Wednesday, August 3, 2016

How To Carry Bottles on Triathlon Bike - updated

While fueling for the road cyclist is as simple as sitting back and sipping a ristretto pull espresso in the local Starbucks after a group ride, triathletes are faced with a unique challenge. We have to manage to put liquid, food, and equipment on a streamlined bike all without ruining the aerodynamics of the machine. In short order, you can start out with this:



And end up with this: 

It only takes 3 bottles and you're this guy

I previously wrote about this same topic here and here, and those posts got a lot of traction, so I thought I'd write an update on what I've figured out since.

The Challenge:
-how to carry sufficient liquid for a long ride or endurance race, as well as your flat kit and food, all without spoiling your aerodynamics.

My solution:
- a between-the-aerobars front bottle (bottle 1), seat-tube mounted bottle (bottle 2), behind the saddle rear bottle (carrying flat kit), and an aero bento box behind the stem (nutrition).

The bottles:
You really only need two bottles-worth of liquid for any race distance. With aid stations about every hour on the bike it's easy to simply refuel as you go. I saw a lot of individuals at my recent half-ironman sporting 3 to 4 bottles on the bike (1 up front, 1 on the frame, and 2 in back in a "bottle-launcher" ie a side-by-side rear seatpost mounted carrier). If you're racing on your own liquid nutrition (like Infinit) and want to carry it with you, then this works, but it otherwise seems over the top since you can easily swap bottles out.



In choosing the up-front bottle, I went with a between the aerobars bottle rather than one of the aero solutions. I did get a Torhans AeroZ , which, after just a few dates, I'm very impressed by. It seemed to me the best engineered of the products available in its category, but I hadn't used it often enough in training to decide to race with this season. TriRig does a nice review of this product category. The plus side of products with a straw is that you need only duck your head down to sip from them, you don't have to ride along and pull your bottle out to sip. The downside would be managing to refill it quickly (and without substantial spillage) at each aid station, and also not being able to see how much liquid you've taken in or is left.

To keep things simple for training, so I can easily start with my bike bottle, and racing, so I can easily swap out at aid stations, I use a zip tied cage between my aerobar mounts. Works great.



For my second bottle, I'm currently simply using a downtube bottle. Purists will contend that the thick, round bottle ruins the aero seattube and wheelcover benefit, and maybe so, but it's convenient and I'm not riding at speeds faster than 25mph for races anyway. The next step would be to swap out my behind the saddle flat kit (below section) for holding a bottle of liquid. I've seen many pros recommend the Xlab Gorilla cage as strong and tight enough for the task. But it's also $50. For now I've been happy with a seat tube mounted bottle.


Flat Kit:
For my flat kit, I've worked out keeping my spare tube, tire levers, and Topeak Minidual pump in a Specialized bottle carrier (with the top open), held together using electrical tape. It works great, and is fast at hand in case I do flat. Having your flat kit encased in tape wrapped up beneath your saddle, if it takes you 5 minutes to get it out, could be a little counter-productive. It's easy to simply zip-tie the bottle cage to rear saddle rails. It fits snuggly there and keeps things tucked fairly nicely out of the wind.



Another option would be to carry the second bottle for liquid behind the saddle where my flat kit is, and use an aero option, say from Torhans with the VR Tool Carrier version (Specialized has their own product), to carry a pared down flat kit with a CO2 minipump, tire lever, and spare tube. AeroGeeks did a nice write up on this option.


Nutrition:
The easy choice for nutrition is to use an aero-bento mounted behind the stem. I like my DarkSpeedWorks Speedpack (aero bento box). It easily fits the gels and powerbars I use for my nutrition on long course bike legs. It's shaped to keep its form despite being stuffed with GU, and adds a nice trailing edge to the otherwise round stem.



So there you have it, a fairly streamlined, utilitarian option for carrying your liquid, food, and flat kit in training and racing. With the aerobar mounted bottle, behind the saddle flat kit, and aero bento box, just about all of my nutrition and gear is tucked away from the wind. My seat tube mounted bottle disrupts airflow over the back half of the bike, but it is dirty air and it's a price I'm willing to pay for convenience. I'd otherwise recommend looking at aero seat tube mounted options for a flat kit, and carrying your second bottle in tight bottle cage behind the saddle.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How to Run Safely in the Winter: The Screw Shoe

One of the most beautiful aspects of running lies in its simplicity. While I love the technology implicit within cycling, and the artful technique required by swimming, the purity and convenience of running cannot be denied.
Or can it.

Ice.
It's like a road mated with an ice rink and made this

I was going away for the weekend with my wife and our great friends Jeff and Krista to a remote cabin in northern Idaho (a very charming cattle-ranch with guest cabins, they have a massive main guest lodge and also offer surprisingly exciting two-horse open sleigh rides, check them out at westernpleasureranch.com . Note: despite the inclusion of pleasure in the name, nothing kinky was going down...). 

What the guest ranch also promised was solitude, snow, and an extensive amount of dirt roads. By dirt roads, of course, I'm referring to the glorified iceways that were now these backroads. With freezing rain over slush over ice slicks, I knew that this weekend would certainly have it in for my week's 90-minute long run, a key session that can't be missed. 

Fortunately, it wasn't, thanks to this article I found when I basically google-searched 'How to Run in Winter.' The Screw Shoe: For Running on Packed Snow and Ice , is an article by Matt Carpenter about how to tame the boundary between man and beast by literally putting screws in your shoe. Rather than buying a product out there like Yak Trax, which I didn't have time for, I went ahead and followed the articles instructions. 

Basically it was crazy easy. I took my recently retired pair of Asics road shoes - I always keep my most recent pair of retired running shoes, a practice which my wife has always questioned, and one which has never been defensible... until now! - and simply stopped by my local family-owned hardware store and picked up the recommended screws (hex-headed metal sheet screws, #8). I tried to find screws that were 3/8" long instead of the slightly longer 1/2", because I was worried about how thin the heels were on the forefoot of my running shoe, but 1/2" was all they had, so I grabbed thirty-six of them, 18 for each shoe. Cost was only just over $3. 

Buster the ranch dog and I are best friends; he was kind enough to walk us to our cabin. 

Then we headed out with our friends to the Guest Ranch. My packet of screws and my old pair of running shoes riding along, about to be joined with the certainty of a backwoods shotgun wedding. I wanted to use a power drill, but couldn't find the bit, so I actually screwed them in by hand, making up the pattern as I went along with the help of my friend Krista. Screwing them in by hand with a screwdriver was greatly assisted by: 1) I have a screwdriver with a ratcheting mechanism, diminishing the forearm burn, and 2) I brought along a micro screwdriver to stab in a pilot hole to guide the screw. Assembly was somewhat fun and straight-forward. 
18 screws per shoe (I ended up taking out that central forefoot screw cause of some slight pressure). This pattern worked really well. 


Taking a short practice run down the icy drive leading towards our cabin (as shown above), I had 100% no-slip action. Whatever the opposite of lubricant is, it must feel like this, because I felt like I was running in trail shoes on dry concrete. The grip was flawless, but I did have some pressure spots associated with a few of the forefoot screws. To combat this, I simply took the insole out of my identically sized Asics trail-running shoes and doubled-down in my screw shoes. Problem solved. 

The next day I took off for my 90 minute run and could not have been happier with how these shoes worked.  It was simply beautiful, running through the snowy north Idaho hill country with perfect grip over what would otherwise be sketchy-in-even-a-4x4-truck ice. The sensation was like when you go snorkeling for the first time and are breathing with your face underwater. Your mind is telling you that this is unnatural and not physically possible, but there you go swimming along. Looking ahead at the puddles of water over ice, my instincts said it was impassable, but I ran over everything with a completely natural, non-disrupted gait. The most beautiful part was the simple freedom of it; being out running effortlessly for miles in what would've otherwise been austere conditions. For only $3 of screws, a retired pair of shoes, and a bit of time to put the combine the two, the simplicity and perfect function of this system blew me away. While it probably won't work well for mixed concrete and ice runs (you'd probably only want to use these on pure ice, as they'd feel like track spikes running across asphalt), I highly, highly recommend these for winter running. Instead of being locked indoors on some godforsaken treadmill, you can go out into wilder country and enjoy scenes like these: 






Sunday, April 28, 2013

Triathlon Training 101: (almost) everything about triathlon in 8 easy steps

The very nature of triathlon's existence as a single, triune sport can confound beginner and seasoned racer alike. In the hope that a novice triathlete stumbled across this blog entry, I'll mention a few simple suggestions in outline form that, if followed, could take a complete beginner as far as they want to go.

Triathlon training, like just about everything in life, is both incredibly simple and infinitely complex. I could tell you that a table is composed of tiny building blocks called atoms, or, one could write a doctoral thesis on the idiosyncratic interrelationships of subatomic particles.

Do I really have the audacity to condense training for triathlon- with the volumes that have been written on the subject- into one short, simple blog post? In short, yes.

In that spirit, here are some suggestions in outline form that can take a new triathlete as far as they want to go.

1) Swimming
It's thought that Kevin Costner's part-man part-fish character in the movie Waterworld is loosely-based on Andy Potts
     A1. Join a Masters Swim Team

      A2. If no Masters Swim Team is available, swim on your own.
           i. Swim 3-5 times per week, 2,000 to 4,000 yards per session.
          ii. Include drills every workout.
         iii. If you do three swim workouts per week, try two workouts composed of shorter intervals and one
             with longer intervals or a long-set.
Example:
Warm Up: 500 easy: 300 of drills (with 50 yards per drill, eg. 50 yards of swimming with fists,) 200 kick or back stroke ( the latter complements muscles used in front crawl)
Main Set of Swim Workout 1: 5x50 on the 1min, 5x100 on the 2min, 5x50 on the 1min
Main Set of Swim Workout 2:  Pyramids, swim 50 yrds, then 100, 150, 200, 200, 150, 100, then a final 50, with the final 50 of each interval at a hard pace. 15 sec. recovery between intervals.
Main Set of Swim Workout 3: 1000 yards. First 700 yards easy/moderate, final 300 yards HARD.

         B1. Practice Open Water with a local triathlon club.
             i. Learn how to sight, doing so about once every twenty strokes
            ii. Practice swimming straight
           iii. Gain comfort swimming in 'chop,' with the ability to breathe to either side and skip a breath if you get hit by a wave.
           iv. Ensure that you have a comfortable, chafe-free fit in your wetsuit.



2) Cycling
Sebastian Kienle makes a statement on the bike at Half-Iron World Champs in Vegas, 2012

Bike and Run training should both have just 3 main components: consistency, variety, and a weekly long workout.
     A. Ride 3-6 times per week.
     B. Add a weekly long ride, based off time spent in the saddle. For example, building up to say 3 hours for half-iron racing or 6+ hours for Iron-distance racing
     C. Add in Speed / Tempo work
          i. Time Trial: As triathletes, we're inherently time trial cyclists. To that end, add in workouts to prepare you for the time trial cycling leg of a triathlon.
             Example Workouts:
These are actually from the first few days of Dave Luscan's time trial taper. Given that he is such an accomplished cyclist, however, I believe they're sufficient for standard workouts.
1 - 2 x 30 as hard as possible within a 95 minute ride, 3 x 1 minute very hard to finish. 
2 - 90 minutes unstructured but mostly tempo in the aerobars the whole time
3 - 23 mile TT, race effort and gear rehearsal, 47 minute race, 60 minutes total on the bike
4 - 20 minutes easy, less than 50% of threshold
5 - 2 x 20 at projected 40k tt power (or perceived exertion if you're without a power meter), on a 70 minute ride 


3) Running
Pete Jacobs runs to the crown, Kona 2012

     A. Run 4-5 times per week.
          i. Never increase mileage more than 10% a week. (Eg. If you ran 35 miles last week, you can run 39
             miles this week).
     B. Add a weekend long-run that you slowly build-up to a certain length depending on target race distance.
     C. Once you've mastered A and B, add in Speed Workouts.
             Example Speed Workouts:
                     i. Track Intervals.
                    ii. Fartlek- a fun workout wherein you have a single continuous run with random or patterned
                                     variations in speed. Eg. 30min run, 10 min warmup- 10min of 30sec hard then 30
                                     sec easy, 10min cool down
                    iii. Tempo- 10min warm up, 40min at 10km pace, 10min cool down.


4) Combining The Three
      A. Brick workouts, or the combination of swim-bike or bike-run into one consecutive workout, can be incorporated into one's training to varying degrees. Professional triathletes have varied success, from Jared Shoemaker eschewing them entirely in favor of run-specific speed workouts, or others like Craig Alexander riding 100 miles then running 10 repeats of 1 mile at 5:00 pace. These workouts are inherently challenging, so they should not be added to a week already higher than normal in volume and consider having scheduled rest following the day of a brick workout.  Bricks are best conducted with the swim-bike or bike-run sequence. A good way to approach bricks is to have only one of the workouts be difficult, and use the workout in the other sport as a warm-up or cool-down. The benefit to doing a brick dramatically decreases with a delay greater than 20min between the workouts.
     Examples: 20min bike easy followed by 5mi tempo run
                     Hard Swim workout followed by a 30min spin on the bike.

5) Nutrition  : this includes eating a healthy, natural diet for your general lifestyle and refining your race-specific diet in training. This is perhaps the most important element of your training.
Natural/non-processed foods in life and then processed/sport-specific foods in training and racing is a great way to start, but most importantly, experiment and find out what works best for you


6) Recovery: take one day each week completely off. I prefer a weekly schedule of Monday off and a light day Friday, as I do my longer workouts Saturday and Sunday. Proper recovery extends into nutrition (eating a small snack within 15min of a workout), along with injury prevention (I take two days off if I ever "feel" an injury coming on, such as an unusual pain or level of soreness), and preventative measures (using a hip roller, icing, etc...).

7) Periodization- the phenomenon of having a chronological progression to your training. First, an early Adaptation Phase transitions you from off the couch to training regularly, then a long Build Phase is comprised of high-volume, low-intensity work. Then a Strength Phase follows, wherein the amount of volume is reduced but the intensity increases (more tempo workouts), however your "long days" (long run and long bike workouts) may continue. Then finally there is a Taper prior to the event. Do not think of the taper as a period of rest- think of it like the final sharpening of a blade where you precisely reduce your volume, such as by 50% per week for two weeks, and refine your mental health prior to the race.
    Periodization also occurs within each phase. I recommend a 3 week block in training, where the 2nd week builds on the 1st with more volume, and the 3rd week is a recovery week of lighter volume. Check out this chart to see it visually:
This excellent chart was obtained from this article on periodization, from ironmiketraining.org

8) Execution- all of the previous seven steps could be for not if this step is not properly addressed. Execution here is meant to encompasses a mentality of diligence, wherein you anticipate properly completing each element of your training and racing, while planning for any accidents that may happen along the way. There are innumerable examples of how one could properly execute, here are a few to get started: arrive at transition early on race day, mentally walk through your entire race (especially the transitions), learn- this is a weird one - how to use the bathroom race morning (for me, cup of coffee + pre-race jitters = good to go), prior to starting and thoughtfully set up your transition area accordingly, have your bike gearing set up for the grade you'll experience leaving transition, have your bike's brake calipers properly adjusted so they don't rub, put anti-fog in your goggles prior to race day, and be able to change a flat tire quickly (this is, sadly, an extremely rare ability among triathletes. I practiced at home and am down to ~2min 40sec).


There we have it- the entire sport of triathlon more or less distilled into 8 simple steps.

For more information on the topic, I found Matt Fitzgerald's, "Triathlete Magazine's Complete Triathlon Book," to be an excellent introductory text when I first took up the sport.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Injury: ITB Syndrome

I recently met up with one of my best friends from college and learned about his summer at UC Berkeley doing biochemical research. A runner, he told me of how, by running 5 miles during the 10 week project, he regained his 6-pack only to recently lose it due to knee pain. This immediately triggered my interest and I pressed him for further details.

 "Does it hurt here specifically?" I asked, pointing to the tiny bump of bone that sits just below and outside of the knee.

"Exactly" he replied.

"Is it fine when you walk or ride a bike, only hurting a short distance into running?"

"Right again."

These two characteristics of ITB inflammation were the exact symptoms I experienced during the two prior years. I spent the Spring Break of my Sophomore year of College as any collegiate triathlete would- putting in  a week of epic training. I'd just come off a winter of 60-80 miles a week of running, so I thought I would be safe doing a week of insane mileage. I was quite wrong.

10 miles into a 14 mile run on the day following a 50-mile bike/5 mile run brick workout, my knee hurt. Not my knee, exactly, but the tiny bump of bone just outside and below it. I resorted to limping my way home and promptly took a week of rest. Now back at school, I decided to capitalize on the pleasant spring weather with a quick 4 mile run. About 1.5miles in, my knee started to hurt. I stopped, stretched my leg in different ways, and resumed running. 100 yards later, it began hurting to the point where I couldn't run. It never recovered, and I ended up limping the 2 miles home on one leg. In learning that I had ITB Syndrome, I began a 2 year battle of which I've only just emerged triumphant.

The Iliotibial Band (ITB) is a tendon that runs along the outside of your thigh and essentially connects the hip to the knee. When it becomes tight, it can become inflamed by rubbing over either the hip or the knee, and this rubbing causes the characteristic pain of ITB syndrome.


Check out this article, The ITB Conundrum, by Jordan D. Metzl, M.D., for Triathlete Magazine.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review of FRS and Quercetin supplementation

Last summer, I took advantage of FRS' offer of a Free Performance Pack. FRS had sponsored several running races that I'd done and I liked the product. To keep this review short, the 'secret ingredient' of FRS, the antioxidant Quercetin, basically won't help you (according to the primary literature I reviewed in pubmed). Should you care to read more about Quercetin, check out this thoughtful article from Lava magazine, "Plates Not Pills: Quercetin."

There was a bit of a delay in shipping due to an apparent overload of interest, but the package was still a bargain at a price of only Free + $4 for shipping. 




The pack included a bunch of single-serving sized powder bags (in the white and orange box), two cans of FRS, and two packs of energy chews. Since Quercetin has only two possible ways of helping an athlete: 1) through working (and it doesn't), or 2) through the placebo effect (which can be very powerful, but was unfortunately lost on me since I knew it wouldn't work...), the energy chews were rather ineffectual, and tasted more like medicine than anything. I prefer Sport Jellies or, especially, CLIF Shot Bloks. I use Shot Bloks on the bike during longer races to augment my primary bike nutrition of IM Perform and Powerbars. 

Photo courtesy of a review from iwaslazy.com 

The powdered mix had a pleasant flavor, but was difficult to fully dissolve into solution and had a very powerful dye in it. I'm pretty sure it could stain a brand new teflon pan. 

The drink, however, is really where FRS shines despite it's false promise of a benefit from Quercetin. Many triathletes, especially in Ironman races, like to take Red Bull during the run. With all of the amazingly unnecessary ingredients in Red Bull, including the ever-pointless Taurine and a fairly large dose of caffeine, FRS presents itself as a great alternative for the athlete that wants a quick load of caffeine and carbohydrates during the run leg. For those that currently use or are interested in using Red Bull or other energy drinks during your training and racing, I would strongly recommend that you consider replacing it with FRS. I may even leave a can in my run special needs bag at IM Coeur d'Alene this June. 

Plus, if you're a Tebow fan, they're sponsoring him and helping share the word about his foundation: 

In summary, FRS is a nicely flavored drink that blends a little bit of caffeine and carbs into a nice package. While the energy chews left much to be desired, the drink is a great option for replacing Red Bull in your long-distance triathlon special needs bag. 




Triathlon Aero Flat Kit + Bottle Holder

Previously I detailed how I carry hydration on the bike in this post. I've added a new component to my behind-the-saddle system with my 2-in-1 Topeak pump and thought it was worth posting.



In short, I ordered a Minoura behind-the-saddle single bottle holder through Speedy Reedy and flipped it such that it mounted and held the bottle as shown in the angle below rather than parallel to and directly behind the seatpost. I've now added a Topeak Two-Timer pump to the Minoura mount for my upcoming races. It allows me to have a fast change with CO2, while also giving me the backup option of a hand pump should the CO2 malfunction or misfire.  I haven't had occasion to use it yet, so I can't provide any insight to it's function. One downside is that Topeak made it to only fit Topeak-brand CO2 cartridges, which I think is, basically, stupid. But a penny will compensate for the disparity in size and allow one to run standard CO2 according to one yahoo user's review of the product (who was told the trick by Topeak customer service). Here are some more photos:




 Here's a zoomed-in shot of the frontal profile. You can see the bottom of the bottle as the obvious white circle behind the seatpost, while the head of the pump is visible beneath the right side of the saddle (your left as you view the image). That will be nicely blocked by my right leg, however, so overall I am very pleased. I'm uncertain yet as to where I'll place my spare butyl tube (note: I'll run latex tubes on race day but bring a butyl spare as latex tubes poorly retain CO2).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chelanman Olympic Triathlon Race Report: 6/16/11

  A slight chill and a beautiful sunrise greeted my wife, Kendra, and I as we hopped in the car for the drive north to Chelan. The day before, we made the trip over to check my bike in and get my registration packet. Given the magnitude of the Chelanman multisport weekend, triathletes need to leave bikes overnight. I was suffering from separation anxiety as we drove away, but I was comforted by the close proximity of a few more expensive bikes. A big shout out to Trek for the pricing of their top-tier Speed Concept. 

  We left in time to make it into Lakeside Park, the race venue, about an hour before the transition zone would close for my race, 15min before the 7:30am race start. I raced here two years ago, and remembered that it would be a busy morning. I found my bike snuggled beneath the all-weather blanket that I'd left to protect it, and immediately set about setting up my transition zone. 

Here's a shot of the swim start taken from when I raced this event two years prior. 


  I've been commuting by bike each morning, and during the week prior to the race, I set up my race shoes on my bike with rubber bands as practice for race day. I'd worked out all the kinks and hurried to get everything adjusted before heading to the swim start. All other pre-race rituals went smoothly. Not to make things too personal, but using the restroom prior to a race is an art form, and I've just about mastered it (hubris like this would get me in trouble during the race, when I would make amateurish mistakes during the bike that would cost me some time). 

   Heading over to the swim start, I found my way over the first timing mat (important!) and was getting my goggles adjusted when my Mom found me. My wonderful parents had driven over from western WA to watch the race, and my Dad would even be rocking the 10km run that started about half-way into my event. He was currently helping my wife find parking, a daunting task at this event that I strongly suggest you scout out the day before. 

  She had the anti-fog that my Dad had brought and also produced a Dr. Pepper when I asked if she had something to quench my thirst. The pre-race hydration tables either weren't set-up or I missed them, and I happily took a few swigs, swishing it around to release the carbonation before swallowing.    

   Looking out at the swim course, it seemed quite long. I've learned that if a course seems long, it's probably accurate, and if it seems about right, then it's short (this is something I've observed and also learned from Roger Thompson ). At the very least, it didn't seem the 0.3mi shorter than the half-iron course with which it shared most all of the buoys. A long swim, if it was one, would usually be cause for celebration, but my lack of swim prep in the previous season of training meant that I wouldn't be as competitive. Regardless, Lake Chelan remained the best open water I've ever had the privilege to dip into. Chilly but not cold and bottled-water clear. 

   The countdown for my wave, the first one, was on and I dove into the water. Seeded at the front of the field , I took a direct line to the buoy to try to pick up the line that connected one. This would make for effortless sighting, and I found it mid-way along the out section. Steeped in luxury, I would sight along the orange cord as I finished the swim. 

  My mind did its best to order my body to enact the form that I've studied and tried to drill into myself. I knew that one guy got away fast and another went by on an outside line, so I figured I was sitting in about 3rd place. There was a slight bit of chop and a few swells from distant boat traffic, but the swim was gentle as we took a loop out and wrapped around the park to the other side to come out along the beach. 



  During the last 200 yards or so, another swimmer suddenly pulled up alongside me. I'd had the presence of mind during the swim to surge randomly and then stop kicking (to eliminate bubbles), in an effort to drop anyone who might be catching a ride in my wake. I wasn't going to swerve away from the buoy line, though, so I focused on swimming my own race. 

   My new friend and I had two things in common: we each apparently appreciated the effortless style of a sleeveless-wetsuit, and we weren't afraid to get physical as each wanted to occupy the space over the beloved buoy line while traveling the same speed. We brought it in to the shore at the same time, but a better-timed exit from the water had me out and into transition first. 

My wife is infamous for hilariously unintentional backwards-compliments, once remarking in complete honesty that I'm, "more attractive in dim light." She told me after the race that she took pictures of me during the swim (the ones posted just above while I was in the water), but didn't think it was me because the guys' arms (mine) were too big...


Goggles and swim cap off immediately, I'd start peeling off the top of my wetsuit as I ran to my transition spot. 


Strip off suit, glasses on, helmet on, GO!!!


I run off with my bike as a relay competitor looks on nonplussed 

Running through the transition zone and up a short, somewhat steep grass embankment, I mounted my bike and took off. 

Unfortunately, I chose the flying-mount style in the heat of the moment and dislodged my flat kit, which has insufficiently taped to the bracket I mounted to my saddle rails. It caught on the velcro strap that I'd cinched on as a back-up, so I decided to risk it and take off as it seemed like it would hold. Unfortunately, it didn't and came off a few miles into the ride. I heard the sound, swore once, looped back, picked it up and hammered off. After holding it dumbly for a minute or two, I put it in my tri-suit pocket. In the future I'll have it better secured. 

  I like the bike course because it's fair, with a middle hilly section that will keep everyone honest. I knew that the hills would slow down my average pace, so I tried to keep it fast at the start but didn't press the uphills. I was going by a number of half-iron athletes (and rightly so, they had a very tough ride ahead of them), which prompted my one criticism of this race. With an out-and-back course on roads open to traffic, there was again congestion near the turnaround point that had me squeezing between a line of cars on my left and half-iron triathletes to my right. Not an ideal scenario, and the responsible thing would've been to hang behind the cars and take the hit to my time but I wasn't about to slow down when there was space to progress with a modicum of safety. 

The bike course aid-station is situated on top of the largest hill. I had an expert hand-off from a volunteer to grab some Gatorade, of which I chugged as much as I could and then tossed towards the big trash crate. It skipped off the rim and I was able to yell back and thank the volunteer that chased after it as I kept speeding along (I try to thank each volunteer that I see, even if only a wave during the run, as they really make the race happen. The volunteers at this race were phenomenal, and I was very flattered to receive a lot of cheers as I raced along in 3rd place). 

My nutrition for the race, with the exception of my pre-swim Dr. Pepper, was all taken on the bike. I had a gatorade laced with a Hammer Nutrition Endurolyte fizz tablet and a Hammer Energy Gel that I grabbed at the aid station on the return trip (great hand off again by one of the awesome volunteers). I also had a big pull of Gatorade from the bottle that I grabbed coming into the aid station. 

Going into the turnaround, I signaled to cyclists behind me that I was turning, shifted into an easier gear to accelerate out of the turn, and made the sharp bend. An Olympic distance racer (second overall) was making the turn immediately in front of me but he went quite wide so I made it through ahead. Once past, I heard an unfortunate clunk of a mishift and an expletive to signal that he hadn't shifted before going into the turn. He would more then compensate, though, motoring past me on the subsequent uphills. I would pass back (going wide, no drafting!) on the downhills and flats, though, and we ended up coming into transition right near each other. 





Weight on your left leg, flag your right foot out, brake, hop off and RUN!!!




My flat kit jumps ship again (!), leaping from my pocket and causing me to stop, reverse, and grab it. I cursed myself out for making such amateurish moves (although, I'm not a professional so I guess it's fitting) and ran through transition. 





Rack bike, helmet off, slide on pre-rolled socks, slip-on shoes, grab number belt and GO!!!





Running off the bike is a strange sensation. I felt like I had a great stride, but I definitely felt the bike leg in my muscles. I focused on a good turnover as I ran around the park and out onto the run course, which was an out-and-back along the same lakeside road as the bike. 

  Heading out onto the run, I knew that I was in third place after my 'riding buddy' and I were passed in the final two miles. Given that there was a wave start, I wouldn't know what my final, overall position would be, but it was exciting to be racing in third and to have all of the spectators and fellow athletes (the 10km and half-marathon runners were coming in on the same course) cheering me along and congratulating me. I was really enjoying the support and thanks to everyone who was out there if you end up reading this. 

  Either way, I was racing to keep my current position. I set about maintaining a solid pace to the turnaround point and then, after making the turn and throwing in the surge, ran only about 100 yards before I saw a chain of fast guys absolutely flying towards me. The situation was serious and I knew I was in jeopardy so I kicked it into high gear, ratcheting up the discomfort in an attempt to hold off my chasers. 

Coming back towards transition, there's short uphill, a left turn, a slight bend, and then a long straightaway to the finish. Coming into the final mile and straight section, my mind flashed to the book I was reading, The Perfect Mile, which chronicles Roger Bannister and John Landy's attempts to break the 4-minute mile. Bannister trained while in medical school and is a big inspiration for me, so I drew on that to push myself harder as I surged towards the finish. 

 As the road reaches Lakeside Park, it becomes a short, steep uphill that is brutal at this stage of the race. Once you crest it, though, it's a short, steep, downhill finishing straight. I knew that if I could reach the top without getting passed, I could use my leg turnover to fly down the hill and make it in to the finish as the third finisher. About a quarter mile out from the hill, I chanced a glance behind me... and saw another triathlete flying along in pursuit. I was up against it now, but I was going to bury myself before I was going to get passed this late in the race. Throwing myself forward, I reached the hill still ahead and went deep into anaerobic energy reserves to make it to the top. Still having no clue where the racer was behind me, I hurtled forward grimacing and sprinted towards the finish. 






Exhausted, I stumbled across the tape and promptly sat in the grass. Kind volunteers handed me a gatorade and my finisher's medal as the announcer rang out that I was the third olympic racer to finish. Though I greatly enjoyed racing in third, my net place, I would soon find out, was 10th overall of the 500 racers out competing. 10th may not be 3rd, but I was thrilled with the result and quite happy to take first in my age group. 

Group photo with my amazing wife (wrapped in my Dad's jacket) and wonderful parents. Congrats to my Dad for a big PR in the 10km!



With my legs stiffening, I walked down to the water for my absolute favorite post-race tradition. The sun would come out and I simply sat there, totally content with my race and enraptured by the view. 

Thanks to Chelanman's awesome organizers for the excellent, logo-emblazoned metal water bottle prize. 

A perfect finish to the race was a trip to the nearby Tsillan Cellar's Sorrento's Ristorante, with a gourmet lunch on their beautiful grounds a sampling of their fine, award-winning wines. They even had a 10% discount for Chelanman racers!



The view inside, the wine tasting bar is left of the image. 

This bathroom easily podium'd as one of the best bathrooms I've been in. I was impressed. 


The race wasn't all that the weekend had in store, 'active recovery' took on a new meaning as Kendra and I met up with one of my best friends from college, Joel, his beautiful girlfriend, Rebeccah, and Joel's awesome family. Country Boy's BBQ in Cashmere, WA (the ribs were insane) was also a highlight.

As was a great porter at Icicle Brewing Company in Leavenworth courtesy of my great friend.