Just a quick post before I (hopefully) get around to posting something more lengthy on the 2019 race season…
Next weekend I will be racing Saturday at Cantua Creek and Sunday at Pine Flat road races. It’s been a good off season. I banked some big rides over the Christmas holiday season, which I did last year as well and I think that set me up nicely for a good Spring of road racing. My intensity in training has been slowly building since then and I’ve been able to find a good balance with family, work and training time.
By this time last year I had done a bunch of criteriums already as I was still trying to get out of Cat 5. Now that I’m a Cat 2, I’m trimming down the race calendar a bit to races that I really want to do and/or ones that suit me well (generally those go hand-in-hand, but not necessarily). Because of that, I’m a little bit rusty. After a couple days of solid training (about 6.5+ hours over the last two days), I headed over to Hollywood to give it a good hard effort at the Nichols Ride.
Los Angeles was due for rain this morning, however it held off nicely until about 10 am. I left just before 7 am and made my way across the atypically quiet San Fernando Valley roads. I actually enjoy riding through the Valley early on the weekend — there’s nothing really special about any of the roads, but the contrast to what’s normal is neat. I took Hayvenhurst all the way up to Mulholland for the first time which features about a kilometer at 13% with a 20% kick near the end. Sepulveda is the easy way up, for the record.
I made it down to Nichols Canyon Rd and Hollywood Blvd with a few minutes to spare. Phil Gaimon came rolling down, we said hello, and then the group showed up. It was perfect.
Phil let it rip from the bottom and I pretty quickly reserved myself to just hold the wheel. Super chef Jeff Mahin seemed to have the same idea, and the two of us quietly suffered in a perfect paceline behind Phil. I ended up with my fastest time up, good enough for 12th on the leaderboard (featuring 37,003 attempts by 4,194 people) despite some brake checks around some of the wet turns.
We kept it going as a trio racing across Mulholland. By the time we reached Sepulveda I was tired and happy to have accomplished exactly what I was looking for.
I’ve been riding with the Cycliq Fly 6 rear light/camera on my bike. Today was my first time riding in a strong group since I got it for Christmas, so I decided to edit a little video of the effort up Nichols to Mulholland. (It’s mostly just Jeff’s front wheel!) Hopefully I will get some more interesting content from it this year…
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!???
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can see my ride (with power) on Strava.
Run 2nd in 15:44, :08 behind the fastest
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.
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
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!
‘Tis the season for yearly recaps! The popular trend these days seems to be to let social media create our “stories” from the year for us. I’m sure you have seen many of those “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.” posts all over Facebook in the last month. Now Strava is joining the trend by creating 30 second videos with some of your training stats from the 2014 calendar year. Here’s mine!
The biggest perk of #offseason is that, more or less, I get to do what I want (so long as what “I want” includes swimming at least a few times a week…). I’ve been spending a lot of time with Mo, done a bit of surfing, and??seen family. Most workouts have been very easy and/or social because 1) I don’t get many opportunities for this sort of thing during the season, and 2) I haven’t been motivated to do anything too intense.
While I have this??freedom I thought I should check out the famous “Simi Ride.” Many cyclists and triathletes in the area have told me about this group ride over the last few years, and I’ve been itching to try it. According to this Bicycling Magazine article, the ride is almost 50 years old and attracts some of the best cyclists around.
I rode out from my parents house and met up with the group just as they were starting from the East end of LA Ave in Simi Valley. I knew this was a popular ride, so I was expecting to see a big group, but it was still impressive to me to see maybe 150 cyclists rolling down the road together. I jumped in towards the middle of the group. It took me a little while, but I finally found a friend and former teammate from Royal High School, Matt Gulden, in the bunch. Matt is still fairly new to road cycling, but he’s picked it up quick and it was nice to chat with him off and on over the next few hours.
From LA Ave the group continued onto Tierra Rejada and rode into Moorpark. Left onto Moorpark Rd and followed that up Norwegian Grade. A few cyclists rolled from the front to back up the climb, but the effort was fairly easy most of the way. As we got into Thousand Oaks, the group turned right onto Olsen Rd and continued onto Lynn Rd as we made our way into Newbury Park. Left on Reino Rd and another quick left onto Portrero Rd. The group rode steady until a small attack on some of the steeper sections near the top. The descent down into the flats of Hidden Valley and toward Lake Sherwood was one of the more intense sections of the ride. I got into a nice rotation at the front with about a dozen other guys. It was fun to get a little competitive again.
Once we made it to Westlake Blvd things were pretty relaxed. We made a pit stop at Triunfo Park for water and bathroom. With a group that large, stops take a bit longer, and I was antsy to get back on the road the last few minutes. Matt and I led the group out around Westlake Lake and onto Agoura Rd. This section to Kanan Rd was very chill.
Finally we got onto Cornell Rd and made our way to Mulholland. The faster guys that wanted to ride started to work their way towards the front here. Things slowly crescendoed until a couple miles before “7 Minute Hill” (or Dry Creek Cold Canyon Rd), where a massive attack was thrown down. One guy in a green kit (Canondale?) went off the front here. I led a chase group of a few others riders through the lower sections of 7 Minute Hill. The effort was pretty intense, and I definitely thought that maybe I was going “too hard.”??Fugg it! I do what I want!??I ended up 3rd to the top and a decent time of 6:35 (@ 368W).
I guess the ride more or less ends at the top of this climb, and people roll out in smaller groups whenever they feel recovered. Matt and I continued down Mulholland and made our way north through The Valley via Topanga Canyon and Valley Circle. As the ride time crept toward four hours, my legs became total trash, and I rode Matt’s wheel back home (except when he dropped me up the Santa Susana Pass!).
Though I was smashed by the end, I had a blast! and will hopefully make it out a few more times as training allows. As fall progress into winter, the route gets a little bit longer, a little tougher, and I hear the pace kicks up quite a bit!
Here is a photo album one of the riders took from yesterday (though I’m not in any of them!). I found a video compilation from the 2013-2014 Winter Simi Ride that shows some cool shots of the route.
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.
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. ResultsPhoto album
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)
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.
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.
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!
Things are good in Powadise. Back on the track today for the first time this season (with training partner Joe Maloy). A few pictures from Poway High School’s track thanks to Paulo. (we shared the lead; don’t think Joe was sandbagging just because of the pictures)