Thursday, May 22, 2014

Great Effort, Frustrating Result

At the end of April, just after I turned 30, I headed back to St. Anthony's after not doing it last year. Judging by the title of this blog, it sounds like a race where workouts were going well but the race did not go as planned.  Not at all.  The bike portion of the race did not work out for me, but it had nothing to do with my effort.  I'll get to that in a little bit.

In the swim I was right were I needed to be the first 400m, when the water was calm.  The swim at St Anthony's starts in the water inside a sand bar that was man made to provide the beach with calm water.  After we left the sheltered area of the swim we hit large waves and chop.  I am not a strong swimmer in rough water, but I still came out 1 min behind the front pack.  I'll take that for now.

Once I got on the bike I was happy where I was and ready to chase after the leaders.  I settled in at 325 watts, which is a little high for me but I wanted to place well.  If I could hold it, that would be my highest average for a 40k.  After a few turn arounds I could gather where I was in the race and that a huge pack had formed at the front.  This could be good and/or bad for me.  A large pack means a large number of people for me to pass at once if I catch them on the bike or run.  The bad news ended up being a lot of "legal" drafting. It is unfair for me to be racing by myself on the bike while 20 guys are treating the non draft event like it's the Tour de France.  I stayed focused on what I was doing and did not let the pack get to me.  

I got off the bike determined to catch as many people as I could and have the fastest run split of the day.  I moved my way up to 7th and could see Cam Dye up the road with about a 1/2 mile to go. The only question was if I had enough time to catch him. I very rarely see Cam during a race, let alone beat him.  I caught him before the final turn and ended up in 6th place, less than a minute behind 2nd place.  

I was happy with it until I started talking to some people in the finish area.  There were a number of guys talking about how crazy the front pack was.  Some stated they were riding low watts a lot and sometimes they would not even have to peddle. That is BS!  I was working my butt off while a large number of guys sat in on the bike pack and got pulled around the course.  Drafting is cheating!

The frustration only continued when I started to look at my power profile on the bike and compared it to what I did 2 years ago,  I rode a different bike and rode 59 sec faster. I was 320 watts that year and 325 watts this year.  I should have went faster, instead my bike let me down.  On a side note 2 years ago there were 17 people under 55min for the 40k and the same number rode under 55min this year, so conditions and the course were very similar.

As a whole I was very happy with MY race.  I swam well for conditions and where my swim is right now, I rode my highest average ever for a 40k, and I had the fastest run by 44sec.  I did the best I could with the cards in my hand.

As luck would have it, I landed a sponsorship with Planet X Bikes.  Hopefully at my next race my bike won't be the reason I lose time.  I am very excited and look forward to working with them.

Next up is London WTS on May 31.  It will be my first experience at this level of racing.  I cannot wait to race in an Olympic caliber field.

If you don't like how things are, change it!  You're not a tree. ~Jim Rohn


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Two 5ths and a Crash

After winter training I got back in to racing in a hurry, with 3 races in 4 weeks.  It was a little crazy, only magnified by traveling halfway across the world.  I started off my season in Clermont again this year and then went back to the Mooloolaba (Australia) World Cup and finished off my trip with a World Cup in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

I really do enjoy racing in Clermont.  It is in Lake Louisa State Park, which makes the course safe from cars, but requires spectators to travel in to watch.  For triathlons to really take of in America it is going to require more spectators watching.  In foreign countries, they put the races right in front of people, often closing main streets.  Although people love this in most foreign countries, in America this would most likely drive people crazy. Americans don't like to be inconvenienced with road closures.  All this aside, it does seem like there is always a good crowd for the draft legal racing in Clermont.  This year I missed the front pack coming out of the water by about 17 seconds.  That is better than last year, but at a small continental cup, this meant coming off the bike with a large deficit.  After chasing the front pack of about 10 with one other guy, Michael Poole, for 2 laps we went back to the second pack.  Coming off the bike I was down a little over a minute to the front pack and mad at the world.  I ended up having the fastest run on the day and finished in 5th place.  Overall I was happy with how I felt and raced, but the 5th place left a bad taste in my mouth.  On a positive note, Will earned a podium spot by finishing 3rd.  Nice work Will!

A few days after getting home from Clermont I boarded a plane and headed for Oceania. My first stop was Mooloolaba, Australia.  Two years ago I went to the same race only to get sick 2 days before and was unable to race.  This year things went a lot better.  I was 15 seconds off the front pack coming out of the water and luckily the majority of the race came together on the bike.  The first lap and a half on the bike was hard chasing but once I got in to the front pack I was able to catch my breath and get ready for the run.  Knowing how loaded with talent the race was I knew I was going to have to run well to place in the top 10. Coming off the bike I found my run legs faster than I normally do but still found myself just outside the top 15.  After 2 of 4 laps I was moving through the field and could see 3rd-5th.  I was not sure if I could catch them but made every attempt to get there.  I finally caught them with a little less than a lap to go and surged up the hill to get in to 3rd place at the final turnaround.  With not much left in the tank Sven Riederer pulled away down the hill and David Hauss outkicked me at the finish line.  Normally this would upset me a little bit but considering the field as a whole and that Hauss was 4th at the Olympics in 2012 and Riederer was the Bronze medalist in 2004, I was in good company.  I was very happy with 5th!!

After a couple recovery days it was back on an airplane, this time heading to New Zealand.  Atleast New Zealand is a pretty country, because back to back weekend races do not top my favorites list.  New Plymouth was a cool beach town but turned out to be a hard bike course.  Before the race I had to have everything I could packed and ready to go because I was flying out 4.5 hours after the race started.  It was a little stressful but I was happy to know I was heading home soon.  As for the race I had a pretty good swim, only about 15 seconds off the front pack again and again the majority of the race came together.  Only this race was a little different; with about a 1/4 lap to go on the bike I was involved in a crash.  I landed softly but by the time I got up and got my chain back on the pack was gone and I was riding to T2 all by myself.  I caught a couple guys from the pack and finished in 42nd.  Not at all what I was expecting but you can't have things go your way every time you toe the starting line.  Although I encountered some bad luck during the race I had some good luck as far as ITU points go.  I was able to get 25 points for 42nd place and that propelled me in to the top 50 in the world.  So as a whole the trip was a success.  I still have to cross my fingers and hope I get to race Chicago WTS at the end of June.  Not only is an ITU race 2 hours from my house, it is one of the biggest races of the year!!

I discovered a few things on the trip.   Racing back to back ITU races at a high level is a tough task for me.  And being away form my wife for almost 3 weeks stinks!  One week is too much!

Time for a break from the draft legal racing, I am heading to St Anthony's this year.  I am excited to race a non draft race again.  We will see what happens.

The hardships that I encountered in the past will help me succeed in the future. ~Philip Emeagwali


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Off" Season

I am not sure how much of an off season other triathletes have, or what other sports enjoy, but for me I did not have much of an off season this year.  I had a forced 1 week completely off after having sinus surgery.  I was able to get back to light training one week after the surgery and was able to swim another week later.  The surgery was well worth the pain and time off, since I believe I am training better than I ever have.  With less than a week until my racing season starts, I will find out soon enough how fit I am.
As for my off season from racing, I had a lot to get done in the winter months.  With the next Olympics 2 years away and my swim not where it needs to be I have embraced the dry skin and hair bleaching with open arms; I can tell exactly where my cap stops on the back of my head.  I have been working hard and have seen small gains in the pool.  I am excited to see where that gets me out of the water in a race.  
I have set monthly PRs for total yards and total hours on the bike in the month of January.  It is crazy to think that I rode more on a trainer in January than I have in any month outdoors.  It is a good thing I have real course videos and ErgVideos to look at while on the CompuTrainer.  A lot of people believe quality training can only be done outdoors.  If Andy Potts can train daily on a CompuTrainer and only ride outside when he races, I believe I can gain fitness riding inside for 4 months.  I had a chance to be in Las Vegas for 3 months, but I chose to stay in South Bend and build a base indoors.  I ran outside as much as I could, but like most of the country South Bend has had one of the worst winters in a long time.  It has been bitterly cold and there has been at least a foot of snow on the ground since early January.  Why did I not go to Vegas??  I got married in the summer last year and I could not leave my wife for that long.  Plus I will be traveling a lot this season for races outside the country, so I wanted to maximize my time with my wife while I could.  We will see if I gained enough fitness this winter. 
I am a little nervous about riding in a draft pack after not riding outside all winter, but I have the day before the race to get comfortable again.  Clermont is the season opener and I am using it as a warm up race to prepare for two world cups in Australia and New Zealand in the middle of March. I am excited to get out of the cold for a little bit and to start racing again.

Always do your best.  What you plant now, you will harvest later.  ~Og Mandino


Friday, January 24, 2014

2014 Update

After a long delay, I will just dive in with a 2014 update. Our elite team has grown and you can see an updated roster at We are sad that some athletes have moved on and gone back to school, but we are excited that we have some great new athletes. This year I secured two condos in Las Vegas for a 3 month training environment to be sure that the team had access to every resource they needed while also enjoying a bit nicer weather. LV didn’t let us down, after 3 years of exploring the US, I found our spot. The weather is consistently in the 60’s and we have everything we need here. You can follow our adventure @teamietriathlon twitter. We have 6 full time pros living in Vegas and we have seen profound improvement from everyone. It is that day to day environment and being face to face with your coach that has proven to make the difference.
Our elite team raced through October which meant a November break and then right back to rebuilding base. This year our elite team is working with Erg Video which you can find at ErgVideo is completely different to other video training simulations. Rather than simulate just a course profile, it presents the actual power profile of the riders shown in the video. You configure the difficulty of the ride by entering their unique threshold power (FTP). Each rider in a group session will set a different FTP.  The CompuTrainer automatically adjusts the load presented by each unit, so that all riders will execute the same workout at the same time, watching the same video display. Each rider feels like the hero in the video, the point-of-view cameraman. This coupled with our full computrainer system has proven to be the difference. Several of our guys were riding as many as 12 hours a week indoors with this system. After a few easy rides to understand the system we hit our first 20 min test. This gave us our actual FTP or individual fitness so we could calculate specific zones. From there you enter the zones into the software and it implements your workout by creating appropriate resistance against you. This allows you to focus on smooth pedaling and it “forces” you to do that workout. The quality of the video is amazing and the choices for world-wide courses are very cool. We climbed mountains in Switzerland, and time trialed in Canada. It added to the experience, entertainment and quality of workout. The most important piece was that we were able to show up in the mountains of Vegas and have fitness to get actual work done. If you have never experienced this video system, I highly suggest that you contact us through the website and stop by one of classes to see what it is all about.
With January coming to a close the athletes are finally getting into the specifics of race preparation. We have 6 pros racing in Florida the first week of March, and then 4 more races in March in Florida, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Time goes by fast out here and we have a saying that every day is Saturday. I guess because everyone is doing what they love every day. We look forward to working with Profile Design, Champions Systems and Cobb saddles again in 2014. Thanks for keeping up with the team!

Coach G

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Life Moves Fast

Six weeks ago I had just finished my first World Cup.  I was helping Melissa with last minute wedding details, and getting ready to race again the following weekend. Since that race, I have raced 2 additional times, gotten married, had a fabulous week long honeymoon in Maui, and attended another wedding.  It has been a crazy month and a half.  Fun, but crazy.

The World Cup took place in Edmonton, Alberta.  It was only my third time making the trek north in to Canada.  It seems odd that Canada is close to were I live and have only made it there 3 times in 29 years.  And each time has been for a race. Edmonton is a very nice area with loads of pine trees surrounding a busy city center.  The sprint distance race featured the swim and transitions taking place in a park on the outskirts of the city.  The weather was nice and after a month of working on my swim, I was ready for a race.  Out of the water I was 15 seconds from the front pack.  This is the closest I have been to the front pack after a legitimate swim.  I made the front pack at Clermont two times, but those swims included a lot of running in the water during the swim. With a pack of 4 guys we were able to catch the front group halfway through the bike.  The bike course and run were very hilly and hard.  There were a few great runners at the race and I knew I had my work cut out for me.  Especially since I had used a lot of energy catching the front pack.  I had plans of getting off the bike at the front of the group, but my body had a different idea when I tried to get around everyone.  I came in towards the back of the pack and went after it in the run.  Halfway through the run I was just outside the top 10. After a grueling second lap of the run I was able to cross the finish line in 5th place.  I'll take that on any day!

The second race I did, which happened to be one week before the wedding, was a half hour west of St. Louis. It was a 5150 race and I was counting on a good performance there as well as one more race to compile enough points to get into HyVee.  I had no idea how hilly the area was before I got to the race site.  The run course turned out to be one of the hardest run courses I have ever competed on.  The only other course that might be harder was an Xterra race in Ogden, Utah that took place at a ski resort where the first mile was up the bunny hill. I had a good swim and came out of the water about 1 min behind the race leader.  My bike was not outstanding but considering I had raced the week before and had not been working on the bike very much over the last month, I was happy with what I was able to do.  The run course was very hilly and on gravel roads for the majority.  At one point I considered walking because the hill was very steep and I was wondering if I could walk faster than I was running.  I ended up with the fastest run split and a very respectable 2nd place.  I did as much as I could to get points.

It has been a month since Melissa and I got married and it still feels like a dream.  I get to hang out with my best friend every day and sleep next to her every night.  It really is amazing.  We took a week long honeymoon to Maui.  It was very beautiful and we were able to relax a lot...although a few swim workouts and runs cut in to our relaxing time.  It was nice swimming outside and Hawaii's public pools are free to go to.  That was the only cheap thing in Hawaii! After a week of what felt like heaven we made our way back home and it was back to the grind for me.  At the end of July I had my final chance to garner as many 5150 points as I could.

The last weekend of July turned out to be an interesting one.  Melissa and I headed to Columbus for one of her friend's wedding as well as 5150 Giant Eagle.  Normally when I travel to a race the weekend consists of relaxation and focusing on the task at hand.  That weekend I had to be a husband of a bride's maid and a professional triathlete.  We went out with with the bridal party on Thursday, had rehearsal and dinner on Friday, and the wedding and reception on Saturday.  I was able to get in my usual day before workouts on Saturday but had to attend the pro meeting in my suit.  The meeting was at 4:30, I had to set up T2 and then get to the wedding at 5:30.  Somehow I pulled it all off.  I had to set up T2 the night before because Giant Eagle has two separate transitions.  I enjoy the race a lot and this was the 3rd year I did it.  I had another good swim for me, although it was a little short. Things might finally be getting better in the water, the last 3 races have produced favorable swims.  This time I was 40 seconds behind the leader out of the water.  I knew I needed points for HyVee so I was on mission on the bike and during the run.  I had possibly my best bike ever and it couldn't have come at a better time.  I felt a little sluggish on the bike, but I was able to generate good power, for me, and respectable speeds.  As I approached the mount line I could see second place leaving transition.  I knew what I had to do on the run and just went after it.  Once I made it in to 2nd i just kept pushing, hoping Ben Collins was having a bad day on the run course, but the only time I saw him was on the out and back part of the course.  I handed out some high fives to my mom and Melissa coming in to the finish line and took 2nd place for the second straight race and for the third time at Giant Eagle.  I was very happy with my race and once again did all I could to gain as many 5150 points possible.

Just a few days ago the final points race for HyVee finished and I ended up in the last earned spot in to the race!  25 athletes make it in to the race on points and 5 more are invited by the race director.  What a relief. I am excited to race HyVee again this year!  But before I head there I have some solid training ahead of me as well as a race in the Wisconsin Dells.

What you do today can improve all your tomorrows. ~Ralph Marston


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Columbia Tri

Nothing about this race went as planned.  I was fighting a lot of fatigue going into the race and then I crashed on the day before for the second race in a row.  This time I hurt both wrists and landed hard on my chest.  I ended up 9th.  Not at all the result I was looking for.  I did have a good weekend with my mom.  I did not get to see her on Mother's Day, so it was nice spending the weekend with her.  I feel bad that I was in such a bad mood after the crash and poor performance.

The only thing worse than losing, is training harder and going slower.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cold and Rainy

This year was my third time racing Rev3 Knoxville in its four years.  I did the race as an amateur the first year they had it and returned back to the race last year.  I love doing Rev3 races because they always put on the best events, and Knoxville is a fun course that is within driving distance from my house.  I was excited for the race this year!

I am going to start with the day before the race this time.  Most of the time this is a boring day with not much to talk about, but this race was different.  It was raining with temps in the mid 50s.  The forecast was calling for this weather the whole weekend.  I was not excited about this because usually I struggle in cold conditions.  My muscles just don't fire properly when it is cold.  I kept my head up and went about my business as usual.  I had a good run in the morning and got ready for an afternoon session of riding and swimming based around an open swim from 12-2.  The pro meeting was at 2:30 so I had to ride before the swim.  With 1 min left in my ride I went to cross a treacherous set of railroad tracks, angled at about 30 degrees across the road and soaking wet from the rain, for the 4th and last time.  I was not successful on this attempt!  As I went to angle across the tracks a car came up beside me limiting my space to only a small shoulder.  I went down hard on my left hip. I got up as fast as I could and tried to assess the damage.  I looked my bike over, no damage! I did a body scan, my hip and left pinkie were sore.  I got back to the car and pulled down my bibs to check out my hip, busted open.  My day was done...I was not going in a dirty river with a new open wound.  As the day progressed, my hip tightened up and my pinkie swelled up.  I am no doctor, but the limited mobility and swelling in my pinkie led me to believe it was broken. Good thing I don't need that finger!

Race morning was a struggle. I did not want to warm up too much on the bike or swim because of the conditions and my hip did not want to get going.  I am so glad transition was out of the rain in a parking garage.  It was the saving grace for the day that consisted of temps in the low 50s and constant rain.  The water temp of the river was also well below 60.  I did a 10 min ride to get the legs going, and that was enough of the rain on the bike.  I set up transition and went out for a run.  I did an extended run warmup because the rain was not bothering me on the run and it took a lot longer to get my hip loose enough to feel semi normal. I did swim cords to warm up and jumped in the water 1 min before the race started.

Finally!  A good swim!!  I lost about a minute and half to Cam and less than a minute to the majority of the group.  Ultimately I need to swim better, but I will take it for now.  I wore arm warmers under my wetsuit and threw on my thermal vest to get through the ride.  Overall the conditions were not as bad as I was expecting but it was definitely an epic race.  By about 15 miles I was shivering and I having a hard time pushing the pedals, but I was in good position so I had to keep going with all I had.  I lost a few precious seconds over the last 3 miles due to the technical nature of the course and a frozen brain.  In T2 I had a hard time getting on my running shoes and almost asked someone in the crowd to unbuckle my helmet for me.  I have never had a problem unbuckling my helmet, but at this race my fingers on my right hand were too numb to apply enough pressure.  Finally I got up enough strength in my left hand to get out of my helmet. Once out on the run, the front half of my feet were numb and made it feel like I was running on stumps.  It took about 2 miles for my legs to warm up and get going.  There were deep puddles forming everywhere so as the run went along I had to decide how deep a puddle was and determine whether to run though it or around it.  A couple time I chose poorly and wound up in water up to my ankle.  I ended up finishing 3rd.  I have never been happier with 3rd place.  The conditions made it more about survival than racing.  I hope I never have to race in similar conditions, but if I do I will be ready!

A big thank you goes out to my grandpa.  He traveled with me to and from the race, and along the way did about 90% of the driving.  He was also a great spectator even though if I were him I would have been in the car with the heat on during the race!  Thank you to my coach, Greg Mueller, and all my sponsors, N.B. Properties, Bralin Laser, Profile Design, Rudy Project, Champion System, BH Bikes, Stages Power, CompuTrainer, Normatec, Cobb Cycling, Hofferth Chiropractic, Proform, and Express Press. Without them I would not be able to train and race with the best.  I also would not have made it through this race without their gear to keep me warm.  

Never complain and never explain. ~Benjamin Disraeli