Metro 'DU'athlon 2012

The Metro Triathlon is a great event put on by Threshold Racing at Lake Almaden south of San Jose. The course is familiar to me and very good for an early season test of speed. The bike is fairly flat and so is the run. The night before all the racers got an e-mail though saying the swim was canceled due to unsafe water conditions which I didn't realize would make such a big difference until a ways into the race when the dynamic of the field played out.

There were three other elite men racing, all of whom I have raced before and am fairly familiar with their strengths. Brian LaVelle is a strong guy all around and has had some great Ironman performances in his life, Ken Rakestraw is a stellar runner and certainly holds his own on the bike, and Stephen Kilshaw who I didn't know all that well but is a beast apparently were the other guys in the field.

Instead of a swim we started off with a one mile run and from the gun Stephen went to the front and started pulling away from us...Ken followed suit and Brian and I fell back a bit. After that mile run Stephen had 15-20 seconds on Ken who had a further 10-15 on Brian and I who rolled out onto the bike together. My original plan was to stick with Brian on the bike because I knew he was capable of putting up a stellar time. When we caught up to Ken, Brian paused though so I went past both of them to start setting a pace I thought might bring back Stephen who was still visible 300 meters or so up the road. After a long stretch on the front pushing hard and a few rollers I looked back and saw that there was a gap to my fellow chasers so I decided to go it alone. I knew that Brian could outrun me and that I would need multiple minutes on Ken to hold him off on the run so I put my head down and my eye on the lone figure far up the road.

I had no idea that Stephen was such a strong cyclist, I mean I didn't really know much about him, but the gap was not coming back and after the hilly middle section of the bike he was well out of sight. I had a stellar bike split but he absolutely flew; he posted a faster split than all the guys that were riding in a pack of thirty for the first ten miles! Just teasing guys :) It was a great ride for me putting even a little time in on Brian and Ken is a great indicator for me. I definitely put in a couple of diggs that were a little beyond my ability and definitely felt it as I hit the run.

Starting the run I had that feeling like I had slightly overcooked myself and was grasping for that little edge of extra speed I knew was there but my body couldn't get over that hump. I was running well but not as smoothly as I am able to and that was a bit frustrating but my fitness was there and able to carry me through. Ken caught me around mile two of the run and was absolutely flying! He ran a blazing 32:17, leaving Brian and I in the dust. I was able to hold Brian off and get third which is cool but mostly I am happy with the numbers I put up, especially given how hard I worked durring the week.

All the guys on my team did well and were all over the podium. It looks like it should be a strong year for us at Wildflower in a couple of weeks. I wish I could be there but I am absolutely certain that my sisters wedding is going to be way more fun :)

Photo Credit: David Condon

4/16 - 4/22/2012

It felt good to get back into some hard training this week and I put together some of the toughest sessions that I have done to date all in one week. I felt surprisingly good this week; I was expecting to lag for a while longer after the rest period around Oceanside so I am very pleased with that. The weather is starting to heat up here this week too so I am working on hydration/cooling/nutrition strategies I will definitely need later. Capped the week of with the Metro Triathlon on Sunday which is at a great little lake in south San Jose. This course is awesome for an early season event because the water is comfortable, the course is flat and the organizers are well established. It's cool to get a chance to race with some of my teammates too because I don't get to see them much. Everyone raced awesome and even though the swim was canceled it was a great event. Race report to come.

Swim 22,000 yds
Bike   14.5 hrs
Run    43.5 mi

4/9 - 4/15/2012

This week I finished up my recovery period from Oceanside and then built back into some harder training sessions. The first few back after some time off are always a little feels like your body weighs a thousand pounds and your blood is made of concrete. I am glad to be back into the swing of training though because that is the part that I really like the most anyway :) I'm looking forward to a couple of low key, fun events in the next few weeks before MY SISTER WEDDING!!!! YAY!!

Swim 15,000 yds
Bike   9.75 hrs
Run    38 mi

4/2 - 4/8/2012

I think I may have underestimated how tired I was after last weekend and/or overestimated how much I should be doing in a recovery week from such a hard race. Lots of aches and some of them really not good. Congestion and a nagging cough along with the feeling that I need three naps a day indicate that I should have taken it a lot easier in the days following oceanside. Easter treats and good company consoling my woes though :)

Swim 7,100 yds
Bike   7.25 hrs
Run    8 mi

Oceanside 70.3 - 2012

This was my first year racing Oceanside 70.3 and I was very excited as I have gotten in some really great training the past several months. I was sick most of the week leading up to the race but I stayed on top of my nutrition, rest, mobility work and vigorous coughing to get everything flushed out of my system by race morning. Although it is a long drive from Santa Cruz to Oceanside I really enjoy the driving and with the recent rain the views were spectacular.

Race morning I was feeling good and my setup and warmup went right on schedule. The swim is in the Oceanside harbor and although most of the SoCal natives were saying that the water temp was a little low, 56 degrees is actually what it always is in Santa Cruz so that was perfect for me. We were not allowed into the water until right before the swim start but it was a bit of a swim to get to the start buoy so we had time to shake things out. I think the presence of Andy Potts in the field made the guys anxious because everyone hit the gas really hard at the gun so I just picked an inside line and waited for it to settle into a good rhythm. There was a strong group of five or six chasing Andy and another guy that were way ahead and I got in behind them and they kept a good pace up. At the turn around Matt Lieto made the move I was originally going to by cutting off the apex of the curve on the way back and I followed him. I felt much more fresh than in past races at the end of the swim and was glad that I have stepped up the swimming yardage this year.

T1 is a long down and back run and I was glad to see that I was in good company with Matt Reid, Matt Lieto and Jesse Thomas trotting along side me. The transition was smooth and I was rolling out with some strong guys which I hoped would help me push myself on the bike. I ended up with a few mechanical issues surrounding my hydration and nutrition and by mile 5 I had lost sight of the lead group of guys. About ten miles in it started raining and I was cold and not paying very good attention and dropped the flask that was holding all of my nutrition for the day. Fortunately this was on an out and back section of the course so when I can back down the road I pulled over and picked it up because I figured 45 seconds was nothing compared to what I would loose if I bonked. Another group of guys passed me when I stopped though and it would have been a good group to be in contact with because some of them put up some fast bike times. The next 20 miles were cold/wet and being alone it was hard to gauge my effort/speed so I am sure I was not going as fast as I am capable of. After the big hills on the back of the course around the 40 mile marker I realized that I had a lot of energy left so I put my head down and absolutely drilled it the rest of the way. 

T2 was a little rough because my hands were really cold. I didn't even realize it until I tried to grab the tung of my shoe and my fingers could not grip hard enough to hold my shoe up. I heard later that everyone else was having similar problems but when you are standing over your shoes and just kind of pawing at them for a full minute, it is a little embarrassing. At some point I turned around and looked at my parents who were near by and said 'I can't get my shoes on...I cant feel my hands...' eventually I just jammed my feet into them and did my best to pull the tung into position. 

I felt great coming out of T2, probably because of the 3 oz of caffeinated GU I had consumed 15 minutes earlier and I flew through the first three miles almost 20 seconds per mile under the pace I had originally planned on. The logical mind does not work as well when you are smoking your body in an Ironman event and a part of me just thought I had really made that much progress on my run in the offseason. By mile four my lungs reminded me that this was not the case and the middle 6 miles of the run were done in survival mode. It is worthwhile to note that I should have gone with a thicker pair of insoles as the entire run was on concrete and was very hard on my feet. I kept up the hydration and nutrition plan though and with 3 miles to go I was able to pick it up some and push to the finish which was right along the beautiful Oceanside Strand.

When I first looked at the clock I was not all that satisfied with my time but I kept my girlfriends advice in mind and tried to focus on the positive aspects of the day. I ran a half-marathon PR, my energy was way more consistent throughout the race and I was no where near as wiped out at the finish as I have been at events of this distance in the past. There are a lot of things I learned and a lot of good indications of progress to take from the race and I am really happy to be off on the right foot for 2012. The company that shot race day photos actually caught some good ones which is unusual...check them out here, my bib number is 17.

My parents traveled down for the race and we have some family in the area so afterwards we all enjoyed an incredible dinner at World Famous right on the water and watched the sun set with some of my college friends that live nearby. 

All in all it was a great weekend but I am glad to be back home, in my own bed and to have some recovery time to let my body rejuvenate. The best part though is having some leeway to enjoy a beer, fun/social bike rides and SANDWICHES!!!