Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

HITS Sterling 70.3 Race Report

Start Here!
I set off from the aid station and back into the sunshine with three more miles to go.  The unrelenting sun had turned this part of the race into some bizarre and brutal torture test.   My watch read "5:30:24," and normally, I would feel just fine having an entire half an hour to cover the final 3.1 miles.  Normally.  But this afternoon wasn't normal.  After 12 minutes of running/ shuffling, I managed to make it to the aid station at 11 miles where two very friendly and helpful volunteers gave me ice, sponges and cold water.    Again I moved on.  A little less than 20 minutes later, I crested the final hill on the sweltering course.  From that vantage, I could hear the announcer's voice echoing down at the finish line. Down the hill I went, around a small bend, and up a final stretch of sidewalk.  Just like that,, I was crossing the finish line.  My watch read "6:05:58." Nowhere near my race goal, but I didn't really care because I had just finished my first half-ironman triathlon.
The HITS Sterling Triathlon was my "A" race this year, and it wound up being much different than I originally anticipated.  Back in January, I decided to register for HITS after its original location had changed from Galena, Illinois to Fort Collins, Colorado.  The course promised to be difficult given the mountainous terrain, but I was excited for the challenge.  However, the course changed again after one of the largest forest fires in Colorado devastated the mountains west of Fort Collins.  The new location in Sterling promised a flat, fast course, even if it might be a little hot.
Getting to and from this race required 500 miles of travel!
 Triathlon is very much a lifestyle, and folks embrace that to varying degrees.  But apart from the many fitness and health benefits that dedication to the sport creates, I also love many of the elements of racing triathlons.  Having a good race requires planning all the way leading up to, and through the event itself.  Off season training, a healthy diet, a multi-week/ month training plan, and a well thought out race plan are all components of this planning.  The successful execution of a race plan requires that you carefully evaluate and consider what you will do at each portion of the race.  In addition, you must have several contingency plans for dealing with the inevitable things that will go off-track during the race.  The longer the event, the more planning required.  In my opinion, all of that strategizing, before and during the race, is half the fun.   Looking back on the event now, as well as all of my planning, I feel like I was able to execute an effective strategy for this race.  And now, after this  unnecessarily long preamble, here is a report from my weekend of racing.
My triathlon checklist: Note the last item under "Other"
Friday, July 27th, 2012:  The training is done, and the packing commences.  Triathletes have a lot of gear and I'm no exception.  I always use a basic checklist for the gear that I plan on bringing and I modify that according to the race that I'll be doing.  For an "A" race, especially one of this distance, there is an unending combination of items to bring.  How many extra goggles? water bottles? What kind of nutrition?  Do I go with a hat or a visor?  So many, many small decisions that seem to have such an impact on race day.  But finally, by early afternoon, the car was ready and Melisa and I were on our way to Parker to meet up with my brother Paul, and his wife Tisha.  Unfortunately, someone thought it would be a good idea to do a lot of road construction . . . on the interstate . . . in the summer . . . on a Friday afternoon.  What normally takes about 80 minutes to drive stretched to nearly three hours.  Fortunately, a nice dinner at Armando's in Parker, soothed our nerves and our appetites!
The Packing Begins
Little Transition Area on the Prairie
Waiting for the start of the Race Meeting
Saturday, July 28th, 2012: After a good night's sleep and a leisurely morning, it was time to head to Sterling (139 miles).  The trip went quickly and before we knew it, we were driving through Sterling, Colorado.  I think it's the first time I've been back in this town (other than passing through) since I was a high school senior, twenty-three years ago.  When we arrived at North Sterling State Park around three p.m., it was hot.  We checked in at the pavilion and after reviewing our packets, I walked my bike up to the transition area.  We also went down to the reservoir to get a sense of the water temperature.  The lake at that moment seemed quite warm, and we were greeted by the site of two dead fish floating just off the shore.  Not exactly something you'd want to see before getting into the water!  At four o'clock the pre-race meeting started.  The race director,  Mark Wilson, explained all of the relevant details for the event.  When he welcomed us all to Sterling, there was a bit of chuckling and snickering from the group.  That seemed to stop when Mark pointed out how the folks in Sterling, particularly the Lion's Club, had been very generous in their support and volunteerism (more volunteers from Sterling than any of the other events to date this year).  While I understand that Sterling isn't the most exotic location for a triathlon, that is where the event was moved.  If folks are unhappy about it, so be it, but please use manners when visiting a guest in their home (Rant over).  Around five o'clock we left the venue and headed back to town to stay at the Comfort Inn, which is conveniently located between the Interstate and the Sterling Correctional Facility.  It certainly made for an interesting combination of people staying at the hotel (travelers, triathletes, and folks visiting friends and family who were being corrected)!
The four of us grabbed dinner at a local restaurant called Gallagher's River City Grill. They had a wide-ranging menu and I settled on a pasta with chicken, pesto, and fresh vegetables.  To top it off, Melisa and I shared a very delicious Apple crisp a la mode.  Then it was back to the hotel for final preparations and a good night's sleep (hopefully).
Considering Race Nutrition options at the local WalMart

Sunday, July 29th, 2012: A little before five a.m., I awoke and began to get ready for the race.  Overall, I had a decent night's sleep.  It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't terrible either.  For breakfast I had a banana and about half a bottle of Starbucks Frappucino, along with a bagel smothered with peanut butter and a touch of honey.  Conventional wisdom says that it isn't the best idea to consume much solid food before a race, but I didn't want to be distracted by hunger pangs coming from an empty stomach.  At any rate, this is pretty much my typical pre-race meal, so I figured I'd go with it.
Paul and I left for the race venue around 5:30 as the sun was rising and we reached the event with plenty of time to set up in the transition area.  HITS has a beautiful transition area that includes plenty of room for each athlete with pre-marked spaces, a storage bin, and even a stool to sit on.  Since this was such a small race, we had no trouble finding our location and setting up with enough time to spare.  Before I knew it, we were standing on the beach in our wet suits, and getting ready to start the day.
The Swim Portion of this event was done in a counter-clockwise direction, and it was an average swim for me.  I felt pretty comfortable, but it is easy to get disrupted in open water, and I'm always challenged to find and maintain a rhythm.   As we started out, I had to pause for a moment and remove the timing chip from my ankle as it was poised to fall off.  I stuffed it in the front of my wetsuit and moved on.  Perhaps the distance of the swim was a little longer than anticipated as I emerged from the water after about 38 minutes, which is a slower swim time for me.  At any rate, I decided not to become too concerned about it, and moved onto the bike.
The Landing
One of my goals for this event was to have a stronger Bike Ride than in previous races.  My training this summer has been dedicated to getting stronger and faster on the bike.  The course for HITS was a nice fit in that it was very similar to a lot of the riding that I do around Pueblo.  My hope for this race was to finish in just under three hours which would put me at an average pace of about 18.7mph.   My actual time was 3:05:18, which gave me an average speed of 18.1mph.  Slightly slower, but I was satisfied with that time.  The breakdown for the Bike portion was like this:
The first 10 miles:  The course was "rolling hills" for this portion of the race, and I felt comfortable throughout.  I managed a steady clip above 20mph for a lot of this section of the race.
Miles 11-28: Although most of this section involved a very, very gradual uphill ride, I was in a rhythm, and I felt very strong through this section.  The culmination of this portion involved a steep hill at Pawnee Pass just before the turnaround.  I took the hill as best I could, seeking a balance between a steady effort, and not wanting to ruin my legs on a hill only halfway through the course.
Heading into Transition
The next 10 miles:  This was the hardest part of the race for me.  I really expected that the downhill would allow for some easy cruising, and I would be back to the transition area with a negative split.  However, I found more uphill than I remember, and a slight headwind slowed me down and left me feeling somewhat slow and fatigued.  With that, my pace dropped to about 17mph for a much of this section.  Later I described this part of the race as a "dark place" for me, and I had to do a lot of self-talk and keep encouraging myself.  Fortunately, this feeling eventually passed.
The final stretch:  I didn't get a lot faster, but my pace did pick up in places, and I concentrated on enjoying the ride as much as possible.  This was, after all, my "A" race, and I reminded myself that I was out here to have fun and enjoy the race.  This helped my attitude a great deal, and while I didn't crack three hours on the bike, I wasn't way off of the pace.  Besides, I still had my strongest portion to go, the run.
Out for a run in the 90 degree heat!

If you asked one of the participants what was the most difficult part of this triathlon, I would guess that nearly all of them would say that it was The Run.  In my opinion, 13.1 miles is no small task after the swim and bike portions.  They can certainly deplete you and impact your performance. But for this event, the heat definitely had the biggest effect on the racers.  I would estimate that when I started the run around 11 a.m., the temperatures were in the low 90's and that slowly crept up to the mid to upper 90's within a couple of hours.  I felt pretty good for much of the run, because I was doing everything I could to keep cool.  In addition to drinking fluids, I doused myself with cold water
Staying Cool was key to a successful run
 at every aid station, and took advantage of ice and several sponges along the  way.  I think one of the keys to my success is that I really prevented overheating the whole time.  By staying cool, I was able to maintain a stronger pace throughout much of the run.  My original goal for the run was to finish in under 2 hours which I'd expected to do without too much trouble.  My final run time however was 2hrs, 14min, and 17seconds (about 10:15/mile although this all includes stops at all 13 aid stations).  This is well below my anticipated pace, but like I said, the weather was brutally hot, and so went the goals for time.
Just a few more steps to the finish line!
 In my race plan I had set three basic goals for this race.  The first was the desire to "complete" the 70.3 distance, rather than just survive it.  In other words, I wanted to know that the training I'd done this summer prepared me to do the race, rather than just suffering through it.  Although I was definitely suffering at times, I did feel like I was up to the task.  Based on how I felt after the race, and my recovery during the last couple of days, I think I met this goal.

My brother, Paul at the finish, with Rob Archuleta
 The second goal I set for myself was to race somewhere between a "good" and "epic" time frame. on the Bike portion.  Based on my race plan time goals, I rated a "good" race on the bike.  I think that this is an area where I can continue to improve and get stronger.  I plan on doing more riding during the off season (both on the trainer and off).  I also hope to do one or two longer bike rides this fall.  Still, my time fell within the parameters I'd established and so the second goal was also met.
The third goal was to complete the run portion in under two hours.  I didn't meet this goal based on the reasons I've outlined above.  Still, two out of the three isn't bad, and it was definitely an experience I can learn from.
Post race
I will definitely do another 70.3 race, although it won't be until sometime next summer or fall.  I had planned on doing an X-Terra triathlon in Pueblo in September, but unfortunately the race was cancelled last week.  For now I've decided that HITS Sterling will be my last race for the season, and while it's a little early, that will allow me to focus on some other things in life.  I may jump into a race later on if I get the urge, but I won't be doing any specific training for another event at this point.
No dinner until you clean up that transition area!
 Plans to do a full Ironman distance race in a few years are still out there.  Now, I have a much better idea about what it will require to do something like that. I've decided that when it's time, I will be selecting a race that takes during the Fall with a cooler climate than what I experienced today.  For now, I'm not going to worry about it.  Instead, I'll just  sit back and savor this most recent  race experience.
Feeling good after a long day in the sun!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review: "chasing the chimney sweep"

Since I don't have any current training exploits to write about, and there is no new beer brewing in the LBK to discuss, I thought I'd use this space to do a quick review of a book that I just finished called "Chasing the Chimney Sweep" (ISBN-13: 978-0143020349). I selected this book back in June in anticipation of the upcoming Tour de France.  Written by Selwyn Parker, it consists of paralleling stories about bicycling and France.  The story recounts the author's (and his companions) modern day attempt to trace (by bicycle) the route of the original Tour de France, which was organized in 1903 by L'Auto, a struggling newspaper that created the event as a publicity stunt aimed at increasing circulation.  Throughout these travels, Mr. Parker intertwines key events from the race with his own experiences riding around France during one of the hottest summers on record. 
The 6 stages of the first Tour de France
Since I had the opportunity to read this as the 2012 race was unfolding, it provided an interesting contrast between vintage and modern cycling.  For example, the original racers rode heavy, fixed gear bicycles (compare that with carbon framed, electronic shifting cycles of today).  The original race  consisted of six stages that averaged 400km each (almost 250 miles) and racers would often travel through the night.  They weren't allowed to receive any outside support, so if they had a mechanical, it was up to them to fix it (although there were a few ways around this).  During the 2012 tour, the longest stage was Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne / Annonay DavĂ©zieux (Stage 12) which came in at 226 kilometers (about 140 miles).  If you've watched a modern race, you also know the unprecedented level of support that riders get in the Tour's modern incarnation.
Maurice Garin, winner of the 1903 Tour
Although this book is packed with many details about the original race, it is really more a chronicle of the Author's adventures with his wife and friends during a month-long route through France.  Selwyn Parker shares his idyllic vision of touring the French countryside by bicycle, and the imperfect, and sometimes miserable reality of traveling by bicycle.  Although there are portions of the book where his seemingly endless quest for room/board, and a good cup of coffee become a little redundant, his honest accounting of the experience makes for a more interesting story overall.  This book is not a page-turner in the sense that you are dying to know what happens next, but it is an easy to read book that you can fall in and out of over the course of  a few weeks.  
If you have an interest in bicycles, travel, and the Tour de France you will probably enjoy reading this book.  However, if you are the type of reader who needs more plot, character, and more historical details, this might not be your first choice for a read.  
Bradley Wiggins, 2012 Winner

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Feeling Perspired

Note: Dr. Tim Noakes has published a book entitled Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports that sets out to debunk some myths about hydration and exercise.  Although I have not yet read this book, both the  reviews and introduction suggest that he takes a long, hard look at hydration needs and the associated sports drink industry.  Since I cant' really agree or disagree with something I haven't yet read, I can only relate my experience with heat, sweat, and hydration.  This post isn't focused on hydration and sports drinks,  but more on how hot weather impacts my performance as a runner.   In my unscientific opinion, hydration is a component of staying cool, but not necessarily the most important.
With the temperatures in town settling in at about 100 degrees, I decided that it might be a good afternoon to try an acclimation run as well as to do a calculation of my sweat rate.  I also wanted to make some mental notes about running in the heat that might help me should I find myself in very hot weather during a race.  So, at 3:45 yesterday afternoon, I set off for an hour run in the sun.  
Calculating sweat loss is a simple enough process.  Essentially you measure your weight both before an after an hour long run, and then you take into account any additional fluids that you consumed during exercise.  From this you are able to determine the volume of fluid utilized during exercise.  The University of Arizona has posted a nice little worksheet that you can use for calculation if you are so inclined.
I wanted to analyze not just my sweat rate, but also gather some qualitative data about running in the heat.  Therefore, I chose to avoid any cooling strategies (other than wearing a hat) during the hour long run, which is something that I probably wouldn't recommend to anyone. It is an admittedly stupid thing to do, and could be potentially dangerous.  However, it did make my calculations much easier, and I believe it provided some useful insights (at least for me) about running in the heat.
Before Run Data
The chart to the right shows some basic information about my run, and what the conditions were like.  In addition to this information I tried to assess both my physical and mental disposition at approximately 10 minute intervals throughout the run.  By better understanding how the heat impacts me physically and psychologically, I can take steps to either delay and/ or minimize the negative effects.  At the end of each segment, I've also listed my perception of both physical and psychological impact (kind of like a rate of perceived exertion or RPE).  In this scale, a "1" represents little to know impact, whereas a "5" would indicate a serious, even dangerous effect.  These are presented in a chart later  in the post.  Here are my notes from the 65 minute run:
@ Ten Minutes:  Physically speaking, there's not much of an effect at this point.  It is noticeably hot outside and there's also a bit of a warm breeze.  My legs feel a bit sore from all of the training during the last couple of weeks, which would indicate that I need to take a rest. In terms of perspiration, my face feels just slightly damp, but I'm not fully sweating yet.  As I look at my watch and note that I have 50 more minutes to run, I feel confident and comfortable, and I'm not at all thirsty.
Perception of Physical Impact (1-5): 1
Perception of Psychological Impact (1-5): 1
@ Twenty Minutes: I'm coming to the top of a long hill at this point with the wind at my back.  At  this point I'm definitely sweaty, and I can start to feel some sweat collecting on my forehead,nose, and chin, and it's beginning to drip off of my face.  I'm not really thirsty at this point, but I can tell that I will be thirsty soon.  There's just a slight dryness in my mouth and throat.  Mentally speaking, the heat hasn't really hit me at this point.  I'm more preoccupied with thinking about the route I'm going to follow to try and get back home right around one hour's time (perhaps something I should have thought about before I started running).
Perception of Physical Impact (1-5): 2
Perception of Psychological Impact (1-5): 1.5
@ Thirty Minutes:  I'm still sweating, but I've turned back into the warm wind, and the sweat seems to evaporate off of me without any kind of cooling effect.  Although I ate lunch over three hours ago, I'm feeling a slight twinge of nausea.  I didn't bring my HR monitor, but my heart rate seems to be a little higher, and if I push the pace at all, my breathing becomes more difficult. I feel slightly more thirsty, but I still have the sensation that I'll be okay a little longer.  Mentally, the run in the heat is starting to feel a little tougher.  I'm still trying to figure out my route (I'll decide on an out-and-back in another couple of minutes).  I try thinking about cool things, but this doesn't seem to help me get past the fact that it's hot!
Perception of Physical Impact (1-5):3.5
Perception of Psychological Impact (1-5): 3
Sample of heart rate under similar conditions (Avg Pace: 9:54/mile)
Sample of heart rate under cooler conditions (Avg. Pace: 7:52/mile)
@ Forty Minutes:  Heading back in the direction that I originally ran, I notice that I can hear my heart pounding in my ears, and so I dial back the pace a little bit.  I was hoping to do a negative split so that I could get back closer to an hour, but this no longer seems like a good idea.  I'm somewhat thirsty at this point, and my mouth and throat are starting to dry out.  Perspiration seems about the same as I'm running into the wind a little more again.  Closer to fifty minutes, I notice that my hands are starting to feel a little swollen, especially my fingers. Mentally, I'm just trying not to think about it.  When I look at my watch, I do try and tell myself that there are just a few minutes left.
Perception of Physical Impact (1-5): 4
Perception of Psychological Impact (1-5):3
@ Fifty Minutes: The biggest physical change at this point is that I'm feeling genuinely thirsty.  My mouth and throat are very dry, and my tongue feels thick in my mouth.  The wind seems to be pulling the sweat off of my body, so there's not much change there.  The nausea that I had experienced around thirty minutes is also back to some degreeMy state of mind has deteriorated as well.  About the only thing I can do at this point is tell myself that it's just a few more minutes.  It is very hard to pay attention to my pace or really to concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds at a time.  This isn't the hottest I've ever felt while running, but I know if I stayed out here much over an hour, I would find myself in some serious trouble.
Perception of Physical Impact (1-5): 4
Perception of Psychological Impact (1-5): 4
@ One Hour: I'm close to being finished at this point, and I consider walking the rest of the way, but I know that will only keep me outside longer.  If I had to guess my heart rate is in the mid to upper 150's, although my pace is only about a 10 minute mile.  In normal conditions, I would be running at a rate closer to 8:00-8:30/ mile.  I don't really notice much else in terms of how I feel physically, but I'm not really thinking about this at all.   I'm within a half mile of home, and that makes me feel somewhat better.  After five more minutes of running, I turn onto our street and reach the house.  The sprinklers are running and it's tempting to go lay down in the middle of the lawn, but I've still got to weigh myself.  I go inside and step on the scale.  After weighing in, I strip down and take a cold shower.  Melisa brings me a bottle of ice water to drink.
Perception of Physical Impact (1-5): 4
Perception of Psychological Impact (1-5): 4

Post Run Data
 The final data from my run is listed to the left.  In all honesty, I was really surprised that I'd lost so much sweat during an hour of exercise.  62 ounces is a significant amount (like a two-liter bottle!) and only emphasizes the importance of staying cool while exercising.  Fluid replacement is important, but other measures to keep cool like pouring water on your head, sponges, ice in your hat, etc. seem like they may have a significant impact.  Additionally, the qualitative data that I collected suggests that the psychological impact of running in the heat is also an important factor.  In the space of about 35-40 minutes, I went from full confidence, to being barely able to concentrate. I may not be the toughest person mentally, but I'm not exactly a wimp about things either.  Like many endurance athletes, the mental aspect of pushing through adversity over an extended time, is part of what draws me to endurance sports.
1= Negligible Impact, 2=Minor impact, 3= Moderate impact, 4= Significant impact, 5= Severe impact
A lot of the articles I read in preparation for this post suggest that one should conduct the sweat test in varying conditions so as to understand sweat rates at different temperatures, exertions, etc.  and that is something that I may try later on in the fall and the winter when conditions are different. For this experiment, here are the things that I learned about running in the heat:
  • I sweat at a much greater rate than I would have imagined. I really expected that I might lose a pound, maybe two at most.  The fact that I lost approximately four pounds is staggering.  I don't think I'll ever look at a two-liter bottle of soda in the same way (a two liter bottle is nearly the equivalent of what I lost).
  • Thinking about how hot it is while running only makes it worse.  At the same time, thinking of something cool, also makes the heat seem worse.  It's better to try and concentrate on something entirely different (e.g.- winning at Kona, Pizza toppings, top 10 favorite running songs, jumping into an icy, brisk mountain stream after drinking an ice cold beer).
  • Heat has a major impact on both physical and psychological performance and these can deteriorate rapidly (consider that my perception declined from minor to moderate to significant in only 30/40 minutes time). My ability to concentrate was significantly impaired and under race conditions, would likely have a big impact on overall performance.
  • Proactive and preventative measures when exercising, and especially racing in hot weather is essential.
  Today, I'm taking a break from training and considering the forecast is for a high of 102 degrees, this is a good thing.  If you are out today, I wish you the best of luck, and speaking both figuratively and literally, Stay Cool!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

2012 HITS Race Plan

In a little over a week, I'll be completing my first 70.3 distance triathlon.  The HITS Sterling Triathlon is my "A" race for this year, and most of my training has centered around this event.  As I wrap up the last portion of my intensive training and start to taper, it's time to develop a plan for race day.  Happily, a PR is ensured since this will be my first long course triathlon! 

Race Background:
This was the first or second race that I scheduled for 2012 way back in January.  Initially I had planned to compete in the Ironman Boulder 70.3 race, but when HITS announced that they were coming to Fort Collins, I was intrigued.  I eventually settled on this race for a couple of reasons.  The first was the expected low key atmosphere from a smaller event.  I also liked the idea of a bike course that included the Poudre Canyon,  a place where I spent a lot of time as a kid, and the location of some of my earliest cycling memories (a 35 mile ride on my old Trek bike from the Cabin to Ted's Place, comes to mind).  Unfortunately, the High Park Fire this summer decimated much of the area where the race was supposed to take place, and the organizers of HITS wisely relocated to a different venue for the race: Sterling, Colorado.  It just so happens that Sterling is a place where I spent a fair amount of my time in high school, as it was the site of many Cross-Country and Track meets (I had a number of PR's in high school in this town, so it does have a spot in my heart after all)!
"I'll take a 70.3 please!"

Race Goals:
1) Successfully complete the 70.3 distance.  By complete, I don't mean survive.  To complete the race means finishing in such a way that demonstrates the training I've done this summer has worked.  I fully expect to cross the finish line feeling tired, exhausted, and pretty well fried.  At the same time, I want the sensation that I was well prepared for it.  In my mind, you complete  a triathlon.  If your plan is to survive  a triathlon, that intones that you didn't really prepare for it.  Surviving is reserved for things that you didn't plan on doing (click here for an example to see the difference).
2) Race the bike portion of the race somewhere between a "good" and "epic" time frame (see below).  I've done a lot of work on the bike this summer, and while I could probably have done even more, I would like to see some benefit from these efforts. 
3) Finish the run portion of the event in under 2 hours.

Time Goals:

Epic Race
Great Race
Good Race
Average Race
2hr 30m- 2hr 40m
2hr 40m- 3hr
3hr-3hr 10m
3hr 10m- 3hr 20m
1hr 45m-1hr 50m
1hr 50m-1hr 55m
1hr 55m- 2hr
2hr- 2hr 10m
Sub 5hr
5hr-5hr 20m
5hr 20m-5hr 40m
5hr 40m- 6hr
 (Note: I don't include a category for "Poor Race," because I don't see any point in planning for that)

 Keys for Success:
1) Relax on the swim.  Do your best, but don't overdo it.  It won't vastly improve your race by time by "killing" the swim and then having no energy for the rest of the day.  Better to swim a little slower, and make that time up first on the bike and then on the run portions.
2) Stay focused on the ride.  Once you get a feel for the course, you will know what kind of pace to set.  Don't burn all of your energy on the bike (shouldn't be a problem if you race as you have in the past).
Sample of next week's weather in Sterling, CO
3) Work into a solid pace for the run.  It's a half marathon, not a 5 or 10k race, so you will want to run strong, but pace yourself in the early miles.  If you get to the last portion of the run, and you feel good, then you can open it up a little bit.
4) Most importantly, be mindful of the weather.  If it's hot, you will want to do all that you can to stay cool and hydrated.   Excessive heat will also require that you reassess your time goals and understand that the weather will have a big impact.

Race Week:
Sunday: Rest
Monday: Easy bike ride (20-30 miles maximum)
Purchase nutrition and spare bike tube for race day
Tuesday: 800 swim (Open water if possible)
Wednesday: 3 mile easy run
Thursday: Rest day
Check and Clean Bicycle
Print out race/ hotel information
Friday: Rest day
Pack items in the a.m.
Travel to Parker.
Saturday: Rest day
Travel to Sterling
Packet Pick-up,meeting, etc. 3-4 p.m.
* if possible, preview the transition area, and the bike route.

Race Day Information:
5-6:30 a.m.- Transition area opens
Things to remember in Transition:
Put nutrition and glasses in helmet and place on handlebars.
RESET YOUR BIKE COMPUTER (You have forgotten to do this every time!)
Have extra water bottle ready for the run.
6:40 a.m.- Transition closes
7:00 a.m.- Swim Start:
HITS Sterling Swim Course
Stay out of the wash.  Get a line on the first buoy and remember what the Pythagorean theory says.  You will make better time by swimming a little further and staying out of the mosh pit.
Concentrate  instead on a solid rhythm and easy breathing and plan on leaving the water with as much energy remaining as possible (after all, there will be 5+ hours of racing still to come).
 Transition 1 (T1):
Don't waste time in T1 as there's no reason to hang around for very long.
Get your shoes, helmet, shades on, put your nutrition in the back pocket, and move quickly to the mount line.
The bike course contains some rolling hills, and looks to be slightly uphill through the first half of the race.  Based on the elevation profile, the turnaround will be pretty close to the high point, which means it will be slightly more downhill on the return.  Focus on a consistent pace along the course, and downshift as needed on the hills to achieve a higher cadence.  Remember to take nutrition about every hour or so, and don't forget to hydrate/ stay cool.
HITS Sterling Bike Course
HITS Bike Elevation Profile
Transition Two (T2):
Stay focused during T2, as this is an easily place to lose concentration.  Make sure that your socks are on and your shoes are tied securely.  Don't forget to put your race belt on with your number, and your hat/ visor.  Based on heat/ etc. consider your hydration/ cooling needs (do you need to take a water bottle for the first mile)? 
HITS Sterling Run Course
Remember that it may take a little longer to get your running legs going , based on the longer bike distance.  They will eventually join you however, so don't freak out..  Set a solid pace through the first few miles, but nothing too aggressive (save it for the second part of the run).  The aid stations will have all kinds of goodies along the way, but stick to what you know (liquid hydration and staying cool are the keys).

Note: Thanks to a post on Joe Friel's blog for the inspiration and much of the template for this race plan.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Training, Training, and Training

The Disney World Castle just prior to the Fireworks Show
Now that we're back from Disney World, my "A" race, the HITS Sterling 70.3,  is just three short weeks from last Sunday.  I took a look at my training plan to see what I have coming up, and I will be busy.  Here's an approximation of the total distance in each discipline for the next three weeks (mostly the next two weeks as I have a fairly significant taper during the last week)
Swim=10 miles
Bike= 350 miles
Run= 60 miles
M.I.C.K.E.Y.  M.O.U.S.E!

The emphasis will continue to be on the bike in order to create a strong run.  I may try to do a few short running miles off of the bike just to get a sense of running after a longer bike ride. 
At Wolfgang Puck's Place in Downtown Disney!
Note: These pictures have nothing to do with Triathlon, but we had a great time on vacation!