Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lactate Threshold Testing

For some time, I’ve been interested in testing my Lactate Threshold (LT) but have generally shied away due to cost and inconvenience. While it is true that CU Sports Medicine has a facility in Lone Tree, they also get a hefty fee for testing. I’m sure it is of high quality but it’s also probably way more than I need.  It’s kind of like buying a big four bedroom house. It might come with some nice amenities but for me, most of what I bought would go unused.

All of that changed with my coach’s recent announcement of an off-season training program designed to help improve one’s weakest event. Included in this three month package is an LT test which he does himself. The test and the training were available to me at the cost of one-month’s in-season fee which is a fantastic bargain. Better still, he lives just three miles away. I think the bike is where I need the most improvement, so last night; I rode over to his house.

Set Up

Upon arrival, he set got my bike hooked up to his CompuTrainer. Like my Wahoo KICKR, this is a bike trainer that electronically controls resistance on the back wheel. Most folks know the name as they were the first, and for a long time only, entrant in the computerized trainer market. In addition to using the metrics from the trainer, we also kept my Garmin paired to the Stages crank-arm power meter on my tri-bike.  The CompuTrainer was the more accurate reading since it was inputting the wattage resistance, but when I’m training on my own, I won’t have that data. Seeing the difference between power ratings on the two units provides us with a baseline for training.

While I’m very interested in science and things-scientific, it’s not my strongest area of intellect. My coach, an engineer (i.e.: scientist) by trade definitely understands this better than I do. That said, the high level summary is that lactic acid is a by-product of the consumption of glycogen. Glycogen is the chemical form of carbohydrate that your body uses when you’re performing at aerobic levels. As lactic acid is produced, some of it can actually be converted back into fuel. For some athletes, this can be utilized with great efficiency. For us mere mortals however, there comes a point at which the muscles can no longer take it and we’re forced to slow down or even stop.

There is a persistent misconception that lactic acid is the cause of muscle fatigue during and after exercise. This is not entirely accurate. The actual cause is the release of hydrogen ions into the body as lactic acid seeps out the muscle during hard efforts.

The Test

Once everything was explained to me it was time to start the test. Like any workout, this began with a warm-up which we did for a little over ten minutes. It took me a little longer than an expected to really get warmed up causing a bit of a spike on the first read. Once things settled in a little bit, my coach was able to start getting better readings.

While folks often visualize athletic testing involving an oxygen mask and a bunch of sensors all over the body, this was far less dramatic. My own heart rate monitor provided the HR data and no mask was involved.

Instead, every four minutes, he would stick my finger and then allow the blood to drip into a tiny little trough on a metal strip. That strip, in turn, was inserted into a blood monitor not unlike the testing devices used by Type I diabetics. Granted, this one was not measuring blood glucose, but rather lactate levels.

The progression involved increasing the power resistance by 20 watts every four minutes. During that interval, a new finger was stuck and blood drawn. He also recorded my heart rate at the time. So it went for over forty minutes. Normally the test would involve eight data points but he wanted to do a ninth. The reason being is that I apparently have a fairly low heart rate for the work I’m putting out. He had noted the same thing when we did my functional threshold power (FTP) test back in March. I can assure you by the end of the test I was working a very high effort levels but my HR was only about 147 BPM. I don’t have any heart condition or abnormality to explain this. It’s an interesting phenomenon and it will be interesting to see how persistent it is as we start the off-season bike workouts.

Finally, after hitting more than 260 watts 

of power (the max reading) and having the fingers on my left hand stuck a total of nine times, it was time to cool down. Of course, I still had to ride home, but that was a fairly easy ride!


Sometime later today or maybe tomorrow, I’ll have the full profile sent to me by my coach. He’ll use that to set up power-based workouts I’ll have during my off-season training. Considering that Ironman will involve more than six hours of riding, I’m glad to be getting this early jump on my training.

More posts on the results and the upcoming training will be coming soon.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Harvest Moon Triathlon: Post Mortem

I had originally not planned to do any post-race analysis outside of my race report. However, as I look forward to next year’s Ironman Boulder, I found that a look back at my most recent and most successful race could be instructive. While what works for me is not universally applicable to everyone, perhaps anyone who stumbles across this blog might glean a nugget or two of useful information.
Unlike the race report, this post will be mostly focused on my own individual performance and how I can and might react differently in a future race.


Nutritionally, I did not do too badly, but I may have been a little light. The fact that I felt enough of a hunger pang to have two gels while setting up transition suggests that I probably needed a bigger breakfast. Without question, I’ll need to do more before spending 13 to 15 hours on a full 140.6 mile race. On the positive side, I never blew up nutritionally. Unlike last year in Austin, there was no bonk nor was there a sick full feeling that I experienced at Ironman 70.3 Boulder.
Arriving early also seems to be a virtue I’ve picked up. While not the first in line, I was probably among the first 50 percent to show up at both Steamboat and Harvest Moon. While I expect to be assigned a space for Ironman next year, it still is beneficial to have some time to set up the transition area slowly and methodically. Next year that will also involve making sure my special needs bag is properly stocked with whatever I think will help me keep going on the bike.
I actually slept reasonably well in the week leading up to Harvest Moon and while I was a bit groggy at 4:30 in the morning (who isn’t?) I woke up pretty fast after arriving. Next year, I’ll most likely be on one of my sabbaticals my company offers every five years so I’ll have plenty of time to rest leading up to race day.
Overall, I think I dialed in pre-race pretty well during the entire season. I may not race again before Ironman so the biggest challenge going into next year will be to remember all of my good habits.


Harvest Moon was probably the best execution of the swim in any race. There’s almost no virtue in being the first person out of the water. Indeed, there’s more benefit from not feeling exhausted during those initial strokes as you work through the washing machine. Staying focused on being calm and establishing a good rhythm left me with some space to surge on the second half.
There’s nothing I would do differently. In the off-season, my swim workouts will be based on the ones my coach gave me and I’ll continue to work with fins and paddles because the truth is, at 45 years old I’m swimming better than I ever have in my life.


My bike split was 2:57:11, officially, faster by far than my previous 70.3 races:

This chart is a little misleading because I had issues starting the bike in each (thank you very not, Garmin). However, the average speed is a fairly consistent measure across the board and as you can see, the 18.9 MPH average for Harvest was faster than even Boulder. That’s more important when you consider that there was much more climbing at Harvest and it happened later in the race. On balance, my weakest event, cycling, has improved greatly in the last year.
However, I think there’s more I could be doing. It’s not that I’m particularly competitive with everyone else on the course, but I did get dropped a lot at my most recent race, sometimes on folks in my age group riding road bikes. The other fault I found in my performance was that while my legs were not shot, they were pretty tired and that in turn led to me not having the capacity to keep up my sub 10:00 pace past eight miles in the run. I suspect my bike improvement is still a work in progress so I’ll continue to work on it during the off-season and focus hard when the new season starts in January. It will be also be interesting to re-test my FTP because I’m sure it has increased since March.


The final event is really two stories. For the first eight miles, it was, to me, fairly impressive. In past races, I was taking a break by the third or fourth mile. That I got to over 8 miles before walking is a fairly significant accomplishment in itself. That really is what made this a faster run than other events. However, those walking breaks did not have nearly the restorative effect for which I had hoped. In fact, as each mile progressed, the benefit of walking seemed to deliver diminishing returns to the point that when I reached mile 11, I was having to take them more often after shorter running intervals.
All of this said I can’t really fault my strategy in the race of going as long as I could. In Austin, I took planned breaks during the early part of the run but that did not provide a particular benefit. Indeed, I ran at a slower average pace and slower overall time despite that run being a half mile short of the official 13.1 distance.

Obviously, since I finished, I had the endurance to complete the race, but not the stamina to maintain a “running” pace.
Of course, the approach to a full marathon is going to be much different. The strategy I employed at the 2013 Colorado Marathon may come into play at Ironman. In that race, I ran four miles and then walked for one. I succeeded in that strategy through 18 miles at an average pace of 10:29. If I could replicate that at Ironman (a big if, I realize) I could actually walk the last 8.2 miles at 15 minute pace and still finish the run in 5:11:49 which would not be terrible.
I think a lot of my stamina this year came from some of the long and intense intervals I did in training. For example, one workout involved 6 X 1K repeats at my Z4 heart rate with fairly short recoveries in between. I anticipate workouts like that (with more intervals) when training starts in earnest early next year.
In looking back at Harvest Moon, I doubt there was much I could have done to improve my run. I never missed an assigned running workout and the only time I fell short of the designated time was to get out of the rain and hail. In other words, it was more of a safety issue than not being able to do the workout. While I wish I could have been a little faster (four minutes and change to be precise), I also think I put every last effort into the race.


Nutrition, while not perfect, was much improved. Even when I did not particularly want a gel, I had one. I also made sure to consume nearly my entire bottle of concentrated GU Brew. Neither made me sick or bloated meaning my body was accepting the input. It’s true that I started to feel a little sick at the end of the run, but I’m sure that had to do more with the metabolic havoc going on inside me. By that point, it had been hours since I took any new calories.

Transitions have also improved. Granted, this venue lent itself to making that easier, but I also have found a couple of tricks to save time such as not wearing socks on the bike. Even at T2, while not as fast as my previous two races this year, I moved with purpose and lost minimal time at the rack. It seems to make sense to treat a long-course transition with the same sense of urgency one brings to a short-course event. Granted, my body may not move as quickly, but the urgency seems to drive a faster overall change between legs.
Perhaps best of all, I suffered no injuries this season. That was despite training six days most weeks at intense levels. A nightly stretching routine helped me considerably as well as being disciplined about getting warmed up at the start of each workout. Overall, I’ve been pretty fortunate on the injury front but I do believe that fortune favors the prepared!
Thanks for reading and if you’ve gained nothing else from this post consider the following: the charts above represent races done at ages 42, 43, 44 and 45 and I’ve gotten faster as I’ve gone along. So despite getting further into my forties, I’m actually performing better!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Race Report: Harvest Moon Triathlon

I began working with my coach during the last week of December last year. While I had several goals, none was more important than improving my time on the 70.3 distance to under six hours and more ideally, to 5:50:00 or better.

The ultimate test of that came yesterday at the 15th Annual Harvest Moon Triathlon, which, like my other two races this year was produced by Without Limits. I've found them to be a very good production company and was pleased to participate in three of their races this year. I hope I'll be back for others in the years to come.

Packet pick up was  in the town of Sheridan, a small Denver suburb to the south and west of the city proper. Kompetitive Edge is a triathlon store located there and they have been associated with several Without Limits events. It was their support vehicle that fixed my flat at Steamboat.

The drive out there took longer than the time I spent picking up a packet and buying a new spare tube. Unlike other companies, most notably Ironman, the packet is a fairly simple affair with just one number for the run, one for the bike and then the usual ads and sample items in the goodie bag. 

I spent the rest of the day just relaxing and watching a little college football. I did take some time to mount a third cage to the Hydrotail on my TT bike and to clean the bike up a bit, but otherwise, that was it.

My brother, also doing the race, spent the night with us Saturday and after a dinner of spaghetti and salad, I packed my bag and not too long afterward, it was off to bed. I knew I would not get a lot of sleep, but I believe I got about six hours which is not bad. 

At 4:30 the following morning I was up to have a breakfast consisting of a bagel and cream cheese and a bottle of Odwalla superfood. Probably a little under 500 calories. By 5:30 we were on our way to the race venue at Aurora Reservoir. We were there before the gates opened at 6:00 so there was a brief wait but then we were moving and were able to park right next to the transition area. 

Getting bikes unloaded, picking up chips and racking in all took minimal time. I've found from my first two races that I prefer a slot near the Swim In/Run Out arch and we had our pick of these. In fact, it was near the Without Limits truck and a light pole so finding the spot during T1 and T2 would prove to be easy. I've gone hunting for my bike at previous events and it's not a good feeling!

Arriving early gave me plenty of time to slowly set up my area. As I always due, I set up a very minimal space. 

I supplemented my breakfast with a couple of Honey Stinger gels and a little water to wash them down. Time was actually going by fairly quickly so before long, I was pulling on the wetsuit and heading down to the swim warm-up area.

Unlike Steamboat and Summer Open, the swim area is a roped off section that gets a little crowded. I managed to get about five quality minutes of warming up but I had to be wary of not colliding with others. The water was a bit cool and it took me the better part of a minute to adapt. 


With minimal fanfare and delay, I was soon waiting in the start coral. While there is a coral line-up, the actual start is in thigh deep-water. I prefer that because all those feet running into even the cleanest of lakes (like this one) churns so much dust that seeing anything is nearly impossible. This one started clean.

Most races would have you looking down the buoy line from the start, but in this case, you actually had to swim slight to the left and then sight down the line. Not easy since the sun was pretty much in our faces. However, it all worked out and in short order, I was moving down the line.

I did not go out overly hard to start but I was also not short of breath which was a problem at the start of Steamboat. I know several people out there who talk about the swim as their least favorite part of triathlon racing. I'm not overly enamoured with it myself. It is however, my strongest event and I found myself at a good steady pace on the back half. With the sun behind me know, sighting was easy and I always found the big red exit arch. I got out of the water and was running under it. The distance showed 1.12 miles which is about 140 yards short of 1.2 miles but I was not complaining. 

My Time: 31:49 (short course)

Official Time: 33:03 (including the run up the beach to the transition area)


I was out of the top half of my wetsuit as I entered the transition area. I struggled a little bit to get all the way out but then I was quickly donning my helmet and slipping on my shoes. It did not feel like an overly long period of time. I had to round a couple of corners to leave the area so I was not going a at a dead sprint, but I was not wasting any time either.

My Time: 4:04
Official Time: 2:50 (the difference represents the time it took me to run from the swim exit to the TA)


Garmin continues to find ways to make me buy someone else's watch the next time I'm in the market. Not sure how, but I guess the lap button on my 910 got bumped a couple of times so when I hit the Lap button, it started the run section. I reset everything and got into bike mode in about a minute.

The ride out of the reservoir park was much like I expected with a lot cruising and negotiating turns. Then I was on Quincy and headed east up the first of a few hills. None of the hills are actually rated and the wind was at our backs so knocking out the first ten miles went well. I had hoped to get to the first turnaround within 30 minutes and actually did it in 28. The wind was clearly factoring in as we rode back east. There were more downhill sections than up which helped but I knew I'd be going faster without it.

The next section of the course had you headed north on what is called the Watkins Road, so named because of the town that lies at its end. There are some climbs, but it's a net drop in elevation and I spent nearly all my time here in the big ring making some pretty good time.

Then you make a right turn now headed east toward the town of Bennett. A few years ago, I did some training rides that started in Bennett and I was familiar with this section of road. The one time I rode it east-bound however, I was at the end of a ride and I found it difficult.

Not true on this day. The wind was at my back and I was flying. I purposely did not have my MPH displayed but I now see I spent most of it in the upper 20 mph zone with only a couple of dips for one hill and when I rolled through the aid station and got some water. During this section, I noted my half way split was an impressive 1:15:00. I did not get overly excited about that however since I knew the back-half would be characterized by lots of climbing and the wind in my face.

Just east of Bennett, there's another right turn now on what is called the Kiowa Bennett road since it connects the two towns. The net climb through this section is only about 300 feet, but most of that is accomplished on only a handful of hills. I was not overly exhausted by this section, but I was working harder for less distance gained.

The final right turn is back onto Quincy, now headed west. As expected the wind was full on into my face and even steeper downhills felt like slow motion. I did my best to tuck down tight and take advantage of gravity when it was on my side.

Not long after the first down hill, there are two climbs (like big steps) that take you to the highest point on the course. I don't know what the official name of this hill is--or if it even has one--but I've always though of it as the Tom Bay hill since that's the name of the road that runs along its ridge. While the summit of this hill looks fairly sharp on an elevation profile, it's actually quite rounded and getting to the true summit drags on and on. Of course, the wind was there to greet me when I crested it.

Fortunately, the ride back down the hill is nearly as steep as the ride up and even with the wind, I made good time. I did not pour on speed here. Rather, I opted to use the section to recover a little and preserve my legs. As others went charging up the remaining hills, I kept reminding myself that there was still a lot of race left. The run, for me anyway, is the most challenging.

I rode back up the hill into the reservoir park at a high cadence and made sure I was not mashing the pedals. My legs and glutes were sore already and I saw no value in making that worse.

My Time: 2:56:08
Official Time: 2:57:11 (this is closer to accurate due to my watch issues)


I had planned to run quickly through T2, but I had to slow that to a jog. The legs were a little wobbly as I tried to pull on my socks but the spot next to me was empty since that person was not yet back from the bike so I used the rack for support. Despite feeling pokey, I guess I actually made good time and was out of there in short order.

My Time: ??? No idea. The Garmin really screwed this up.
Official Time: 2:42 (sound about right)


To say that I've ever started the run portion of any event enthusiastically take a few too many liberties with the truth. In point of fact, I felt a little sluggish at the beginning of this one and initially committed the cardinal sin of thinking about how much lay ahead. I got that out of my mind and looked to see how far until the first mile.

Upon arriving at the first aid station/mile marker, I took two cups of water. The first I consumed and the second I dumped on my head. It was a shock, but a pleasant one and I felt better as I started into my second mile.

This process continued all along the course. Though I was making good time--my first 8 miles were all sub 10:00, thing were getting progressively more difficult. My heart rate was steadily in the low 140s but my the sides of my ribs felt tight and my legs were very sore. By just after mile 8, I had to take a walk break. It was less than 3 minutes then I ran on until reaching mile 9 where I did the same.

This continued all the way to mile 11 and then I began taking shorter runs and shorter walk breaks. I was hurting a lot at this point and even starting to feel a little sick. It wa difficult going during those last two miles and, in truth, I was not overly concerned with my time. I figured it would be a PR and if it was more like 6:00:00 or even 6:05:00, well that would still be a big improvement.

I ran in the last .3 miles or so and was probably never more grateful to have reached a finish line. I also took advantage of the big slip and slide at the end:

You can see the op of my head as I slide down

I only slid about half way and had to walk the rest!

My Time: 2:18:35
Official Time: 2:18:21

Overall Official Time:  5:54:08


This was my fourth attempt at this distance. While I remember feeling tired and worn out after each, this was by far the most exhausted I've ever felt. Regardless of what is said about sitting right after a workout, I was on the grass next to the finish line within a minute and stayed there for several more.

When I got back home, I took a two hour nap but slept fitfully because my glutes were so sore. Today, as I write this, my back is still stiff from all the aero riding. I definitely need a break.

While my coach was nice enough to provide me with a short workout this week, I've asked him to push it back. I really do want to do some good off season work, but I also really want a week off to just relax both body and mind.

Then I'll slowly ramp up duration and intensity and hit the new season with a full head of steam.

Thanks for reading and worry not, more posts re: the off season will follow!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Harvest Moon Triathlon Race Plan

With just six days left until my "A" race and my final race of the year, it's time to share my plan for accomplishing the goals I've set for the Harvest Moon triathlon. It's also a "half-iron" distance race which means 70.3 miles. The Summer Open Sprint and Steamboat races were certainly important to me. Each was a validation of my training to that point in the season. However, everything I've been doing since the week after Christmas of last year has been aimed at having a successful race this coming Sunday.


This is as about as "in-town" as it gets for me. The race venue, Aurora Reservoir, is perhaps 15 minutes from home. I've race here twice before in 2012 and 2011, both the Rattlesnake Olympic distance triathlon. That's not to say I won't spend a fair amount of time making sure I'm dialed in and ready to race. Pre-race factors are nearly entirely within my control so there's no sense in making the race more difficult from that stand point.

My coach advised me to have my first meal at 4:00 am which is awfully early, but I am going to target a window of 4:00 - 4:30. I had a lot of success last time with a bagel and Odwalla super food drink so I'll go with that again. I also had a small cup of coffee so that might be on the table as well. 

Of course, that means three or more hours will pass before my wave starts at around 7:45 (probably later because I've seen only about one race start exactly on time). I'll eat a gel about 30 minutes ahead of my start which should top me up. I'll have some water, but constantly having to pee is no good so it will be in moderation. I'll make sure I'm staying well but not over-hydrated the day before the race. The idea is to make sure my blood plasma is maximized but not to the point that I'm leeching out electrolytes.

Arriving at the venue early was a good move last time so I hope to be at the reservoir when they open that gates at 6:00. I'm sure there will be a long line of cars so it's also a good idea to be there early to deal with that. Nothing good happens when you are rushed setting up your transition.

As usual, my transition area will be minimal. Six days out, the forecast calls for dry conditions until I'll be (hopefully) on the run. Nevertheless, I'll bring a kitchen garbage bag to cover up shoes, socks and visor in case the rain rolls in earlier than expected. Mostly, I just follow what I did in Steamboat where transition went very well.

I'll plan on getting about 10 minutes of swim warm-up in. My coach advised a ten strokes hard, ten strokes easy approach so I'll follow that. It will help focus my mind and prepare me to establish a rhythm after the start. Once that is done, there's usually no choice but to wait. 


I don't think there's a practical way to avoid the crowds and general chaos of the start. Rolling starts mitigate that, but this is not a rolling start. I'll just have to stay as calm as possible and realize that to worst of it is in the first couple hundred yards. It's a single loop out and back so I think the crowds will thin. There are also only three groups before mine including some elites so while I may catch a few people ahead, I think most of it will be clear.

I've done less open water swimming than in years past, but I've done a lot more overall swimming. It will be important to keep this in mind and just focus on establishing a rhythm. That ought to lend itself to a decent pace, especially in a wetsuit. I won't be going super hard. Rather, I'll go at the threshold just below the point of things becoming uncomfortable.

If I remember, I'm going to kick a little more broadly and actively as I approach the shore. Getting more blood into my legs ought to leave me a little less wobbly once I hit dry land again.

Goal Time 34:00 - 36:00

Transition at this venue is long. I estimate it's more than 0.15 mile from the shore to the entrance of the area and then it could even longer to where I rack my bike. I'm going to try and get it close to the entrance, but that's sometimes a luck of the draw thing. Last race demonstrated that skipping socks for the ride is the good way to go. I did IM Boulder 70.3 sockless last year with no ill-effects so it will be this time as well. Getting out of the wetsuit can be a challenge (I tore mine at my first Olympic race three years ago). However, this will likely be the last time I swim in this suit so while I won't try to tear it, I'm not going to be too upset if I do. Then it's just run like hell out of the area and get on the bike.

Goal Time 3:00 - 4:00


The initial stages of the ride are characterized by a steep down hill. I'll use that time to get a little water in my system and make sure the legs feel good. I expect that gravity alone will have me going faster than average which is fine, but there are a couple of turns and the roads could be wet so caution factors in. No one wins the bike in the first two miles so tearing it up through here does not make a lot of sense.

Upon the right turn onto Quincy, you begin a series of rollers but mostly it's a climb. It's at Quincy that I will start the clock on my nutrition and begin my power-based strategy. The coach and I discussed this and I'm going to follow his recommendation for how to approach the race. I'll set the Garmin to display my 10 second peak power rating. If you want to truly understand that you should read Joe Friel's book on training with a power meter. For the purposes of this race, it's going to serve as a benchmark. 

For the last six or seven weeks, my average power for that particular metric is 340 watts. My coach recommended I stay in a range of plus of minus 50 watts so 290 - 390. That number will like increase as I climb the hills and then drop back down as I descend. Since power is an immediate read on how hard I'm working, it should provide me with a guideline about whether I'm in range, working to hard or not enough.

The initial rollers have some steep sections, but nothing overly difficult. When I mapped it using, it came back with only two rated climbs on the route, both level 5 (the easiest) and those are later in the race. I think the key to doing well in the first 10 miles is staying to my power strategy and keeping my cadence fairly high. 

I'm aiming for about 300 calories an hour on this one so my first nutrition intake will be in at the turn around point to head back west on Quincy. I'll be taking a super-concentrated bottle of Gu Brew and some Honey Stinger gels to meet my nutrition needs.

After ten miles, there's going to be a lot of down hill. Again, I don't plan on destroying my legs, but this will be a good chance to pick up some speed and bank some time. This course is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere so wind can be a factor and if it's coming from the north, then it's going to bleed off some speed as I roll down Watkins Road toward the town for which it is named. There's nothing I can do about that but stay as aero as possible.

Upon arriving in Watkins, the next turn is right and east toward the town of Bennett. It's flat to down through here so, again, barring any wind, it should be a good chance to make decent time. However, cadence and power discipline will override and desire to open it up. It is a 56 mile ride after all.

A bigger challenge happens just east of Bennett when you turn right again and are heading south on the Kiowa-Bennett road (so named because it connects these two tiny burgs). The stretch is a little over 8 miles and has a grade that averages less than 1%. However, that's not a constant number so there will be some stretches where I'll be headed uphill. If the wind is out of the south, this could be even more challenging. I think the key here will be not to blow up the legs. This is well into the second hall of the ride and fatigue will no doubt be factoring in more. I don't want to ease up too much, but if I drop a little below the 290 watt level on 10 second power, that will be okay.

Things get harder after the right turn back onto Quincy Road, now headed west. After a short drop, you're greeted by the first of the two rated climbs. Map My Ride says 1.6% for 3.6 miles. It's nothing like the monsters we climbed on the Experience Ride back in June but there are no extended breaks or huge caloric intakes here either. There are also a couple of false summits along the way which are never good when you're expecting an extended downhill section.

That down hill section of over 2.5 miles does come shortly after the intersection with Tom Bay Road. I've raced and ridden out here a few times so I know the area. By now, the course is on the same stretch of road that was used by the Rattlesnake Triathlon. On the advice of my coach, I'll use this down hill for some recovery. Gravity will have me going plenty fast as it is.

There's one rated climb after that descent. A shorter but steeper 1.9% grade for 1.75 miles. That's half the distance of the previous hill so it should feel mercifully shorter. High cadence spinning will be the key to finishing it successfully. Then it's mostly down back to the reservoir entrance. 

Despite not being a rated climb, this is a tough section. As you would imagine, Aurora Reservoir is perched up high and its dam looms large above you as you ride in. I've seen plenty of "heroes" ride their bikes hard along this two mile section. It's probably one of the more pointless things you can do. If you've lost time, trying to make it up here only makes a bad situation worse. If the bike were the end of the race, then it might be okay, but remember, there's still a half marathon left to be run.

Goal Time: 2:50:00 - 3:05:00


My best T2 has been at this venue. I don't know that the transition area will be the same, but I don't imagine it will be much different either. I'll do my usual fast as I can approach. I might grab a little water if there's some left in my bottle but then it will be out the run start and on my way.

Goal Time: 1:30 - 2:00


Without question, this has been my achilles heel at this distance. Even in Austin where I turned in my best performance, I did not run especially well. Since that time, I've done a lot more running including some painfully intense workouts. I'm lighter, faster and stronger than I've been since probably my twenties so I have several advantages coming in.

Nevertheless, I am very wary of blowing up on the run. Unlike a bike where a power meter and cadence sensor can go a long way toward helping you maintain a strategy, running is far more by feel. The key to success in this stage will be establish good pacing. By that I mean a pace I can maintain for all 13.1 miles. 

In the course of my training, I've done some long runs at sub 10:00 pace. Those have been a mix of hard intervals and slow recoveries. This needs to be more steady state. At the start, that probably means that the pace is going to feel too slow and too easy. 

The other key to success is to take the race mile by mile. More than once, my coach warned me not to look at the finish area which is visible across the lake, especially after you reach the turn around point. Depending on winds and ambient air conditions, it may even be possible to hear the PA system as folks are finishing. Tuning that out those audible and visible inputs will be second only to focusing on the next mile.

My coach also pointed out that the tendency among tall guys is to start striding out late in the race. That should be avoided because it's likely to lead to leg fatigue and cramps. Keeping a shorter stride is in line with maintaining a conservative, consistent pace. That's what I'll try and keep in mind.

Every run section of the three half-iron distance races I've done to date involved some walking. In truth, it usually involved quite a bit. My goal is to keep running the entire time here. I might slow to a walk to take some water at an aid station, but that time will be measured in seconds. I really do plan to run the whole thing. If I can't, I can't but even then I'll try and minimize the breaks to just a minute.

Goal Time: 2:00:00 - 2:10:00
Total Race Goal Time: 5:50:00 - 6:00:00

The week ahead is a light one and I've been told to quit any workouts if things don't feel right. I doubt that will be necessary. In truth, staying calm and focused are bigger challenges this week. I don't expect I'll post again until the race is over, but you can expect a detailed race report afterward.

Until then, thanks for reading and good luck to any readers who also have big races coming up!