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  • 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

    IMG_0335

    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

    IMG_0272

    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.

    IMG_0471

    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.

    IMG_0474

  • Huatulco World Cup

    Posted on June 15th, 2015

    ITU’s Huatulco World Cup is known to be one of the most difficult races on the calendar every year thanks to its hot & humid climate and a very steep hill that reaches grades of 20%. Since my first professional season in 2012, I have wanted to come down to Huatulco, thinking my skillset as a triathlete would be rewarded. 2015 was finally my year and I highlighted this race on my schedule at the beginning of the year. Thanks to the hip injury I had earlier in the year, my cycling has been better than ever and I am finding some new confidence in my swimming. In the weeks leading up to the race, Paulo had me and the rest of The Triathlon Squad preparing for this event doing specific training sessions to prepare us for the climb. I came into this one feeling ready to go and excited for the possibility of a career best day.

    The days leading up to the race were pretty wet. There was a small hurricane warning and we were hit with some pretty heavy thunderstorms. Because of the threat of a wet bike course, there was quite a lot of discussion over what kind of tire pressure to use on race day. For my readers that aren’t savvy cyclists, using a lower tire pressure increases the tire’s traction on the pavement. The downside of this is it can be a little bit slower and, if you are using clinchers, there is always the possibility of a pinch flat. I, however, race on tubular tires, which are impervious to pinch flats. Or so I thought.

    Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    Swim
    45th in 9:38, :25 behind the fastest

    There is a lot of talk about the bike course here, but that’s all a waste if you don’t get it done on the swim. I was prepared to bring the intensity from the horn and the inevitable physical contact around the buoys. The consensus from the other athletes after the race seemed to be that this swim was one of the rougher ones. I’m used to the occasional whack to the head from a hand or a kick to the face, but this time there seemed to be a lot more pulling and grabbing going on. Everyone was so antsy to get to that hill on the bike, I guess.

    Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    I tried to keep toward the inside at each turn and was happy to find myself in the middle of the large group the whole way. Looking at the splits, there weren’t any breaks up ahead and a steady stream of guys continued behind me for about 10 seconds. Running into transition I was pretty confident that I had put myself where I needed to be.

    Bike
    55th in 36:05, 3:25 behind the fastest

    Onto the bike I fumbled around getting my feet on top of my shoes properly. There were plenty of bodies all around (the benefit of coming out in the group vs. at the back of it) so I didn’t have a problem getting up to speed once I figured it out. As we made our way towards the climb for the first time, I started to position myself about halfway up the field into a safer spot. My plan was to just ride up at the group’s pace the first time (4 lap bike course) and then consider pressing the pace on the next laps depending on how I was feeling.

    As we crested the climb, I pushed up on the right side to better position myself as we quickly approached a roundabout with stone/cobbles. Almost immediately after transitioning from the asphalt to the stones I heard an explosion. I am sure the pack of cyclists collectively thought, “I hope that wasn’t me.” Pretty quickly my hopes were dashed and I realized I was having my first flat-tire racing experience.

    IMG_3907What happened? I’m still not entirely sure. As I mentioned earlier, I had my tire pressure a bit lower than normal, but not that low. I filled the tires up to 90 psi, only about 10-15 psi off of what I would often go with on a completely dry day. When I inspected the tire, I found a whole that had ripped on the sidewall of the tire. I suspect that I hit a sharp corner on one of the stones where there wasn’t quite enough grout between and it more or less slashed the sidewall.

    I was able to negotiate the turn on the flat front tire without being run over by the big group. After yelling a quick swear word, I remembered from the race briefing that the neutral wheel stop was “at the top of the hill.” I yelled to an official on a scooter and asked where the wheels were. He pointed ahead and I rode the flat tire 200m or so to make the wheel switch. As I bent over the bike switching the wheels, the rest of the field that had missed the front group whizzed by. I struggled opening and closing the skewers and it all felt like an eternity. Finally, I was ready to go and I took off down the hill.

    Pretty quickly I realized this new wheel was a different width than my ENVE race wheels. These new ones were much more narrow. When I grabbed my front brake lever at the next turn, I pulled it all the way back to the handlebar and it barely pulled on the rim. I did my best to tighten the barrel adjuster on the front brake. At best I was now racing with 1 and a 1/2 brakes.

    Not the front wheel that I started with. Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    Not the front wheel that I started with. Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    I never thought about pulling out of the race, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t let it affect me at all. At each turnaround, it looked like I wasn’t losing much time to the leaders, and that helped motivate me to continue pressing on such a tough day. In the end I lost almost 3 minutes to the lead bunch and came into T2 towing a couple guys behind me.

    Strava (with power)

    Run
    14th in 16:11, :30 behind the fastest

    Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

    As we got out to the run course the heat and humidity had really turned up. Only a couple hundred meters in I could see there was some carnage up ahead. Though I was at the very back of the field, it was nice knowing that I was going to be rolling up guys all the way to the finish line and it helped to keep my head in the game.

    In the end I got by about 15 guys, but that still left me with only a 39th place finish and outside the ITU points cutoff. I’ve been a bit up and down emotionally since the race. I am happy with how I felt and executed prior to the flat, but I’m obviously very frustrated and left thinking “what if?” I felt like this was probably my best opportunity in 2015 to use my strengths and current fitness to make a statement on my ability as a triathlete. I was counting on this race to boost myself in the rankings and help me get into the bigger races ahead. Leaving here empty handed makes the coming months pretty complicated when it comes to picking races and I will have to spend some time considering what’s next.

    Still, Huatulco is a hell of a race and coming down to Mexico to race is always a treat. The locals love triathlon and me and some of USA athletes were hounded with photograph requests and autographs. It’s a great professional sports atmosphere and I really hope that I have another World Cup in Huatulco in my future.

    Results | Photo album

  • Bridgetown CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup

    Posted on April 26th, 2015

    Nearly one year ago, I raced the Sprint Triathlon Pan American Cup held in Bridgetown, Barbados. Barbados was an interesting place to visit, with some rich English heritage, and set up to be a great race for me — after working hard the first few laps of the five-loop bike course, my group caught the leaders and we made our way into transition in one big pack. The race would be decided on the run. That day, however, things did not continue to progress as I expected. Leading into the race I was nursing some very sore calves that were related to returning to intense training after a bike crash with a truck about a month prior, which had sidelined me with some bruised ribs for a while. After heading out on the run with the leaders, I soon began to fade and stumbled home in eighth place. In my post-race email to Coach Paulo, I wrote, “Feels like a missed opportunity to get on my first podium.” One year’s worth of racing later, and I still hadn’t put together a swim-bike combination worthy of a podium finish.

    Heading into this year’s race, I had new confidence in some areas of my training, but some doubts remained in others. I went back and forth in my mind as to how the race might play out, and often left myself contemplating scenarios where I would be confronted with those doubts. Finally, the night before the race, I decided that was not productive, especially in the few calm moments that remained. Any challenge I would face would be met with the affirmation, “Just win the f***ing thing!”

    Photo by: Andre Williams

    Photo by: Andre Williams

    Swim
    23rd in 9:16, :20 behind the fastest

    I went into the race ranked 5th, which I think is a pretty good spot to be as I can see where some of the best swimmers are lining up and pick my spot accordingly. The Triathlon Squad teammate Eric Lagerstrom was ranked 4th, so my game plan was to pick a spot right next to him and plan to follow his feet (which I trust and have more experience following than anyone else’s in the field). We ended up near the right side. Another American athlete and solid swimmer, Eli Hemming, slotted in on my other side.

    An example of diving too shallow. Photo by: Mark Harris

    An example of diving too shallow. Photo by: Mark Harris

    The horn sounded and we ran a few steps down the white sandy beach to the water. In my practice starts during warmup, I had dove too early and nearly put my nose into the sand. For the race start, I planned to take one more step than what felt comfortable. But that didn’t seem to workout quite right, either, and by the time my face hit the water, Eric was already a body length up. My plan had been to follow his feet, and I was now at his feet, so there was no reason to panic and gave chase.

    The rest of the swim I was in the bunch and didn’t shy away from contact. As I’ve become more comfortable with the mayhem that can be ITU swimming, I’ve learned to put more energy into moving forward and less worry on whether hand is getting the perfect pull or if it’s on someone’s back. Just keep the pressure on; keep moving forward. 

    Heading out of the water and back up the beach towards transition there was a steady stream of guys with no distinct gaps. My last race in Sarasota looked similar at the swim exit, but in that race I failed to get into the main group. I was determined not to let that happen again.

    Driving the pace on the bike. Photo by: Andre Williams

    Driving the pace on the bike. Photo by: Andre Williams

    Bike
    Fastest split in 30:35 

    I mounted the bike and immediately went to work. The graph below shows my power file from the first bike lap. There is a little climb just before the halfway out on each bike lap, and I knew it would be important to be in my cycling shoes by that point, regardless of where I was amongst the field. After getting up to speed, I hopped on someone’s wheel, put one shoe on, then sprinted around, found another wheel to draft behind while I put the other shoe on, and then didn’t look back. Up the short climb the first time I went 496W for 29 seconds. At the top there was a u-turn so I got a chance to see how far ahead the leaders were and if there was anyone behind me. I had put a small gap on the guys behind me, but the guys ahead had consolidated into one group and there was now a sizable gap between me and them with no one in between to help me bridge. There was no hesitation, I put my head down, and drilled it to the end of the first lap. 2:38 and 401W is all it took, and as the group slowed around the second u-turn, I slotted into the back of the group, probably with a grin and a small sigh of relief.

    Lap 1 power

    Lap 1 power

    I took my time the next lap to work my way to the front of the bunch. Jason Wilson, Matthew Wright and Eric were doing most of the work at this point, with the occasional pull by one (or both?) of the Perez brothers from Venezuela and Dillon Nobbs. Looking at the power file below of laps 2-4 you can see that the most erratic riding was done in that 2nd lap. With each lap I got a bit more aggressive and spent more time near the front.

    Laps 2-4 power

    Laps 2-4 power

    Checking to see if anyone is interested in a break. Photo by: Mark Harris

    Checking to see if anyone is interested in a break. Photo by: Mark Harris

    My cycling training has been going very well, so if I couldn’t get a break going, I wanted to make sure that everyone was going to have to put in some big efforts and hopefully make their legs feel pretty tired going into the run. There were sections with pretty strong crosswinds, so if I was on the front in those sections on the last couple of laps, I rode all the way to the side of the road so the riders couldn’t echelon behind me. (I put them in the “gutter.”)

    On the final lap I pushed hard up the hill one last time to see if they’d let me go. That didn’t work, and it was pretty clear that we were going to come into transition as a group. I rolled into T2 on the front of the group with the main players.

    Final lap power

    Final lap power

    Rolling into T2 with the leaders. Photo by: Andre Williams

    Rolling into T2 with the leaders. Photo by: Andre Williams

    You can see my ride (with power) on Strava.

    Run
    2nd in 15:44, :08 behind the fastest

    Photo by: Andre Williams

    Photo by: Andre Williams

    The run was going to be a bit of a mystery for me. Part of the reason I was so keen to make the bike hard was because I have not been doing the same volume and intensity on the run as my squad mates. At the beginning of the year I was diagnosed with a labral tear in my hip and had to take some time off to rest it and get some opinions from doctors on treatment. The doctors agreed that I will need surgery to repair the tear, but were unclear as to how soon I will need that surgery and how much pain or discomfort I will have as I try to train through it. Coach Paulo and I have taken a conservative approach over the past few months and I’ve worked with Gino at Function Smart to rehab and alter my stride to accommodate my condition. Considering the injury, my recovery and training has gone as well as I could have hoped, and I am nearly training at my previous volume, but now on treadmills and Alter-G treadmills to reduce the pounding that comes with running outside. So while there was some unanswered questions regarding my running, I certainly wasn’t going into the race expecting to not run well. If I did, I wouldn’t have stood on the starting line.

    Leading Matthew Wright and Olympian Manny Huerta on the run. Photo by: Mark Harris

    Leading Matthew Wright and Olympian Manny Huerta on the run. Photo by: Mark Harris

    Out of T2, I found myself in fifth or sixth position. The pace felt fast, but I expected that. Eric had a few steps on me and I gauged my running on him for the first kilometer. When we hit the first turnaround, Eric had built a lead of four or five seconds to me, Manny Huerta and Matthew. The way back we were fighting a stiff headwind, and I knew those guys were just sitting on me. I considered letting up, trying to let them pass, and letting them “break the wind” (as runners like to say), but I knew there were more guys not too far behind. Instead, I kept the pressure on, hoping to break some of the guys behind me and secure a podium finish.

    As we began the second lap, I realized Manny and I had created some space between Matthew and us, and I began to think about a 2nd place finish, rather than just getting on the podium. I really had no idea how much my legs would be able to handle, but at that moment, I felt in control. I knew I wanted to get rid of Manny before the far turnaround so that he couldn’t sit on me the final kilometer into the wind, so at about 3k, I pushed hard to the cone. I could hear Manny’s breathing getting more distant, and I began to think about how special a Squad 1-2 with Eric would be. I made the turn with a gap, and knew that I had it if I could just keep moving forward. The final 500 wasn’t pretty, and everything I had gained on Eric while making that move was erased, but I made it to the finish line in 2nd!

    Overall
    2nd in 56:31, :08 behind 1st

    Photo by: Andre Williams

    Photo by: Andre Williams

    Standing on that podium next to Eric was special, and something I won’t soon forget. Shortly after joining The Triathlon Squad and beginning to work with Paulo Sousa, Eric and I shared a bedroom with Joe Maloy in Poway, CA. For the first five months of 2013, Eric and I slept in beds that were closer together than we were standing on the podium on Sunday. Many of those nights, both of us had dreams of standing on the podium, no doubt.

    If you made it this far in the blog, thanks for being a RunPD fan! I’d liked to say a quick a thanks to the friendly people of Barbados (and the ITU representatives) that put on another great event. Special thanks to my training partners, coach, sponsors, family, and fiancee Mo for supporting and believing in me! Next up is Pan American Championships in Monterrey, Mexico on May 3rd!

    Results | Facebook Album #1 | Facebook Album #2

  • Thankful for Running

    Posted on November 27th, 2014

    12-Jaclyn451As the tagline of RunPD suggests, I’ve been running for about as long as I can remember. My sister, Jaclyn, got the family started by joining the Simi Valley Running Rebels (then it was part of the Simi Valley Vikings, actually). This motivated my mom to take it up as an adult despite never running growing up. It took just a couple of years following Jaclyn and my mom around track meets and cross country courses before my brother, Andrew, and I decided to join in on the fun.

    Many years, practices, races, and careers have past since then. To say running has shaped our lives is an understatement. Many of our closest friends and fondest memories came from the sport. Both Jaclyn and I would have attended different universities had it not been for our high school running, and it’s crazy to think how different our lives would be now. Heck, running is 1/3rd of my current profession!

    I am thankful for a lot of things, but it seems fitting to highlight running during this time of year for my family. For quite a while now, Thanksgiving and running have gone hand-in-hand.

    Today, my mom and I raced in a local turkey trot here in Simi.**

    IMG_5957

    A couple years ago, I raced in one of the biggest and oldest turkey trots in Cincinnati when I was in Northern Kentucky visiting some of Mo’s family for the holiday.

    I spent four of the six years I was at NAU in Terre Haute, IN on the Monday before Thanksgiving at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. In 2009, the Lumberjacks finished 4th.

    1916038_592816449198_996136_n

    Before that, my family made a trip nearly every year between 1997-2005 to Fresno, CA for the CIF State Cross Country Championships. Jaclyn was Royal High School’s first ever individual qualifier. In 2001, Andrew was apart of the school’s first team qualification — that team finished as a very surprising runner-up. In 2003, my team backed that up with another 2nd, and then went onto winning Royal’s first state titles in any sport in 2004 and 2005.

    2005 Royal Cross Country

    Finally, as I joked on Facebook earlier this week, Hillside Middle School’s Turkey Trot was dominated by kids named “Pedersen” and “Ramirez”– our closest family friends — in the ’90’s and up until 2001. Back then I wasn’t racing for money, but only for glory in the form of t-shirts that didn’t actually fit until four years later.10620829_10203981574832348_1002107068959833302_n

    This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for running, all the people and memories it has brought me, and to be able to still find joy in it everyday.

    Tom the Turkey says, "Happy Thanksgiving!"

    Tom the Turkey says, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

    **I finished 2nd at Simi Valley’s “Thanksgiving Day 5k” today to former high school teammate, Jun Reichl. It was a fun race running in front with him. I don’t think either of us wanted to push it especially hard, and opted to leave it down to a sprint finish, and he won! My mom also raced, finishing 3rd in her age group! What’s more impressive is that she was preparing our turkey at 5:30 am before the race, and she hasn’t stopped cooking since! Strava file of the race (15:56) and some photos on Facebook from my dad.