Fatigue was setting in quick, and I found myself off the back again. My finish was only slightly better than the first race. Again, I saw Omar at the start, but didn’t get a chance to work with him.

Third and final race finally came at 1230 (40+ 1-4). Ruggles showed up to go for the $50 bonus offered to the first finisher that also completed Leland Kermesse. I figured it must be getting a little warmer, and my clothes were soaking wet, so I decided to take off my windbreaker for this final race. First lap in I rolled out of the 180 degree turn into the 30 MPH headwind and realized two things. I was exhausted, and I was frozen. Why did I take my windbreaker off? Did I want to do 43 more minutes of this? I didn’t even want to do one minute. I rolled straight up to the truck and jumped in. Pathetic? Yes, of course! There really is something to learn from each race.

Ruggles stuck in the pack and did pick up the $50 bonus. I was much happier once I changed out of those wet clothes and got to watch a great finish. Oh, and Chris’s son did win his race, so there was another victory for the Activator Cycle Club. We may need to build a junior team.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Category 4, 100K

Located in Leland, a bustling village of 1000 youthful residents and farmers, this kermesse is well known by Chicagoan’s as a hellish road race. Some even ask if it’s a road race or a cyclocross race because 1/3 of the 15 mile loop consists of loose gravel roads. I had read Adam Zucco’s 2011 race report, and instead of gravel it was mud. Oh, and rain, and sleet. I’m sure there was plenty of wind as well, but that’s pretty much a given around here. I tried to be tough this winter, and even though the winter was ‘mild’ it was a challenging transition coming from San Diego. I waited until a couple days before race day to see that the weather should be about 40 degrees sunny before preregistering. Molly chose to register day of race after I had drug her out to Beloit for the promised 60 degrees which never went above 39.

The race was put on by Flatlandia, a very appropriate name for a cycling club in this area. I represented the Activator Cycling Club in Lake Bluff, along with Molly Cook (Women’s Cat 4), Bob Ruggles (40+ 1-4), and Chris Harold (Cat 5). I could have raced with Ruggles, but opted for the shorter race with a larger field. After learning that the Cat 1-3 went off with the Masters, I was convinced I had made the right decision. Maybe, maybe not. Bike racing is a strange beast, one I have yet to conquer and I was faced plenty of struggles in the Cat 4 race that I hadn’t anticipated.

The first mile was a neutral rollout, and we had 12 Cat 1-3 women ahead of us. The next thing I knew the 12 women were scattered and drifting back through our pack, scattering the Cat 4s and then the first sharp right came. It must have only been two miles in, and I was gapped with about 60 people ahead of me. I didn’t dare look back, but met up quickly with #115 from xXx Racing. We tried to catch the peloton, and at five miles in I was becoming fried, and started seeing the pack drift away. Uggggh! No whiners in cycling! There are plenty of those elsewhere.

I saw the peloton hit the first gravel road, and all of a sudden they weren’t so tight. The field was beginning to stretch out and a dust cloud was being blown directly behind them by the 15 MPH headwind. I hit the gravel with #115 and we started gaining on people that were falling off. It took a couple miles to catch the first one, but as we were solo riders, they weren’t going fast enough to want to rest behind them. The gravel was very loose, and felt a bit sketchy, but I quickly learned that other riders couldn’t keep up with #115 and me.

We were finishing the first loop of four and I saw a couple riders ahead in the feed zone looking back at us, waiting for us to come so they could jump on our wheel. They jumped on, and did a little work at first but they were slow. We picked up another xXx Racing guy that put in a good effort, but there were three of us working, and two coasting. I called them out because I was getting pissed that the rotation always stopped with me, so I signaled to #115 and we bolted as we headed into the gravel. The first chance I had to glance back and I couldn’t even see the other three. We quickly came up on another group of five and sat in for a minute. I’ll admit, #115 pushed hard and got up there while I struggled to slowly gain and earn my rest. The benefit for going in the red (in this case) was more rest. Fortunately my HR dropped quick enough, but we were only 25 miles in and I thought “Okay, I got a good hour long tempo workout in. I’m done. At least I’ll cruise with this group for 35 miles and finish.” People that know me know that cruising wasn’t going to happen. We hit another gravel section and one of the group attacked, but I was right on his wheel (where I was intending on sitting) and #115 was on mine, but when I settled in he kept going. I figured he was going to pull a bit, but no, he was just going.

“Anytime you go to the front you are attacking” –Ruggles, c. 2012

My delay caused me some pain, because when he was about two bike lengths ahead I said “screw it” and went after him. Again I looked back and the other five were well behind. I chased, but couldn’t actually get into his draft. We ended that loop and hit the feed zone again. #115 was well ahead, and again I figured it was over. He looked back, and I could tell he was going to wait for me, so I pushed it before he changed his mind. We had been hammering together for 90 minutes, but his first words to me were “sorry to drop you”. “No problem” I replied. After all, it is bike racing. I was hurting, but I figured we were all hurting, so screw it. Since he waited for me I chose to put in a solid effort right away and we had an awesome two man paceline, bringing the speed up to 23+ MPH with a strong crosswind. We met up with two other guys about five miles later where we caught our breath, then we hit the gravel again and left them. I hated the gravel until I figured out I could drop people so easily (except #115 who was just as strong if not more beastly in the loose stuff).

With about 17 miles to go, we were caught be three guys just as were rolling into a gravel section. This last gravel section was with the wind, and a little bit smoother, and the three riders were able to stay with us. As we began our final lap I was trying to get a good paceline going because we could go 23 MPH and were picking people off. Each one we passed was another place. Two guys wouldn’t pull through though, and I don’t think it was because they couldn’t. I yelled at one of them to ‘pull through’, and he said ‘I’m staying right here’. Screw it. I can play that game too, so I rolled back and sat on his wheel, and we went 18 MPH. It was stupid, but at that point there was only one person I wanted to beat, and it was the guy (Bikes Not Bombs) that was looking to beat me with a sprint when there were a lot of places ahead of us to make up. I cruised for a while, and my HR went down to 118, the first time it had been below 150. I actually started to feel good. With ten miles to go I decided I was at least going to push the pace enough so that that Bikes Not Bombs guy would have to work a little. They all held on, and #115 was the only one to help me (of course). We rolled into that final stretch of gravel and they were holding on there too! One thing that I learned in this race though was that even though I took all the turns into and out of the gravel rather slow and cautious, I still managed to create a gap on those turns. This time I went for it a bit more aggressively out of the last gravel section. #115 rolled around me, so I jumped on his wheel. I looked back and the gap was huge. My legs were on fire just trying to stay on #115’s wheel, but I decided that at the 200 meter sign I was going to go for it. I tried to ramp up my best sprint and went across the road to avoid him slingshotting past me, but I couldn’t even get ahead of his front wheel before my legs retired. It was #115 finishing 22nd, and me 23rd.

Yeah, no whining in bike racing, but damn it could have been a much different race if we hadn’t been dropped minutes in.

Activator Cycle Club had 4/4 finish, no awards this time. Our own celebration at Bull Moose Bar and Grill in Sandwich, Illinois (yup, Sandwich) was enough for us this time.

Cheers, and thanks for reading! Strava


Date: 31 March 2012

Location: South Beloit, IL

With a couple weeks of great weather, Molly and I have been back on our bikes. The weather hasn’t been as good after those two weeks of feeling like summer, but we’ve been trying to keep building our cycling fitness. With that, we are looking at doing races on the weekends. This week we had the opportunity to go somewhere new and race at the Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit. Friday night we checked weather.com and found out the weather was supposed to be sunny with temps at 53-60 degrees. We were excited because it has been rather cold this week. The drive was about two hours, so we were committed by the time we got there, even though we were surprised to find out it was freezing! Technically 33 degrees is not freezing, but it sure felt like it.

Molly did the second race of the day, women’s category 4. She finished with the pack, 9th of 16. The course was a 1.7 mile loop with several turns. I didn’t get to talk to Molly to find out any details of the course because my first race was next.

I raced in the category 4/5 race. It was a decent field of 72. I was surprised at how squirrely the race was. I kept hearing brakes squeaking and could even smell them burning. There was one point on the course that was a pinch point and several of us rode through the grass to avoid getting hit. Amazingly there weren’t any crashes. The speed wasn’t especially quick, and I probably could have won a prime when I was positioned well near the front but was saving it for the finish. Unfortunately I just could get the position I wanted for the finish, and ended up 45th overall, 26/34 cat 4s.

I was planning on only doing one other race, the Masters 30+ 4/5. It was too cold to stand outside and watch the race, so I decided I might as well do the cat 4 race that was immediately before the Masters race. This one was smoother, but there were still a lot of brakes and rubber burning, and there were some young guys that weren’t riding that smooth. One rider almost went down in front of me when he was pedaling through a turn and his pedal hit the ground. He apologized to me. I didn’t really care, but I lost some of my position in trying to avoid him if he had gone down. Another rider ran onto the grass to avoid him. This race I kept pretty smooth. I kept adjusting my position near the front without getting involved in attacking or pulling. I couldn’t get a good position near the finish though and ended up with another pack finish, 42/50.

The last race was Masters 30+ 4/5. The first lap was fairly slow. I decided that I hadn’t been able to get into a good position for the sprint on the last two races, so I would try to create and get into a break. Immediately after the first lap I went for it, but when I looked at my 3 second average power was 600+ watts, which I knew I wouldn’t be able to sustain for long, and then I looked over my shoulder to see the train on me. Well, I started something, because there was a series of attacks. No breaks lasted long. In fact, I didn’t see any races that were won by a break. It was a fun race though it was much faster and much smoother than the previous two. My fastest lap of the day was the final lap of my third race, averaging 27.0 mph. I felt good, and I thought I was in a fairly good position. The finish was ¼ mile away following the last turn, and the next thing I knew was a swarm of riders flying by me. I quickly changed positions from the top 10 to 39/50 overall, 24/28 cat 4.

It was a blast, but I obviously have a lot more to learn about bike racing, specifically sprinting.

See full race results here.

See GPS files on Strava here: 4/5, 4, 30+ 4/5.

Try Strava Premium for free. Use promo code: cook12


It’s hard to believe that we’ve been living in the mid west now for six months already. Even though we are constantly being reminded of how this winter was milder than anyone could recall, and record high temperatures that had been standing for 90 years were being broken, it still seemed damn cold to us. I pretty much gave up trying to ride my bike, except for the three mile commute to work. I ran a fair amount, and started swimming occasionally after the New Year, but truly enjoyed a real off season. Without working out much, we explored a lot of what Chicago has to offer. I still haven’t answered the question of what people do with their time, because I still got in about five hours of exercise most weeks, and we did a ton of stuff, yet it seems that a lot of people moan about having no time for anything.

The past two weeks we had a great break in the weather. I was excited, thinking spring was finally here, but kept hearing how temperatures were 30+ greater than normal. It was a good time to get on the bike, however, and we heard about criteriums over three consecutive Sundays being held just a 30 minute drive from us. Molly wanted to do some crits, and I hadn’t done any in about 20 months, so we went for it. We had a blast, getting back on the bikes, and racing for the first time in months. Molly did one race each day, 35 minutes +2 laps (0.7 mile each). I did two races each day, 40 minutes +2 laps. My laps were also back to back races. It was great doing six races over a 15 day period. They were close enough that I got to see how my comfort and skill improved with each one. The intensity was awesome too, because I tend to do a lot of long zone 2 workouts.

Our team is Activator Cycle Club. It is new, and associated with Activator Cycles which is just two miles from our house. I have no doubt that the team, its group rides, and the races will continue to grow. We had six riders at the first date, and three at the second and third.

Below are some pictures I took of Molly’s races.

My files are all posted on Strava. You can see them here.

I’m fortunate to be selected as a Strava ambassador for the second year. You don’t even have to own a Garmin to use Strava now. They have free apps now for android and iPhone, both for running and cycling. You can do a lot with the free version, but you can try the premium membership for a month free. Use the code cook12 to get the free one month trial.


A month after a race isn’t the ideal time to publish a race report. After all, it’s old news, and the pain is (mostly) forgotten.

Earlier in the year I didn’t think I was going to be able to do this race because I knew I was moving to Great Lakes, IL for my first staff physician assignment. When I found out I didn’t need to report until September 30, I quickly signed up and planned to move after the race. The race was on Sunday, September 11.

We had packed out our house on Thursday, the same day that all of San Diego County and many surrounding areas were hit with a massive power outage. Fortunately I had made hotel reservations 30 minutes prior to the power outage. To experience a large blackout was a bit eerie. Our dependence on power for food, water, gas, and most aspects of our nocturnal living (television and lights) became very obvious.

For those that are not familiar with the Superfrog Triathlon, it is one of the oldest triathlons. It is put on by the Navy SEALs and has a couple aspects that add to the difficulty of the race. The swim has two surf entries and exits with a beach run of a couple hundred meters at the midway point. The bike, although very flat is usually faced with high winds on the Silver Strand. The run includes running on the beach. There have been several courses for Superfrog over the years, and this was a brand new one starting at the Advanced SEAL Training base on the southern end of the Strand. The run included 6.5 miles of beach running, but the majority of that was along the water where the sand is wet and smoothed from the receding waves. There was only about ¼ mile of soft sand running.

I set up my transition as soon as it opened up. The lighting was great, and there were bike racks designated by wave. I was in the 4th of 5 waves. John Czajkowski parked his bike next to me. I hadn’t met him before, but found out he was a fan of this blog, and was also my biggest age group competitor. I had a lot of friends racing, which was cool since this was my last race before leaving San Diego. The race has the feel of being a big deal, and also the feel of a small local race where a lot of familiar faces show up.

When my wave started, some of the swimmers from the first wave had already started their second lap. I got through the surf rather unscathed and felt very relaxed. My first surf exit seemed to happen during a pause in the waves. I couldn’t even get a good push from the waves. I was very pleased though to find out I was the first in my wave out of the water and Steve Hazlett was right behind me. Other times I’ve raced against Steve he’s been ahead of me on the swim, but I knew my swim had been doing pretty well lately with about 10,000 yards/week of Master’s swim practice. During the second surf entry I kept an eye on Steve’s position, then I got hit and tumbled by a wave. Uggghhh. Steve was ahead! Then I saw a wave hit Steve and he was back to where he was before. I picked up the pace a bit and on the second surf exit had a couple good pushes from waves. I just couldn’t seem to catch a wave, but even a little surge is nice to have.

Heading to T1

The transition area had a very rough surface. I had staged my flip-flops just outside the transition area so that I could use them to run in with. I thought it was a good idea, but so did a lot of people. There were flip-flops everywhere. A quick transition and I was off on the bike.

The initial part of the bike was on a small rough road that I just cruised on to catch my breath, get my shoes on, and grab a sip of water. As soon as I hit the Strand it was on. I held an iso-power of 280 Watts throughout the bike course. I was surprised when I flew by Matt Dixon. I had to raz him a little. The race wouldn’t be the same without it. Matt started 5 minutes ahead of me, so I knew I had 5 minutes on him at that point. Matt has been running much faster than I, but I thought if I continue to build that lead I might just beat him. I wanted to make him regret doing that VO2 Max workout two days prior. His reasoning was that Superfrog was a ‘training day’ for Kona. I wanted to make that reasoning an excuse for me crushing him.

The high winds didn’t show up this year on the bike. There was still some wind, but it was much more mild that I had expected. I was very pleased with my ability to hold 280 watts throughout the race. The goal power is always easy to hold initially, but once fatigue kicks in it becomes much more challenging.

When I finished the bike I didn’t see a single bike in for any of the waves except the first. I was surprised that I already had 10 minutes on everyone in wave 2, and 5 minutes on wave 3. I generally do not wear socks in triathlons, but because of the sand running I thought it might be a good idea to wear some. I’m not so sure anymore because it slowed my transition time a lot and I’m not sure it helped my run at all.

I started my run and along the beach I saw Tommy Brown about 2 miles ahead of me on the beach. Tommy was in wave 1, so that gave me 15 minutes, but I knew he was a much better runner than me so I figured that race was over. It wasn’t much longer when Matt Dixon flew saying “5 minutes?” I think I was more surprised by that then when I had passed him on the bike. Matt was running so quick I was thinking “crap, I really need to pull this run together”. My run was okay, but not as quick as I was hoping for. Although my training had been really good for several months and I saw a lot of improvement in each of the three disciplines, my running speed hadn’t returned to where I know it can be. When I started my second lap I was surprised once more. Tommy was still just 2 miles ahead of me! And he wasn’t looking so fresh. I was still lucid enough to do a quick calculation and realize I might have a chance at beating him. I found a little more umph within myself. Although I was pushing myself much harder for the second lap, my splits were 49:48 and 50:21. Again, I am pretty pleased with the even pacing.

Matt, Kona ready and finishing Superfrog – First age grouper overall

The festivities after the race were great too: meeting with a lot of friends, enjoying sunny San Diego, and getting cool handmade trophies. Click here for full results.

Matt and I with our First Place (age group) trophies

The very next day was my trek to Illinois. Although I got in a few runs during the traveling it was good to take some time off. For the past month my workouts have been rather unstructured, trying to learn about our new area. It’s been fun with mountain biking, pace line riding, commuting by bike, rowing, trainer workouts, and running. I already ran a marathon and did a 108 mile training ride.

Thanks for reading.

 


Date: August 6, 2011

Distances: Swim 500 m, Bike 30 Km, Run 5 Km

This was my third consecutive year competing in this race. I had registered Molly and me for it in 2008, but I ended up having to work that day and missed the race. For the next year I got to hear from Molly what a great race it was, how huge the waves were and her experience with being flipped and pinned underwater in the surf. In 2009 I was not feeling particularly fresh, but ended up having a great race. It was an exciting year because the military went off in the first wave and I took the lead about 5 miles into the bike and held it to break the finish tape. There ended up being two pros there that year that started in later waves and actually beat my overall time, so I placed third. My 2010 race I was passed in the run by John Hatala to finish 6th overall. My 2010 race report is here.

I was really looking forward to doing this race. It is my prep race for the Superfrog Triathlon on September 11. The race also served as a test for my current racing and readiness to race since I can compare the results. Remarkably, the conditions were really pretty similar between the past three races. It is cool and overcast in the morning, but by time the run starts the marine layer has burned off and it is hot out. The surf there is always big. This year there seemed to be more current than I remember, and although the waves didn’t seem as big I was hammered by them this year.

Arrival and Warm Up

This year I arrived a bit later than the previous two years. I immediately went and set up my transition area, where there were already a fair number of bikes. In 2009 my warm up consisted of trying to ride around in the parking area and then doing a short run. Since there really wasn’t a place to ride to warm up, in 2010 I brought my trainer and did a warm up on my road bike, with a short run after. This year I decided to keep it simple. I did a total of about 2 miles of running between my truck, the transition area, and the porta-potties. I didn’t bring any food or water with me, so I was pleased to see that they had some Gatorade available at the registration/finish area. A couple small cups of Gatorade at about 7:30 and I knew I was good for the race. I was in the 9th wave, so with a race start of 8:00, I didn’t get going until 8:40. I spent almost an hour watching the different waves fight the surf and current, and I spent the rest of my warm up with a few surf entries and exits.

Swim

Even though I am in much better swimming shape than the previous two years, I didn’t feel my swim went particularly well. The current was swift, but during my warm up I noticed that the stronger swimmers weren’t affected a lot by it. The weaker swimmers just couldn’t get through the surf quick enough to avoid getting swept past the buoys, so once they managed to get through the surf they had to back track. On the way out I took one wave hard, which totally knocked me back. The only thing to do though is to get going again and try to get under the next wave. I ended up sweeping around the buoy a bit wide, where I saw a couple swimmers from my wave were able to cut in front of me. The next stretch was parallel to the beach, where I was sitting on Colonel Harry Constant’s hip. On the way back in Harry and I both got slammed and tumbled by a huge wave that came down on us. All momentum lost, we were both sitting up in the water trying to catch our breath and shaking off the dizziness. Uggghh. I wanted to catch a wave in, not get dunked by one. I came out of the water just in front of Harry, but took my wetsuit off on the beach and entered transition right behind him. My swim spit was 11:02, Harry’s 11:01. We were the first in our wave. The swim is what it is, and different wave starts can be affected differently because of the timing of the waves and the current. There isn’t much you can do about that. Here is a summary of my swim splits:

Swim Splits

2011

11:02

2010

10:27

2009

11:54

 

T1

When I exit the water and am running to the transition area I start unzipping and pulling down my wetsuit. Once I get it pulled down to my waist, if there is still a decent amount of running to do I will finish pulling of my wetsuit. This allows for me to run without the resistance of the suit, but also gives me plenty of room to deal with getting the suit off. Sometimes transition areas can be tight, and fumbling with a wetsuit in a tight space isn’t that great. The downside to doing this is there was a lot of sand to run through, and pulling the wetsuit off after running through the sand would have pulled a lot of that sand off. I ended up with caked sand on my feet throughout the bike and run. After getting to my bike I dropped the wetsuit, and put on my shoes while I was putting on my helmet. These take about the same amount of time. After seeing people really mess up trying to jump on their bike with their shoes already in the pedals I started doing this and it doesn’t really seem to slow me down much. If anything, I feel I get situated on my bike a lot quicker and am ready to start hammering sooner.

T1 Splits

2011

0:48

2010

1:08

2009

0:50

 

Kudos to 15 year old Steven Emerson with a 42 second T1!

Bike

Although I like to think of ‘triathlon’ as my specialty, I’m credited by others by my performance on the bike. With the fastest bike split of the day, 50 seconds under pro-triathlete Heather Jackson, and 1:18 under the next male (39 year old Chris Masilon), I guess the evidence is that I’m strongest on the bike. With my FTP currently set at 337, and knowing that the bike leg would be about 45 minutes long, I tried to keep my power at 320-340. There are a few short climbs where I decided I would push over them at around 400 Watts. Last year I was flying by everyone on the bike, but the climbs I kept my power lower and a few people briefly passed me. Not really a big deal, but after the finish someone came up to me and congratulated me on my fast run (which actually sucked) because he had ‘passed’ me on the bike. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I had started 30 minutes after him, and he didn’t come anywhere near passing me. The reason why I surged up the hills this year wasn’t to avoid that awkward discussion, but to just get over the hill and not spend time creeping up it. I had done 400+ Watts for 5 minutes, so I knew I would likely benefit overall from this little effort and then recover on the descents. As it turned out, my peak 30 second power was 442 Watts, and peak 1 minute power was 386 Watts. I probably could have ridden a little bit harder up the hills, but there is the danger of going anaerobic, where too many matches are burned and it costs you dearly in any efforts later in the race. Below are the splits, average power, and normalized power:

Bike    

Split

AP

NP

2011

45:00

307

316

2010

47:01

309

315

2009

46:13

317

317

 

These results provide great information. Notice in 2009 that my AP and NP were the same. The Normalized Power is a calculation that gives an indication of what Average Power the rider ‘likely’ could have done. It takes into consideration low power efforts such as coasting, which drastically lowers the Average Power. Wit AP=NP, this tells me that my power didn’t fluctuate much. In 2010 there was a 6 Watt difference, and in 2011 a 9 Watt difference. The larger difference this year with a much faster time indicates to me that although I didn’t hold my power as even, I raced more tactically and it paid off. Higher efforts up hill, and lower efforts downhill. The minimal difference in the Normalized Power over the past three years is actually good news to me too. I had strong bike legs in 2009 and 2010, and I’ve been struggling to get back into shape this year. Although I would have loved to had crushed my power output from 2009 and 2010, getting back to that level is pretty satisfying. Beating my 2009 split by 1:13 is just freaking awesome.

T2

I rolled into T2 without shoes on. I felt that I spent more time than usual in getting my shoes on. My feet were caked with sand, so I tried knocking some of it off. That was futile. Then I made sure I put my shoes on snugly because I have had some problems with chaffing. Grabbing my race belt, I was off to see what I could do on the run.

T1 Splits

2011

0:48

2010

0:36

2009

0:51

 

Run

I’m getting tired of saying, but my running has been on steady decline over the past 3.5 years or so. During the past couple months though I’ve seen steady improvement that has me rather stoked. It isn’t where I think it needs to be, but I also think it will continue to improve for some time. The run starts up a long ramp that is the only hill on the run course. I just tried to focus on keeping a nice quick cadence, and kept trying to focus on relaxing my traps since I tend to tense up and hunch my shoulders. During the entire bike I had been flying by people, without a single person coming close to passing me. On the run I was doing the same thing. Once I hit the top of the ramp I saw someone ahead of me that I thought was running a fairly swift pace. It’s actually kind of tough to run fast when everyone around is running much slower, so I was excited to have someone to chase. I caught him rather quickly though, and he tried to hold on, but that only last about 5 seconds. I really just had to keep reeling in each person I saw ahead of me. Below are my Average Pace and Normalized Graded Pace for each mile for 2010 and 2011. I forgot to grab my Garmin in 2009, so I don’t have those splits.

Mile    

2011 AP

2011 NGP

2010 AP

2010 NGP

1

6:36

6:24

6:30

6:34

2

6:25

6:18

5:58

5:37

3

6:10

5:49

6:15

5:22

3.1

4:45

 

5:22

 

Entire Run

6:15

5:54

6:13

5:49

 

Run Splits

2011

19:16

2010

19:14

2009

19:00

 

Although my run was slower this year, I was very pleased with it. It feels like it has been a long time since I run anywhere near that pace.

Finish!

The race finish was awesome I rolled around the final corner and John Hatala (who wasn’t racing this year) was cheering for me, then I could hear Molly yelling for me. Both of them made me feel that someone I wasn’t aware of was on my tail, so I got a great final kick in (hence the 4:45 pace). Molly said later that since I’m 40+ pounds heavier than the athletes I was flying by I looked like a freight train. Here is a photo she grabbed at the finish:

Because of the wave starts, I had no idea how I finished. I decided to go grab my bike and gear out of transition, and ended up wasting a bit too much time down there chatting with people. Brian Long started telling me how the timing officials asked him if Heather Jackson’s time could be legit, because she finished over a minute ahead of the first male. He said now that they knew her time was good they were going to do the awards. I knew I needed to hurry up then, so I hustled up to put my bike in my truck and heard them announce that they were about to present the overall awards. I ran over to the posted results, bummed to see that my name wasn’t on the overall list. Then I noticed it wasn’t on the results at all. I went up to the timing tent, behind Mark Salisbury who was stating that his time was posted as 1:32, but he knew it was much faster. About 30 seconds after the awards were given, it became clear what happened. The overall winner, Mark Tripp, and myself had been disqualified for having times ‘too fast’. The assumption was that we had started in earlier swim waves accidentally. Tripp had fixed the problem before the awards presentation, but Salisbury and I didn’t. Our awards were handed out to the 4th and 5th overall. It was slightly comical, but still annoying.

Overall there were 1200 registrants, and just under 1000 finishers. Some didn’t start I’m sure, and there were a lot that didn’t finish the swim. Heather Jackson was the only pro there, but Mark Tripp is a well known triathlete in SoCal. I don’t think he is ‘pro’, but he did have a 1:58 finish at Superseal triathlon. I was the first military in, 3:27 under 30 year old Emilio Ramirez.

 

NAME

AGE

SWIM

T1

BIKE

T2

RUN

FINISH

1

MARK TRIPP

30

0:09:04

0:00:54

0:46:33

0:00:42

0:16:40

1:13:53

2

JERALD COOK

42

0:11:02

0:00:48

0:45:00

0:00:48

0:19:16

1:16:54

3

MARK SALISBURY

35

0:09:21

0:00:55

0:48:57

0:00:51

0:17:16

1:17:20

1

HEATHER JACKSON

27

0:11:08

0:00:56

0:45:50

0:00:39

0:17:32

1:16:05

2

CHRISTINA JACKSON

29

0:10:04

0:01:16

0:50:23

0:00:52

0:19:26

1:22:01

3

LEONIE CAMPBELL

27

0:10:48

0:01:27

0:49:36

0:00:37

0:20:13

1:22:41

 


Two days a year we try to do a “family tradition” race – Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day. The tradition has mostly involved Molly and I, but occasionally we get one or both of our kids out, and we certainly see friends out at these races.

This year we did the Old Pro’s 10K Run, and we did it in 2009. Since I did a long run yesterday, it was more of a tempo run than a race, but it was fun getting out with the crowd just to run anyway.

I figure I might as well compare my splits to those of 2009. My weight was pretty much the same, so I can’t use that to explain any differences.

Mile

2011 Time

2009 Time

2011 NGP

2011 NGP

1

6:35

5:44

6:03

5:14

2

6:42

5:46

6:11

5:35

3

6:22

5:50

6:15

5:45

4

6:41

6:03

6:15

5:59

5

6:52

6:18

7:06

6:10

6

7:05

6:13

6:38

5:57

6.4

2:31

2:23

7:12

6:43

2011 30 minute best pace: 6:31 (NGP 6:16)

2011 30 minute best pace: 5:53 (NGP 5:41)

NGP is Normalized Graded Pace. It is a mathematical correction of the actual pace that considers the grade (+ or -) so that you can compare splits more evenly.

Last week during my tempo workout I had an average pace for 30 minutes of 6:45, resetting my Threshold Pace from 7:05 to 6:45. Now I will use the 6:31 pace from today to reset my Threshold Pace again. Although I was running quite a bit slower today than two years ago on the same course, I have been seeing great improvements that past couple weeks.


Date: February 13, 2011

The Sandieguito Half Marathon is an awesome race. It is located in the Rancho Santa Fe community Solana Beach and consists of many rolling hills. The large estates create a feeling that is more rural than suburban.

I hadn’t planned on doing this race, but after being attack by a dog before the TCSD duathlon yesterday during my warm up, causing me to miss the race, I decided to register for the half marathon. Molly had already planned on running with her friends with tutus.

Molly in her tutu. In the background is TCSD legend Craig Zelent warming up.

Caitlin and Molly ready to race!

 

Kelli and Molly coming in with a strong finish.

We saw many TCSD people racing and some volunteering. Oddly enough, many of them were either racing or volunteering the day before at the TCSD Duathlon. Here is Dawn and Jim, two tri club inspirations!

I didn’t have a race plan, except to try to stay relaxed and keep my cadence high. I recently purchased a Garmin foot pod to record my cadence. As I was running I was thinking about the analysis I could do with my cadence and pace through the race. I was actually planning to copy the raw data into SPSS and do a linear regression analysis to see the correlation between cadence and pace. Unfortunately the WKO+ 2.0 software version I have does not display data for running cadence. I’m not sure if version 3.0 does or not, so if you happen to know please let me know. Anecdotally, I noted that during the first half of the race my average cadence was 91, and overall for the race it was 88. I started tightening up a lot and lost some flexibility (as if I had any to begin with) and quickness, dropping my cadence frequently to mid 80’s. Here are my splits:

Mile

Avg HR

Time

Normalized Pace

1

169

6:21

7:39

2

152

7:02

6:42

3

150

8:04

6:35

4

147

7:05

7:00

5

148

7:36

6:58

6

146

7:55

8:01

7

142

8:26

7:38

8

145

7:34

7:38

9

145

7:35

7:49

10

144

8:36

7:44

11

138

7:53

8:37

12

139

8:15

9:01

13

141

9:12

8:36

 

Here is the profile for the race:

I’m glad I did this event. It was a beautiful day in San Diego and it was fun being out there seeing so many familiar people. I hadn’t done a long run since the Carlsbad Marathon, so going out for 13 miles was rather satisfying, even though I’m still running much slower than I wish I was at this point. The running didn’t seem to bother the dog bit much, but it is quite inflamed and very sensitive. Here is this morning’s picture:


Today I was expecting to throw down in the second race of the TriClub Duathlon Series. The entire series is awesome, but I especially like this challenging course. I had also had a DNF at last month’s race because my quads cramped up on me 1 mile into the run due to the perfect storm. (Have you ever realized how often the perfect storm occurs?)

I was particularly excited to ‘test’ myself, not expecting the best results but to get a good baseline of where I stand today compared to the last two years I did this course. I was also pleased to find out that some of the club’s best competitors were there: Keith Butsko, Mike Clinch, and Kosuke Amano. This was Kosuke’s first duathlon too, and since he’s so dominant in swimming I wondered how the race would play out for him.

I decided I would skip out on the bike warm up and focus on doing a good warm up on the run. I had problems during the last run, and this course is much more challenging with steep descents and climbs that I figured that would be my best investment. The bike course starts downhill and following the run I figured I would warm up enough without doing a bike warm up beforehand. I was planning on taking pictures at this race, and almost grabbed my camera for the run warm up to show what the course looked like. I wish I had done that…

The first ¾ of a mile of the course is a steep and continuous descent. I turned around at the bottom and was cruising back up hill to the start when I saw a man with three dogs about ¼ mile ahead. The dogs were barking and running off leash, but the owner was calling them to him and continuing up a hill to the left of the trail I was running on. As I approached the dogs kept barking and starting running around me (pack mentality, planning on killing the sick or disabled). I apparently looked pretty bad, probably running a leisurely 15 min pace or something when one of the dogs came up behind me and bit my calf. I stopped, and yelled up to the owner, who was a bit in denial. He came down (all three dogs still circling around me and barking) and finally put a leash on the one dog that bit me. I asked for contact information, which he said he had none, and then gave me his name. The name he gave me ended up being just his first and middle name, but based on my description and the partial name, the police were able to locate his residence, which was in the area. Yes, I called the police, and the fiasco ended up ruining my race plans.

The dog owner also continued on with his walk through the park, even though I told him I was calling the police and animal control. Animal control stated that they would get the dog and quarantine it. I was pleased to hear that there hasn’t been dog-rabies in San Diego County for 40 years, but that they still quarantine because there is rabies in skunks and bats. If you aren’t familiar with rabies, once symptoms occur, it is fatal, so animals get quarantined to observe for signs of rabies, or necropsied for pathology evaluation for evidence of rabies.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen dogs out on trails, on and off leash. Although dogs often get excited when a runner is coming up, there is an assumption that if there is dog off leash walking with their owner they must know (somehow) that their dog won’t be aggressive or bite. Well, all three of these dogs were aggressive, and one did bite. The owner appeared surprised, but then admitted that it was a new dog he’d only had for a week or so. That just seems irresponsible and ignorant to me because there is no way he could know (if anyone could actually predict the actions of an animal) that his dog wouldn’t bite.

 

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