Monday, December 9, 2013 it December already?

Well, there's no question about it now.  I'm not cut out for this blogging stuff.  The entire intent of this was to keep friends and family updated on my IM Cozumel training progress, and then I go complete radio silence for the 4 months leading up to the race!  Yes, the race was December 1st.  That was last weekend.  My next post will be the race report, but I thought I'd address my obvious lack of content on this site since 5150 in August. 

5150 became a duathlon.  It was a strong bike and decent run, but nothing to brag about.  After that I did Oilman Half-Iron in November, but got sick and withdrew after the bike.  That was my first DNF ever, but I wasn't worried since it was just a "training race". 

Overall, my training progressed well.  I was much further along in swimming than I'd ever been before.  If only I could find a pair of goggles I liked!  I was feeling very strong on the bike, but I still struggled to fit in the over distance rides.  Running was my strongest event as always.  My long runs were fun and confidence inspiring.  More than anything else, I felt ready for the ironman marathon. 

Equipment wise I had everything dialed in (except for goggles).  HUUB skin suit, bike and hydration setup were slick, and a new pair of Hokas for the run.  All was set.

And then, I got to Mexico....

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pre-Race: 5150 Galveston

5150 Galveston Logo

Well, we're all settled in down here in Galveston.  TJ is fast asleep and Analise and I are actually getting a chance to relax.  It's always nice when racing can also mean a chance to get away from the normal routine. 

5150 has always struck me as an odd name for a race.  Yeah, I get how they came up with it, but it's not nearly as intuitive and recognizable as something like 70.3, 140.6, IM, HIM, Sprint, OD, etc., and not just because it's in metric.  I prefer metric, but try telling someone you're doing a 5150, and you're more than likely to get a blank stare. 

So, for the uninitiated, 5150 is the brand name WTC chose for their Olympic distance race series.  Olympic distance (OD) is a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run, and WTC is the organization that owns the Ironman brand. I've done a number of WTC races and they've always been high quality events.  This'll be my first 5150 though and I'm excited to see how they do. 

OD races are historically my worst distance.  Of course, my "history" only consists of three races, none of which have gone well.  I did two in 2007, just weeks after buying my first bike.  I think I finished both in about 2:45, and while they were good experience, they were tough events with unimpressive times.  In 2012 I did Kemah just a months after TJ was born.  Not surprisingly, my body was wasted and the race was a disaster.  I finished right at 2:30 and walked most of the run.  The relatively long swim doesn't play to my strengths, and this distance is tough to pace. 

All that said, I'm pretty optimistic about this race.  While the past couple of months haven't been great training, I'm feeling better than I have in a while and should at least be pretty well rested, if maybe a bit flat.  I've been swimming more than I ever have in my life and I'll be racing the new bike for the first time!

I am a little concerned though.  This is the sight that greeted me when we drove up today:

Yikes!  That's some chop there.  But we actually swim in a protected bay, so that's NOT what it'll be like!

This swim course is a simple two turn course, so hopefully navigation isn't a problem:


I'm going to keep the pace fairly moderate and focus on keeping good form throughout.   My hope is to be in the 26 minute range, but anywhere from 26-28 is realistic.


This is as simple as it gets for a bike course.  Out and back, flat as can be.  There will probably be a fairly heavy cross wind, so hopefully it's not too gusty.  I've never had a problem with a disc and deep front, even in Lubbock, but it's still nice not to have to focus too much on that.  On a stand along 40k course, I would do this in ~58 minutes.  At 90% CP, it'll probably be closer to 63-65 minutes but this is one leg that could be a bit faster.


So I get dizzy just looking at that map.  So many turns, but it keeps us in a local area, which usually means a lot of water stations.  That'll be crucial, because it means a lot of water and ice to dump over the torso to cool off.  Storm conditions mean it'll be slightly cooler anyway, so it could be a nice day to run.  My run fitness is lagging, so I can't run fast right now.  A 40-42 minute 10k is about all I can expect.

Adding all that up with about 3 minutes of transition results in 2:12-2:18.  That's not a superb time, but still pretty solid considering I've still got a long way to go fitness wise.   Regardless, it should be a fun race and a good test of where my fitness is.  Cozumel is approaching fast, so there isn't much time to waste!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Race Prep: All About the Gear

Sorry folks.  It's been way too long since I've checked in.  I'm sure everyone has been waiting anxiously for more rambling by Andrew!  It's been a busy month at both work and home, so I've been taking care of priorities accordingly.  I've also been recovering from the foot injury and fighting the normal training blues, meaning this blog has been pretty low on that priority list!

The good news is that I'm back to racing this weekend!  If I haven't mentioned it before, I love racing.  It pumps me up and gives my motivation a real jump start.  I'm good for 3-4 weeks of super motivated training after a race, something I should probably plan for in my 2014 schedule.  Regular racing is also good practice and good for fitness benchmarks.  On the flip side, when I don't race often (like the past 2 months), my motivation really takes a hit.  Fortunately, I've got 4 races planned between now and Dec 1!

This weekend is 5150 Galveston. Normally, I don't even consider putting Olympic Distance races on my calendar, but I've spent a lot more time in the pool this year and it's good to mix things up.  The longer swim definitely puts me at a disadvantage, but I like a challenge.  I haven't done this race before, but I've heard pretty good things.  I'll post a report on what I thought after the race.

For now though, I thought I'd give an overview of my race gear and how I prep for a race.  Triathlon is a sport that can be very gear heavy, with an overwhelming lineup of choices.  I spend way too much time reading about and thinking about my gear choices, but at the end of the day, simplicity is key.  Smart choices in equipment can result in a lot of saved time, but this is definitely an area where less is more. 

I'll stop a moment to let that sink in.  Yes, less gear is usually better than more gear.  That's blasphemy to a lot of triathletes, but a simple clean setup is probably the fastest.  Yeah, this varies a bit with race distance, but strapping gear all over your bike and body will only slow you down.  Keep it simple and both your mind and body will thank you. 

Before every race, I lay out my gear.  This helps me ensure I have everything and also start my mental preparation for how I'll execute.

Cap, Goggles, Trisuit, Swimskin and Timing Chip

The cap and timing chip aren't shown because I haven't picked up packet yet.  Likewise, my swimskin (Torque) is missing.  Still, that one is optional anyway.  I'm always playing with goggles and have never found a pair that really satisfy me.  I'm open to suggestions.

The swim skin is a bit of a toss up.  My testing in a pool indicates it's good for a few seconds per 100yds.  Over a 1500m swim, that's significant time.  Considering it takes about 10s max to take off, any race over 300-400yds it should be a net gain.  Mostly, it's a bit of a confidence booster, which can't be ignored. 

Helmet, Glasses, Computer, Shoes

Just a single bottle and simple flat kit on the bike.  In transition, I wont have any extra gear than what you see above.  No towel, no bucket, no socks.  Glasses and helmet on, then run to the mount line!

I use a Lazer Tardiz helmet, which seems to have a smooth profile with my aero position.  I'm using Oakley Flak Jacket glasses, Garmin 500 computer and the specialized tri shoes.  The bike I've already posted on, but I have switched to Vittoria Open Corsa Tri tires with latex tubes for this race which I'm super excited to try!!!


Visor, Race Belt, Shoes & Garmin.

Most races, I go without the visor and Garmin.  I bring them just in case I change my mind, but they're sometimes an extra distraction that I'd rather not have.  T2 is almost always faster than T1, since all you have to do is slip on the shoes.  Everything else you grab and put on while you run.

I've been racing in the same pair of Saucony Kinvaras for the past year and a half.  It's time to change them out, but I love the shoes!  The belt is as simple as it gets as well.  There's never a need for a fuel bet to carry your own nutrition.  Race courses are well stocked and loading up on "stuff" just looks silly, adds weight and makes running uncomfortable.

 Other Stuff

Really, that's about it.  I bring a tool bag with bike wrenching equipment just in case (pump, tubes, CO2, zip ties, pliers, tape, lube, etc.).  I also bring a headlamp for transition.  But...that's really it.  To a runner or swimmer, that probably sounds like a lot of stuff, but if you go into transition at a lot of triathlons, you'll think people brought their whole garage with them.  Keep it simple, less is more. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

My New Mistress: Added a Guru CR901 to the stable!

As promised, it's time to officially introduce my new ride!  I've been waiting to post something until I had the bike in my possession and had at least spent a bit of time on it.  I've had it for 4 days and have fit in 3 rides, so I think I can give a decent early review.

Anyway, here it is; my new Guru CR901 courtesy of Shama Cycles:

 The new ride, sitting outside of Shama Cycles, ready for pickup!

 Standard Shama setup, pulled right off my Guru Merus.

Big improvement in cleaning up the front end; largely due to the TriRig Omega brake.

So first, a quick overview, skipping a few details...
Frame: Guru CR901
Aerobars: Hed Corsair
Drivetrain: Sram Red (with new Red Yaw front D)
Chainrings: Quarq Q rings 54/42
Crank/PM: Quarq Elsa
Front Brake: TriRig Omega
Rear Brake: TRP R970EQ Magnesium
Pulley Wheels: Tiso Ti
Chain: KMC X10SL Silver
Wheels: Hed Jet 9 Front/Jet FR Disc Rear
Tires:  Currently S-works Mondo Open Tubulars, switching to Vittoria Evo Triathlon

Before I get into a review of the bike itself, I'll answer the question that my wife has asked me about 100 times over the past 2 months: "Why do you need a new bike again?  Didn't you say that the titanium bike we bought last time would last you forever?".  Sheepishly, I must admit that I did claim that my Merus would be a lifelong bike....and I stand by that!  But, holding to the N+1 theory* on bikes(explained below), it was time for a new one.  Primarily, I wanted to get into a much more aggressive position, which I really was struggling to do on the Merus.  Moverover, the ride quality and aerodynamics of a frame upgrade made it worth it to me.  Not many others would agree, but I don't go to work in order to hoard my money...

My Merus served me well and I had some great times on it.  I did 3 40k TTs on it, all of which were under 60 min.  I posted a modest 2:30 bike split at Timberman 70.3 last year and it's really served me well on the local circuit as well.

 Really I had a pretty good position on the Merus, but it felt a bit compact and cramped.  I also wanted to go lower and out a bit more.  I considered a lot of options.  The new Cervelo P3 was very tempting from a value perspective; superb aerodynamics for a great price.  I'll admit that the Boardman AirTT was attractive, but I might be prone to influence after seeing it win Kona last year.  But finally, I decided to stick with the guy who has taken care of me for 4 previous bikes.  Philip Shama probably thinks I'm the worlds easiest sale, but with what I was looking for on position, the CR901 was the best way to achieve my priorities: 1. Position, 2. Ride Quality 3. Aerodynamics.  (1 & 3 being part of the same equation)

My position on the CR901 is better than it's ever felt.  I did 70 miles solo on my second ride on the bike and spent the entire ride in my aero bars.  Incredibly comfortable and smooth.  The idea is to keep this position for 112 miles:

It may not look like it, but it's a big change from before.  A lot longer.  Body position is better, but more importantly, I'm much more comfortable.  Just need to spend the time in the saddle to really make this my "all day" position.

Aerodymics should be significantly improved as well.  Check out the cables on my Merus above.  Now look at this:

Yes, small cables (and straws) create an disproportionate amount of drag. This is a blantantly stolen image, but it's needed to make the point:

Add to that the frame and position aerodynamics, and it should be a measurable improvement in speed for any given power output.

Finally, it's time to answer the question of how it rides.  I've had the luxury of riding nice bikes for the past few years.  I own a custom carbon KirkLee road bike and the Merus, and I've ridden Guru steel and Ti road bikes.  I also used to own an Orbea Ora, which was my first ever "real" bike...meaning one meant to be ridden on the road. 

I can honestly say that I was stunned by the ride quality of the CR901.  Waaaaay beyond my expectations.  I thought it would be a marginal improvement in ride quality over the Merus, with the added aero benefits of position and frame drag.  Boy was I wrong.  This bike is butter smooth and with the comfort level, it's great for all day riding.  I didn't expect it to contrast so much with the titanium frame, but it did. 

Halfway through my first real ride!

Yes, I think there are a good number of stock frames on the market that provide better aerodynamics.  Yes, those frames may provide a better overall bang for the buck, assuming one fits well on the stock frame (which most do).  That being said, I feel confident that this bike is going to optimize the process of translating my fitness and training, into race results.  I think 'fit', despite being harped on a lot, is still overlooked by most folks.  Custom is a luxury, but having a frame that fits my position and riding style to a T is something I put a lot of stock into.  It needs to translate into race results, but early returns look good.  And if nothing else, I'll look good while riding it too!

* N+1 is the answer to the question "How many bikes does a person need?" where N=the number of current bikes.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Taking requests...

Quick request that if anyone actually reads this, please let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to hear about.  Races, training, family life, equipment, etc.  I'm not always as diligent as I'd like in keeping this page update, but I also want to keep my limited audience entertained!

The next post is going to be about equipment, because, well...I take my new bike home on Wednesday!

Training Update - No room for self pity....

Injury, a missed race, busy time at work, poor recovery and suboptimal workouts have made the past weeks weeks a little rough.  It's easy to let these things snowball and get beat down from it.  Dealing with injury really is more mental than physical, and the other factors make it even more difficult to deal with.  I'll admit that it's been getting to me, which only makes getting out of the funk more difficult. 

Meanwhile, up in the northeast, this weekend was Timberman 70.3; a key race for the E3TS team.  Jorge, Jana and the rest of the team were all up there ready to dominate, and that's exactly what they did.  Jorge with a 4:22 and 2nd AG.  Jana with a 4:39; good for 1st AG and 2nd OA amateur female.  As a whole, the E3TS team had over 15 PRs, 5 podiums, and 5 70.3 WC qualifiers!  What a race!

Reading through those results, I decided to pull up my race report from last year's Timberman, a race where I set my 70.3 PR at 4:41.  Reading through it I'm reminded how much attitude and a positive outlook played into my success on that day.  It's  a tough course, but also gorgeous and fair.  I'd go back there in a hearbeat.  I had a ton of fun racing there last year, and it really struck home that this is what this sport is all about; fun.  It's a lot of work and sacrifice, but it's also a hobby and an escape from the drudgery of daily life.  If it stops being fun, then what's the point?

Me at TMan last year.  I had a solid race, and
spent most of the run smiling!

I'm excited about Cozumel and I'm not as far behind as I could be.  I've changed up my race calendar a bit, and have 3 races before the Ironman:
  • 22 September: 5150 Galveston  
  • 6 October: Du the Bear Duathlon
  • 3 November: Oilman Half Iron
The 5150 stands out most of all, since I rarely race olympic distance races due to too much emphasis on the swim!  But with the time I've been spending in the pool, maybe I can hold my own.  We'll see.  At the very least it should be good race prep.

At the end of the day, my training over the past month as been stagnant but I also haven't lost much.  I'm bouncing between failed workouts and awesome workouts, so while I'm not making the strides I want to make, I'm also not failing completely.  Fifteen more weeks to go, so there's not much time to waste, and there's also a lot of time left to make some huge gains.  Time to do some work!

3 weeks of no running but still not a huge drop off

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bridgeland Race Report - A Slightly Different Perspective

Sorry...I've been a bit delinquent in my posts.  Honestly, I've been a bit discouraged by the foot injury, the resultant sub-optimal training and missing one of my favorite races (Bridgeland).  To top it all off, I'm responsible for screwing up Analise's first triathlon in 2 years.  Fortunately, that might mean I lose my job as her full time mechanic....

...or at least one can dream right?  Anyway, instead of posting my input on it, I thought I'd share Analise's race report instead of sharing my thoughts on it.  She got a bit verbose, but she's usually pretty entertaining!

Bridgeland 2013 Race Report

This report begins 2 years ago.  I was 9 weeks pregnant and did this race.  It was my final race pregnant.  I had a great race.  They messed up my time.  I was super pissed because I knew I wouldn't be racing again for at least another year....

Two weeks prior to the race, I pull the race results from 2011.  Behold!  The results had been corrected and I placed 3rd AG.  Andrew gets injured...I sign up for the ultimate REDEMPTION!!!!!

Saturday- the night prior.  I have been training consistently for about 5 weeks.  I am starting to feel it but I am not truly THERE yet.  I am still really excited to be racing again and this is my REDEMPTION race.  Andrew and I were busy all day running errands and picking up the packet (about a 3 hours affair with baby.)  We are hosting a dinner party that night as well, so we had a whole lot of prep work.  We get home with just enough time to start dinner and for Andrew to put my bike together.  I am running a HED disk in the rear and a HED Jet 6.  Andrew's question of course was whether I wanted a flat kit for a 13 mile course.  Normally I wouldn't take one for a race so short.  I would be riding a "naked" bike.  Since I haven't raced in a while, I said pack the flat kick because IF I did flat, I would replace and continue on so at least I would have some race data prior to IM Cozumel.  The HED Jet 6 needs a tube with a longer valve.  We discussed this at length.  The longer valve tube would be in my "bottle" and the short valve tube would be in my bike bag.

Our dinner party was a smashing success.  After which we got invited to a dinner at "Uchi" which is a premier restaurant in Houston.  We are a pretty awesome couple...

Race morning.  We wake up at 0400.  Departure time is 0445.  I do my race prep...get my bottles ready, eat a small breakfast.  We were a little late getting out the door and ended up leaving around 0500.  We get to the race later than anticipated, transition closes in 25 min!!!  IF Andrew was racing it would be the end of the No pressure.  Get the bike ready, and the baby with B.O.B. ready.  I am secretly excited that Andrew would have to "man" TJ (our baby) for the duration of the race.  TJ is very high energy.  I blame myself for running and working out while pregnant.  The kiddo just doesn't sit still.

Transition.  I get my stuff ready, do a double check.  Everything is ready.  It's a big race for Houston.  About 1500 participants.

Walk over...We run into an Awesome couple we know through Triathlon.  She is my age and is racing because her husband is "babysitting."  We really need to work it so only 1/4 of us needs to "babysit" while racing.  They are awesome.  At swim start we pack the B.O.B. with my gear and some of our friend's gear.  By the way, if you don't know friends who bring their kids to races, you are missing out.  Those strollers fit all kinds of stuff.  And it holds "A LOT."

I take my crocs off for race start.  I definitely step into a fire ant hill.  Painful.  The worst is the nest day where they puss up.  GROSS.

At swim start I run into my friend again.  We actually start the race together.  Unfortunately, she started on my left side.  (I drift left while swimming and I apologize Elizabeth for swimming over you!)  I swim the 500 meters.  I was a huge success.  I am an open water pa nicker.  The only time I had to breast stroke was when I was way far left.  I needed to sight to get back on course.  (Sorry Elizabeth if I reswam over you.)

I get out of transition feeling good.  I transition and talk to a guy coming back from the bike.  I signed up late, so my number was a mix with everyone who signed up late.  He stated I would have some wind on the way out...

I get my bike.  I  LOVE MY BIKE!  I am sort of angry with my parents for not getting me into it earlier.  My bike is awesome.  A purple Guru.  I call her P.P.E.  Purple People Eater.  and we do eat up the people on the bike.  I feel it...we are going to be awesome.

As I start, she seems a little wobbly.  I think that maybe it's because I do most of my training on her on the trainer and not on the road.  At the first turn, I almost go down.  I notice my front tire is flat.  I pull over a little bit later.  I am not panicked.  I know that Andrew and I discussed it.  I went to my kit.  I knew that I wouldn't place, but at least my coach could get good data.  I pull out the tube from my bottle.  Hmm...It's a short valve.  Maybe Andrew put it in my bike bag.  Nope.  Bike bag is definitely a short valve.  I am .25 miles into my bike on PPE and I have no way to change the tube.  I sit.  I ponder.  I walk back with my head hung low.  First Tri back in 2 years.  My REDEMPTION, and I am flatted on the course with no way forward, only a way back. 

At least I had a great swim.  I "TRIed."  I don't blame anyone but myself.  I should have checked everything myself.  I am in good sprints.

Good job to Triny and Meril!  You are my master heroes. 

I had fun.  That's what it's all about.  I finished the day with a 9 miler in the evening.  All in all...I swam 500m, rode .25, and ran 9.  I guess I did do a tri afterall.