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  • 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

  • #JiggyWC Tomorrow

    Posted on July 25th, 2014

    My second race of the year in China is tomorrow at the ITU Jiayuguan World Cup. The trip has been surprisingly smooth, and I am ready to go for tomorrow. I just had a sitdown with Coach Paulo (it’s nice having him along the trip this time, along with The Triathlon Squad teammates Joe Maloy, Eric Lagerstrom and Chilean Felipe Van De Wyngard) and we highlighted what it will take for me to be successful tomorrow. More on that after the race!

    For now, I’d like to let you know how to follow the race and share a few photos/instagrams/tweets from my adventure so far. There should be live timing tomorrow at http://triathlon.org/live. My race goes off at 9 am local time on Saturday, which will be 6 pm Pacific on Friday. The start list can be found here (I’m wearing #18 tomorrow) and results will be posted after the race here.

    #TheTriathlonSquad singlehandedly created the #JiggyWC hashtag.

    @worldtriathlon listened.

    First look at the race venue. It’s a two lap swim, eight lap bike, four lap run. Of note: we are over 5,000 feet of elevation here. While this is my first time racing a triathlon at altitude, loyal RunPD followers know that I am no stranger to altitude as I spent six years running and going to school in Flagstaff, AZ at 7,000 feet.

    As I’ve said, the trip has been quite smooth, much thanks to the great group we are travelling with from USA Triathlon, including Coach Greg Mueller and athletes Jarrod Shoemaker, Will Huffman and Jessica Broderick in addition to my squadmates/coach.

    But that’s not say we’ve encountered some interesting items (or just bad translations) in the buffet and around.

    "The dainty cyclone is coming." Right; sounds like no cause for alarm.

    “The dainty cyclone is coming.” Right; sounds like no cause for alarm.

    Some good words in there. But what does it all mean???

    Some good words in there. But what does it all mean???

    And finally, I did get to see the Great Wall of China a couple times while out riding. Jiayuguan is the furthest west point (“first pier”) of the Ming Dynasty portion of the Great Wall. I’ve had fun researching the area and the Great Wall in general on Wikipedia and Google Earth (which requires a VPN to get pass the Great “Firewall” of China).

    P.S. Check out this article my local paper, The Ventura County Star, wrote on me a few days before I left for China!

  • 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

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    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!

  • Tartan Sunday’s Are Back

    Posted on February 9th, 2014

    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)

    1008667_765834140102689_857166066_o

    1795866_765834150102688_1092656173_o

    1064910_765834086769361_1325423041_o

    1907843_765834176769352_1302641680_o

    1559391_765834363436000_772335756_o

    1780214_765834286769341_1733114485_o

    1912311_765834370102666_475197371_o

    1556260_765834466769323_1036504220_oStrava proof

     

  • 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.

  • ITU Cozumel World Cup

    Posted on October 9th, 2013

    364 days prior to last Sunday, I raced the ITU Cancun World Cup, finishing 44th. It was my first World Cup and I was probably in a little over my head at the time. Fast forward back to this Sunday, and I was just a few miles southeast on the small island of Cozumel, once again racing a world cup. The training I have put in leading up to this weekend’s race was so much better than last year’s, so it would seem that I would surely have a much better race, right? Well a wise man once said…

    The field was very strong, with an unusually high number of Europeans racing for a late season world cup in the Caribbean, including 2013 World Champion and Olympic Silver medalist Javier Gomez from Spain.

    The man they call "Wild Wolf." (Photo by: Delly Carr/ITU Media)

    The man they call “Wild Wolf.” (Photo by: Delly Carr/ITU Media)

    I was ranked way down at number 40, but knew that if I could make the main pack, than I would have a great opportunity to surprise some people. That’s easier said than done, as I have only caught the leaders once in my entire ITU career and this was probably the deepest field I have competed in yet. I had a few things going in my favor, however, that made me think this was possible, and I promised myself I would try to take advantage of those things.

    2012 cozumel wc splits pedersen

    Swim

    The first thing I had going for me here was that the race was a sprint distance. With only a 750 m swim, there just isn’t enough time for the real fast swimmers to get much of a gap (usually). On top of that, the quality of the field meant that there weren’t going to be guys going out way over their heads the first 200 m and then completely blowing up, losing the feet in front of them, and letting a gap open up.

    Larry Rosa/ITU Media

    (Photo by: Larry Rosa/ITU Media)

    After the swim warm up, I asked Tommy Zaferes if he noticed much of a current. He said there was one going from right-to-left (out to the ocean). Once I finally got called, I found a good spot that was pretty far to the right. The first turn buoy was way out there at 470 m, so I figured if I just concentrated on swimming on feet, the current + the navigation of the guys ahead of me would get me to a reasonably good spot.

    Once we dove in, I did a great job of staying in the moment. Looking back at races where I have had poor swims, I realize that I wasn’t focused on the task right in front of me. I sometimes think about how hard the effort feels or how slow I must be swimming. On this day, I was hyper-focused on feet and didn’t let the physical contact or negative thoughts distract me.

    When you free yourself from dwelling on outside pressures or expectations, when you are focused on the step in front of you and know that you will continue to be a valuable human being regardless of numerical outcomes, worry is less likely to intrude on and disrupt your performance or your life.

    — In Pursuit of Excellenceby Terry Orlick

    One, big pack. (Photo by: Larry Rosa/ITU Media)

    One, big pack with no gaps. (Photo by: Larry Rosa/ITU Media)

    Looking at the splits, you can see I was still pretty far back in the group, in the last 1/6th of the field or so. But like I had hoped, there were no gaps ahead and the overall time behind was manageable. I ran into transition knowing that the race was right in front of me.

    Bike

    In addition to the short swim and quality of field, the third thing in my favor was the heat and humidity. When it is really warm, guys seem to worry more about the run and are not willing to put in the same effort on the bike. The front group will ride at a conservative pace, allowing more motivated packs behind the opportunity to catch up.

    Amongst some strong cyclists. (Photo by: USA Triathlon)

    Amongst some strong cyclists. (Photo by: USA Triathlon)

    After a very tricky bike mount on some very slippery concrete, I found myself in a group of strong cyclists, including Ritchie Nicholls from Great Britain, Gregor Buchholz from Germany and Kaleb Vanort from USA. At the end of one lap we were told the gap was just over 20 seconds to the back of the lead pack. In these situations I rarely drift too far back from the first three or four positions in the group, but on this day I was already feeling the heat and took about half a lap near the back. The guys ahead pressed on, and by the end of the second lap it was clear we were going to catch the lead bunch.

    Rolling on the deepest wheels in the field -- ENVE SES 8.9 Tubulars! (Photo by: USA Triathlon)

    Rolling on the deepest wheels in the field — ENVE SES 8.9 Tubulars! (Photo by: USA Triathlon)

    Once joining the group, I had some moments where I felt like I was just chilling in the peleton. It was nice to put in barely any effort, but even on this non-technical course, it was pretty nerve racking being in the middle of 50 or so guys. I made an effort to get at or near the front going into both of the two 180-degree turns on each lap. There were a number of crashes there, so that was a good tactical move.

    Calm before the storm known as "T2." (Photo by: Larry Rosa/ITU Media)

    Calm before the storm known as “T2.” (Photo by: Larry Rosa/ITU Media)

    What was not a good tactical move, however, was drifting from the front to the back of the pack on the stretch from the last 180 to T2. I don’t have much experience coming into T2 in such a large group, and that lack of experience showed. I was nervous taking my feet out of my shoes in the bunch, and lost my position as a result.

    Coming into T2 was crazy with people and bikes all over the place. Some guys run past their rack and then had to turnaround and swim upstream like a salmon, adding to the confusion. I have heard of the importance of being at the front coming into T2 before, but now I have been there and will know to do better next time.

    Run

    (Photo by: USA Triathlon)

    (Photo by: USA Triathlon)

    I felt decent starting the run and right away I began passing guys up ahead. ITU racing is infamous for guys flying out of T2 and then falling apart later on the run. By the first turnaround, I had moved up to about 30th place. I caught up to Steffen Justus from Germany and tried to sit on his heels. We came around halfway of the run just inside the top-20. I thought back to track sessions and workouts at Lake Miramar where I just try to hang onto Joe Maloy for as long as I can. I stayed right with Justus until about 1 km to go where he seemed to find another gear that I didn’t have. I was still moving through the field, and with 400 m or so to go, I moved passed Ivan Tutukin from Russia and Gabor Faldum from Hungary, putting me into 13th place. The finish line was beyond the turnaround point we used after the first lap, but how much further passed I wasn’t really sure. As we got onto the carpet, Tutukin rallied and came around me with Mark Buckingham from Great Britain (who had apparently been running just behind me the whole way), both nipping me at the line. A few hours after the race I was a little upset that I had lost those two spots right at the end, but then I remembered the way I felt crossing the finish line (and bending over to throw up), and I was satisfied with the fight I put in.

    15th in 54:06, 0:40 behind winner (Javier Gomez)

    Finishing 15th at a world cup at this point in my career is huge. I jumped up 53 places on the ITU points list and am now ranked 154th in the world (9th American). The race played to my strengths really well, and I’m happy I was there to take advantage of the opportunity. Like I mentioned in my PATCO race report, this swim doesn’t show I-have-arrived or anything like that. I’m happy that I executed well in the swim, but it’s pretty clear that I simply need to become a faster swimmer to have consistent results. This race showed good progress, but also highlighted some of the things I need to do better. My next opportunity to do that is this next weekend at the ITU San Juan Pan American Cup.

    Results | ITU Gallery | USA Triathlon Gallery

    Thanks to ENVE, Hypster.com, The Triathlon Squad and Coach Paulo for their support.

  • SUPERSEAL VI Triathlon

    Posted on March 20th, 2013

    Sunday I raced the SUPERSEAL VI triathlon in Coronado. This was a small race, with no official pro field, but with a small prize purse making it worth my time to make the 40 minute travel down to the event. It turned out to be a very well run event, with lots of volunteers, very well marked, and a completely closed bike course. Glad I made the short trip, regardless of the result!

    Even though it was a local event, I decided to stay in a hotel with my parents, who made the three hour road trip down to see me race. We had a delicious dinner at a nice Italian restaurant called Primavera (where I ate way more than a typical pre-race meal… surf & turf!) and had a great night catching up. The hotel was just a few minutes from the course, saving me an hour or two in the morning.

    photo (2)

    Age group transition aftermath.

    After racing a lot of ITU events last year and a couple bigger non-draft races like Escape from Alcatraz, it was nice being at a smaller race venue, with a few hundred people. I squeezed into a spot on the bike rack, set up transition, and casually made it over to the swim start with my parents.

    I found a couple familiar faces as I got down to the water — Nate Dressel and Frank Smith from Flagstaff. I met both of them when I began swimming at NAU a few years ago, and Frank now coaches the Masters swim program there. Nate and Frank recently opened a Computrainer shop in Flagstaff.  If you are in Flag, check them out. We had a little chat about the swim course before I dove in for a little warm up. The water temperature was really nice, probably just above 60 degrees, which meant I would be wearing just one swim cap!

    Me, Nate Dressel, and Frank Smith (Flagstaff buddies)

    Me, Nate Dressel, and Frank Smith (Flagstaff buddies)

    Swim

    2nd in 18:15 (:06 behind the fastest)

    Me (r) and Tommy Brown (l) leading the swim.

    Me (r) and Tommy Brown (l) leading the swim.

    I had a good start and a nice dive into the water. Pretty quickly it was just me and one other guy out in front heading toward the first buoy a couple hundred meters out. It’s amazing how nice it is to be out in front, with clean water and not being smacked around. Around the first buoy I pulled behind the leader, who turned out to be Tommy Brown, and tried to draft. He started to get a bit of a gap, when I felt my fingers scrape some sand. Apparently there was a sandbar a few hundred meters off shore. I stood up, took a couple dolphin dives, and got back on his feet. The pace felt pretty comfortable, so I started to go around him and actually got just ahead of him at about halfway through. I had brief thoughts of, “I’M GOING TO LEAD OUT A SWIM!” Right about that time is when I began having problems sighting the next buoy, and Tommy got away from me a bit. I took a good final line into the swim exit and came out just a few seconds behind. My coach Paulo Sousa was there at the swim exit, yelling “RUN FASTER!” I promptly caught Tommy, and went around him before getting to transition.

    CyclingBike

    3rd in 57:49 (1:27 behind the fastest) 

    The bike course here is about as flat as it gets, and is simply out and back a couple of times down a highway. Roads were very smooth and fast, making for a comfortable ride. At each 180 degree turn, I checked my progress to the guys behind me. I was opening up time on 2nd place, but apparently there were a couple guys a little further back that were putting some time into me, hence only having the 3rd best split. Being out front on such a flat course it can be tough to keep the effort real high without the aid of a powermeter (as of now, no powermeter on my race setup!). Still, I’m happy with the ride and it was enough to put me into T2 with a comfortable lead.

    Run

    2nd in 34:25 (:16 behind the fastest)

    the runOut on the run I felt pretty comfortable. I was a little unsure exactly where the course went, so I was very happy to see an official on a bike as a rabbit. The previous week I had to take a couple easy running days due to a little niggle in my lower left hamstring/back of my knee so I kept the pace fairly conservative. There was only one chance to see where the rest of the guys were, at about 5k, and I saw I had more than a couple minutes lead. I  continued on until about 5 miles when I saw Paulo and he told me I could relax and cruise in. Those are great words to hear in a race!

    LEED: Living Excellence Everyday

    LEED: Living Excellence Everyday

    Overall

    1st in 1:52:34

    Results

     

    The winnerAfter the race Paulo was nice to inform me that I had the “day off” before jetting off back to Poway for a track workout with the rest of The Triathlon Squad. Very nice of him. 🙂 My parents and I stayed around for the awards, and I’m glad I did, as the prizes were really top notch. The founder of the race, Philip “Moki” Martin, presented me with a sweet trophy in the shape of a paddle, and my first big check (offering $000.00)! Race sponsor Luminox presented me with a sweet watch as well.

    I got a chance to chat with the guys that finished 2nd and 3rd, Jose Jeuland and Keith Butsko. Both are local guys. Hopefully we cross paths soon either in training or racing. (read Keith’s Superseal race report with a comedic flair)

    Thanks to “Moki” and all the other organizers and volunteers for putting on a great race! If you are looking for a smaller, less intimidating triathlon that’s run professionally, check out Superseal next year. I also want to thank ENVE, Hypster.com, and of course my parents! (In addition to all the great photos my dad took, he took a lot of video as well and should have a little movie from the race up shortly you can watch it below!)

    Me, Keith Butsko, and Jose Jeuland

    Me, Keith Butsko, and Jose Jeuland