Category Archives: Race Reports

Solid Rain: The Peak Triathlon Race Report

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Yesterday morning, with the steam of a fresh cup of coffee dancing around my nose, I stared from my window and took in mother nature’s musings in progress. Gray. Cold. Drizzling. Ominous fortunes in the sky. I took a sip of caffeine and gave my assessment.

Race Day.

This weekend was my first ever Peak Triathlon, a race I have been unfortunately  overlooking the past few years. After the tough time I had at the Grizzly, I was eager to get out on to the road again. So despite the concerning weather forecast, I packed up my gear and made the drive down to Missoula. Lets get this adventure in water started.

The evening prior to the race.

The evening prior to the race.

PRE-RACE:

I only have a small amount of time today, so I have to keep this report efficient and short. Okay, see my last post. I am trying to relax about these things (again). So, my morning was same as always, just with a little more sugar. Black coffee with 2 added shots, egg bagel sandwich with Sriracha, and a slice of that new Starbucks coffee cake. In my opinion, skip that coffee cake: It’s like Steven Baldwin; you think he will suffice, but at the end, you are still craving a stiff shot of Beetlejuice.

The two hour drive to Missoula was something akin to driving through the set of The Perfect Storm, but amazingly when I arrived at the Peak, it was overcast, calm wind, and about mid 50’s.

The Peak peeps were on the ball: packet pick up went and body marking was efficient, and I was in and out with my papers and sharpie tattoos in less than five minutes. After changing, I ran for ten minutes, doing plenty of strides, run ups, and stretches. I racked my bike 30 minutes prior to my wave start and headed into the pool.

SWIM: 500y, 7:56 (8:04 by human timer), 3/13 AG, 32/218 OA

Things were slightly delayed, so I ended up waiting to start longer than I had anticipated. Much to my pleasure, there was a hot tub in the pool area, so I went all Olympic diver style and just hung out in there shooting the breeze.

Unlike other pool swims I’ve done, I actually had some time to get a quick 100 in before starting. It was great for getting the butterflies out. In the few moments before the start, I just told myself to relax, swim smooth and calm, and have some freaking FUN.

And off we go, and all I am thinking is slow and steady. As I made the first 100, my pacing was right on. I counted my strokes in order to concentrate on my form and not on everyone watching. A great part about this triathlon is that there is no circle swimming. As a flip turner, it was a real pleasure not to have to worry about pulling a Lusitania on the woman swimming next to me.  As I rounded 300, I was still right on pace at 4:39.

At this point, things started to slip form wise as I was feeling more tired than expected. My goal was to finish at around 8:00, so the clock time of 7:56 was a little better than I hoped. The 8:04 time in the results takes into account me exiting the pool and darting out the side door like Bieber…minus the fainting.

T1: FAST

Much better transition time, maybe because I was smiling. Everything on without a problem. I got a little held up in my cleats again. I really need to learn the “flying mount” from cyclocross. I may have to go look like an idiot in a grassy field soon…

BIKE: 12.38, 35:05, 2/13 AG, 12/218 OA

Off I go and immediately I notice that I feel stiff. I usually ride an easy spin the day before a race, but I didn’t get a chance to this time. So my last ride was a hard one two days prior.

Going on, there was a little headwind, but nothing that caused flashbacks to the Grizzly Tri. More concerning this time were the wet roads from a fresh rain. Unfortunately, this is where spending most of my training on a trainer hurt me. I had to rein things in slightly on the corners and downhills, especially as I had never ridden or previewed the course before.

The profile showed two climbs on the way out. These turned out to be more like short annoying hills than real climbs, and I was easily able to make up some time on them. As I came into the turn around, I was happy to have less race time and more skin than I expected at that point.

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Back home I go.

On the way back, my legs started to finally open up and I let it rip more. I still was skiddish (no pun intended) in the corners, but it felt faster than going out. During the final few miles into transition, the roads started to dry a bit and it was smooth going home.

Here is the data:

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T2: FAST THANKS TO VOLUNTEERS!

Getting into transition was a little tight thanks to unforeseeable traffic problems. I have to say that the volunteers at this race were some of the best I have seen. They were both excited and helpful; it was a nice touch, especially during a time when I am trying to concentrate on bringing enjoyment back into racing. I can’t say enough good things about them. They even caught my bike, held it for me, and put away my dirty stuff and bike after I transitioned. I wonder if I can hire them for the week!

RUN: 3.1 mi, 23:01, 6/13 AG, 26/218 OA

Aw, the weakest link appears. Lot’s of work to do, as you all know, but I am on it. Starting up, it was an immediate up hill, so the burn started quickly. One minor cramp at the start, but then my form settled in rather quickly. I just didn’t have the energy to go faster, but I gave it all I had. By the time the big rise in the middle came up, I was huffing good but still moving. Fortunately, I didn’t have to stop running on any of the inclines.

After cresting the last hill, I turned on the gas and sacrificed my knees to the downhill gods. Down and down I went back to home base, getting faster and faster as I tumbled down to transition while trying not to break my crown.

As I crossed the line, I breathed a deep sigh of relief, and welcomed the requisite butchering of my name by the announcer.

MORE DATA:

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SYNOPSIS: 1:07:29, 2/13 AG, 12/218 OA

Overall, it was a solid day at a great race. I wouldn’t say it was perfect by any means, and that is a good thing because I feel like I can do better next time. Personally, it was wonderful as it has given me more mojo to train. Also, 2nd in AG is icing on the cake (although it would had been different I think if more people had shown).

The Peak Triathlon definitely was a great experience. The pool is peaceful, the bike is beautiful, the run is rigorous, and the volunteers are vibrant. I will definitely be back next year and hopefully stand higher at the Peak.

And of course, if you follow me on Instagram, you know my other passion is beer and home brewing. So I could think of no better way celebrate the day than with a party pig of locally brewed IPA (yes, it will last a LONG time). If you are ever in Missoula and want to try some great and unique beers on tap, try the Kettlehouse!

Thanks to the pleasant and knowledgeable staff at Kettle House Brewing for a providing a great end to a great day!

Thanks to the pleasant and knowledgeable staff at Kettle House Brewing for a providing a great end to a great day!

Bear Attack: The 2013 Grizzly Race Report

Yeah, I used the Contour Roam today.

Yeah, I used the Contour +2 today.

Okay, with much pain, I am writing my race report for today’s Grizzly Triathlon. This is my 4th time around, and if you want to read my other experiences, just search “Grizzly” to the left. Let’s get the pain started.

Pre-Race:

I have had way better days leading up to a race. As you might have read, I have been having some medical issues with my thyroid. I am on a higher dose of thyroid replacement now, and my body has basically been on a roller coaster ride as it adjusts. Some days I feel great. Some days I am a completely drained and in bed by 9:00. This, plus a forecast that looked like something out a Hollywood weather disaster movie (cue Statue of Liberty), left me rather less than optimistic about today’s race. Okay, I will admit it; I really did not want to race at all. But I refused to go back on my “just show up mantra.” It has helped me survive the DMV for years, and I figured it would help me prevail in Missoula.

For sprints, I don’t mix up my routine much. I had a big breakfast and a coffee with espresso early in the morning. Sipped some HEED on the way down. Of course, by the time I got to Missoula I had to pee so bad I think the last few minutes of my drive counted as part of my swim.

Checked in without a problem. Ten minute jog for a warm up felt okay, but not great. I got set up in transition without a problem, and then it was into the pool.

Swim: 1000y, 16:04, 2 second race PR,  10/30 OA, 113/ 385 OA

We had about literally 20 seconds between the finish of the wave before me and the start of my wave, so no warm up. I jump in as I am first, and off we go. I was hoping to be in that all comfy “zone,” but I might as well have been at Auto Zone. Despite all the hard work I have been putting in the pool, my mind went blank and the form I have sought after went out the window. Poor shoulder rotation. Poor kick. Poor catch. POOR. I passed most of the people in my lane, but I think this actually gave me too much assurance and not enough drive to race. I also started to lose my concentration. During one of my flip turns, I misjudged the distance to the wall and ended up doing an impromptu stop.

16:04 is faster yes, but I am not happy. I have been doing 15:40s consistently in training, even a 15:30. So this was fail.

I would have been even slower if it hadn’t been for one of my coworkers screaming at me from the poolside. Thanks to Krista. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell if she was saying, “good job” or “what the heck is wrong with you!”, which says a lot about our working relationship. 🙂

The good old Grizzly pool.

The good old Grizzly pool.

Transition 1

Slow. Took a few extra seconds getting my cleats in.

Bike: 12.4 miles, 36:42, 3/30 AG, 36/433 OA

Okay, heading out, things seemed to be ok. I was really worried about the temps, but I wasn’t cold at all. I survived the dumpster slalom again, and despite being nearly run over by a car, I made it out onto the open road. Check out my dumpster diving race video by my Contour +2. Sorry about the clicking noise by the way; the camera was rubbing against my aero bars. At least I didn’t set the video to some cheesy music.

Things felt slow. After last’s years experience in Polson, when I raced without any watch feedback, I decided to race the Griz without any powermeter or watch. This may actually have backfired. I had the wind at my back but I kept telling myself that something just didn’t feel right. I concentrated on making every pedal count as well as I could. As I neared the turn around, the cross winds were getting pretty serious and I struggled to hold on to the bike. As I neared the turnaround, I still felt I was moving too slowly, and I was getting severely demoralized. As it turns out, with the wind at my back, I actually arrived at the half about 2 minutes faster than last year. Wish I had known that during the race.

When you take demoralization and add massive head winds, you have a recipe for disaster.  So, have you ever seen that Mythbuster video with the plane engine blowing a car over? Well, that was pretty much what the ride back into town was like. I have actually grown a pair of testicles, and I can manage to hold my own in the winds now. But this was ridiculous. The crosswinds literally almost blew me over several times. And wouldn’t you know it, this was the my first race on the new deep rim race wheels. To hold on, I was in the drops, versus the bars, about 80%, of the time. Check out this shaky video of me trying to stay upright.

As I came back in transition, I was about excited as a comatose nun in a bar.

Transition 2:

I’ll say it: I don’t really like my Saucony shoes. I miss my Newtons. And they are harder to put on. Whatever.

Run: 3.1 miles, 24:38, 14 second Grizzly PR, 10/30 AG, 98/435 OA

I glanced at the race clock on the way out of transition, and I knew I wasn’t looking at a PR. My bike had taken too long. Again, more demoralization. However, I did notice that for once, I felt great heading out of T2. No calve cramps really. Form ok.

As I hit the gravel, thing were feeling better and better. I took in a few runners from the heat before me, and a quick glance behind revealed no chasers. Still, I felt too slow. When I hit the hill of hills, it was not looking good. I have had about two hill days before this….not exactly the best training plan. Up and up I went, and slower and slower I went. I kept focusing on driving my knees up, but things just got stickier and stickier. Then I couldn’t take it. Half way up, I stopped for running for about five seconds and walked. Once I finally got a view of the crest, I picked up the pace again and up and over I went. Once I again, I was greeted by the guitar player….this time with an amp!

Down the other side I went and once again, I survived another year without breaking my ankle at the Grizzly! Into the water station, and of course, I mistook a cup of Heed for a cup of water…after I dumped it on my head. This might have been a good thing, as I ran faster due to the fear of birds attacking my newly sugared scalp.

As I headed back to the finish, I again was running into the wind. I was completely spent by the time I neared the finish. There I was, demoralized, tired, sticky from a head of HEED, and cold. There was no burst of speed. No smile. I just ran and finished. DONE.

Synopsis: 1:17:24, 7/30 AG, 39/178 Males

By far, this was the worst experience at the Grizzly I have ever had. This is not due to the race itself. I was just not in the right place today to battle the elements and myself. I quickly made my way back home, ready to drown my performance woes with cookies.

As it turns out, I didn’t do as bad as I thought. Apparently, wind is not selective when it comes to kicking triathlete’s asses. Despite my self-doubt, I “bettered” my swim and run, and rolled out 3/30 in my AG and 36/433 OA for the bike.

I can do better, both physically and mentally. My wife has reminded me that I do this for fun. I am not a pro. I never will be. That doesn’t mean I won’t try my best. But I am longing for the days when I was happy to just show up. I’ll try to keep this in mind at my next race in May.

For now, its time for a beer, and some bike cleaning. I drove through a scene from the “Perfect Storm” on the way home today. And look what mother nature served up this morning.

I was even planning on cutting the grass today.

I was even planning on cutting the grass today.

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