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  • 805 Thousand Oaks Grand Prix

    Posted on August 1st, 2018

    The 805 Thousand Oaks Grand Prix on July 7-8 was a great opportunity to compete in my first two Pro/Cat 1/Cat 2 fields. Saturday was a circuit race and Sunday was a criterium, both 80 minutes long in the hot afternoon sun. Saturday was well north of 100° F in the early afternoon, and dipped just under that by the time we went off at 4 pm. I raced alongside Simple Green teammate Adam O’Camb. Teammate Jason Francia also came down for the race weekend, competing in the Cat 3 field.

    My daughter Lilly came out to watch me race!

    I felt the circuit race, with about 140 feet of climbing each 1.9 mile loop, would suit me better than the crit. I knew I needed to race more conservatively than I had for the lower category races I’ve done this year, so when a break went right at the start, I decided to let it go. However, I spent most of the first half of the race chasing down every move in hopes that it would be the one that stuck. Eventually, it paid off and I got in a break later in the race, but I had clearly put in too many hard efforts by that point. I did get the opportunity to sneak in a $40 prime lap win while in the break. Unfortunately we got pulled in with three or four laps remaining. I finally sat at the back to try to let my heart rate recover from a shockingly high max of 194 bpm. I was ready to sit in the ~20-man pack to the finish to see what the sprint finish was like, when I sensed a lull in the pace with about 1 km to go. I made my final move, got some separation, but it wasn’t enough and in the end the field came storming pass me with about 300 m to go. I ended up finishing 16th. Strava Results

    Always breaking away!

    Sunday was a crit that was still a bit lumpy and not your typical flat, four corner course. The 40-man field was stronger than Saturday’s field and included some real studs like Justin and Cory Williams; Rahsaan Bahati and some Methods to Winning teammates; and a handful of SoCalCycling.com Team riders. After reviewing Saturday’s race with my teammate Jason Francia, I agreed to sit in a lot more. I had a plan not to go for any moves in the first 30 minutes of the race (total race time was 75 minutes). After 16 of mostly sitting in, however, I found myself on the wheel of another rider that was making a push for a break. Since all I had to do was sit on his wheel, I decided this was an opportunity too good to pass up and I went with it. Soon we had separation from the field, and because I hadn’t made a push to get in the break, I was feeling fresh and ready to do some work. Eventually we were a group of six guys and we worked together fairly well to build our gap to the main bunch to over a minute. The hard pace in the heat was wearing on some of the riders, and a couple of the guys dropped out of the break as we started to wind up towards the finish. Going up the hill heading into one lap to go, I was at the back of the group and decided to carry my speed by attacking hard. Going over the top I had a few bike lengths over second place Cory Williams. I knew that he would out sprint me if I pulled him to the line, so I drilled it to the turn on the far side of the course where we turned into a  head wind. Cory knows how to race (he is nation’s number one beast, after all) and he made sure he was on my wheel before that turn.

    Going for it with one lap to go!

    At this point he pretty much had a free ride to the finish. Rather than swinging off and playing games with him, I decided to keep pressing as hard as I could all the way to the finish. I did this for two reasons: 1) I could tell he was uncomfortable by how labored his breathing was and I thought just maybe he’d be too spent on our final kicker up to the line and 2) I knew there were a couple guys not too far behind that could potentially catch us if we really let up. I was assured 2nd place, which would be a great result for my first time race in a P/1/2 field, so I just went HAM for the line. In the end, he came around me with about 150 m to go, just as I predicted. Strava Results

    Overall I was very pleased with my first weekend of racing with the big boys. Can’t wait to get out there on a tough road race course and see what I can do!

    2nd Place Pro/Cat 1/Cat 2 805 Thousand Oaks Grand Prix Crit

  • Road to Cat 2

    Posted on July 6th, 2018

    In March I wrote about my quick journey to upgrading to Cat 3 (check out this post and this one if you want to follow the story from the “beginning”). A few months on and I am now a Cat 2!

    In the Cat 3 bunch during Stage 2 of the San Dimas Stage Race

    My first race as a Cat 3 was a big one — the San Dimas Stage Race. This race suits me well, with an uphill TT on Stage 1, a lumpy road race on Stage 2, and a crit on Stage 3. The goal was to get the lead on the uphill TT and hold onto it, which is exactly what happened! I won the TT up Glendora Mountain Road by 13 seconds over 2nd and 27 over 3rd (Strava). Stage 2 was rather hectic in the yellow jersey, but thanks to some help from my Team Simple Green teammates Jason Francia and Bradley Wiggs, I was able to finish in the front of the group and hold onto yellow (Strava).

    Stage 3 Crit at the San Dimas Stage Race (Photo by: Troy Templin)

    Stage 3’s crit was pretty aggressive, and I looked like I had it all but locked up until there was a crash in the very last turn. Of course the guy that was in 2nd place in GC (Edgar Stepanyan – a former Jr. World Champion on the track, apparently) was in front of the crash and won the stage, earning extra time bonuses. I finished the race without crashing, but there was a chance I was going to lose the overall win because I got stuck behind the crash (Strava). There were some very anxious moments before I found out that the refs “neutralized” the finish, which meant I would get to keep the yellow jersey and take the overall!

    Next up for me was the Dan Point Grand Prix – another crit. This was the first time I tried racing two races in one day. I first competed in the 30+ Cat 3/4 field, which I won thanks to a 30+ minute solo breakaway (Strava)! I was happy to get that win, stay out of trouble (there was a terrible crash in the bunch sprint for 2nd place in that race) and win a bunch of free beer! The next race I did was the Cat 2/3, which was about an hour later, and after that long solo break in the first race, my legs were pretty toast (Strava). Still, I’m happy I did that one because it was my first time experiencing the speed of a Cat 2 field.

    With these two wins, I now had 20 of the 30 points required for the Cat 2 upgrade. I knew the Mt. Hamilton Stage Race would be an excellent opportunity to get the remaining points.

    This stage race was actually four stages over three days, with a hilly circuit race on stage 1, an epic road race that starts with a climb up Mt. Hamilton on stage 2, an uphill TT on stage 3, and then finishing up with a crit. I rode real strong that weekend, with victories in the circuit race (Strava), road race (Strava – 45 mile solo break away!) and the TT (Strava). In the crit I rode defensively to secure the overall victory (Strava).

    Stage 1 victory in Mt. Hamilton Stage Race’s Livermore Circuit Race.
    Photo by: Katie Miu

    I now sat at 35 of the required 30 points for the Cat 2 upgrade. I thought a bit about if I wanted to keep racing more Cat 3’s for “experience” and potentially more race victories, but I came to the conclusion that moving up to Cat 2 racing was what got me excited to get out and train on my bike.

    What’s next?

    In the immediate future (like, tomorrow) I will be racing in my very first P/1/2 field at the 805 Grand Prix, which consists of a circuit race on Saturday and crit on Sunday. I think I’m much better suited to a hard road race, but this will be a great opportunity to see how my skill level compares to the “professionals.” I’m not sure what racing will look like after that. I have my eye on Phil Gaimon’s Hill Climb Worlds up Gibraltar at the end of October, but any serious racing as a Cat 2 may have to wait until 2019.

  • Road to Cat 3

    Posted on March 9th, 2018

    Citrus Criteriums – Podium 3/3 for 2018

    A quick update on the end of a long “road to Cat 4” before getting in to my much shorter “road to Cat 3”: After being denied early upgrade to Cat 4, I doubled up on my last races with a “mentored” crit in Redlands (which I won!) followed by CBR #2 (I was third and won a few primes). The Redlands race was a little far to drive for a ~25 minute race, but “Citrus Criteriums” put on a great little event that I felt would be very helpful to anyone a little anxious about getting into crit racing or even bike racing in general. After those races, I applied for my upgrade and was granted a Cat 4 license. Woohoo!

    Photo by: Paul Cressey Photography

    For my first Cat 4 race and first road race of the year, I headed a bit north to Cantua Creek in Coalinga. I think for most Californians, they only know of Coalinga for its smell. It’s that place off I-5, in the middle of nowhere, with a huge cattle feed lot. Fortunately, the race started and finished up and over a hill a couple miles away from the feed lot, which is apparently too far for the stench to travel. Cantua Creek is a three lap out-and-back course that is mostly flat with a bit of climbing to end each lap. After an excruciatingly slow start to the race, I attacked up the first climb and got away. On the descent two riders bridged up to me. One was a junior that did very little in the break except to annoy the two of us, though kudos to him for getting in the break. He hung in for another lap, while the two of us did all the work. We put in another hard climb, and then it was just the two of us — Eric Sasse and I. We shared the workload well, and sort of had a silent agreement to wait for the hills at the end to decide the finish order.

    Podium 5/5

    I felt like I climbed much better than him earlier in the day, and still had pretty good legs, so I thought I could just ride hard up the climbs and that would be enough. It wasn’t, and Eric got the better of me right at the finish. I was happy to see my teammate Gilbert Marquez win the bunch sprint for 3rd place! Strava file

    I raced the next day in the foothills of Fresno at a place called Pine Flat. Both of these races were about 70 miles from my brother’s home, so I stayed with him two nights and got to spend some time with him and my niece and nephew!

    Pine Flat is a beautiful place, and I regret not taking more pictures while I was out there. Eric and Gilbert were both in this race as well. This race starts off pretty rolly with some tough, short climbs followed by a long descent, some flats, and then two big climbs. After another slower start, Eric started some attacks for a break. The group chased him down the first couple times. I actually rolled off the front on a shorter descent, and then I saw Eric chasing with that junior from the day before in tow. Just as we were getting the break established, I looked back and saw Gilbert trying to bridge up solo. I immediately stopped working and things slowed down just enough for Gilbert to get on. It pretty much worked out perfectly and I was pumped!

    For the next 30 miles or so the three of us worked together with the junior taking every 10th pull, maybe. He fell off without too much pressure as we made our way towards the final climbs. I was in a position to sit on Eric’s wheel this time, thanks to the presence of Gilbert. With a few minutes left in the penultimate climb, I went hard, got a gap at the top, and then went full gas to the next climb. I enjoyed the final few minutes up the last climb as I came to the finish line. Gilbert hung on for third, giving Team Simple Green four Cat 4 podiums in two days. Strava file

    With those two races, I had a total of 12 upgrade points. I need 20 points minimum to upgrade to Cat 3, which I want to do before the San Dimas Stage Race at the end of March. In order to avoid racing too much, I needed to win  my next race, and that race needed a minimum of 21 starters (the more starters = the more points). The UCLA Road Race this past weekend fit the bill.

    Photo by: Brian O’Connor

    The race was out in Pearblossom and it was pretty cold, windy and rain threatening. The course is a big rectangle with ascent and descent on either long side. The race was 4 laps, totaling 50 miles and about 6,000 feet of elevation gain. Like a good roadie, I sat in (on the first lap) and didn’t spend too much time at the front. As we came to the end of the first lap, there was a prime at the end of the first lap. One guy jumped and I went with him. I wasn’t able to get around him before the finish (so he won the prime), but once we crossed the line, he was content to sit up and roll back into the group. I, however, said “yolo” and pressed on. My thinking was the wind on the uphill was strong enough that no one was going to want to lead the chase, and on the descent the tailwind was strong enough that I wouldn’t be at a disadvantage going solo. I was right. A moto was giving me splits, which were 1:30 at the top of lap two, 2:00 at the bottom, 4:00 at the top of lap 3. The splits continued to go out and by the end I won by over ten minutes. Job done! (Shout out to Hudson and Spencer for making the trip out to the race with me, even if they were napping in the car the whole time I was racing!)

    Photo by: Brian O’Connor

    Cat 4 Done and Dusted!

    This week I received my upgrade to Cat 3! This little climb up the ranks has been fun, but I’m excited to be in some races where everyone doesn’t expect me to win or be on the podium. I think I will be at a level now where I will be able to learn a lot from my fellow competitors and, hopefully, go earn a few victories.

  • Dominguez Hills Criterium CBR 1

    Posted on January 30th, 2018

    Photo by: Paul Cressey

    Last Sunday I hopped into my second crit of the year, the Dominguez Hills CBR 1 (the first of seven events of the 2018 “California Bike Racing” series). Because I’m still a Cat 5 with aspirations of upgrading asap, I took part in the BRP (Beginner Racer Program) which consisted of a pre-race clinic, the Cat 5 race, and then a short race debriefing. The BRP effectively counts as an extra race, so I received two race “points” toward my upgrade.

    The program was a basic introduction to crit racing. The focus was keeping your hands on the bars, following the wheel in front of you, taking the correct line through a corner, and how to correctly put your bib number on your jersey (seems trivial, but almost everyone does it incorrectly the first time). I personally didn’t get all that much out of the program, but I think it is a good concept and I can imagine it being helpful to people that are brand new to bike racing. Cycling can be an intimidating sport to get into for a variety of reasons, and it’s nice to see a governing body like USA Cycling with programs that are focused on getting more people involved safely. I wasn’t thrilled with the 6:15 am start time (especially on a cold morning!), but I think it was worth my while for the extra upgrade point.

    Trying to break away from the field.
    Photo by: Paul Cressey

    This field was pretty big – nearly 70 riders. In hindsight, that should have been my first clue that I may want to tweak my tactics a bit. My game plan, however, was essentially the same as the previous week in Ontario: stick to the front, take the occasional hard pull to keep things fresh, and try to get away in the final five laps or so. I stuck to my game plan, but this time it was only good enough for 2nd place. When I made my move to get off the front just before three laps to go, someone immediately marked me and sat on my wheel. The field was able to keep me well within sight this time, so I was concerned that if I let up at all, including pulling off the front to share the lead, the group would quickly pull us back in. While my fitness is pretty good from my years of triathlon, this was just another lesson in the intricacies of bike racing, and one I won’t soon forget. In the time since the race, I’ve gone over what other moves I could have made, and where I went wrong. It’s fun to be this excited about analyzing a sport again. Results.

    Schooled.
    Photo by: Paul Cressey

    Still happy to represent Team Simple Green on the podium!

    The week after the race I put in a request for an upgrade to cat 4 early (I now have 7 “points” out of 10 required). I was given differing experiences from other athletes that were either allowed to upgrade early or denied. The worst that could happen is that my request would be denied and I would have to complete all 10 races. So I gave it a try…

    DENIED! “The 10 race (or clinic) requirement is firm.”

    So this upcoming weekend I will be driving all over Los Angeles to finally get my last three points in. On Saturday I will be doing a “mentored” crit race (which counts as two races) way out in Redlands and on Sunday I will be racing at CBR #2 in Carson for my final race. This will allow me to be able to race Cat 4 for some of the upcoming road races that I think I can do really well at, like Cantua Creek, Pine Flat and the UCLA Road Race in Pearblossom.

    Photo by: Paul Cressey

    Thank you to Paul Cressey Photography for these shots at the CBR Crit #1 in Dominguez Hills. Here is his full photo album from the event. Paul tells me he will be out at the next CBR Crit in Carson on this Sunday.

  • New to 2018 — Bike Racing

    Posted on January 18th, 2018

    For a variety of reasons – namely time and curiosity – I have decided to give bike racing a go this year. Triathlon is a great sport and I’d love to have a calendar full of them, but it’s just not realistic at this point in my life (9 month old baby!). In fact, towards the end of last year I had pretty much resigned the idea of doing any racing of any sort in 2018, but then I won the KOM challenge at Phil’s Fondo, surprised myself week in and week out on the Simi Ride, and set a couple KOM’s on former Amgen Tour of California segments (Aliso Canyon from Stage 7 of the 2014 tour and Norwegian Grade from Stage 8 of 2011), which all get me thinking… maybe I can do some bike racing?!

    Of the three sports that make up a triathlon, there is no doubt that cycling takes up the most time. So why not stick to swimming or running you ask? I generally work a “4-40” work week, which means 10 hour days Monday through Thursday and Friday off. I have very little time for any training during the work week, and with my background, I can’t skip four days of swimming in a row and expect to build any form. Running is similar, in that it rewards consistency in training. With my running background, I know I won’t be setting any new PR’s without a serious focus on consistent, high mileage run training. With cycling, however, I can pack in the hours as a typical weekend warrior and, it appears thus far, with pretty good results. And of the three sports, you can have the most fun as a “pretty good” cyclist, vs. being a pretty good swimmer or pretty good runner.

    Cat 5 Hero

    For those of you that aren’t familiar with the USA Cycling system, it is broken into categories: beginning with “Cat” 5 through 1 (and then technically there are pro categories beyond that). Each race is divided by categories (though they often combine two or three categories for smaller events), so you only compete with cyclists that are, in theory, at a similar level to you – everyone can have a competitive experience, from novice to expert. Everyone starts out as a 5, regardless of their background. In order to upgrade from 4 to 3, 3 to 2 and 2 to 1, you have to accumulate points by finishing well at races. To upgrade from 5 to 4, however, you have to complete TEN races. Ten! It doesn’t matter how well you place, so long as you do the ten races.

    On Sunday I competed in my fifth race as a cat 5 (I did two races on a whim in 2016 and two more in 2017) at the Ontario “Ice Breaker” Criterium. Cat 5 crits are infamous for crashes, as you might imagine with lots of inexperienced riders taking approximately 100 turns together. I kept near the front, until the last 5 laps where I broke away and rode to the finish solo.

    360 W for 9 minutes did the trick

    I honestly feel I don’t really belong in cat 5 (some of peers feel the same way, apparently — see below) and I’m anxious to upgrade soon. This Sunday I will be at the Dominguez Hills CBR to get some more experience and move one step closer to cat 4.

    Haters gonna hate

    Team Simple Green

    At one of Neil Shirley’s “4 Days to Fitness” rides around New Year’s, I met Jason Francia who rides for Team Simple Green. I told him I was interested in doing more racing and he said I should look into joining Team Simple Green. I have only been a member for a few days now, so perhaps I will have more to share on the team dynamic in the near future, but I am excited to have some mentors in cycling and to have a team to be accountable to again. I will be rocking the bright green at the race this weekend!

    It’s still a bit too soon to say what I am hoping to achieve in my cycling racing. For now I’m just happy to be racing and training with a bit more purpose again.

  • Phil’s Fondo

    Posted on October 20th, 2017

    This past weekend I hopped into Phil Gaimon’s “Cookie Fondo.” For those of you who aren’t up to date on Phil Gaimon, he’s a recently retired professional cyclist that loves cookies. He’s made a bigger name for himself in the cycling world in the past year since retirement than he ever did racing by becoming a Strava KOM-hero.

    Hero? That’s taking it a bit far, isn’t it?

    Well, he started this little escapade by sniping the many KOM’s in the LA area held by that one doper (who plead guilty to dealing EPO). After toppling nearly every KOM in the Santa Monica Mountains, not to mention the great LA area, the Robin Hood of cycling has become a celebrity thanks to his Strava antics (check out his Worst Retirement Ever series on Youtube).

    Phil takes from the Dirty and gives back to the Clean

    Anyway, so that Phil has started a Fondo, and like I said, I decided to do it on Sunday. There were several different routes (all with cookie themed names like “Sugar Cookie,” “Chocolate Chip,” “Double Fudge,” etc.), but of course I have to do the longest and hardest one — the Double Fudge. The route is 111 miles with about 11,000 feet of climbing. (If you know the area, from Camarillo it goes up Potrero, Decker, Stunt, Encinal and Yerba Buena.) A very hard route, one of the hardest routes I have ever ridden no doubt, but one I knew I could handle. Unfortunately, I found out that all of the professional cyclists, Phil, and many of the better riders do the Chocolate Chip route — which does many of the same climbs but is ~25 miles shorter. Since there was a little “KOM” aspect to the fondo (best cumulative time up four of the climbs), and me being a weekend warrior that wants to smash whenever I have the opportunity, I was bummed not to be “racing” against the best guys. That would actually be one of my only criticisms of the ride — I think Phil should drop the very long route if that’s not the route that he and all the other “celebrities” are riding. I probably would have been content with the 85 mile route if that was the longest that was offered, but knowing there were guys doing a longer route than me would make me feel less accomplished. I have an issue, I know…

    The ride started off with warm and very windy conditions thanks to the infamous Santa Ana winds. I thought we would battle the headwinds all the way east on Mulholland, but they were nearly nonexistent in the Santa Monica Mountains. It was a very warm day, however. The first timed climb came up Potrero heading into Newbury Park, less than 10 miles in. I pushed it pretty hard (400 W for over 5 minutes on the Pioneer) and made it to the top of that one first. With over 100 miles still to come, I thought that effort might come back to haunt me. I threw caution to the wind as they say going up Decker around mile 20, putting up a top-15 all-time KOM on one of the segments. My second and final criticism of the ride is that there was an aid station at the bottom of Decker, not at the top. Who wants to grab food and fill up bottles at the bottom?! (U = mgh, amirite?) The ride was pretty chill for the next 40 miles. Mo and Lilly surprised me as we went up Stunt, which truly made my day!

    I love everything about this picture! Today I rode @philgaimon’s @philsfondo Double Fudge route. Phil warned that the Double Fudge is stupid hard, and the Chocolate Chip is much more enjoyable. I told him as long as the challenge is out there, guys like me are going to go for it. Anyway, @coachmoped came out to a few spots on the route to take some pictures and cheer me on. This one is from Stunt, one of my all time favorite climbs (and descents, for that matter), and I was surprised to see Lilly sitting next to Mommy. I very proudly told the guys I was riding with, “That’s my kid!” It was such a great moment and I will cherish this picture and memory for the rest of my life. Thanks, Mo!! #philsfondo #doublefudge #stuntrd #granfondo #weekendwarrior #komchallenge #lillybjorn #lifewithlilly #cycling #bikesandbabies

    A post shared by Jason Pedersen (@jpbjorn) on

    Finally we made it up Encinal. A younger guy had hopped into the group on PCH and pulled away at the bottom of the climb, but I eventually towed the group back to his wheel before the top. I could tell I was on the verge of cramping at that point, so I came up with a plan before the final climb up Yerba Buena. I refueled the best I could at the next stop and chugged a Hot Shot just before hitting the climb. It definitely wasn’t pretty — I was that weirdo flying by everyone moaning — but I was able to pick up over a minute on everyone up Yerba Buena. Looking at the Strava results, it appears I unofficially won the KOM contest, but I’m still awaiting my congratulatory email.

    The post race food was delicious and I probably had at least half a dozen cookies on the day (plus a few more in the past week that I took to-go)! If you’re in the SoCal area next Fall, I recommend coming out!

    Next up for me is most likely the Nosco Ride. It will be my first time, but I’ve heard nothing but great things!

  • 2016

    Posted on December 31st, 2016

    Sadly, this is my first post here of 2016. For those of you that know me personally or follow my athletic pursuits via other means (Strava, Twitter @jasonpedersen, Instagram @jpbjorn, Facebook) will know that while I still like to compete and exercise really hard, there’s a bit more going on in my life these days. Since my last post, I started working full-time as an engineer. Since making that big change, the free hours and minutes in my days for things like blogging seem to have all  but vanished. Of course we all know if something is important to you, you make time for it. And while I love having this blog as an archive of my athletic life over the past handful of years, in reality it slots in fairly low on my list of priorities. Regardless, I wanted to put something up just so my “archive” doesn’t have a huge hole in it for 2016. So here’s a quick recap of my last year of racing.

    I competed in the inaugural Major League Triathlon race that was held in Temple, TX in April. My team won! Which was exciting, but unfortunately I was not able to join them in the rest of the races for the season due to a knee injury.

    Shortly after the relay, I did my first Wildflower. I always wanted to do that race and I am so glad I finally made it happen this year as 2016 may be the last year ever. I had a great swim and found myself leading the race with two guys I look up to in triathlon: Jesse Thomas and Terenzo Bozzone. They dropped me in the final miles of the bike and my full-time-job-hobby-pro fitness left me going backwards on the run, fading back to 7th place.

    Full speed ahead at #WildflowerTri.

    A photo posted by Jason Pedersen (@jpbjorn) on

    After Wildflower, I developed some tendonosis in my right knee that sidelined me for several months. I finally pulled myself together, and got fit enough to do one more race of the season. In October I finished 8th at the Austin Ironman 70.3.  While I placed better in my two previous half Ironman distance events, I felt this one was actually a better result and I am hopeful I can have a handful of successful, fun races in 2017.

    Happy New Year!

     

     

  • Ironman 70.3 Silverman

    Posted on October 12th, 2015

    Preface

    For those of you just interested in my usual race report, and not the 700 words on how I got there, scroll down to here.

    If you have been following my triathlon career, you know that I have been focused on ITU racing because I had a dream of becoming an Olympian. I joined The Triathlon Squad in 2012, moved to Poway, and put everything I had into achieving that dream. I had some great results along the way, but always struggled with consistency due to my swimming, and that often resulted in “character building” races where I raced the bike/run with a never-give-up attitude for a middle-of-the-pack result. After many of these types of races, friends, family and peers would often tell me, “You would crush it in non-draft racing.” To which I would reply (or think to myself, at least…), “What’s the end game with that?” One of the great things about an Olympic pursuit is it is black & white. I achieve, or I don’t. I felt that if I went down the path of non-draft racing, it would be difficult for me to say whether I was succeeding, whether this pursuit was worth it, or whether I was just putting off real life because I liked to train and see the world. So I continued the ITU points chase, continued working with The Triathlon Squad, and continued dreaming.

    Deflated. Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    Deflated. Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    This past winter I hit a bit of a road block and was diagnosed with a tear in my labrum in my left hip. I wrote about it a bit in my Bridgetown race report. I chose not to get surgery and was able to slowly build into some really good run training. However, the timing of the injury derailed my early season racing plans and left me lower in the ITU rankings than I had hoped to be (especially relative to the other Americans that I am fighting with for race starts). I felt that with the limited racing I would be able to do, I really needed to nail each one to put myself into a position where I could make the start list at the most important events and be capable of competing well. April, May and into June I had a couple of good races and felt like my training was going very well and was ready for a career day at the Huatulco World Cup. On the first lap of the bike, just after settling into the middle of the lead pack on the bike, I blew out my front tire. The field slipped away, and looking back now, I think that is a defining moment where I think the dream slipped away, as well.

    Happy to be spending a lot more time with Mo!

    Happy to be spending a lot more time with Mo!

    For a variety of reasons, I felt like I could no longer make it to the Rio Olympics. Of course, I could see the qualification process down to the bitter end, which probably won’t be until May of next year, but knew that I would only regret not making a change sooner. I am getting married in November, and I felt the opportunity cost to me and my fiancee in continuing down this path was too high. So after two more races in July, I decided to leave The Triathlon Squad, move back to LA, and begin looking for a career in mechanical engineering.

    That sounds like an end to my triathlon career, and it is the end of my triathlon career as I knew it. When I made that decision, I was still in great shape and didn’t want all that fitness to go to waste while I start the process of looking for a job, so I scrolled through the late summer/fall triathlon calendar to see what was available. I found a couple local events, the Santa Barbara Triathlon and Nautica Malibu Triathlon, and decided those would make good stepping stones into my first half Ironman race, Silverman. In between submitting job applications and spending a lot more time with my family, I still managed doing quite a bit of training and have enjoyed transitioning into this different lifestyle.

    The Race

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    I took off for Las Vegas late on Friday morning. It is so nice to not have to pack up a bike and get on an airplane, and as I made the ~5 hour drive, the novelty of driving to a fairly big event was not lost. I arrived in the afternoon and promptly checked in at the race expo, where I bumped into Taylor Reid. Taylor is a fairly new member of The Triathlon Squad, so we have done some training together and even shared a common roof over our heads in the past few months. We went for a shakeout run on some of the run course. I had looked at the elevation profile of the course before arriving, so I knew there would be some hills, but I noted that the incline felt steeper than I had imagined.

    Silverman has split transitions (the bike course is point-to-point with separate T1 and T2) so this race had a bit more logistics. Running shoes were to be dropped off at T2 and bike checked in at T1 on Saturday afternoon, the day before the race. This was all new to me, and made my pre-race day more hectic than I am used to. After the race briefing, I headed out to Lake Mead to get a quick bike ride in on some of the course, check my bike in at T1, and a short swim. The tradeoff to all this madness was that on race morning, pretty much all I had to worry about was getting to the start, filling up my bottles on the bike, and pumping up my tires. Mo and my parents flew in that afternoon and met me back at the hotel when I was all finished. We enjoyed a relaxed evening with an early dinner and early bed time.

    Start time was 7 am, so I got up at 4 and began eating. I had a bowl of oatmeal, banana, two hardboiled eggs, two small cups of coffee, and some SaltStick. My parents drove me out to the race start so I didn’t have to take a shuttle from T2. We arrived with plenty of time for me to make sure everything was good to go in T1 and get a short warm up in the water. I believe the announcer said the water temperature was 77F making it well above the wetsuit cutoff for professionals. The air was a little cool and there was already some wind picking up, making it pretty chilly standing at the start line in waste deep water. I noticed a number of the other pro men shivering as we waited the cannon blast start.

    Swim
    11th in 27:40, 2:27 behind the fastest

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    Many of the best swimmers were lining up on the right side of the starting line. The wind was blowing from the SSE, making it right-to-left as we looked out towards the first turn buoy. I chose to go just to their inside, thinking they would come over and I could slot into the pack. I started out fine and noticed I got in front of some of the slower guys. By 100m, the swim became really choppy and I struggled to keep a high tempo. I have been swimming openwater with Tower 26 in Santa Monica, but the conditions have been beautiful out there every morning and I think spoiled me a bit. I was really battling the waves out there and the front group of guys got away from me as we were making the turn a half mile in. The chop was a little kinder on the way back in, and I just thought about limiting my losses and remembering that it was a long day.

    On the start line.

    On the start line. Shoutout to friend Dusty Nabor for lending me a Blueseventy swim skin. It appeared to be the most popular choice out there, so thanks for helping me fit in!

    Field was pretty split up across the course.

    Field was pretty split up across the course.

    Cam Dye led into T1 with Michael Raelert just behind.

    Cam Dye led into T1 with Michael Raelert just behind.

    A pack of five or six was close behind.

    A pack of five or six was close behind.

    I came out with a small lead over Taylor Reid.

    I came out with a small lead over Taylor Reid.

    Before the race I thought coming out less than 2 minutes behind the leader would put me in a decent position and was an attainable goal, but I missed that mark a bit. There was a group of three guys that came out ~1:30 behind Cam — Drew Scott, Matt Lieto and Guy Crawford — and I think just behind them is about where I should have been.

    As I ran through transition, Mo told me I was in 12th and told me my time deficit. My first thought was this was a rough start, but I again reminded myself this is a longer race and to just get out on the bike, stick to my plan, and see what happens.

    Onto the bike!

    Onto the bike!

    Bike
    3rd in 2:15:26, 2:27 behind the fastest

    I was really looking forward to this bike ride. I have been very curious to see how hard some of these top guys go for 56 miles, and I liked my chances on a hilly course like Silverman’s. I had a target of about 300 W, which I thought would give me a competitive split and give me a chance to run well off the bike. Since I came out with the deficit on the swim, I wasn’t able to get straight into a group, so I headed out with my power number in my head, and knowing that I would be pushing a bit harder on some of the climbs, but it might average out on the descents.

    The wind was a factor all day.

    The wind was a factor all day.

    With the SE wind we were flying north up Lakeshore Rd. By the time we hit Northshore Rd, I had moved up to 10th position. As we rolled down and up the hills, I could see guys ahead, and one by one, I started to pull them in. I was happy when I rolled by Drew Scott, last year’s winner, and I started to feel like I was really in the race now. Eventually I saw Cam Dye, followed closely by Michael Raelert, coming back the other direction. I took a peak at my clock and hoped the u-turn wasn’t too far ahead. As I made the turn, I was just behind Paul Matthews and Kevin Collington. I checked my clock again and noted that I was just a little over 3 minutes behind Cam. I got pretty excited here as I was riding very close to Cam’s pace.

    It was around here that I think I started racing a bit too emotionally. As I said, I was excited and wanted to keep pushing and try to close the gap to the leaders. I was feeling strong, but we were not even halfway done with the race! I tried riding a legal distance behind Kevin and Paul (Kevin had made a pass) for a few minutes. The effort felt too easy, and I began to worry that the front of the race was getting too far ahead. I decided to make the pass and keep pressing on at my own pace. Instead of waiting for a climb, I made the pass on a slight descent. About two seconds into making the pass around BOTH guys, I realized I was going way too hard. But since I had already entered the draft zone, I was committed to the move, and just pressed on. I think I may have burnt a match or two there. (Looking at my power file shows that I went 464 W for 30 s down a 3% grade to make that move.)

    Grabbing some oncourse water. Should have drank more!

    Grabbing some oncourse water. Should have drank more!

    As we made our way back to Lakeshore Rd/Lake Mead Parkway, I put some space between me and the guys behind. Around 35 or 40 miles I saw my parents and Mo, and could hear the excitement in their voices. I was riding in 3rd, just a few minutes behind the leaders, in my first 70.3! There was an aid station here, and I grabbed a bottle of water, but only took a few drinks before tossing it. Another mistake, I think. While it wasn’t a hot day, it was very very dry. I had 48 oz of liquid on board (which had a total of about 600 calories in Carbo Pro + Gatorade + SaltStick mix) and on a course like this, in such dry conditions, I probably should have drank an entire bottle of water from that aid station.

    Pushing some Watts yesterday at #im703silverman.

    A video posted by Jason Pedersen (@jpbjorn) on

    I actually planned to get some more water at the final aid station at around 50 miles, but it was on a section where we were going over 30 mph. I could have slowed down, but Cody Beals had just passed me and I didn’t want to give him too much time in the final miles. The long climb up Gibson was into a headwind and was pretty brutal. I tried to stay tucked in a tight aero position here, but I was starting to get tired and just general discomfort from the relatively long TT, for me.

    I think my TT position is looking pretty good!

    I think my TT position is looking pretty good!

    I ended up with an average power of 293 W and 303 W. Before the race, I thought I could run pretty well off that. As I took my feet out of my shoes, however, I got some cramps in both hamstrings. Generally that isn’t a good sign for the run ahead! I didn’t need to run sub 5:00 mile pace here, however, so I thought maybe my legs would handle a slower pace. Of course, the pace is slower because I’m not running a 10k, but a half marathon!

    Nice to see a mostly empty bike rack in T2.

    Nice to see a mostly empty bike rack in T2.

    Run
    7th in 1:22:16, 6:05 behind the fastest

    IMG_0421My plan for the run was to take it out relaxed and let it come to me. The first mile or so was downhill, followed by about 2.5 miles of uphill. As I rolled down, I was happy that my lower legs felt great, but my quads were already quite sore. Cody Beals had exited T2 with less than 30 seconds gap on me, and I came up to his shoulder as we hit the first climb. My legs were not responding as I had hoped and Cody opened a gap back up. Again, I thought, “It’s a long race,” and let him go a bit. The run course was three laps, and I hoped I could really get things moving as I made my way back down the long downhill before the next long climb.

    I wasn’t feeling tired or bonked, but my legs were hurting and I felt like my gait was closer to a jog than it was to fast running. The Gatorade and Gu provided at the aid station didn’t sound too appealing at this point, so I stuck with water. It still wasn’t too hot, but all the wind made it feel so dry and I felt like I just needed some liquid in my throat.

    Ouch.

    Ouch.

    When I finally made my way back up the hill on the second lap, things started to get pretty grim. I was chipping a few seconds away on Cam (Who was actually in 1st place, not 2nd, since Michael Raelert was disqualified for not serving a drafting penalty. But I don’t think anyone racing was really aware of that.), but Cody had dropped me and I could see Taylor running great not too far behind me. As I passed Mo, she could see I wasn’t moving too quickly, and encouraged me to get my head in it and really start racing. I was still very well positioned in the race, but the trend was definitely going backwards.

    It was around mile 6 or 7, as I ran uphill into a stiff headwind, that racing 13.1 miles turned into running 13.1 miles. My quads, hamstrings and glutes were all locking up pretty badly and I had some serious doubts that I could keep my legs moving all the way to the finish line. Taylor came by me and I had no answer. On my last lap, the women’s leader, Lauren Goss, whom was one lap behind me, came by me and said, “Welcome to 70.3’s.” Lauren raced Silverman last year and warned me before race day that many racers would go too hard on the bike and pay for it on the run. I was proving her rule.

    I made it! 4th place at my first 70.3.

    I made it! 4th place at my first 70.3.

    Finally, with about a mile to go, I was able to push things a bit. I had to, as Chris Baird was coming in hot and about to roll me up (he ended up the day with the 2nd fastest run). I made the final turn with a 30 second gap on Chris. I knew if I could run a decent pace back down the hill, Chris would have to run sub-5:00 pace, and I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen. It hurt, but with a half mile to go, I was pretty sure I had it. Then my legs seized up and I almost tripped. Oh shit. I took the pressure off just a bit, and finally made it into the finishing chute. Chris came in just 13 seconds behind me.


    Overall
    4th in 4:07:58, 3:23 behind 1st

    IMG_0468After the race I hurt. I could hardly walk for about an hour after the race. I was told that I had actually finished 4th, not 5th because of Raelert’s DQ, and that made me feel a little bit better. Overall, I was happy to reach the finish line dead tired, and proud of my effort on the day and the preparation I put in over the past couple months.

    Results Ironman Press Release TRS Triathlon Recap Slowtwitch Recap

    Racing over four hours is long. And hard. I received lots of encouraging words from friends, most of them to the effect of, “Great job! I knew this was a great distance for you.” My 2015 season is over, and it is hard to say at this point what 2016 is going to look like, but I am really happy that I came out to Silverman and gave it a go. I am told experience at the longer distance racing is worth a lot, so I hope I can build on this one in the future.

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    Note the big MITCH logo behind the finisher medal. Thank you to Paul Mitchell for their support this year!

    Special thanks to my dad for all the great photographs. It was really nice to have my parents out to this race as I sort of put a cap on my journey of the last few years. I never would have been able to make the sort of commitment to triathlon and The Triathlon Squad that I did without their support, both financially and emotionally. They have always encouraged me to pursue my dreams, and that didn’t stop when I told them I wanted to move to Poway.

    Mom & Dad

    Mom & Dad

    I planned to drive back Sunday evening after the race. After the early wakeup call and racing 70.3 miles, driving five hours seemed like a rough end to the weekend. But my beautiful fiancee would be making the drive back with me, and that made the time special. Throughout our relationship, we have yearned for a “normal” that would have both of us spending time together. Returning home with her after a solid race felt like a new normal that I am very excited about.

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