Michigan Titanium 70.3

This year, my ‘A’ race was the Michigan Titanium 70.3 I’ve decided to stay at the 70.3k as my furthest distance because I can do training here and there if life gets hectic or if the Army gets in the way and I can still feel good about the race. Considering I’m not in AG podium shape just yet and am ‘finisher’ and not a competitor, I’ll just compete with myself. I have the experience of doing a 70.3 already, so I know a little of what to expect in order to better my time. I’ll also do a post in the future to review the season and the improvements that I’ve made.

Michigan Titanium:

I was initially drawn to this race because it was another option aside from the expensive WTC. Plus, it was perfectly timed for when I wanted a race. This was the race that I talked about finding for Jon and I in this post. The plan was to spend the summer getting those longer bikes and runs in on weekends, sprinkled with hard intervals on the trainer and medium runs with speedwork during the week. This didn’t go according to plan because I was sent to Fort Sill, OK for 7 weeks during the height of the summer, where it was 103 degrees pretty much every day. I did do some racing, and those reports are also found in my previous posts. That racing definitely helped me on the bike leg for MITI 70.3. I had spent the majority of my training time on my bike and it showed when it came to the race. Without further ado, the report:

Swim:
Typical swim. It started in the water and followed a NASCAR-like ‘Left, left, left’ fashion and then returned to the beach where we had entered. Again, I didn’t panic when I swim in open water, it’s one of my strengths. I may not be fast, but I don’t freak. I did catch a heel to my right eye at about half-way through the swim and that caused a small headache to spark. Came out of the water and got up and onto the bike. As I was getting into transition I took one packet of Frog Performance Frogfuel.

Time: 44:09 – 2:17/100m 11/15 AG
Strava link: http://www.strava.com/activities/78340704
T1: 2:45

Bike:

Here’s where I knew I would be the strongest in the three events. Right from the get-go I started picking people off. I was a little surprised at the amound of rolling hills the course had, but they weren’t too terrible. With exception to 2 or 3 of the hills, which ended up having a grade above 10%. Good thing I was climbing hills on EVERY ride this summer. For the first 10-15 miles I did get to play leapfrog with a guy on a steel-frame who would burn matches working to beat me up any hills. He was pretty un-aero as he had a Camelback and stock wheels with lots of spokes. I would inevitably pass him on the downhills since I had aerobars and a deep front wheel with a Zipp disc rear wheel. I will admit, it gave for a fun target and we passed smirks every time we passed each other. I enjoyed the tailwind for the front half of the course, but as we circled around on the back half I could definitely feel it start to affect my progress. It was especially bad when the wind would pick up slightly while going up a hill. Then there was an 800 meter section where the road had been torn up, so they laid a roll of tar-paper so we wouldn’t flat on any sharp rocks. Unfortunately the 800 meter section started at the bottom of a hill, so we lost momentum by having to slow down to 10 mph AND we had to work harder to get up hill with the soft ground stealing energy. Once past that it was fairly uneventful and I was just ready to be on my feet and finishing this thing. Keeping me fueled was Hammer Nutrition’s orange cream Perpetuem.

Heading out onto the bike course.

Time: 2:49:31 – 19.8 mph 3/15 AG
Strava link: http://www.strava.com/activities/78333272
T2: 3:43

Genevieve waiting for me to finish.

Run: Coming from this summer I knew that I wasn’t going to be as fast as I was hoping. Most of my runs were around 3-4 miles and were fast. I started off at a decent pace, I think if this had been a 5k run it would’ve been a pretty fast run. I started running on E at about mile 3 and started walk-running. Started out as run 5 minutes and walk 1-2 minutes. Then it moved to walk 1 minute, run until the next mile mark, walk 1 minute, run to the next mile mark etc. until that stopped happening. Eventually I got synced up with a guy who was cramping up a bit, so he and I walked and ran together. I say ran, but it was more of a slow jog. Generally when I’m not trained enough for a running race I’ll make a habit of walking through aid stations and I found more things that worked well to replace salt and calories. Pickles are awesome. Cookies are incredible. Basically all food was awesome. I pushed through my sore and tired legs for the last mile or so to get a PR. Not the result I wanted, but a PR nonetheless.

Time: 2:33:04 – 11:42 min/mi 12/15 AG
Overall: 6:13:15 – 9/15 AG 116/300 OA

About 50m from the finish line.
Almost there!!

Good:
-Definitely happy with the bike avg
-Swim was only a few seconds off per 100m compared to Bigfoot Oly
-Nutrition was good and didn’t cause cramping

Needs improvement:
-SWIM. I’ve said it all this summer, didn’t get enough swimming in.
-RUN. Needed more long runs with better intervals.
-Keep building the power on the bike.

Overall I am fairly pleased with the race. The course was great, although I’m glad I only did one loop of each rather than doing the 140.6. I am grateful to all the volunteers and law enforcement that helped to make it a safe course. I would suggest to them, treat spectators with more respect, though. My wife reported to me that one marshal was being very rude and yelling at spectators.

Thanks, MI Titanium!! I wish I could come play again next year, but I’ll be in California!!

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Two race reports and just a generally awesome weekend

So, this is way overdue… But, I’m finally sitting down to do it since I owe a big thanks to Brad Williams (His blog here) and had a generally awesome weekend.

A little backstory: This summer I had to spend 7 weeks down in Fort Sill, OK for a leadership school required of all Staff Sergeants. Earlier in the year I had begun a conversation with Brad Williams to pick his brain a bit about cycling and triathlon. I had been reading his blog and was very impressed. So, as I talked to him I noticed that he was in Fort Worth, TX. I mentioned that I was going to be just a few hours north of him for the summer and he said if I ever got the chance to come down and I could do a little training with him. Well, that first weekend I was in OK I happened to have a 4-day weekend for the Fourth of July. While driving down Brad shot me the info on two races that would be happening that weekend. The Firecracker 100k cycling race and the Mayor’s Triathlon.

So, I drove down to Fort Worth on Friday and got there just in time to go on a bike ride with Brad. The workout today was a 3×10 minute big chainring/smallest cog combo with 5 minute breaks. One thing that I learned while down in Oklahoma and Texas is that the “plains” are actually just lots and lots of hills. Over the 36 miles there was about 1500 ft of elevation gained. Now, this doesn’t seem like a lot of elevation gained over 36 miles, but keep in mind that I’m coming from Chicagoland, IL and big hills here are around 30 feet and stretched over a half mile or more. After we finished the bike ride we cooled for a few minutes, changed into running attire and did a short 3.5 mile run, 15 minutes out 15 minutes back. It was extremely hot and I felt like my face was going to melt off. Then we had Chipotle and all was good in the world.

Race: Firecracker 100k

This is my fist bike “race” that I’ve ever done. Brad sent me the link to the race because they were offering free entry to active duty military and it fit well with his training plan. Since I was going to be there for the weekend anyway, I decided I would join in. Most of the riders doing the 100k were Cat 1/2 riders and were absolute monsters. Brad is a Cat 2 rider and pretty much from the get-go was attacking to take control of the race. My whole game plan was to hang in with the peleton for as long as I could until either I couldn’t handle it anymore or we finished. I was not in it to win it.

Riding with these guys was a real eye-opening experience. I knew that there were guys who could kill it on the bike, but these guys were powerhouses. Also, drafting is an excellent thing if you’re not at the top level or if you’re far below the level of those who you’re riding with. I spent a large majority of my time riding in the peleton. I had no idea if they were riding paceline or if there were a few guys that were trying to push it and taking all the wind. Our riding was well above 22 mph average, even going up the hills in the ride. I remember looking down at my Garmin Edge 500 and thinking “holy cow, I can’t believe how quickly we’re climbing this hill!”

Nutritionally my plan was to take a Hammer Nutrition gel about every 45 minutes to an hour. I didn’t really have breakfast beforehand and I think that had something with my bonk around mile 45. Luckily right at the top of the last major hill was an aid station that had pickle juice, water and bananas. I stopped and had some of each and let my hr get a little adjusted before continuing on. I rode the last 10 or so miles slowly with an older couple and just chatted it up. I figured that I had busted myself and I wasn’t going to catch any of the riders, so I’m just going to relax a bit. Overall it was a very nice ride and I was glad that I took the challenge and stuck with it!

Strava link:
http://www.strava.com/activities/65164653

Sunday was the Fort Worth Mayer’s Triathlon:

I was looking forward to this race. I had been getting faster on my bike and my running had recently started to get back down to the speeds that I wanted them to be at. Coming off the 100k, I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to handle the workload, but they ended up handling everything perfectly. I only planned on pushing as hard as I could and to get off the bike and really push the run hard. While we were at packet pickup I had the idea to ask if they had anyone singing the National Anthem, they didn’t, so I also had the opportunity to sing it for this race. I’m really enjoying doing this for races!

Swim:
The swim for the Mayor’s Triathlon was held in the YMCA pool. It was a 300yd swim that snaked up and down the lanes until you reached the end, which had a ramp to help you run up and out of the water. It was pretty cool the way they started the race. Betsy Price, the Mayor of Fort Worth, started off the race and was followed by the local school triathlon club. How cool to see a bunch of middle schooler’s getting out there early on a Sunday to do something that a lot of their peers would think is crazy! It was really fun seeing the looks on their face as it was almost their turn to enter the pool to start their swim. Some of them really had a knack for swimming and others were just dealing with it so they could go ride their bike. That’s normally what I do! Anyways, I finished and got onto the bike where I wanted to be.

Time: 5:16 – 1:45/100Y
T1: 1:53

Bike:
This is where I wanted to be. I was interested in seeing how my legs would be after the Firecracker 100k. Surprisingly my legs felt great! I shook off the sluggishness from the pool and started pounding on the pedals as hard as I could without killing my run. Coming off the ride on Saturday I was expecting some hills on the course, and it didn’t fail to deliver them. For the most part they were pretty small except for the final hill heading up to the loop turn and into transition. I was able to hang out aero for most of it apart from those two hills. I can say that I am looking forward to the day when I get a bike fit and a true triathlon/time trial bike. Everything is great on my bike, but when I really put power into my legs I can feel the strain add into my lower back and it really gets sore, especially for long rides. This one wasn’t too bad, but I had soreness left over from the Firecracker. The course ended up being 13.6 miles instead of the 15 miles described on the race website.

Time: 38:25 – 21.0 mph avg
Strava link: http://www.strava.com/activities/65380701

Run:
Here’s where my major mental game was for the day. I have had a habit in the past of overdoing the bike and then when it starts to hurt I start to walk. It was my main goal to push through the soreness of burned up legs and still get a good run. The course was an out and back course that had only one hill. It was a fairly decent hill that you ran down on the way out and then about 1/2 mile from the finish line you got to go up the hill. I knew running down it that it was going to be an absolute monster to run up it. That was a very true assessment. On the way out I did come across Brad, he was already on his way back and headed towards winning the race overall. I made my way and only briefly walked while going back up the hill. Then I pushed for everything I had and got across the line to a 3rd place AG finish and 15 OA.

Time: 22:57 – 7:02 min/mi pace
Strava link: http://www.strava.com/activities/65382318/overview

Overall time: 1:09:58

Overall thoughts:

This weekend was a new challenge. I’ve ridden long rides before, but they’re always the type where we stop at a few points to decide what to do next or to just chill for a minute. Putting the amount of strain into my legs was a really good experience. I learned that my legs can handle that amount of work even if my unmotivation doesn’t want to go out for a hard workout. I also learned what it was like to hang with the big boys of cycling on an elite amateur level. They’ve given me a definite goal to shoot for and a vision of the type of work I’ll be needing to get there.

Good:
-New experiences on racing distances cycling
-3rd AG placing! First podium!
-My legs can handle a beating!

Needs improvement:
-Still need to figure out some race nutrition for longer distances
-Keep on building power on the bike

A huge thanks to Brad Williams for providing the opportunity for me to come down to Fort Worth for a training/race weekend. Thanks for giving me a couch and letting me pick you brain about training and racing! If you’re ever in the area and need a place to crash don’t hesitate to call, we’ve got a place for you.

Also, a huge thanks to the Firecracker 100k for providing free entry and for Mayor’s Triathlon for putting on a great local race.