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  • 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.

  • Life Time Fitness Oceanside Triathlon

    Posted on November 2nd, 2014
    Oceanside, CA. Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    Oceanside, CA. Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    I capped off my 2014 season at Life Time Fitness series finale in Oceanside last Sunday. This was my first non-draft triathlon since I did Life Time’s Tempe race last September. After racing in Cartagena a couple weeks ago (maybe I will have an update on that race and a few others in a season recap post to come), I dusted off the TT bike and got to work getting used to riding in the aero bars again.

    The season has had plenty of ups and downs, but one thing that has remained consistent throughout is my bike leg. In every race I have done this year, I have felt that I was among the strongest cyclists in the pack. At New Plymouth World Cup and Yokohama WTS earlier this year for example, I worked my way up to the lead group with uber-cyclists like Tom Davison, Richard Murray and Declan Wilson. I thought this race would be a great opportunity to see how my bike leg stacks up against some of the very best non-draft cyclists in the sport. I also felt my swimming was coming along in the last four weeks and thought I could put myself in a decent position out of the water to potentially ride with the main group.

    Getting the ENVE-equipped time trial bike race-ready after about 13 months off.

    Getting the ENVE-equipped time trial bike race-ready after about 13 months off.

    This was a very early morning. Welcome back to non-draft racing! I stayed in Poway the night before, which is about 30 miles away from Oceanside. I was up at 3:45 to have some food (a couple eggs, bagels, and coffee) and make the drive down. This was my first race with separate locations for transition 1 and transition 2, so there were some logistics to figure out that I normally don’t need to do. Transitions were a couple miles apart, so I rode to T2, dropped off my running shoes, and then headed over to T1 to get everything else ready to go.

    Swim

    16th in 18:28 (1:51 behind the fastest)

    Typically, water temperatures in Oceanside at the end of October are about 64F, well below the wetsuit cut off temperature of 68. I think the fabled El Niño of 2014 saw I was on the start list, however, and decided to kick up the water temperatures to 71F. So, unfortunately, it was another non-wetsuit swim for me (of the fourteen races I did this year, only two were wetsuit legal!). My roommate and training squad mate Eric Lagerstrom had an extra Roka speedsuit on hand and let me wear that. Thanks, E!

    This was an in-water race start. These starts seem to be a little less physical than pontoon or beach starts, but aren’t the most fair. It’s difficult to keep everyone behind the start line as guys start to creep forward. For example, check the video and you’ll see someone in a white cap on the far end with an immediate jump on the rest of the field…

    I was in the back half of the field after the first couple hundred meters or so. I could see there was a split in the field a couple guys ahead of me. I moved around a couple of guys, but by the time I had made the pass, the lead group had a pretty big gap. For most of the rest of the swim, I led the “chase” group. We eventually caught one guy that was caught in no man’s land and came out as a group of six. I heard that I was about “one minute down.” After looking at the splits, I see that I was about one minute down from the tail end of the front group, but nearly two minutes behind Tommy Zaferes, who had gone off the front by almost 40 seconds!

    T1

    18th in 1:01 (:23 behind the fastest)

    The run to our bikes was quite short. By the time I got to my bike, I had just begun to unzip my swim skin. I wasted a bunch of time here just standing in front of my bike trying to take off the swim skin. As an ITU athlete, it is embarrassing and unacceptable to lose this much time in transition. I ran out onto the bike course at the very back of my swim group.

    Check out some tricky split screen video action thanks to my parents’ camera work!

    Bike

    4th in 55:43 (1:35 behind fastest)

    Photo by: Rich Cruse

    Photo by: Rich Cruse

    Out of T1 I was just behind Luke McKenzie. I knew he would be very strong on the bike, so I tried to keep him in sight. After five miles or so we moved through the guys just ahead and were working on closing the gap to the main pack. This course had several u-turns, allowing me to keep an eye on the race up ahead. Cam Dye was starting to pull away up ahead with a gap to Ben Collins. Just behind Ben was a strong group all riding together. I knew I needed to get closer to that group to be in the pointy end at the end of the race.

    Eric Lagerstrom leading a tight pack.

    Eric Lagerstrom leading a tight pack. Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    About a minute back. Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    About a minute back. Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    Nearly 20 minutes into the race I started to hear a tapping noise coming from my front tire. My first thought was I had a nail or some other piece of metal stuck in the tire and it was clicking with each revolution and hitting the fork of the bike. I could see something sticking out of the tire, but air pressure was still good. As I focused on it, I could see it was red, and since my tubular has a red stripe down the center, I wondered if a chunk of my tire was ripping off! Tire pressure continued to hold, however. I finally thought, “screw it,” and kept pressing. During this distraction, Luke McKenzie opened a sizable gap on me. He was riding really well, and I needed to be 100% on to stay with him. From this point on I was pretty much riding solo, catching a few guys that were dropped by the pack ahead, and looked to my power meter to help keep the pressure on.

    Luke McKenzie caught the main group and even went through to the front. Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    Luke McKenzie caught the main group and even went through to the front. Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    At this point, Cam Dye had opened up a sizable lead on the rest of the group. Ben Collins was able to shake the lead pack and get a gap, as well. I’ve seen results the past few years where these guys put down fast bike splits, but being in the race and seeing it happen (thanks to the 5 u-turns on the course) was pretty impressive. Maybe with some more time in the saddle…

    KEEP THE PRESSURE ON! Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    KEEP THE PRESSURE ON! Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    A very sticky sticker.

    A very sticky sticker.

    After the race I had a look at the tire, and it looks like a race sticker was stuck to the tire. Initially it had a big piece flapping off, which is what was making all the noise and tapping the fork with each revolution. As the race went on, the sticker was worn away. This is what was left by the end…

    For you guys interested in power and data, my ride file is up on Strava. I averaged 330W and 26.3 mph (42.3 km/h). Going into the race I thought I could be a bit higher than this, maybe as high as 340W. Luke McKenzie rode 54:25 compared to my 55:43. The extra 10W probably wouldn’t have been enough to ride quite as fast as he did, but maybe it would have been enough to get to the tail end of the lead pack that he rode straight through. I learned in this race that in this high-level non-draft racing format (for Olympic distance, at least), there is still a racing dynamic on the bike and knowing when to put out the big efforts is more important than just riding the highest average power you can hold throughout the 40 km.

    T2

    :34

    Photo by: Ralph Anders

    Photo by: Ralph Anders

    Run

    8th in 33:15 (2:15 behind the fastest)

    Coming off the bike I was in 10th place with at least a minute gap to the next guy. Oceanside Tri was the final leg in a three-part race series that included an “equalizer” event between the women and men. The women started the race 10 minutes and 13 seconds before the men, and we had to try to catch the women before the finish to “win.” This was nice for me at this point in the race because there were a few women in between me and the next guy for me to focus on and help me bridge the gap.

    Oceanside Tri run course goes up and down the boardwalk near the pier. Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    Oceanside Tri run course goes up and down the boardwalk near the pier. Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    The course was flat with some short, steep hills every mile and a half to break things up. After a couple of miles I finally caught some of the guys that were ahead. I first caught David Giardini and then Luke McKenzie about a mile later. I was running OK, but my legs were definitely tired from the hard bike.

    With a couple miles left, I saw Joe Maloy running the opposite direction, LEADING THE RACE! I was really pumped to see that, and I’m pretty sure I told him so. 🙂 This was his first big win of his career, and it was nice to celebrate with him after the race.

    Overall

    8th in 1:49:01 (3:14 behind the fastest)

    I finished in 8th place with, I think, a satisfactory performance. Going into the race, I thought I could be closer to the podium, and I certainly put everything I had on race day into accomplishing that, but I made some mistakes (T1 and dealing with that tire mishap) that were too much for me to overcome with the quality of the field out there racing. A podium or top-5 finish would have been really nice going into the off season, but instead I am settling for a solid result and learning experience.

    Results

    Thanks to Hypster.com for their support all year. Thanks to ENVE for putting me on the fastest equipment out there, including the SES 8.9’s and 110mm stem I used in this race. I’m off racing until some time in 2015. More updates surely to come on ending 2014, what I’m doing on my time off, new sponsors, and looking forward to 2015.

    Photo by: Ralph Anders

    Photo by: Ralph Anders

    Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    IMG_5906

    Photo by: Erik Pedersen

  • Mid Season Update: Making up for lost blogs

    Posted on August 6th, 2014

    I began writing this blog over five years ago to share my experiences training, competing and living as a student-athlete at Northern Arizona University. I had always been a deligent recorder of all aspects running in my personal running log, so I thought I might as well put this stuff on a blog to allow friends and family (mostly Mom, Dad and teammates looking for a shoutout, originally) to see what I was up to. After a couple years had passed, I realized that I had created this great resource for myself to remember what I had done in the past, mistakes I’d made, decisions that had worked out, and perhaps most importantly, things that had previously motivated me to be my best.

    I had great expectations for myself for the 2014 season. With the exception of a couple bright spots (New Plymouth WC and Yokohama WTS), results have been fairly disappointing this year. This, in addition to the time committed to training, travel, life, etc., has created an excuse for me not to continue documenting my experiences along the way. It’s August now, and looking at my blogging for the year, I see that I have left a few holes, which kinda upsets me.

    There are some great views on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner.

    There are some great views on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner.

    I am now sitting on a train travelling south along the coast from Simi Valley back down to San Diego. I went on a short trip to Tucson (via plane) to help my girlfriend move out of her place in Tucson and over to Simi Valley (via truck/car). I have learned taking the train is quite relaxing, but can be very slow — my departure from Simi was delayed over an hour, and then I sat at LA’s Union Station for about an hour and a half until continuing on. Anyway, all that to say that I had some time + Wifi on my hands, and thus: this blog!

    My last good race update was from my first three ITU races of the season back in March. Those races were highlighted by my 18th place finish at the New Plymouth World Cup against some very good competition. Shortly after returning from that trip, I had a bit of a cycling accident, crashing into a fairly large commercial truck. I was lucky in that I came away with just some bruised ribs and my bike only suffered a few scratches. My front wheel took the brunt of the impact and was totalled. Turns out carbon fiber makes for a pretty good one-time-use bumper, though not a very cost effective one. ENVE took care of me and sent me a new SES 3, and I was back  on my bike in a couple of days. Swimming and running took a bit longer to come along, but after a few weeks, I put all that behind me.

    IMG_2161In April I went to Barbados for a Sprint Pan American Cup race. I swam well enough to get into a group of some strong cyclists that were willing to work together, and we caught the lead pack about halfway through the race. I struggled on the run and finished up 8th. Disappointed that I missed a good opportunity to get on the podium, but happy to collect some ITU points. Results

    In May I jetted off to China with training partner Joe Maloy for the Chengdu World Cup. This was my first time to China. I was happy to be travelling with Joe; it helps to have a bit of familiarity when in such a new place. I missed a very large pack on the swim and ended up time trialing the whole race on my own. My 57th place finish in Chengdu is probably one of my worst races of my career. Results Facebook Photo Album (Chengdu & Yokohama)

    Best swim of my life! (Photo by: Delly Carr/ITU Media)

    Best swim of my life! (Photo by: Delly Carr/ITU Media)

    I had a second chance the next weekend in racing my very first World Triathlon Series race in Yokohama, Japan. This race was wetsuit legal, and I took complete advantage of that. I swam in the middle of the field the whole way, coming out ahead of some very accomplished athletes. I hopped on the Davison-Murray-Sissons train and we made our way up to the front of the race. This race was without a doubt the most fun I have ever had racing triathlons! I was riding right next to guys that I’ve been watching on TV since I started the sport — Brownlee, Gomez, Brownlee, etc. It was a small affirmation that my career is moving in the direction. I held on with a decent run off the bike and came in just behind Joe in 20th. A top-20 result in my first WTS race had me very excited for what was ahead. Results

    My next race was the Pan American Championships held in Dallas. I finished 5th in this event last year when it was held in Vila Vehla, Brazil. I ended up in the second chase pack on the bike, and the gaps were just too big for me to mix it up in the front end of the race. I was 33rd. Results

    We made it out to Buffalo Park in Flagstaff, Arizona a couple of times each week.

    We made it out to Buffalo Park in Flagstaff, Arizona a couple of times each week.

    Right after Dallas, The Triathlon Squad packed their bags and headed to one of my favorite places in the World, Flagstaff! We were there for about four weeks getting in an altitude training block. I saw a few friends that I went to school with and put in a lot of training hours.

    From Flagstaff I went to Chicago for my second WTS race. We were looking forward to another wetsuit swim, as the water in Lake Michigan had been quite chilly. The weather leading up to the race was pretty warm, raising the lake temperature to just under the wetsuit cutoff. The ITU and medical staff decided to ignore the temperature cutoff, and went with a nonwetsuit swim. I was well off the back on the swim, but fought like Hell on the bike. I bridged up to several guys, rode with them for a couple laps, and then ultimately broke away to see if I could cut the gap a bit more. A lot of friends commended me for my effort on the bike, which was nice to hear, but it didn’t make up for the hole I had dug myself on the swim. I finished up with a 44th place finish. Results

    IMG_2633

    My most recent race was a week ago in Jiayuguan, China. Yep, two trips to China in one year. Like Chengdu this was another World Cup, but this time at about 5,500 feet of elevation. The lake that we swam in can be quite chilly, as it is fed from the local mountains (with some peaks reaching an impressive 18,000 ft!), so my hopes were that we would have a wetsuit swim. Jiayuguan is right on the border of the Gobi desert, and the days before the race were very warm. Temperatures in the lake shot up to 23C by race morning, making it a nonwetsuit swim. I hate that swimming with a wetsuit gives me such an advantage, as I want to be an athlete that can perform in all conditions, but the reality is that, at this point, it makes a difference for me. I ended up with a very similar swim to the one I had in Chicago. Again, I rode well, this time actually pulling back some time to the front pack with a 4th best bike split. I picked off a few guys on the run, but still only finished 45th. Results

    (Photo by: Darryl Carey / ITU Media)

    (Photo by: Darryl Carey / ITU Media)

    Up next for me is a Sprint Pan American Cup race in Kelowna. I raced there two years ago, and fell in love with the area. I’m very excited to head back, this time with good friends Heather and Trevor Wurtele (they live there part of the year) and Eric Lagerstrom (also plans on racing).

    I will most likely be racing the Super Sprint event in Las Vegas on September 11th. This is not an ITU event, so no points up for grabs, but it is fun, fast racing with good prize money available.

    I will finish up my season with a couple World Cups in October, most likely Cozumel, Mexico and Tongyeong, South Korea.

    Thanks for everyone’s support and words of encouragement this season. The highs and lows of 2014 have been very polarizing, and the phone calls, emails, and little messages I have received from many of you help me keep a level head and remind me to enjoy the pursuit.

  • One for three

    Posted on March 27th, 2014

    On Monday I returned back to Poway from my first block of racing of the season. To be honest, it was (mostly) a rough start to the year for me. I was very unsatisfied with my first two races in Florida and Australia, but found a little redemption in my final race in New Zealand. Here are some recaps:

    1974277_658855540823908_2068188299_oMy first ITU race of the year was at the Clermont Pan American Cup. I went into the race ranked 10th, and came away with 21st. I struggled to find the intensity required in the beginning of the swim and came out of the water near the back of the field. On the run into transition, I dropped my race cap, and earned myself a 10″ penalty, to be served on the run. I was in the second chase pack with about 10 guys. Coming into T2, I completely blew threw the dismount line and earned myself penalty number 2. After a mediocre first lap, I served my 2×10″ penalties, and was back running. I managed to catch a couple guys that past me while I waited in the penalty box, but it wasn’t enough to salvage any ITU points. I left Florida empty handed. Results

    1i3a3122

    Photo by: ITU Media

    After a few days back in Poway, I was off to Australia to race the Mooloolaba World Cup. Mooloolaba is a very popular race and has been running for many years. The start list was pretty stacked, with guys like Mario Mola, Richard Murray, Sven Riederer,  Laurent Vidal, and many other Olympians. My trip over went great; I adjusted very well to the time and weather. I felt like I was very well prepared for this race, both physically and mentally. So when I came out of the water in last place, with a visible gap to the next guy, I was disappointed. I continued to press on, but upon reflection of the race, I admit that I thought I had already blown my chances at a great result, and that likely had a negative effect on the rest of my race. I ended up with just a 54th place finish. Results. Photo gallery. ITU Race recap video.

    Photo by: ITU Media

    Photo by: ITU Media

    From Australia I jetted off to New Zealand for another World Cup. The start list was perhaps more competitive than the previous week’s, looking more like a WTS race at the top than a World Cup. Coach Paulo and I discussed how to overcome the challenges I had in Mooloolaba and how to take advantage of my opportunity to race here. I had a better swim, and perhaps more significantly, a better transition and first few kilometers on the bike. I was in a good group with strong cyclists willing to work hard to catch the lead bunch. After a couple laps, we caught the lead pack and I rode in the ~ 50-man pack until the finish. There was a pretty dramatic crash towards the end of the final lap, but I was in a safe enough location to avoid it. Out on the run, my legs felt pretty strong and I worked my way into the top-20 guys. At the end I was able to shake a couple guys I had been battling the whole 5k, finishing in 18th place. This is my 2nd best World Cup result in terms of place (I was 15th in Cozumel in October), but my best in relationship to the level of competition on the day. After a couple poor performances to start the season, this is just what I needed. Results. Photo gallery. ITU Race recap video.

    I came away with some decent points, moving me up to 120th in the World on the ITU Points List and back up to 8th American. On this trip I have already begun to see just how important these rankings are in terms of getting race starts. It’s important that I take advantage of every opportunity to race so that I can control my own racing destiny in the future.

    DSC02468

    Post-race. Everything looks neat and tidy = NO PENALTIES! (Those DEEP wheels are ENVE SES 8.9’s, in case you were wondering.)

    I posted a few more photos over on Facebook.

  • Off to the races!

    Posted on February 28th, 2014
    jason joe eric Tritonman

    Like 2013, I will continue living, training and racing with Eric Lagerstrom and Joe Maloy in 2014.

    Welcome to 2014

    I believe this is where I’m supposed to tell about all the changes I have made over this off-season, and how that is going to translate into newfound success. While I have made a few changes in equipment (thanks to USA Triathlon and ENVE Composites… more on that below), by and large, much is the same as last year. You may recall that last year I joined Paulo Sousa’s The Triathlon Squad, began working with them in November of 2012 and then moved to Poway to train full-time in January. Similarly, this season’s training began in November and I continue to live in Poway, training full-time with the same guys under the same coach. The reason for my success in 2014 won’t be due to changes, but consistency.

    Winter training was good. We put in a lot of hard hours, enjoying most of them, surviving some, and staying engaged always. It’s always great for a few months to pass and realize you haven’t missed any training due to injury. Kudos to Paulo for training smart. 🙂 I’m excited to translate this fitness into results.

    IMG_0857

    Preseason

    I actually had a bit of a false start to the race season already. On February 16, I ran a local road race, the Coronado 10k. Some pretty quick guys in Scott Bauhs and Ben Bruce came out and led the race up front. I was in a pack of a few guys most of the race and ended up finishing 5th in 31:32. It was a fun event and a good way to stir the dormant pre-race butterflies a bit. As Paulo put it, it was a “good tempo run.” Results Strava

    Last weekend I was down near Fiesta Island for the UCSD Tritonman Triathlon. This was a collegiate draft legal race that let some of us from The Squad jump in. It was a sprint distance race, and a great opportunity to have a test run before races start to count. I made a few mistakes, highlighting some things to focus on and fix this past week in training. I ended up 5th (6th if you count Greg Billington, but officially he was disqualified for not serving multiple penalties!). Thanks to the race organizers for giving us the opportunity to race locally. Results Photo album

    Clermont

    Back in the day. I miss those shoes...

    Back in the day. I miss those shoes…

    This weekend I am in Clermont, Florida for a sprint distance ITU Pan American Cup. This race was my second ITU race of my career back in 2012, where I finished 17th. I remember my excitement after the race, knowing I’d earned my first ITU points. Goals are a bit higher this time around. Here is the start list. (I’m ranked 10th)

    Australia

    A few days after returning from Florida I will be heading off to Australia with training partner Joe Maloy. USAT will have a small camp where we will stay and train before racing the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup on March 15. There is a possibility for me to race in the New Plymouth ITU World Cup a week later, but as of now, I am not on the start list. There is a chance I will roll on to the start list, so I will be keeping an eye on that. This will my first time to Australia and I’m obviously looking forward to it very much.

    New bike

    Bike build

    Bike build

    Thanks to Litespeed’s support of USAT, I will be racing on a new Litespeed L3 this year. I was on my previous bike, a Blue RC6, for nearly three years and it was time to upgrade. This was the first time I have had to opportunity to build a bike up from just the frame myself. With two mechanical engineering degrees (I finally finished my Master’s of Engineering degree in December!), I thought that if I can’t figure this out, I might want to ask NAU for a refund! Thanks to a bit of help from training partner Eric Lagerstrom and Paulo, I finished the build in a couple of days. The bike rides and looks great, thanks in large part to ENVE. They sent me a fresh seat post, 40cm road bar and 100mm stem to go with the SES 3.4 Clinchers that I train on and SES 8.9 Tubulars that I race on.

    Race Schedule

    I have a tentative race schedule posted. There are a lot of World Cups on there, and with Olympic points qualification beginning in May, these races will be more and more difficult to get into. It’s likely I won’t know whether I am racing until a couple of weeks before the event. The only way to really guarantee the races I’d like to do is to BE BETTER!

  • Ironman Arizona: watching a full triathlon

    Posted on November 18th, 2013

    Have you ever done a full triathlon?

    Whenever I tell someone I am a professional triathlete, I usually get a response like, “Do you do Ironman?” Or, “Have you done the one on Hawaii?” I usually get a look of disinterest when I tell them I specialize in Olympic distance races, and have yet to complete a “full triathlon.” Sorry, but I’m not slow enough to be an Ironman triathlete. I take that back — that was mean. I have always respected the idea of racing for eight hours or more, I’m just more interested in that one to two hour zone.

    Since I have been staying with my girl friend Mo in Tucson the past three weeks, I decided to make the quick drive up to Tempe yesterday to watch friends Jordan Rapp and Trevor Wurtele (also The Triathlon Squad teammate) compete at Ironman Arizona and see what this long course triathlon business is all about. (Shout out to Mo and her #2 ranked and undefeated University of Arizona women’s cross country team competing at this weekend’s NCAA Championships!)

     

     

    In case you didn't know...

    In case you didn’t know…

    When I got to the course, the pro men and women had just started the bike. I found the man in the orange shirt in Starbucks, of course, who had celebrity Heather Wurtele with him! Heather’s parents, whom are very proud Canadians, were also there and came out to watch their son-in-law race. (We took it easy on the Rob Ford jokes.) After getting a quick jolt of energy (coffee for them, recharge of my phone and camera for myself), we headed back to the course to see the end of the first lap of the bike. After the first lap, Matt Reed was on the front of the big lead group and both Jordan and Trevor had cut a bit of their swim deficit to the leaders. By the second lap, Jordan had ridden through the leaders and was now on the front! Trevor had also cut out a lot of time to the main pack.

    Matt Reed led the way at the end of the first bike lap.

    Matt Reed led the way at the end of the first bike lap.

    Jordan Rapp had the fastest bike split of the day.

    Jordan Rapp had the fastest bike split of the day.

    Coach Paulo giving Trevor Wurtele time gaps.

    Coach Paulo giving Trevor Wurtele time gaps.

    The bike looks like it gets pretty crazy out there. With a three lap course, the pro’s are lapping much slower riders after just an hour or so of racing. Other than the first lap, it seems like referees would have a hell of a time trying to catch anyone drafting — there are just people everywhere! I am thankful that I do not have to deal with that craziness as a short course triathlete.

    After getting some water, a snack (bag of cheetos for myself), bathroom, and some more sitting around (checking Twitter), the guys finally started to come into T2. Jordan led, followed by Pedro Gomes in 2nd and Trevor in 3rd. Jordan had a couple minutes on Pedro Gomes, and I think about six minutes on Trevor and the pack just behind.

    Trevor Wurtele was 3rd coming into T2.

    Trevor Wurtele was 3rd coming into T2.

    Jordan Rapp headed out of T2 with a sizable lead.

    Jordan Rapp headed out of T2 with a sizable lead.

    The run was definitely more entertaining to watch than the bike. We ran across Tempe Town Lake on the Mill Ave bridge and were able to see them four times each lap + the finish. It struck me that no one really seemed to be running very fast — because they weren’t. Ironman run pace is so much slower than any pace you will ever see competitive runners or short course triathletes running. That isn’t to say it is, or even looks, easy. Just another observation I made yesterday leading me to the conclusion that Ironman is hard (because if it were easy, they would be running faster!).

    Jordan would hold his lead through the first lap before Victor del Corral came charging by to take the victory. After about midway through the bike, Jordan was basically on his own the rest of the day. Kudos to him for “keeping the pressure on,” as Paulo likes to say, and holding onto 2nd place.

    Jordan Rapp: "keep the pressure on"

    Jordan Rapp: “keep the pressure on”

    Victor del Corral early on the run.

    Victor del Corral early on the run.

    Apparently the race began with thousands of people swimming here -- that was over five hours ago.

    Apparently the race began with thousands of people swimming here — that was over five hours ago.

    Trevor’s race was pretty exciting. Between spots 3-7 there was quite a lot of passing going on. After starting the run in 3rd, Trevor fell back to 6th at one point, moved back up to 4th, and ended up finishing in 6th. The race was ON the whole time. I struggled with what I should yell to both Trevor and Jordan as they ran passed each time. Generally when I am watching a race, I have constructive comments to make, or I try to say something that will help inspire and get their inner-voice to give some positive self talk. I realized I have no idea what they must be going through at this stage of the race. I felt unqualified to yell much of anything besides, “GO TREVOR!” or, “COME ON JORDAN!”

    GO TREVOR!

    GO TREVOR!

    Some of the guys Trevor was battling:

    Pedro Gomes

    Pedro Gomes of Portugal

    Marc Duelson of Germany

    Marc Duelson of Germany

    Jens Petersen-Bach

    Jens Petersen-Bach of Denmark

    Denis Chevrot of France

    Denis Chevrot of France

    After about 7.5 hours of racing, it hit me: they were still racing! These guys are animals!

     

    Long course spectating looks a lot like this. Note to self: bring more nutrition next time. I was starving!

    Long course spectating looks a lot like this. Note to self: bring more nutrition next time. I was starving!

    Some final takeaways. After watching, does this make me want to do an Ironman? I do, but not tomorrow. Watching Ironman Arizona really did make me more interested in doing one, but not enough to throw the Olympic dream out the window. I have doubted whether I would ever want to do one as a pro, but I think after yesterday, I actually would like to give it a go as a pro, perhaps in the twilight years of my career as you often see from other ITU-focused athletes.

    I know how much hard work these athletes put into their training and I have always respected them for that. I think yesterday gave me some new appreciation for what these guys (and girls, of course) put themselves through on the individual day. This race is so long that there is no doubt everyone goes through some very very dark moments, hopefully spaced out with some really high highs. It was pretty inspiring seeing the quantity of athletes out there just drilling themselves, going for it, and blowing up.

    Again, not something I’m dying to do tomorrow, but a “full triathlon” is something I’d like to experience in my life.