Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Going Kamikaze in Japan.

With the nature of my previous post, I'm sure you may be wondering exactly how that bike setup modification worked for me, and how the race in Japan went overall.

Here's a few race notes, and for those of you who are actually interested in racing in Japan next year, check out my upcoming article in Lava Magazine for some of my travel, eating and tips for the race!

1. The point-to-point swim was wetsuit legal and fast. With a typhoon in the days leading up to this race, part of that could have been due to weather changes, but there was a fairly strong current pushing us the whole way. Best as I could tell, one pack came out of the water before me, so it was off to the chases after an 800 meter run to T1.

Swim split: 23:20

2. As I mentioned in the post before this one, this bike course is extremely complex with over a hundred 90 degree turns and eight u-turns. Chasing a pack in front of me, I rode solo up to about 50K, but just couldn't hunt them down, and every split I took at the u-turns they were maintaining a consisten 2 minutes on me. After I was overtaken by the second main pack of 6 riders, I stayed with them for the final 30K into T2, where I arrived a bit nervous knowing that I needed to put at least 2 minutes into that first pack on the run if I wanted to podium. Interestingly, drinking to thirst on the bike, I was still drinking close to 40oz of water per hour, while putting away about 4 gels an hour. You lose lots of fluids in the Asian heat and humidity!

Bike split: 2:35

3. This run is fairly flat and fast, with aid stations every 2K and lots of small groups of frenzied Japanese spectators cheering for the athletes. Early on, I decided to go a bit kamikaze, as I felt like I got a slow start and was already more behind than I wanted to be coming off the bike. At the 4K, I opened up to my threshold pace and just decided to go until I blew up. I managed to pass a couple athletes, but didn't quite run my way up as far as I would have liked. Since I was running pretty hard, I didn't waste too much time with nutrition, and for fuel, I had a few quick sips of coke at some of the aid stations, maybe about 200 calories worth for the whole run.

Run split: 1:22

Overall time: 4:27, 4th age group, 13th overall

I managed to snag a Vegas World Championship slot, and also took away a valuable lesson from this race: if you want the best fried chicken, fried shrimp and sweet potato sake on the planet, go to Japan!

Also, and this may be of interest to you minimalist out there, I only did one 30 minute run per week in my final 3 weeks before this race. Everything else was commuting on my Elliptigo! Something to be said for elliptical trainers and not running very much. ;)

Nutrition/Gear notes:
-Day before: Millenium Sports Somnidren GH and EarthPulse for sleep
-2 hours pre-swim: 4 scoops LivingFuel SuperBerry 
-Skinsuit: Synergy Hybrid
-Google: Blue Seventy Element

Bike notes:

-Shoes: Louis Garneau Tri-Speed shoes
-Helmet: Gray Aero helmet
-Wheels: Shimano C-50
-Tires: Challenge Triathlon
-Groupo: Shimano Dura-Ace
-Seat: Adamo ISM Road Saddle
-Sunglasses: Native Eyewear
-One gel every 15 minutes, water when thirsty

Run notes:
-Shoes: K-Swiss K-Ruuz
-4oz Coke every other aid station.
-Water when thirsty

And a big thanks to all my sponsors. Check them all out here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

How To Prepare Your Triathlon Bike For Racing

One thing that I've learned from racing is that depending on the bike course, sometimes you need to change the way your bike prepared.

In other words, what works for one race may not work for the next.

Here's how my bike usually looks:

That's an aerobar mounted horizontal water bottle holder (the XLab Torpedo), with a hacked up Profile Design Razor designed to carry a bottle of electrolyte capsules (which I no longer use) and up to 10 gels. Click here if you want to read more about how I made this.

So my rationale for this type of race setup can be explained by an excerpt I wrote in a recent article in LAVA magazine:

"In fall of 2011, Cervelo engineers reported on their website a comparison of two options for aerobar mounted drinking systems - a system that hangs down vertically in front of the head tube and one that mounts a standard round bottle horizontally on the extensions between the arms. They found that the vertical bottle added some drag (depending on the system and shape of the head tube) - but still not as much as a standard fueling bottle mounted on the seat tube or down tube of the bike frame. The straw sticking up was the biggest problem with the vertical bottle.

In contrast, a standard bottle mounted horizontally between the rider’s arms on the aerobar actually filled in the turbulent area behind the hands and reduced drag significantly – making it faster than having no bottle at all!"

Here's a few close up shots:



Yesterday I did a bike course preview of Ironman Japan 70.3, which I'm racing tomorrow.

And it is freaking nuts.

-There are 112 90-degree turns and eight U-turns.

-The first 15K of the race is on tiny, bumpy, nearly single-track trails with a cliff on one side that precariously drops down into the ocean.

-Approximately 1 mile is the longest "stretch" in which you can be in the aero position without turning sharply onto a new road.

This totally screws the bike setup above, and here's why:

1. Big bumps can send gels flying if they're *anywhere* on your bike, including taped to your top tube, sitting in a bento box, or in my case, shoved into downtube mounted water bottle holder. So I would risk losing all my fuel with this setup.

2. An aerobar mounted water bottle holder is worthless if you're rarely in the aero position, and need to fumble with your aerobars to get the water bottle out. The more fumbling I do the less likely I'll pop out of the first 15K without a bunch of a riders on my tail.

So I made some changes, and here's how my bike looked when I racked it - a much cleaner front end, and a downtube mounted water bottle holder.

Of course, as an astute reader, you're probably wondering about where I'm putting the gels.

This is a simple fix, and one I've used before...

...the gels go in a ziplock bag stuffed into the swim-to-bike transition bag. I hop on my bike, grab the gels, and stuff them all into my right shorts leg within the first mile of the bike. When I need to eat, I grab a gel from the right leg and stuff the litter into the left leg.

Questions, comments or feedback? Leave them below! And be sure to track the race at if you want to see how I survive.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

How To Learn From Your Triathlon Mistakes - The Hawaii Comedy of Errors...

Between a knee injury and saddle sores earlier in the week, and lots of things not going as planned during the race, Hawaii 70.3 turned into a comedy of errors! This video says it all (turns out, however, I wasn't in transition looking for my run bag as long as I say in the video - I only lost about 2 minutes there).

Below this video, I'll tell you what I learned from my triathlon mistakes...

So what did I learn from my mistakes at Hawaii 70.3?

1) Know the course - the simple act of *counting* the buoys prior to the race would have put up a mental red flag for me as soon as our swim pack turned towards the finish and I realized we were one buoy short. That would have been a simple count that literally would have saved a good 300-400 yards of extra swimming.

2) Trust yourself - volunteers, as freaking awesome as they are to generously give their time, simply do not have as much skin in the game as you, and you shouldn't rely on them 100% to find your bags. Rather than trusting where volunteers were sending me in transition, I should have simply followed the numbers and found my run bag that way (T2 is in a different place than T1 in this race, so you don't actually *see* where your run bag is prior to getting there...)

3) Understand how dominoes work - earlier in the week, I rode the 112 mile Hawaii Ironman course with a "saddlesore" on my butt. Simply shifting slightly away from that uncomfortable spot set up a chain reaction that resulted in a knee injury and lots of mental stress prior to the race. Understand that when one domino falls, many can follow if you're not careful.

My overall division placing in this race was 5th swim, 5th bike, 7th run, 7th overall.

And for you gear and nutrition geeks, here is what I used in the race:

Nutrition/Gear notes:
-Day before: Millenium Sports Somnidren GH for sleep
-2 hours pre-swim: 4 LivingFuel SuperGreens 
-Skinsuit: BlueSeventy Point Zero 3
-Google: Blue Seventy Element

Bike notes:

-Shoes: Louis Garneau Tri-Speed shoes
-Helmet: Gray Aero helmet
-Wheels: Shimano C-50
-Tires: Challenge Triathlon
-Groupo: Shimano Dura-Ace
-Seat: Adamo ISM Road Saddle
-Sunglasses: Native Eyewear
-One gel every 20 minutes, half bag of GU Chomps at end of each hour, water when thirsty.

Run notes:
-Shoes: K-Swiss K-Ruuz (although the guy ahead of me was wearing Vibrams, which, with the undulating, golf course run, I'd actually consider racing if I do this race again)
-One gel every 30 minutes, switched to Coke at 15K mark, with 4oz Coke every aid station.

And a big thanks to all my sponsors. Check them all out here.