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Sunshine in Hell: The 2014 Peak Triathlon Race Report

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It’s been one heck of a week, I feel like I have two legs made of molasses, and it’s almost midnight. So, this is going to be short review.

Pre-Race:

The pre-race store actually starts all the way back on Monday. I am pretty much at the last point of my training for Boise, and things came to head this week. On Monday, I got in a short, moderately painful ride. After travelling to the lovely Great Falls, MT for work, it was time for a race rehearsal run. Basically, I started off with the first two miles conservative, 10 miles of pushing, and 2 miles of real pain. Fortunately, it was a beautiful warm and sunny work day on Tuesday, and I was looking forward to getting some vitamin d in. Of course, as soon as I got out of work, Great Falls began to unleash it’s epic wind on me. Here is how it played out:

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This was a painful and mentally abusing run. I uttered many terrible obscenities at the wind, which certainly were carried downwind, hopefully not to children’s ears. The reason it hurt so bad is that I came into it tired, but I still ran my fastest ever half mary. I’ll take it. But the price was high.

After the run, I basically felt like crap all the way until race day. This is despite taking both Thursday and Friday off. When I awoke on Saturday, I seriously thought about scratching for the race. Fortunately, mother nature’s good temperament got me out of bed and into the car.

The drive into Missoula went well, especially since my bike did not fly off from my new Forklift bike rack by Yakima. Just like last year, the Peak had the check in process running smoothly, and I was checked in and body marked in under five minutes. For warm up, I went for a one mile run, and then did some laps around the parking lot on the bike. Then it was game time.

Swim: 500y, 8:13

This is a low key indoor swim, especially when compared to The Grizzly. In fact, it was almost too low key; it was like I was swimming with silent monks. Anyhow, off we go and yep, I feel like crap. Form off. Poor catch. Hip rotation poor. It showed. A few seconds slower than last year, and much slower than I did at Grizzly. I need to do some work in the pool.

Bike: 12.3 miles, 35:06

For the first time in a long time, I was greeted with warm sunshine after the swim in a Montana triathlon. As I started out, my legs felt a little stiff, which I chalked up to not riding for five days. Despite my best efforts, my jitters continued to hinder me on the bike. For some reason this year, I just can’t get comfortable on my bike. That being said, I felt better than I did at the Grizzly. At least I didn’t have to contend with the rain soaked roads like last year.

Despite the white knuckles, I plugged along as fast as I could. It felt slow to me. When I made the turn around, I saw that the rest of my heat wasn’t as far behind as usual. I just told myself to focus on my own race and punched it as hard as I could.

The highlight for the bike was…wait for it…a moose! A ginormous moose was enjoying the river right next to the road; only in Montana.

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Run: 5k, 23:27

Lots of climbing on this run. Right out of transition in fact. Out I go and fortunately, something felt decent. Fast turnover. Nice and light. Things only seemed to get better as I progressed through the route. The major hill in the run gave me slightly more pause than I wanted. I was pretty hot by that point, especially since I didn’t take any water with me on the ride. But I endured, and then flew downhill back to the finish.

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Synopsis: 1:06:46

Overall, it was a good day. The swim was off, but I knew it. The bike and run times include transition times. When I compare my Garmin files from this year and last year, I have a 44 sec PR for the bike and a 12 sec PR for the run. Today, I got a g 44 second PR for this course, good enough for third in my age group and 17 overall. With the weird vibe in my body, I’m pleased. Pleased enough to enjoy some great food at Caffe Dolce and great beers at Draught Works, my go to place in Missoula.

My family was pleasantly surprised by Caffe Dolce in Missoula. I highly recommend the Gelato!

My family was pleasantly surprised by Caffe Dolce in Missoula. I highly recommend the Gelato!

But wait, there’s more!

Like I said, Boise is only a three mere weeks away, and time was running short for an all out race rehearsal. So, yes, it was back to the grindstone on Sunday. I originally had planned to start my ride at 0600, but thanks to the greatest wife in the world, I got the chance to do this at actual race time. The unfortunate part of this was that  the winds had plenty of time to pick up something fierce. And I mean fierce. For the majority of the ride, I was dealing with either a massive headwind or a terrible cross wind. There was no enjoyment about this kind of ride. It was just pure hell. To top things off, I grossly under estimated how I tired I was going be after a sprint. So what does a ride behind a jet engine look like? Like this:

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For nutrition, I took in one bottle of Perpetuem over three hours, one gel 30 minutes before the end of the bike, and some water on top. Now, I am hoping that I am going to feel way better on race day than today. Ok, I am praying that I do. And that I am a lot faster. Riding the aero bars seemed slightly better than yesterday, but it was tough to judge with all the wind. At least  my IF was right on at .82.

The run afterwards was also painful, but I was able to hold on to a 8:15 ish pace for three miles. Then, thanks to a needed potty break, my day was done. I have been dealing with GI problems ever since my run in Great Falls. Again, I don’t think this is due to my nutrition plan, just a bad week….I hope.

Needless to say, I am beat. Tomorrow is a rest day, then it’s time for the taper workouts. I am happy to be at this point, which is likely going to be my last big race taper for some time. I am going to focus on getting outside as much as I can between now and Boise. And eating healthy. Recovery here I come.

Recovery begins.

Recovery begins.

PS, I am happy to say that 20 bucks on an Amazon lightning deal ( did I mention I use Amazon a lot?) now allows me to have a homemade cafe latte as part of my nutrition plan. I’m in love with Mr Coffee!

This. Thing. Rocks. Mr. Coffee Cafe Latte maker.

This. Thing. Rocks. Mr. Coffee Cafe Latte maker.

The 2014 Grizzly Triathlon Race Report: One Extra For Good Luck!

The Griz pool.

The Griz pool.

It’s Easter weekend, so I will pound this one out fast. Lots to be done in the next 24 hours.

Pre-Race

Coming into this race, I am happy to say I am feeling stronger than ever in all three disciplines. The only hiccup in my race plan is that I was only able to get out on the open road three times before the race. And when I mean “open road” I mean a bike path in Great Falls while cruising 15-20mph. Even at that speed, my aero bars were feeling as comfortable as a dentist’s chair. But what can you do.

After getting most of my big workouts in early in the week, I took two days to taper down. This about drove me crazy. But I fortunately woke on Saturday morning refreshed….ok, more like a pack of C4 ready to go off.

For this year, my family decided to again brave the chance of us all going down to Missoula. However, instead of asking my wife to watch me race while herding our four kids, I conceded to a family of six’s realities and did the right thing: I dropped them off at the Southgate Mall in Missoula before the race. Instant happiness was found among sales and candy stores.  Despite nearly every entity in Montana having some sort of event in Zoo town, I still was able to find parking within three minutes of arriving at the race site. 15 minutes later, I was all suited up and ready to roll.

Swim: 1000y, 15:51, 13 sec PR

After I completely lost concentration last year and turned the swim into a flailing mess, my one goal for this year’s swim was to close my mind and stay in the box. I told myself that this swim should be no different than my training swims. After warming up, I closed my eyes and imagined the pool was completely empty except for me. And off I went.

Channeling some Will Graham for the swim. Did I mention that I am enjoying that Hannibal show?

Channeling some Will Graham for the swim. Did I mention that I am enjoying that Hannibal show?

I focused on long and smooth and things started great. Soon, I was on top of the first person in my wave, and after a well-timed flip turn, I was leading the lane. It was amazing how well mind over matter went. I don’t even recall noticing the people in the lane next to me more than a few times. I did get held up quite a bit while passing; I think I feel finally comfortable upgrading my expected swim time next year.

I was really zoning in towards the latter part of the swim and I lost count of how many laps I had left. No problem, I knew they would stick a kickboard in at 100yd and 50 yds left, so I just kept looking for the board. On I went until finally I saw a red kick board.  “100 yards to go” I thought.  As I headed back down the lane, I thought “was it supposed to be a red or grey board first…..did I miss a board…no must be one more after this.” So I make it back to the start and I see no board, so I figure one more. I have been focusing on efficient flip turns, and I excitedly made a quick one to start my last lap. As I reached the opposite end, I could see good old Krista, a friend from work, screaming at me….just like last year. “This can’t be good” I thought. I figured either I was way too slow and so I picked up the pace back home. Unfortunately, I got stuck again behind a fellow wave swimmer and it was slow going. As I exited the lane, I saw in great dismay that my time was 16:48. This was way off as I had consistently been swimming 15:40’s in training. I had determined before the race that I was only going to concentrate on my times during this race, and not second guess myself by thinking about prior performances. I shrugged the time off and did the only thing I could do: head towards my bike.

As I found out after the race, I apparently interpreted the kickboard signaling wrong and I swam an extra 50 yards. FACEPALM. First time for anything…..

The 15:51 time above is the correct time. What the timer’s decided to do was add the extra lap time to my T1 time, which is added to the bike time. Speaking of bike….

Bike: 12 miles, 34:49, 3-50 second PR

T1 went pretty well. No problems with shoes or helmet. Mounting took a few extra seconds. The weather was perfect today; a far cry from last year’s chinook. As I headed out, I was only minimally cold and the effort quickly warmed things up. I survived the dumpster slalom and off I went. Two people were ahead of me, and I was able to take one in right at the start. However the other guy was hauling ass. Again, I kept my head in the box and raced my own race.

As I mentioned, I came into the race pretty fidgety on the bike and it certainly showed. I have been training harder on the bike this year, but my fear made it difficult to transfer my gains to the open road. Up and down I went on the bars. This is despite not having much wind at all today. And my bike position just didn’t feel right. I am hopeful that this will improve as I get out on the road more this spring.

As I headed back from the turn around, the speed picked up and I nearly ran off the road at one point. Fortunately, I made it back to the transition unscathed. I had a little trouble getting out of my shoes, but I was still able to dismount without hugging the ground.

Despite the less than efficient ride, today was still a major PR for my bike. It’s hard to be exact about my performance because the T1 time, and maybe T2, is added to the bike time. My fastest ever bike in this event was in 2012 at a total of 34:52. That was without the extra 50 yards of swimming. Here is today’s data per the Garmin 910XT.

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Here is the Garmin file from my prior PR time.

2012 data.

2012 data.

So give and take, I was about 1:00 faster today…on a bad day. I’ll take that.

Run: 3.1 miles, 23:59, 41 second PR.

T2 went fast enough. 26 seconds by Garmin. Off I go and the legs feel GREAT. There is a slight downhill at the beginning, and this usual causes me to cramp up; not today. I hit the trail and things seemed to get easier and easier. Every year before this, I have been a huffing and puffing monstrosity. Today was a controlled pushing effort. First mile passed by right on the mark and then it was finally the time to test my preparation: the hill.

Prior years, I did something like two hill days before this triathlon and called that hill training. This often left me resembling Sisyphus on the Grizzly’s infamous hill. This year, I have been doing heavy hill training once or twice a week for the past two months. I hit the hill, and instead of feeling fatigue, I felt familiarity. One of the most rewarding things I enjoy about triathlon is seeing the rewards from training. Up and up I went without a pause, feeling nothing but a burn that hurt but I knew I could handle. Once again, a soothing guitar player greeted me at top and back down I went.

Ironically, the downhill was the trickier part as I took a slide on the dirt. Fortunately, my ankles survived again. As I made my way back from the turn around, my legs were feeling better and better. This is great news for my upcoming half-ironman in June. By the time I finished up, I was ready to keep running.

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Synopsis: 1:14:39, 7/21 AG, 59 second PR, 44/170 male overall….with extra 50 yards!

So overall, despite the rather humorous swim outcome, it was a good day personaly. As I figure, I have anywhere between a 59 second to a 2:00 minute personal record. Overall, it seems everyone was slightly faster with the favorable weather conditions. Still, I am happy to be seemingly stepping off my personal plateau.

Today was not only a personal victory for racing, but more importantly also for the family. Despite being stuck at the mall for 3.5 hours alone, I was greeted by my wife and kids with only smiling faces, shopping bags, full tummy’s from Red Robin, empty bladders, and clean undies. We capped off the day with a great beer from Draught Works Brewery and a pizza. With a ham waiting to be cooked tomorrow, this weekend is already epic.

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Special beer for a special day.

Every race is a chance to learn and this is no different. Today, I realized that I need to spend way, WAY, more time on the road. This is going to be challenge with the nine hours of riding I am doing a week already. But all the trainer riding is not going to be worth anything if I can’t pedal my bike in a race. Time to buy some spring riding clothes.

 

 

 

 

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