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  • 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.

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  • San Juan Pan Am Cup & F1 Super Sprint

    Posted on November 4th, 2013

    A couple short race recaps from my last two races of the season:

    Coming off of a big race at Cozumel World Cup, I was looking forward to returning to the Caribbean for some more warm-weather racing, this time in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I stayed with some friends from high school, Chris Baird and Brianna Blanchard, in a great condo that was just a few kilometers from the race site. This was only my third Continental Cup race of the year, but with a 5th place finish in Brazil back in June, I felt that finishing on the podium was a realistic goal.

    San Juan ITU Pan American Cup swim start. Photo by: Allan Torres.

    San Juan ITU Pan American Cup swim start. Photo by: Allan Torres.

    I probably swam at a similar level here that I did a week prior in Cozumel, but with twice the distance and less quality swimmers to fill in the gaps between me and the leaders, I came out of the water with a lot more work to do. Early in the bike, Travis Johnston from South Africa and Graham Leitch from Great Britain rode strong and we were gaining some time on the leaders. The course was flat, but really rough road conditions with lots of potholes and cobblestone. Though this was my first experience racing on these types of roads, I know this isn’t uncommon in ITU racing, and I think the experience I gained here on the bike was worthwhile. My trio was unable to bring the group back in, and eventually began losing time to the larger lead pack.

    Always looking ahead after the swim to see who I am going to work with on the bike. Photo by: Allan Torres.

    Always looking ahead after the swim to see who I am going to work with on the bike. Photo by: Allan Torres.

    Some of the cobbles we hit twice per lap.

    Some of the cobbles we hit twice per lap.

    Heading out on the run I could really feel the heat. We got a few minutes of rain, which felt great until the sun returned and turned the puddles on the road to steam. I knew people up ahead would enjoy these conditions even less than I was, and I was able to pass a few guys to at least salvage some ITU points out of the race.

    Once I had stopped gaining time on the lead group on the bike, this became more about surviving better than the rest than really racing. Which sucks. I don’t do triathlons because they are difficult — I want to race for the top of the podium and on this day I wasn’t able to do that. I ended up finishing 14th in the race of attrition.

    Brianna Blanchard and Chris Baird

    Brianna Blanchard and Chris Baird

    Quick congrats to Brianna on probably her best race yet, finishing 3rd here. I also want to say thanks to her and Chris for helping me find a bike shop to repair my tubular flat the day before the race. I got to the start line with no excuses and nothing on my mind but the race in front of me.

    As I said I grabbed a few more ITU points, putting me at 146th now in the world. This ranking will become more and more important as we creep closer to 2016 and the Rio Olympics.

    Results

    After the race I went to Simi Valley to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday. I had a great time visiting with family and friends. It’s fun sharing my adventures racing around the world with them. They are all very supportive, especially my parents. This makes it so much easier to pursue this crazy life knowing that the ones I care about want me to succeed.

    After the birthday celebrations I headed back to Poway to finish up the season. My last race was the F1 Super Sprint race at South Shores Park in San Diego. The race was 300m swim/8* km bike/2.5 km run/300m swim/8* km bike/2.5 km run. With eight laps on the bike and five on the run, the race was great for spectators and it was great to see some familiar faces comes out to watch. (*I measured the bike to be 6.4 km)

    F1 Triathlon race start. Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    F1 Triathlon race start. Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    Before the race we were told lapped athletes would be disqualified. With such short loops I knew that falling more than a minute behind would probably mean getting lapped out. I had a great swim, right on the feet of the lead bunch. I flopped my swim exit a bit, tripping on the carpet laid down to the water’s edge, and missed the very front group out on the bike. Ben Kanute, Tommy Zaferes and teammate Eric Lagerstrom were too strong on the bike to bring back in. With the lapped rule in mind, I went to the front of my group and did most of the work knowing there was no time to sit up and play it tactically. Heading out for the first run, my other teammate from The Triathlon Squad, Joe Maloy, flew by me and I just couldn’t respond to his move. I dropped the other guys behind me, and got to the second swim with Derek Oskutis.

    Tommy leading Eric and the rest out of the water. Photo by: Erik Pedersen.

    Tommy leading Eric and the rest out of the water. Photo by: Erik Pedersen.

    IMG_9913

    Chasing close behind. Photo by: Erik Pedersen.

    Leading the chase pack, trying to limit losses to the front trio. Photo by: Erik Pedersen.

    Leading the chase pack, trying to limit losses to the front trio. Photo by: Erik Pedersen.

    Joe flying out of T2. Photo by: Erik Pedersen.

    Joe flying out of T2. Photo by: Erik Pedersen.

    I was able to run down Derek Oskutis before heading into the 2nd swim. Photo by: Dan Frost.

    I was able to run down Derek Oskutis before heading into the 2nd swim. Photo by: Dan Frost.

    On Derek's heels. Photo by: Erik Pedersen.

    On Derek’s heels. Photo by: Erik Pedersen.

    Diving back into the water I was right behind Derek. I knew what I had to do — stick to his feet — but I just couldn’t do it. After a short, fast and hard swim-bike-run, getting your face back in the water is tough. Eventually John Dahlz came by me, and I was able to ride his draft through the rest of the swim. We rode the second bike mostly together. We were holding the gap to the leaders at around 1:00, so we were close to being lapped out, but I knew with no mistakes we should make it to the finish line.??John got a gap on me heading out for the final run leg, but I was able to run him down before the finish, leaving me with 6th place.

    1. Ben Kanute
    2. Tommy Zaferes
    3. Eric Lagerstrom
    4. Joe Maloy
    5. Derek Oskutis
    6. Jason Pedersen
    7. John Dahlz
    Keeping the pressure on during the 2nd bike. Photo by: Erik Pedersen.

    Keeping the pressure on during the 2nd bike. Photo by: Erik Pedersen.

    Moving past John Dahlz on the second run. Photo by: Erik Pedersen

    Moving past John Dahlz on the second run. Photo by: Erik Pedersen.

    After the race there was a little relay action. I was partnered with Dan Feeney. Most people didn’t have much left in the tank by now. The two 1st losers however, Sara McLarty and Tommy Zaferes, found some extra energy and pretty much dominated.

    Overall it was a??very??tough race and a lot of fun. Thanks to Lars Finanger, F1 and Fearless Races for putting on this great event. Looking forward to more super sprint races in 2014. Also thank you to sponsors??ENVE??and??Hypster.com. More blogs to come on 2013 thoughts, offseason plans and adventures, and the upcoming 2014 season.

    Joe Maloy, Jason Pedersen and Eric Lagerstrom (l-to-r). I owe a lot of my success to these two. Photo by: Dan Frost.

    Joe Maloy, Jason Pedersen and Eric Lagerstrom (l-to-r). I owe a lot of my success to these two. Photo by: Dan Frost.

    EDIT:

    Alan Webb watching the F1 Super Sprint triathlon in San Diego.

    Alan Webb watching the F1 Super Sprint triathlon in San Diego.

    I forgot to add that Alan Webb was in attendance! With runner-turned-triathlete Lukas Verzbicas also there, exactly 40% of all US high schoolers that ran under 4:00 for the mile were spectators at the race. Of course I went up to him and reminded him that I met him in 2004 at Nike Team Nationals… and got his autograph… which is hanging on my wall at home…??Did I mention I was a fan?

  • Nancy ITU Duathlon World Championships

    Posted on October 9th, 2012

    After my race in Buffalo, I flew to Boston to stay with fellow professional triathletes Chris Baird and Brianna Blanchard for a few days. I had never been to Massachusetts before and I was anxious to see why my mom raves about it. She began racing the Boston marathon in 2004 and pretty much became a Boston fan overnight. She even cheers for the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics now. 2013 will be her sixth edition of the Boston marathon, which will be extra special with my sister Jaclyn joining my mom for her first time! Basically, Boston has turned into a destination for the Pedersen’s.

    Chris and Brianna have a great apartment in an old building in the financial district. I went riding in some of the suburbs of town and went running along the Charleston river, through Cambridge and onto Harvard???s campus. While Chris was grinding away at work, I went with Brianna to MIT for a couple of swims. I got to see a bit of the city as I walked to the ???shipping dack at the John Hancack building by Capley pack??? to try to intercept two UPS packages with our Duathlon Worlds uniforms that wasn???t scheduled for delivery until after our departure for the airport. I found the shipping dock at the John Hancock building by Copley park without too much trouble and grabbed our packages.

    Boston struck me as a very clean city, especially compared to other big US cities I have been to like Los Angeles and New York. The city is very young and active thanks to all the universities and paths along the river. While I am in no rush to move there and see what the winter months have to offer, I can see why Chris and Brianna like it (as well as my mom) and appreciate their hospitality.

    I had some great meals in France. This oversized crouton with canned tuna was not one of them.

    On Tuesday night, Chris and I began our journey to Nancy, France. Flying to Europe from the East coast is so much easier, and I would be reminded of this when I returned on my non-stop flight from London to Los Angeles. A six hour flight had us in London???s Heathrow airport on Wednesday morning where we boarded a plane to Luxembourg. Once in Luxembourg, Team USA coach Jim Vance picked us up and we drove a couple hours south to Nancy. We arrived around 1 pm, and weren???t scheduled to do any training until 5, so Chris and I went for a walk to try to find something to eat. We found a market and picked up a few snacks, including the delicious spread called Speculoos. At first we were disappointed when we discovered it wasn???t peanut butter. After spreading it on a couple cookies, however, we forgot about the peanut butter and began a dialogue on why this stuff doesn???t exist in the US!

    First look at the race venue in Stanislaus Square, Nancy, France.

    Over the next few days we got to see quite a bit of the city. The necessity to always be searching for places to ride or run (or swim) can be a pain, but it affords you plenty of opportunities to explore. I get to see miles and miles of these foreign places that I would not have seen otherwise, which is certainly one of the perks of being a professional triathlete.

    Chris and I grew very close in France. In fact, we only slept about 6″ from one another!

    In addition to the sights, we often see more of the culture as well. On Thursday, I walked to a local pool with one of the elite American female athletes??? boyfriend. At the front desk of the pool, we each paid 3.80 euros and showed our swim cap and bathing suits ??? men must wear brief or square-cut style ???Speedo??? to swim. Thank goodness I don???t go anywhere without mine! We then went to the coed changing room, which was a bank of cubicle-like stations with a door on one side for entry and a door on the other side to exit to the pool. I entered the cubicle and latched the ENTER door close. I turned around and found the EXIT door was open, so I closed that one and latched it shut. Just as I did that, I saw the ENTER door swung back open. Must have not closed it properly. I moved to the ENTER door and latched it shut. Now the EXIT door swung open! I realized the latches on both doors were linked, to prevent people from leaving the cubicle out one door and leaving the other side locked, which is smart. However, because the doors naturally swing open, this also prevents people from successfully closing and locking both doors without a 7-foot wingspan. Being the clever engineer that I am, I improvised by closing one door with my right foot, closing the other door with my left hand and latching it with my right hand, all while balancing on my left foot. I felt like there must have been a hidden camera on me with a French audience watching, laughing and saying, ???Stupid American!??? After stretching both my mind and body in the changing room, I rinsed off in the shower and headed to the pool. In the hallway between the showers and the pool, there was a 5m section sunken 15cm or so with a puddle of water that you had to walk through. I shook my head, bewildered, and thought, ???It???s all part of the experience, Russ.??? Finally, we made it to the pool! It was a very nice, white-tiled pool with four lanes FILLED with people doing breast stroke! I ended up getting a crappy 1500m workout in, which was ok as I wasn???t expecting to get in any swimming in France.

    Stanislaus Square in the distance.

    The race took place in the beautiful, ornate Stanislaus square, surrounded by old buildings with exquisite fa??ade, black iron fences with gold leaf trim, and polished cobblestone. The run course went through an adjacent park, which was flat with lots of sharp turns. The bike course had a small hill on it to bring you up to an elevated highway and had some very technical sections coming by transition. The men’s elite race wasn’t scheduled to go off until late afternoon when the park and square were completely packed with spectators and age group athletes waiting one more day for their chance to race.

    I made an effort to do more of a warm up than I typically do for a triathlon. I got in a good 20 minute run and a short 3 minute tempo before heading over to the starting area. The final 15-20 minutes were a bit confusing, not knowing exactly where I needed to be. As a result I think I spent too much time standing around. My heart rate had come down considerably and I think I was just a little too relaxed.

    Run #1

    30th in 32:43, 1:39 behind the fastest

    At team meetings before the race, Coach Jim Vance made it clear that he would give one guy the green light to try to run with the leaders and make the front pack. The rest of the team would try to stick together and work as a group on the bike to move their way up. I was the one chosen to go for it. I was excited at the opportunity and felt like I had nothing to lose here.

    Photo: Janos M. Schmidt /ITU Media

    Because duathlon is more of a fringe sport even than triathlon, most competitors came into this race with no ranking. Outside of the first dozen or so athletes, starting positions were given at random. I randomly received number 58 out of 59, but didn’t think this would matter much because it isn’t a mass-swim start — it’s just another mass-run start like I have done hundreds of times before. I was wrong, however. For some reason the start line was quite narrow, and only fit maybe a dozen athletes across. By the time my number was called to the start line, it was already 4-men deep!

    When the race started, I immediately began to work my way up. It felt much like a cross country race, which made me feel pretty comfortable. Only now, I was trying to get myself near the front. I did a lot of weaving and dodging guys to work my way up, and after one 2.5km lap, I was in a pretty good spot, maybe 15th or 20th place and 4 or 5 seconds off the lead. The quick start soon caught up with me, and within another 800m I saw a gap ahead starting to form. As I went by Coach Jim, he yelled, “You gotta decide now! Either go with them or ease up.” It was sound advice and in hindsight it was definitely one of those important moments that happen in every race that effect the outcome. Considering there was a 40k bike and 5k run left after the conclusion of this 10k, I decided to ease up. I just didn’t have it in me to go with that front group on that day.

    USA Teammate Dan Hedgecock passed me soon after. By 5k I was a little worried that my aggressive strategy was already catching up with me. At the 180 degree turn around halfway, I saw Ryan Giuliano and Josh Merrick weren’t too far behind. Once they caught me, I focused on staying with them and took a little comfort in knowing that I would have them, at the very least, to work with on the bike.

    Bike

    33rd in 54:59, 3:03 behind the fastest

    As planned, Josh, Ryan and I got going on the bike and starting working together right away. There were some real studs behind us, and soon a group of five guys or so caught us. This group was led by two Belgians and a big Russian guy. I got in the rotation with them and we were all working well together. The group ahead was coming back to us. I was working pretty hard, but nothing that didn’t feel unsustainable, especially when I was able to sit in for three to four pulls. That’s a lot more rest than I ‘m used to!

    About halfway through the bike, my calves were beginning to pulse a little bit coming in and out of some of the sharp corners. Pulses turned into small cramps. On the 5th or so lap, just as we were headed towards the elevated highway, my right calf completely seized. My foot was completely flexed with my heel being pushed all the way up. I tried to force my weight onto my foot and drop my heel down to stretch the cramped muscle, but it just wouldn’t let go. While all this was happening, I stopped pedaling and was coasting. The bunch went around me and left me behind. Eventually I was able to get a normal pedal stroke going again and I settled into a less intense time trial effort. Any chance at a good performance went out the window. The group that I was riding with bridged up to Dan Hedgecock’s pack less than a lap later, showing me once again how big of an effect small lapses can have at this level of racing.

    Eventually I bridged up to Josh, who had also been dropped by the bunch. We rode together for the last lap and went into T2 as just the two of us.

    Run #2

    30th in 17:23, 2:11 behind the fastest

    I was a little timid to get the run started after those bad cramps on the bike. In the past when I have suffered with cramps, it has always been on the run and never on the bike. The huge gap ahead didn’t help much, and I quickly settled into a pedestrian pace. I kept turning over mediocre kilometer splits, one after another, until a Spanish guy caught me. With about 800m to go, he opened a small gap on me and I began to feel even more sorry for myself. We made our last turn, and at about 400m left, I finally told myself to “SACK UP” and threw in a surge. The Spaniard was hurting too, and barely made an effort to go with me. I had a spectacular finishing kick to seal the deal on a 31st place finish.

    Overall

    31st in 1:46:38, 5:58 behind 1st

    31st is clearly not where I had hoped to finish. Even without the cramping on the bike, I was not ready to compete with the top guys in this race. Coming from a competitive running background, the whole experience was a little eye opening. The top ITU guys can run, and I’m not going to be able to compete with them if I’m not focused on being a better runner. I don’t regret coming on this trip — I think I learned a lot — but I know that I won’t be returning to Duathlon Worlds unless I know I am ready to roll a fast 10k, and I have the mileage in my legs to keep going after.

    With that said, I wouldn’t change my training prior to this event. I am focused on becoming a better triathlete, and right now, that means swimming faster. I need consistent, hard work in the pool, and I’m glad I didn’t let this race derail my focus on that.

    Dan Feeney being fed a post race dessert by a French waitress in a German restaurant.

    After the race, Coach Jim Vance told me that I was one of the athletes that he would like to compete in Sunday’s mixed team relay. The relay format includes two females and two males all completing a 2km run-8km bike-1km run course. The order is female-male-femal-male, and I was picked to be the first male to go for Team USA. D’Ann Arthur led the team off, but couldn’t finish due to some injuries incurred from a bike crash in her individual race, so I never got the hand-off to start. This event sounded like a lot of fun, and I hope I get an opportunity to do one of these mixed relays at a duathlon or triathlon in the future.

    The rest of the trip was basically a lot of travel. Driving from Nancy to Luxembourg; flying to Heathrow; flying to Los Angeles; driving back to Simi Valley. I got to meet Andreas Raelert in the international terminal while we waited for our bikes to be delivered. He was headed to Westlake to do some pre-Kona training. Very nice guy and it was cool to meet him.

    Finally, some thank you’s. Big thank you to ENVE for helping me get to France for this race. Thank you for supporting my professional career thus far. Also, thanks to USA Triathlon for selecting me for this race. Jim Vance did a great job in teaching me the in’s and out’s of duathlon. I had a couple of opportunities to talk to him about training and coaching in general, and I appreciate his solicited advice. And of course, no trip would be possible without my great parents. This time, my dad gets a special mention because he had to battle the 405 traffic solo and came to LAX to pick me up. (Mom was out of town on business, otherwise I am sure she would have come too!)

    Results

  • Buffalo, Nancy, San Diego, Cancun

    Posted on September 12th, 2012

    Beginning tomorrow I will kick off a four week block of racing that will take me to the East Coast, France and Mexico. Training has been great since my race in Kelowna, including my second and third biggest weeks of the year. Running intensity was the highest it has been since I finished up at NAU over a year ago. Swimming continues to be a year-round focus and I have swam some encouraging sets in the last few weeks. But training means nothing if you can’t put it together on race day, and I plan to show the gains I have made in these next four races.

    Saturday is the Buffalo ITU Pan American Cup, which also serves as USAT Elite Nationals for the second year in a row. If I beat my 17th placing from Clermont back in March, I can further increase my ranking on the ITU Points list. This will be no small task, as I’m going into the race ranked 18th. There are guys ahead of me that I have beat this year, and I know I can do it again if I execute well. This is probably the deepest field I have raced in yet, which I think will be a good thing for me as there should be more people to work with coming out of the swim. Start list

    In anticipation of Duathlon Worlds, I have been hitting the track regularly. This picture was taken by my dad at a brick session at Moorpark College.

    After Buffalo, I will be staying in Boston for a few days with fellow professional triathletes Chris Baird and Brianna Blanchard. They are both from Ventura County area, and I actually ran against Chris throughout high school and while he was at UPenn, so it will be nice to spend some time with them. Chris and I then fly to Luxembourg and bus over to Nancy, France for Duathlon World Championships held on September 22. I applied to represent team USA at this event several months ago, thinking it would be a great opportunity to get international racing experience. However, I am committed to my long-term development as a triathlete, and for me, at this point, that means a lot of swimming. There is no swim portion of a duathlon (run-bike-run), so I can’t say that I have had perfect preparation for this event, but I will go out there and do my best and see I can’t get a piece of the ???80,000 prize purse! A huge thank-you to my sponsor ENVE Wheels for helping me get to France and putting me on the fastest wheels in the bunch.

    From Luxembourg I will fly back to LAX and spend a few days at home before hitting the road for a quick trip down to San Diego for the F1 Triathlon. This is a crazy fast format of racing, and I’m really excited to be accepted as an entry for this event. It takes place on Coronado Island, and consists of a 300m ocean swim, a 10-lap 4-mile bike, and a 5-lap 1.5-mile run. After finishing the run, you go to T3! Take off your shoes, run back into the water, and do it all over again. If you are in the area on September 29th, I highly recommend you come out and watch. It is going to be a great spectator course, and I know the race director is hoping this will be the start of a permanent race series in the US. Back in the day, these races were quite popular in Australia. Check out the video:

     

    Finally, my last race of the season will be my first ever ITU World Cup in Cancun, Mexico on October 7th. That I was able to qualify for a World Cup race in my first season as a professional triathlete is a great accomplishment and I plan on celebrating by sticking my nose in the thick of things with the big boys — there are at least ten London Olympians on the start list. More on this race to come, as I obviously have other things to worry about first!

    Be sure to check my twitter (@jasonpedersen) or my Facebook over the next few weeks with updates from the races. If I get a chance to blog, there will be links on those accounts for you to stay updated.

  • Breath of Life Ventura Triathlon

    Posted on June 28th, 2011

    Sunday marked my third consecutive race at the Breath of Life Triathlon in Ventura. Two years ago I entered because I thought it would be fun, and was thrilled to finish 8th overall. Last year I won my first Olympic distance triathlon here, and thoughts of pursuing triathlons in my future were planted. This year’s race affirmed that becoming a professional triathlete isn’t just a dream, but a realistic goal.

    Pre Race

    My race report begins on Saturday afternoon. The brackets on my Quintana Roo CD 0.1 that connect the aero bars to the handlebars seemed to have some stripped threads, so my sister’s fiancee Dan (a fellow engineer) suggested I put some Locktite in the threads. As we retightened the screw, we really stripped it. 6 pm, the day before an early morning race, and I have an out-of-commission bike. We called a few bike stores and eventually found one that was open until 8. They were able to retap the hole and put a bigger screw in. The brackets held for the race, but I need to do something about it before my next one.

    Setting up transition. What am I forgetting?

    5:30 Sunday morning came around and I was up getting ready for the race. I owe a big thank you to my Aunt Britta for letting me stay at her house in Ventura. It is so much more relaxing staying just ~5 minutes from the race course, as opposed to 40. I went with the usual breakfast and made my way to transition at around 6:15.

    Chris Baird and I did a short run of about 1.5 miles and then made our way down to the swim start with about 15 minutes to spare. I made sure to get in and do a good warm up (Coach’s orders!).

    Swim

    14th in 17:53, 1:37 behind the fastest

    Exiting lap one of the swim

    Like last year, I had a rough start. I initially started off well, but all the people swimming over each other took its toll on me. After taking a big swallow of sea water, I sort of let up a bit and regrouped. From there I got in a pretty good rhythm and felt much better on the second, less congested lap. I exited the swim in about 10th in my wave. I will need to be at the front of these local races if I want to be competitive at the next level.

    T1

    4th in 1:43, :17 behind the fastest

    My focus in transition was to keep racing. In my past few triathlons I think I have been too worried about what I need to do in transition. With a bit more experience, and some practice, I was able to run fast into and out of transition.

    Bike

    7th in 1:01:57, 2:21 behind the fastest

    Heading out on the bike I had a good mount, passing one guy right out of transition, but then lost a bit of momentum by misplacing my left foot on the shoe. In a non-drafting race like this one, these couple of seconds that I lose in transitions are likely not a big deal, but it could make or break a race in a draft legal format. Since that is the direction I want to go in, I need to really perfect these skills.

    The course was very flat and fast. There were a few spots with a slight tailwind, and I tried to crank it up and tank advantage of those sections, reaching 27 or 28 mph. I took a Gu at about 10 minutes into the bike and had planned to take another one with about 10 minutes to go, but could only get down about 1/4 of it. At this point I’m just trying to figure out how many calories I should take in a race and I will have to continue with trial and error to see what works best for me.

    According to the Garmin the race was slightly long at about 25.5 miles. This works out to 24.7 mph, about 1 mph faster than last year. My coach Ian Murray has been slowing increasing my biking volume, so I have yet to do any really hard, long rides. I think once we throw a few more of those in there, I will be able to crack that 25 mph mark and feel fresher for the run.

    T2

    14th in :55, :12 behind the fastest

    Heading in to T2

    I had a good dismount and was running pretty quickly into transition. Eventually I got behind a lady that was just heading out to start her bike ride (she must have been a Sprint competitor). She was awkwardly running with her bike in her cycling shoes, so I just had to be patient and wait until she passed my rack. I then quickly racked my bike, took off my helmet, put on my shoes and grabbed my race belt.

    Run

    1st in 32:22, :25 ahead of 2nd fastest

    Finally onto the run! The great thing about triathlons, from a runner’s background, is that you know you can always move up during the last stage of the race. I have yet to be passed on the run in a triathlon, and Sunday was not going to be my first.

    Heading out of transition I heard that I was down 3 minutes to the leader. Shoot, that seems like a lot. If he can run a 35:00 10k, I will need to run under 32. I was in 4th at this point, so I focused on one runner at a time. I passed the first guy within the first mile, splitting a 5:03! Oops, I may have just blown the rest of my run. Then I saw the next racer up ahead. I passed him before the 2 mile mark with a 5:11. There was a nice long straight road for me to see how much more I had to make up. I could only see one guy and I passed him relatively quickly, before mile 3. Am I in the lead?

    There was a turnaround at 5k, so this allowed me to see where exactly I was in the race. I was still in 2nd, but now just 50 seconds back of the leader. He looked good, but clearly running a much slower pace than me. I kept looking at road markers and counting the time it took for me to reach them. I was chipping away at his lead, but with 2 miles still to run, I was worried I was going to run out of gas. There were several racers out there yelling encouraging words to me, like “you can get him!”

    I tried to think about how much more fun it is to finish with a victory, and I pressed on. I continued clicking off the miles in around 5:12 and eventually caught Jason Smith, the race leader, with about a mile to go. Since I was hurting at this point, I thought the best race tactic would be to go by him quickly so he doesn’t even think about trying to go with me. It worked, and I was able to cruise home the rest of the way. As I made the last couple turns toward the finish line, I saw my family and friends all cheering for me. What a great feeling. What a great memory.

    My Garmin had 32:23 for 6.26 miles (5:10s), which surprisingly is a faster pace than either of the triathlons I raced last year. Since I haven’t done much run volume over the last two months, I figured I would run slower. To a certain extent, fitness is fitness, and all the swimming and biking seems to be keeping my run up to an acceptable level. As I move up in the triathlon ranks, I will have to work the run a bit more to compete with the very best in the sport.

    Overall

    1st of 352 in 1:54:47

    After I finished I was called up on stage to speak with the announcer. He asked if I would be returning in 2012. “We’ll see,” I replied. If things go the way I want them to, a year from now I will be onto bigger and better things.

    I have the best supporters, including my girlfriend Mo 🙂

    Results

  • Tahoe Relays

    Posted on June 19th, 2011

    This past weekend I headed up North to see my girlfriend Mo and to join her at the Tahoe Relays. I arrived in Oakland on Thursday and then made my way up to beautiful Lake Tahoe on Friday. Thanks to Tamara Torlakson we stayed in a slick cabin that slept something crazy like 14 people and had a hot tub on a third floor balcony.

    The race began Saturday morning at 7:00 and meanders around the shore counter clockwise. I was scheduled to be the fourth and longest leg of 12.3 miles. Because I had been nursing a sore Achilles over the last month, and had run very little leading up to the race, I was thinking of taking a shorter leg. As the race got going, I started to get pretty excited and I told our team that I could handle all 12.3 miles.

    Excited to race!

    I got a little excited with the first couple of miles and ran some 5:40 miles before slowing down to well over 6:00 up a pretty good hill. I finally settled in with a good pace and ended up averaging 5:50 miles. I was really surprised that I was able to run that quick, and especially happy my Achilles woes seem to finally be gone — it felt great before, during and after. However, that is not to say I felt good the next day. Walking down stairs the next day was all but impossible. Quads and glutes?? were screaming!

    Now I am back home, recovered, and back to training. Running is still progressing slowly, but is going well. I am starting to increase my time in the saddle as well, but where I really need the work is swimming. I have started to swim with the Conejo Valley Multisport Masters club. Swimming with a group and a great coach, like Nancy Kirkpatrick-Reno, is what I need to do to take my swimming to new levels.

    I have a race coming up in one week, the Breath of Life in Ventura. I am the defending champion, so pressure will be on (especially from my training partner, Chris Baird). More on that to come.

  • Summer 2010 Training Part 4: Run

    Posted on August 29th, 2010

    Before cross country really gets going in full swing, and the school year for that matter, I want to finish off this series of posts about my summer training. This is the last post of a four-part series.

    While much of this summer was focused on triathlons, at this point in my athletic career I am still a runner first, triathlete second. With each training session I did, the underlying question was always, “How will this prepare me for cross country?” In the beginning, since I was forced by my recovering knee to slowly increase my running volume, I figured any amount aerobic activity would help. I slowly increased my running volume to 60 miles in 6 days/week and held that throughout the summer.

    As I explained in Part 1, each week was laid out about the same. I wanted to get it one workout, one long run, strides 2-3x, and the rest easy-moderate running (often over hilly terrain). My workout generally consisted of a fartlek or a lactate threshold (LT).

    My favorite fartlek comes from Coach Heins that we do several times each season: 5-4-3-2-1-1-2-3-4-5 with half rest. So it starts with 5 minutes “on,” followed by 2.5 minutes recovery. Next we do 4 minutes with 2 minutes recovery, and so on. The workout gets tough on the way back up. On the 2nd 3 minute pick up you will only have 1 minute rest before it, while the 1st 3 minute pick up had 2 minutes rest before. See how that could get difficult?

    My LT’s were generally about 5-6 miles and I often went off of heart rate. Before the workout I might set an alarm on the Garmin to alert me if I go over, say, 175bpm. If I do, I must slow down. There’s no magic to these kind of workouts. Just a long sustained effort that will obviously make you strong physically as well as mentally.

    I did most of my long runs with Chris Baird out at Sycamore Canyon. It is a great trail with a steady incline for the first 6.5 miles or so before reaching a pretty tough climb. I am a big believer in the power of the long run and the many benefits that come along with doing them weekly. As long as I’m training to be running, as a single sport athlete or triathlete, I will always find a place for long runs in my training.

    Before each race I also did a little tune up session on the track. Some mixture of 800s, 400s and 200s. The purpose of these was just to get in some race pace or slightly faster than race pace running so I could feel what running fast feels like.

    So with this post I conclude my summer. I start graduate school tomorrow, which I am a little anxious for. I am also beginning my final cross country season which I know will provide many great memories and blog posts!

  • Breath of Life Video

    Posted on July 5th, 2010

    Thanks to my Dad’s great photography, my Mom’s steady video camera work and Weezer’s great music, I have put together a little video of my race at the Breath of Life triathlon last week in Ventura. Hope you like it!

    I’m dreamin’…