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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?

  • 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.

  • F1 Triathlon

    Posted on October 15th, 2012

    Third race up on the 4-week “PD World Tour” was a super sprint race down in San Diego. The format was swim-bike-run-swim-bike-run, with short legs of 300m for the swims, 4.5 miles for bike legs, and 1.5 miles for the run legs. Since this event isn’t part of a series or a championship and is not an ITU event, I planned to train through the event in prep for the following week’s World Cup in Cancun.

    The race was at noon on Saturday. It was a gorgeous day with temps in the low 80’s and sunny skies. I showed up a couple hours early and spent a good chunk of time checking out the course. First look at the bike course was shocking. The course was 10 laps of about 700m each. From transition it went down a parking lot, right turn into a tunnel about one car wide that went under a highway, right turn onto a bike path, right turn under another tunnel and a right turn back into the parking lot. My dad took a bunch of pictures, but unfortunately none of them really capture the unique bike course.??The run was basically a straight out and back course with 5 laps of about 500m each.

    Finally got a swim cap with my name on it! Too bad it is spelled incorrectly…

    This was the??inaugural edition of this race, and given its very unique setup, there were definitely some kinks to work out. There was a meeting with the small pro field of 20 guys about 20 minutes before the race where we went over everything. There was certainly some confusion and a little anxiety before the race, but I think everyone was excited to get out there and go FAST!

    I did a quick one-lap swim warm up. The water was real choppy and there was some surf that reached 3-4 feet. Because the course was so short, you basically made a turn around the first buoy just outside the surf and then came right back to the beach into the surf.

    I had a decent start and was one of the first to hit the water. I have done a lot of beach entries in practice this summer with Tower 26 and that experience paid off here. The water was pretty choppy which made it really hard to get an idea of where in the pack I was. I focused on a quick turnover and trying to catch a wave on the way back in. Coming out of the water I was in the thick of it, coming out just behind Olympian Manny Huerta and just ahead of Matt Reed.

    Out on the bike I was dangling at the back of the main pack. Coming out of each turn I got up out of the saddle to try to bridge up. At race-speed, the turns were quite sharp for me and I was uncomfortable heading into each one. Coming out of one of the tunnels on the fourth or fifth lap, I overshot the turn and went into some grass/sand. I was able to stay upright and get back on the pavement, but the damage was done mentally. Each turn made me more and more nervous. At this point I was no longer racing and kind of just getting through it. The pack got away and put a pretty large gap into me before heading into T2.

    The run course was set up so I could see how far ahead everyone was. One by one I picked off guys and worked my way back up into the mix. Knowing there was another swim coming up, I wanted to get up into a pack that I could hopefully draft off of. I did a pretty good job of that, catching Derek Oskutis and Tommy Zaferes just before transition, but the plan fell apart from there. Running through the sand and back into the water was incredibly difficult. I often have dreams??nightmares about running where I have no power and I feel like I’m in quick sand, which is basically what this felt like.??Great, I’m reliving a nightmare during a race.??I tried to comfort myself by telling myself everyone is feeling the same and that this was just a 300m swim.

    Coming back out of the water I only lost a couple of places, and was potentially back in the hunt. As I ran to my bike I remembered the dammed bike course I would be riding. Again, I had no confidence in my handling abilities and was nervous heading into most of the turns. After losing a bunch of places and time, I finally got to the second run. I hadn’t ridden all that hard, so I got off the bike and immediately started charging down the course. I soon caught the leader Greg Billington, who was a lap ahead of me at this point, and used him to??gauge??my pace off of. About halfway through I went by him to try to catch the next guys ahead, and he jumped on my shoulder. At this point I couldn’t help but think if I had ridden the bike more??aggressively??that I could be running with Greg one lap ahead, challenging him for the win. Another reminder that triathlon is SWIM-BIKE-RUN.

    After a little shuffling around of the results due to a couple guys not completing the whole course, I ended up 11th place. This race paid 10 deep, making 11th perhaps the least desirable position to finish. Knowing that I left so much time on the table during the bike, which is generally a strength for me, especially in draft-legal fields, made it more difficult. The takeaway from this event is pretty clear — learn to corner on the bike better. Once I get that down, I would love to return to one of these F1 events. They really are a lot of fun and seem like a great training tool to teach aggressive tactics and perfect transitions.

    With one more race on the schedule, I went out on a longer cool down with a few of the other younger American guys after the race. The next day I met up with Eric Lagerstrom to hook up with a local group ride. We ended up getting a little lost and riding way longer than we planned, which often make for the best and most memorable rides. Eric is competing at U23 World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand this weekend, so I wish him luck.

    After the ride with Eric on Sunday, I had brunch at a great restaurant on the ocean with some of my family for my mom’s birthday. It’s crazy to think how active she is at 55, completing yet another half marathon just yesterday in San Francisco! Her commitment to living a healthy, active lifestyle is a great example for me to follow. I can only hope I’m able to accomplish the same things when I’m her age.

    The best support crew in triathlon. (* photo is missing my dad, who is behind the camera)