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Jason Weaver (Dallas, TX) - Prepping for Ultraman Florida

 
 

Through the offseason, Josh and I have kept in touch and he asked me to write down my thoughts for the upcoming 2015 season. I have some really big goals, some of which Josh thinks are crazy, and he was just curious about what keeps me motivated and focused through my journey.

This year will mark my third full season into this sport called triathlon. In 40 days,  I am kicking it off with my biggest race ever, Ultraman Florida. For those that aren’t familiar with this format, it is a three day stage race in and around Orlando, Florida. Day one begins with a 10k open water lake swim followed by a 90 mile bike TT. Day two is a 170 mile, point to point bike TT. Day three is a mere 52.4 mile, point to point run. I will be one of approximately forty competitors from around the world giving this race our very best effort. I began training for it immediately after 70.3 Worlds in 2014 and have been thrilled with the progress. The most important factor for me was the selection of my first coach. I was self-coached and copied the workouts of my training partners for my first two years. But for this, I definitely needed guidance and found a coach that has excelled at this distance before and coaches other athletes for ultras as well. I really can’t thank Chris Draper, with DT+N Training, enough for getting me ready for this challenge both mentally and physically. So, that is my first thought: if you have been debating on getting a coach, maybe this is the year to take the plunge. I was so against it when I started out but now I can’t imagine not having the guidance. It takes all of the guess work out of my routine and I am reaping the benefits of my efforts. But, choose wisely! I make it a habit to only want to learn from people I would be willing to trade places with. This is the smart path to success!

My next thought: could it be time to reevaluate your training group? Have you become comfortable with those around you and you have plateaued with your gains? I am not saying you abandon your current friends for greener pastures, but are their new ways you can challenge yourself to reach that next level? I absolutely love my training group. We get the very best out of each other on a weekly basis. I am very luckily to have such a fantastic support system. If you can’t say the same for your situation, maybe it is time to reevaluate. There are also small changes you can make in your routine. One that really worked for me was bumping up a lane at my swim practice. It forced me outside of my comfort zone and really made me focus on my efforts, form, etc. We know the gains in swimming can be more marginal but we are always looking for those precious seconds and this is a great way to obtain them.  Maybe finding a faster group ride once a month or running in a faster pace group every other week is the way to go. Never be afraid to push yourself! Become comfortable with making yourself uncomfortable.

Lastly, when was the last time you slowed down and took a long, honest look at your “why”
 for your goals? Self-reflection and a positive attitude can be just as powerful for your goals as your hardest training sets. For us age groupers, we live very busy lives. We work full-time jobs and juggle families and friends. A fresh, revisited “why” helps keep all of the training in perspective and makes a race of 2000 people seem like your own personal journey. It takes a sport dominated by blogs, products, chat threads and makes it your own. For me, I choose to keep my “why” in front of me daily. I surround myself with positive reinforcement and people that get what I am trying to accomplish. I don’t have time for negativity and small thinkers.

Make 2015 the year for your breakthrough. I was sharing with Josh that for an athlete of his caliber and at his level of competition, any racer can win on any given day. It usually comes down to a belief that you have what it takes to accomplish your goal. I have this phrase I use for my goals, “Why NOT me?” By that I mean, someone has to win the race, get the trophy, have the fastest split, etc. So, “why NOT me?” Somebody has to win 70.3 Worlds in 2015, “why NOT Josh?” Someone has to qualify for Kona, “why NOT you?” It is ok to embrace an attitude of belief for your goals. Don’t let anyone, much less yourself, convince you that you aren’t worth a reward for your efforts. If there is something holding you back, commit to turning it into a strength and those limiters will no longer matter.

Belief.

Patience.

Consistent effort.

Here is to a fantastic 2015!

 

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Jason Key (San Antonio, TX) - Greater Gater Tri

With a number of sprint tri’s under my belt with just finishing up another one last month, I am ready to expand my horizon and find an Olympic tri!  After doing a little homework, I set my focus on a local chip timed USAT sponsored event called the “Greater Gater” Tri located in Boerne, Texas on 21 June 2014.  This event I have known about for some time from fellow triathletes.  It’s well known because the swim portion was in Boerne Lake (known for the smooth water most of the time), the bike ride had some reasonable rolling hills through the countryside with a challenging 5% hill called “Heart Rate Hill”, then the run portion was mostly a level trail run – a great start for me!  Being one of the local favorites, I scheduled it because it fills up quickly and I labeled it as an “A” race for me. 

For several years, I have been working on my own consistently swimming, cycling and running so the “Greater Gater” is within my reach!  In preparation of the race I have road the route several times with an emphasis on not blowing up my heart rate (HR) to fast, but instead maintain a consistent HR.  Consequently, I have gotten the coarse down to 1:10 to 1:15 for the 25 miles, even including “Heart Rate Hill”!    In the back of my mind, I know I need some additional training guidance so I started working with Coach John Mayfield at tridot.com.   With all of this being said and doing as much confidence boosting as I can, my nerves are still a little jittery because sometimes I feel like I can never be prepared enough, however with more time not really sure how much more I would prepare! 

Well race day was here and my nerves knew it.  I wanted to get to the race early, so I would have time to check in, get tagged and head for the transition to drop my gear off.  I also knew getting to the race would settle me down.  It seems like being among the other triathletes, I have common ground, are always helpful and always supportive.  As anticipated, my nerves settled down when I pulled into the Boerne Lake park entrance around 5:30 am, I could see other cars pulling in also and everyone was getting into place.

The Swim:  The 1500 meter swim was one I have been preparing for and felt ready for it.  I have done endless laps in the pool, due to time constraints it seems like I can never get enough time in the open water.  As race time was getting near the announcer indicated that the Olympic was going first, then followed by the sprint.  As the Olympic group moved to the water’s edge, I started looking for the buoys we had to swim around.  Despite them being apprx 4 ft in diameter and bright yellow, they seemed like really for away!  I thought, “I am going to swim that!”.  With little time to think, the race started and I was in the water.  The water was great and I was after it.  It took around 500 meters and started to realize I have a lot more to go, then it really came to mind that I need to settle down and I was going too fast.  The water wasn’t too choppy and just had 2 other swimmers around me so I needed to really focus on form and recovery.  It was too late; I started off too fast and now was trying to spend the rest of my time recovering rather than having a strong swim!  Lesson learned, don’t start off too fast and pace yourself! 

The Bike:  After coming off a swim that didn’t go as planned, I am ready to hammer the ride.  I knew I had in place my pacing strategy already and will be able to make up some time.  The ride was starting off as planned, after the first several minutes my legs where getting warm and my HR was about 135 bpm.  From the beginning, I was passing others very quickly and everything was going as practiced.  I had gone about 5 miles, and then I noticed my back tire was going spongy!  I tried to ignore it with the hope it would go away.  I have trained so hard for this event, and now this!  After what seemed just seconds, the tire was flat.  Not being the happiest person, I quickly stopped to change my back tube and check my tire for thorns.  It seemed like an eternity, not to mention it seemed all the people I just passed starting to pass me!  It was not easy, but need to keep my cool and stay focused.  Before I knew it, I was on my bike again and back after it.  I really needed to settle the HR down because I just had a couple miles to go then Heart Rate Hill!  What really mattered was I was back on the bike and everything needs to go as practiced.  As I turned the corner I could see Heart Rate Hill in the distance and see others walking up the hill already.  In preparation, I shifted gears settled in at a low HR, slid to the front of my saddle and ready for the Hill!  As I hit the bottom of the hill, I slid to the back of my saddle, sat up a little straighter and got after this steep long hill.  I like challenges and this was one of them!  Everything worked just as planned; my HR peaked at 161 bpm and still had strength at my legs by the top.  I had to move over to the middle of the road, to get away from other cyclists but all is going great.  The rest of the ride was rolling hills, which provided some time for recovery and shake out some lactic acid from the legs in preparation for a strong run.  I was on home stretch, 8 miles to go and heart rate was sitting around 144 bmp, then it happened.  The spongy back tire was back, this time I did not have a tube.  However, I had about ½ a co2 cartridge left from my first flat and another to spare – so no issues here.  I quickly stopped and filled by back tire with the remaining co2 I previously used.  This should get me to another 8 miles!  Well, it lasted for 1 mile then the tire was flat.  I used my last co2 cartridge and nothing.  The back tube was a lost cause! With no sag vehicle in site, I was no going to stop.  At that moment Josh, I thought of you!  To quote you, "With all the preparation a triathlete can do for a race, it's a big blow to think it can all be undone because of....." For me this weekend it was 2 flat tires and this is not going to stop me!  It was me and my trusty F-6 Felt bike (that I could always count on) and about 7 miles to go!  So I pushed on!  I rode about 7 miles on a flat tire and rim!  It was exasperating, now I had to manage my HR not because of the workout, but because of frustration!  I stood and leaned on the front tire for what seemed like forever with people passing me (again)! 

The Run:  It was good to get on my feet and attempt to recover the best I could.  I was worn out from leaning on the front tire, standing on the bike and by now just wanting to finish the race.  The run was ok but it was good to be on my feet and eventually shake it off and focus on running the 6 miles. 

With all that being said, my goal was to expand my horizon, and I sure did!  Looking back I really learned a lot and what I need to do better for the next race or two this fall.  However, I appreciate your blogs Josh, being a pro and hearing both your accomplishments and struggles you have helped me immensely!  Keep up the good work and keep blogging!

-          Jason Key


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Andrew Vicary (AUS) - Kona Prep in Cairns 70.3

Firstly, thanks to Josh for asking me to post a race report and secondly for the honest advice on bike choice recently, specifically the new Felt IA.

I travelled to Cairns in the hope of escaping the cold that has usually well and truly set in at home in Penrith, NSW Australia by early June, and stepped out of Cairns airport around lunchtime Friday into 28c temps and a growling 30-35km wind. I was hoping for a hot race, not so much the wind though. Either way though I was looking forward to kicking off my Kona training with a good day out in Cairns.

I hadn’t raced since Challenge Batemans Bay in mid-March, and hadn’t really got any decent consistent training in until mid-May where I managed to string three solid weeks of training together but I wasn’t expecting anything special come Sunday.

Saturday morning I went for a quick spin around town on the new IA with mates Mick who was racing the full IM and Nick who did the 70.3, then a quick jog along the foreshore and headed up to T1 at Palm Cove to check the bike and gear in. The ocean was looking very ugly, which I hoped would be the case the next day, it always splits the field to pieces.

I got up at 3:00am race day to catch the 4:20am bus up to Palm Cove, had a couple of extra strong coffees (instant-yuck) for breakfast and went outside to check the weather, it was raining and windy. The bus arrived at T1 about 5:00am and I hid in the mechanics tent for as long as possible before I got changed into my wetty, pumped up the Firecrest’s, ate a gel and headed out of T1 to hide out of the rain until go time at 7:03am, it was cold waiting around.

SWIM

My age group was third last to go, the sea was choppy with a bit of swell but nothing like the day before, we swam straight out about 450m I’m guessing, and after 100m or so I noticed a gap opening up, I jumped across and stayed in the front group to the first can where we turned right for about 1km. Along this straight we swam through the wave in front and it was hard to know where I was in our group from here on in. After the last turn the swell really gave you a big push and this one was the most fun I’ve ever had in a 70.3 swim. I got out in 28 mins 10th in my age, happy to survive the local Crocs and Box Jellyfish.

BIKE

Onto the IA and there was some really rough speed humps in the first few hundred metres, I lost my bidon of sports drink, which left me with one of Redbull until I grabbed one at an aid station at about 50km. The bike course is great at Cairns, with some decent undulations along the way and was reasonably windy but not too bad. I’d only done about 150km on the new Felt IA before race day, but I am stoked with how comfortable and fast the IA is, and also how good the Di2 11 speed and new 404/808 Zipp carbon clinchers were, I’m glad I made the switch to the Felt.

I started to struggle with about 30 km to go, as I expected I would. With about 20km to go I got swallowed by a group of about 12 drafting cheats sitting half a metre apart and riding three abreast at stages. I tried about four times to get away but the group is stronger than one and they kept catching me. I eventually got away with a couple km’s to go before T2, but god it’s frustrating.

I rode 2:35 and got off in 16th in my age.

RUN

I got off the bike angry, but also with zapped legs and wasn’t sure what to expect on the run, especially the back end of it. I decided to just give it a decent whack early and see how long I could hold on for. I felt pretty good, and was passing plenty of people which is always good for the confidence. The rain hadn’t let up all day, and my shoes were soaking, which made it interesting as there were a lot of U turns on course and every time I turned I could feel the sole of the shoe collapsing. By the last lap the shoes were basically destroyed.

I kept pushing all the way, and thought I was running ok, but had no idea of the time as I don’t normally wear a watch for the shorter races. I finished up with a 1:28 run split and race time of 4:38 which put me in 11th in my age and 64th overall.

All things considered I’m really happy with the outcome, and am looking forward to the Kona build off a positive start at Cairns. I’d highly recommend the Cairns 70.3 or IM to anyone looking for a warm escape in tropical North Queensland. Even though it was wet all day, once the race started it wasn’t cold all day.

Thanks for reading and all the best for your season ahead, wherever that might be.

AV 

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Jason Weaver - 'Race for Redemption' at Buffalo Springs 70.3

What a difference three months can make! Back in April, I wrote a blog for the AG Corner about my “Category 5 Collapse” at 70.3 NOLA where I went for it all on the bike and paid the price. My two-wheeled attack resulted in my two feet basically walking it home for 13.1 miles. Was a painful lesson to learn but it was definitely put to use! I’ve kept in touch with Josh since that debacle and can’t say enough about his encouragement. Really speaks volumes about what kind of guy he is!

Without further ado, here is my report from the “Race for Redemption” at 70.3 Buffalo Springs and my pursuit of my 70.3 World Championship spot.

Swim:

The swim is a beach start with a fair share of dolphin diving/running for the first 50 meters. Like I had previously mentioned, I am not a strong swimmer but it is coming around. I had a brand new wetsuit to give me a little confidence and I placed myself on the front row/far right to give me the best angle to the first buoy. When the gun went off, I can say I was in the top 3 of the swim for about 10 seconds and then of course I was getting passed. But, if you can’t be fast then be aggressive. I held my line and really had no issues to the buoy or throughout the course. One of my team’s sponsors, Playtri of Dallas, has an Endless Pool where I have been doing a lot of sighting drills. This definitely paid dividends for me as historically I could never swim straight. This swim was spot on and I exited the water in a little over 35 mins and 28th in my AG. Onto the bike….would I make the same mistake as NOLA?

Bike:

This bike course is the real deal. They actually added in another huge climb this year. To say it was “windy” would be an insult to Mother Nature. For those that have never been to West Texas, there is nothing to stop the wind from beating you down. There is nowhere to hide. So, a 20 mph wind feels like a 30+ mph wind and there was plenty of it. And, did I mention the projected high temp for the day was 103 degrees? After getting past the two climbs that greet you right out of T1, I focused on getting my HR settled down into my zones and pace my effort. Once hitting the first section of headwind, I was determined to get as aero as possible and not over bike. I reached the first turnaround and then had the benefit of a now massive tailwind. Took in my nutrition and ran out of gears heading back the way I came. Honestly, the crosswinds were the worst part of the ride. With the course layout, there is quite a bit of crosswind between all of the turnarounds. I felt like I was going to get blown off the road. Throughout the ride, I had a death grip on my bar extensions. Again, I focused on my HR zones and moved up from 28th place in my AG out of the water to 8th place off the bike with a split of 2:40. The wind and climbs really took a toll on everyone and the run was setup to be a “last man standing” race.

Run:

Just thinking about the run course at BSLT makes my legs hurt. The first 2.5 miles let you get your legs under you but then you are met with a massive hill at mile three. Like the majority of the racers, I chose to power walk it faster than I could run it. I used the walking time to get in nutrition and get my HR under control. After that hill, you get some reprieve from a solid downhill but zero shade for the next seven miles. One more climb and then it was off to “Energy Lab #2” which is a false-flat to the middle of nowhere. You can see the heat beaming off the ground and hear the buzz of all the power lines. You’re surrounded by desert and the turnaround never seems to get closer. You’ve got to gut this part out. I took whatever pace my legs would give me and held on through this section which is about 4.5 miles worth of effort. You encounter one more climb before you are back by the lake in the park. Honestly, the last three miles is extremely taxing on your mind. You can hear the echo of the finish line bouncing off the canyon but you can’t quite see it. I had no idea where I was in my AG because I hadn’t been passed by anyone on the run nor was I really passing anyone either. I was in “no man’s land” for 13.1 miles. I kept looking back over my shoulder but never saw anyone approaching. I crossed the line with a run split of 1:46 and an overall time of 5:07.

Awards:

I quickly learned I had finished in 7th in my AG and my hopes got really high for a Worlds roll down. Two of my best friends/training buddies/Loncar teammates, Tyler and Ashley Johnson, had incredible races so I knew I was going to the awards dinner regardless. Ashley actually won her AG by 30mins and was the 5th OA Female including PROs! Tyler and I are in the same AG and he had an incredible race for a 4th place finish. I knew I needed to get lucky for a spot. When they finally got to the Male 30-34 AG, I was on the edge of my seat. First place passed on his spot….Second took his…..Third wasn’t there…..Fourth place was Tyler and he got his spot….Fifth took his……so there went the three spots allocated to our AG. BUT, we got an extra spot and when Sixth place was a no show, it rolled to me in 7th! That moment is a blur and I only hope I didn’t totally embarrass myself with my reaction. This is only my second full season in triathlon and my first Worlds race. I am sure there is some type of unwritten rule to “act like you’ve been there before” but I didn’t care. I was going to be excited and show it!  The next hour was full of credit card receipts, USADA forms, texts and social media posts. I can’t imagine being more satisfied.

Final Recap:

More than anything, I want you to get three things from this. First, a bad race does not define you. This is tough for us “Type A” personalities to come to grips with. There are always more entry fees that can be paid. It’s ok to be upset but use it as a learning and move on. NOLA was an incredibly hard race to stomach but in the end it might’ve been the best thing for me. Second, surround yourself with people you want to emulate. Out of my small training group, there are five of us age-groupers now going to 70.3 Worlds. I learn so much from each one of these friends and we support each other without question. Lastly, don’t ever let a dream feel too big. If your goal doesn’t push you, then it is holding you back from your full potential. There will be dark times where something you want so badly may seem like a fool’s pursuit but the only person that can control your effort is you. You decide what you want in life…you decide what you are willing to sacrifice to get it….and you get to work. It worked for me and it will work for you. Choose to be the best you that you can be.

 

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Lou Therien - A win in Mont Tremblant 70.3

2 days after Tremblant 70.3, and all I can think of is that all of the hard work, dedication and sacrifices I’ve made are now paying off.  This season so far has been great for me with a solid performance at Florida 70.3, the Rev3 30-34 Age Group Series win and a 6th place at the Ottawa Race Weekend Half Marathon, but those were nothing compared to my past performance in Tremblant, Quebec.  That performance has solidified a level of confidence in me I knew was always there but it just reaffirmed it for me.

 There are too many things to say about how great Tremblant is, but, in short, the place is awesome!!! Organization, location, volunteers, pre-race training...  you name it, it’s got it!  This was the third edition of the 70.3 race and also my third attempt at pushing myself!  I’m lucky enough to have access to a condo on the hill year round, which helps with course knowledge and training...  gotta thank the in-laws for that!

 Pre-race activities are the same as usual.  Coach Phil has me doing my regular race week workouts and I stick with my routine meals of Steak Thursday, Pasta Friday and Pizza Saturday!  As usual my main sponsor, Dad, was with me for the race, but I was lucky enough to have my wife and mom join us this time.  Their support means everything to me.

 

Race day

 Up at a reasonably early time, I got my morning fuel in with a nice big cup of coffee and made my way to transition with a good 30 minutes to spare.  After making sure everything in transition was in order and ready to go, we made our way to the swim start to watch the Pro men and women take off.  Unfortunately our swim wave was one of the last, meaning that there was a long wait before starting, but there’s not much you can do about that.  After a quick swimming warm-up, I walked under the blue arch and set at the front of the line.  As the horn went off it was go time.  I promised myself that this race was going to hurt the entire time, and that it did.  The swim was very congested at times, making it a little difficult to find room and having to maneuver around swimmers often.  It was the same for everyone, so I thought, Let’s just go with it and push the pace.  The entire swim I was feeling great and was able to hold a strong rhythm.  Getting to the end of the swim with my first foot strike on the beach, I knew this was going to be a good day.  Trying to run the long transition as fast as I could, I got to my bike, helmet on, wetsuit off, ran to the bike mount and started pushing.

 “ALL OR NOTHING” is something I thought about as soon as I got on the bike, and I have to thank Josh Amberger for that because of the time when he had a discussion with Sebastian Kienle.  Don’t hold back on the bike and push hard like you do during training.  I’ve become very familiar with myself and know where the breaking point is so on the Tremblant course I made sure I was right on the tipping scale!!  It’s very difficult knowing where you are at when racing with 2000 other athletes starting at various times, so the easiest thing to do is to bike hard and GO!  And that’s exactly what I did.  Close to the turnaround a fellow LifeSport athlete and competitor, Nicholas Courville, caught up and led for a good chunk but ended up fading a little towards the end.  Right to the bike dismount it was go time, even in the hills during the last 20k.  Strong bike and ready to run like we’ve done in training.

 Out of T2 it was time to prove to myself that I can run hard off the bike.  It’s been done during training, so why not now?  1k, 2k, 4k, 10k went by through the initial hills and flatter parts of the course and I was holding a solid pace.  At the start of the run Coach Phil let me know that I had one guy in front and that was it.  My one mission from that point on was to catch the dude and not to give up.  At the first turnaround I caught my first glimpse of him, and later got a split from Nicholas, 50 seconds back.  Ok, I’ve got this...  keep running at your pace and keep making it hurt is all I was thinking.  Next turnaround, he was about 15 seconds back.  Before I knew it he was right in front of me but hit me with a surge I couldn’t hold.  Ok, no worries. Still 4k to go.  In the next 3k I made my way back to him, not giving up, but it was the last 600m uphill where things happened!  At the base of the last climb Coach Phil was there to cheer me on and give me much needed encouragement: “C’mon, C’mon, get him, get him, you got this, c’mon, NO REGRETS”.  The words NO REGRETS were exactly what I needed to hear.  Why hold back and finish 2nd?  Why not destroy yourself for the win knowing you absolutely pushed yourself to your limits?  That’s exactly what I did.  BANG, sprint the uphill past the dude, a couple of right turns and down the finish chute to cross the line knowing I laid it down!  That moment I had and shared with Phil at the bottom of the hill is something I will never forget.

                                                                         Ed. - Love Lou's hurt-face here!!!

                                                                         Ed. - Love Lou's hurt-face here!!!

 My performance in Tremblant got me 1st amateur and 5th overall with professionals.  Yes, race day comes down to only you, but I wouldn’t have been able to get here without the support of my wife, family, friends and one dedicated coach!  I will be back in Tremblant  for the IM 70.3 World Championships this September!      

 

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Louis Therien (Gatineau, QC Canada) - 70.3 Florida

Well after a very long winter, which is still not over, Florida 70.3 was here.  Thinking about that day gave me the motivation I needed to fuel each and every workout I had to complete indoors. 

 

A few buddies of mine decided to make this a group trip for the race to try and save some coin, ended up working out very well.  We ended up flying down on the Thursday in order to get used to the heat, considering the warmest day we had was probably -2 back home!  Prior to the race we got a few good rides in, some runs and a few dips in the gator infested lake!  Luckily nothing happened.

 

Going into the race I have never felt any better or fit as I did at that point in training or in my career.  I was hitting each goal for every single workout.  This got me very excited to toe the line. Everything that I usually did pre race was done and it was time to get the wetsuit on.

 

Swim:  First time I have ever done an M-Shaped course and I hope it’s the last.  Being in the last wave also didn’t help.  I had a plan to try and stay wide on each out and back, but it seems like that backfired on me as I ended up taking a way longer path.  What felt good and fast ended up being very slow!  Tough shit, time to hit it on the bike. (32:32 BARF)

 

Bike:  The bike is usually my best of the 3 and it didn’t disappoint on that day.  Right from the start it was pedal to the metal.  I train with power but I don’t race with it.  Like Josh mentioned on the podcast while talking with Sebastien Kienle, IT’S A RACE, ALL OR NOTHING!!!  That’s what I kept telling myself.  Being in the last wave I blew by the entire field.  Biked alone he entire time doing the passing and not getting passed once.  At that point I knew things were on. (2:14)

 

Run:  This part has killed me in the past during hot races, but today was different.  I was able to manage the heat by getting as much ice as possible at each aid station and getting it down my shorts, front and back.  The best way to stay cool.  My goal was to run a 4min/k in the heat but ended just over that.  The 3 loop course was great and made it a little easier on the mental side.  (1:25)

 

Overall, a great first race to the season.  Ended up 22nd overall and 4th amateur.  Happy with the result, but now moving my sights to Rev3 Knoxville Championship race May 18.

 

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Jason Weaver (Dallas TX) – Ironman 70.3 New Orleans

First, I want to thank Josh for asking me to pen my thoughts concerning my latest race and for his training suggestions and encouragement. It’s inspiring to see a Pro such as Josh engaging with the AG ranks.

I came into NOLA with high hopes and huge expectations. This would be my second triathlon of 2014 and a litmus test for the start of my second full triathlon season. Unknown to me, there was a Category 5 collapse brewing.

For personal background, to put it kindly, I am not a strong Open Water Swimmer. At 32 years of age and not really learning how to properly swim until 30, this has presented quite the challenge. While making minimal gains in the swim the past year, I have been focusing more on my cycling and running. I am truly blessed to be a part of the Brian Loncar Racing Team in Dallas and to have a core training group that has been instrumental in helping me achieve huge improvement in these two disciplines. With my physical abilities in mind, the plan was to simply survive the swim….hammer the bike…and empty the tank on the run. Such great intentions but the day would offer an abundance of challenges.

1.2 Mile Swim

NOLA is a time trial start with six swimmers entering the water completing a “M Shaped” course. Honestly, I enjoyed this more than the mass/wave starts. Even with limited swim skills, I put myself to the front of my AG wave to get in the water as quickly as possible. When the whistle blew, I took the inside line along the buoys and felt great going out. After the first turn, my swim quickly began to unravel. Sighting and swimming straight in open water is a big problem for me. I always drift to the right….always. On this swim course, I would need to head more in a diagonal to the left and I just couldn’t orientate my body to do this. I was fighting the course layout as well as a current that was pulling me away from the buoy. I was literally alone drifting in the middle of the course. I was finally able to make it to the second buoy and sighting back to the last turn buoy was much easier with a boat docking area lining the path on my breathing side. I exited the water in just over 39 mins and according to my Garmin; I had swam an extra .2 miles which is about par for the course for me.

56 Mile Bike

For my fellow weak swimmers, you can relate to the fact that there are few joys greater than arriving in T1 and mounting our bikes. Just you and your shiny machine for miles upon miles of blacktop hammering out the watts. Like I had mentioned, my plan was to lay down an epic bike time and pull back much of the lost time in the swim. What I was left with was a painful lesson in how to manage my energy and expectations. In case you haven’t heard, the NOLA bike course was absolutely brutal that day. The winds were easily 20+ mph and there was a headwind or hurting cross wind for what felt like 40 miles of the 56 mile course. Coming off the mount line, my heart rate instantly went to 170+, which is Zone 4+ Olympic range for me, as I began my ill-advised assault on the course and would stay in that zone for a good 40-45mins. Pushing hard into those headwinds made it impossible for me to settle down but I was determined to just go for it and see what happens. Around the 1hr 20 min mark, I really began to fade and by mile 40 I was full-on bonking. There were thoughts of “maybe I just need to get off the bike and rest” to “am I even going to finish this thing”. My back was cramping. I coasted some and soft pedaled. I was on my base-bar often and was only able to really push with short-lived relief from the few sections of tailwind. The last 5 miles was dead into the headwind along the seawall and felt like the longest stretch of cycling in my life. Aided by my hour long early effort, I was able to get off the bike in 2:33 but my race was all but over at that point.

13.1 Mile Run

Running out of T2, my quads were already tapping out and cramping up. Gotta love the fact that the NOLA run course has a huge bridge to climb in the first two miles. I came up to it and instantly decided to walk up it. The next 12 miles was a combination of jogging and walking. My tank was running on fumes and I had no interest in putting myself into so much distress that it would hurt any of my upcoming races. I had given it my best effort and it had failed. I had teammates and friends waiting for me at the finish so I was going to continue by salvaging what I could. Honestly, there were a few moments on the run that were enjoyable. I had walking conversations with fellow racers that were having similar days. I made sure to thank the volunteers as I strolled through aid stations and acknowledge their efforts. Crossed the line with a 2:06 jog/walk and was ready to move on.

Final Thoughts

My finishing time was 5:24 but little did I know that while I was having my worst race ever, my teammates and friends were crushing it! In fact, my dear friend and training partner Lauren Barnett was busy WINNING her pro debut at the 70.3 distance. On top of this, there were several in my circle that were on the AG podium and receiving their 70.3 WC slots. I am not going to lie; I was very disappointed in myself and my result. I am not one to hide my emotions and my friends could tell I was upset. One by one, throughout the rest of the day they offered encouragement and support with high hopes for future outcomes. At some point traveling home, it really hit me that this was the most important take away from the whole experience. Triathlon is not simply about racing the clock but the bonds that we form in our community. There is so much to gain from our ability as competitors to support one another as we push relentlessly, and somewhat obsessively, towards our goals. Each of us will encounter a race where misery comes crashing upon us but we are able to make it through not by our own will but by the urging of those that race along with us.  Lauren texted me after the race to simply say “I commend you for your confidence and for taking a risk on that bike. You won’t ever know your limits unless you take risks and most people are way too afraid and play it safe.” That about sums it up for me now as I have had time to reflect on the day. I hope that this encourages you to dare greatly in your next race. To take a chance and experience holding on for dear life. That our final result doesn’t define us. And ultimately, it’s not about how fast we crossed the line but about whom we carried along with us and why we chose on that day to give it everything we had.

 

Follow Jason on Twitter - @WEAVEstrong

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Rene Durrant - Abu Dhabi Race Report

Thermonuclear meltdown in Abu Dhabi

 

After hearing about the Abu Dhabi triathlon over the last few years, it was a race I definitely wanted to do. They say it is one of the most glamorous races in the world, and it did not disappoint.

 

Given my brother lives in the UAE, I thought I would take the opportunity to visit and do the race with him. While I was keen to do the short course 1500/100/10, my brother was not so confident doing the distance - so we opted for the so-called ‘sprint distance’ - 750/50/5. Right from the start I was sure my brother would be beat me - he always has. Ever since he was in high school he has been an endurance animal, running sub 10 hour IM’s and many super quick oly’s.  But, given his recent switch to x-fit; I though this was my best chance to get one up on him.

 

UAE as a destination is amazing.  It’s basically one big country on sand – apparently millions of years ago it was the bottom of the ocean. The architecture and decadence of both Dubai and Abu Dhabi is seriously of another world, and although this is one of the reasons you go there – I was there to race.  However, since the birth of my second child a year ago, working 50 hour weeks and trying to split my time across many different activities, I have not had the time to get much training in. In the 2 months leading up to the race averaged 1 swim, 1 ride and 2 runs per week. Certainly not enough to make any real progress, but hopefully enough to complete the distance. Something that was very much on my mind at the latter stages of the bike and the run.

 

The morning of the race was very warm, but I was not that concerned, as I knew the race would be over in a couple of hours. I remember trying not to drink too much as I really did not want to have to pee while racing – rookie mistake. The temperature during the run ended up at 33 degrees and I really wish that I had drunk plenty more before the race and during the bike.

 

Swim 750m

If you had of told me 10 years ago, during the second Gulf War I would be swimming in the Persian Gulf, I would have thought you were insane. However, this water was probably the most beautiful water I have ever swum in. Crystal clear, warm and so much salt you would have trouble sinking a brick. If you do chose to do the race, and it’s a non-wetsuit swim, you can be confident that there’s just about no way you could drown. Even though, I decided to wear my safety blanket. I wasn’t the only one; I think probably half the field wore wetsuits.

 

I’m not sure whether it was because it was so salty, the course was a little short, or I was swim fit, but I did one of my quickest swims over the 750m (12:36). I would like to say it was the latter, but it was probably a combination of the former. The swim is my worst leg – always, but for this race it was probably the most enjoyable part. Exiting the water, with minimal water inhaled, it was a quick trip through the tent, grab my helmet and run to the bike. The great thing about Abu Dhabi is that the whole transition area is covered in red carpet. So it should be – I was coming to race! Just as I ran onto the carpet and was about to take the turn, I heard someone yell ‘careful of the carpet, its slippery!’  Just at that point, trying to slow into the corner I skidded out wide and smacked into someone’s bike, knocking it flying off the rack. I tuned to go and re-rack it, but was signaled to keep going by a volunteer who did it for me (thanks).  After a fairly long run of about 200m it was onto the bike to see what my little legs could do.

 

Bike 50km (40km + explosion)

Getting on the bike, I felt pretty much as I expected – breathless - panting like a Bulldog on a choker chain. After a couple of minutes though, the heart rate settled and I got about trying to ride as smoothly and as fast as I could. My strategy was, given it is only 10km more than an Olympic, to go as fast as I could. However, in hindsight I should have taken it a lot easier. The bike leg is 2 laps on nice slick roads north following the coastline, out to Saadiyat Island and back, though I really was not in any state to enjoy the scenery.

 

About 5k’s into the ride, I came upon three Emiratee local guys, riding true team time trial style. At this stage I was riding quite well and came up to them easily and as I went to pass the last guy I said ‘come on boys, no drafting today’.  I am not sure if something got lost in translation, but one of them started to scream in Arabic at me, as the front guy veered straight in front of me nearly causing me to end up in hospital. With a big shot of adrenaline I decided to just leg it and pedaled on to try and get off the team time trial of terror course. As I did, one of the guys was screaming ‘Yala, Yala, Yala!’ - he didn’t sound happy at all. So, to ensure I didn’t become involved in some local triathlon jihad, I pushed on, only to see the guys trying to ride up onto me. I later learned that what he was yelling was ‘go, go, go’, and it was likely him and his mate were trying to grab my wheel. Where was I? What the heck was going on? I proceeded to not look behind, but could tell that for nearly the whole bike these guys were drafting like true TTT pros.

 

 

While the bike course is basically flat, it goes over the Sheikh Khalifa Bridge, which is the only hill in Abu Dhabi. While not that long maybe 500m at 8% or so, I didn’t let up, and really felt my legs hurt more each time I went over. So much so, that the last time, with 11km to go, my legs exploded all over the road. After this point, I could hardly pedal anymore, and along with category 9 pain in my lower back making the next 10km’s some of the slowest and most uncomfortable ever. During this time, I really thought that I might not finish the bike, let alone be able to run. How in the world was I going to be able to run? I really started to think that I might not finish, or probably have to walk the run if I made it that far. Getting of at T2, I was now in no doubt of the hurt that the run was going to bring. After riding really well for the first lap or so, I really slowed towards the end and finished with a 1:29. This was definitely a few minutes slower than I had hoped to do.

 

The Run 5km

Coming out of the tent and trying to run was one of the most futile experiences of my life. I was trying to run as hard as I could, and it felt like I was walking. I looked at the Garmin and it was reading 4:35 per/k. Far out, I can usually run 3:45 off the bike. This was really hurting and I was hot – really hot! My head was spinning out and I thought at any point I would have to stop. I saw my brother at about 3km, as he was coming the other way - I was ahead if him! But I was in such bad shape I thought he could probably make up the 2k’s or so. Not likely, but I wasn’t thinking straight. In fact, I felt really delirious and ill. I kept pushing at my pedestrian pace, and finished with a 23min 5k- my slowest ever.  After crossing the line I wasn’t feeling well and was escorted away where I was bathed in ice and consumed copious amounts of liquids. Over the next hour I drank around four litres and it wasn’t until late in the afternoon, before I went to the toilet. I never thought over such a short distance you could get so dehydrated.

 

Even given my thermonuclear meltdown on the bike and the run, I was ecstatic to have finished. This was the hardest race I had ever done. Probably a function of being not fit to race at the bike speed I wanted and overheating/dehydration. While I thought I had enough to drink on the bike, given it was 33 degrees, it was clear I didn’t.

 

My overall time for the race was 2:11, while slower than I wanted, managed to get me 6th in my age group. To say I was chuffed is an understatement, but mostly with the ability to keep going, when I seriously thought I was going to meet my maker. And while during the run, my head was thinking it was never going to let me do this again, I am currently sitting here planning and thinking about my next race.

 

Follow Rene on Twitter!

 

 

 

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Adrian Moy - Canberra, Australia

Firstly many thanks to Josh for opening up this part of his world to age group stories - it's often written that the accessibility to top tier triathletes is an enormous benefit that our sport has almost all to itself. I could never share what it was like kicking the footy on the same ground in the same conditions as AFL players, or playing in front of the same crowd as NBA players at Madison Square Garden. But all of us age group athletes can share war stories of "the wind on that return run leg" or " the chop heading out to the first swim turn" with the best in the sport. To me, this is a unique benefit that long course triathlon has over short course racing given the separation of the elite ITU races from the amateur races.

Growing up predominantly in Melbourne then Canberra, I played team sports (Aussie Rules football, cricket, basketball) from about 11years old until mid thirties when my body just couldn't back up from the impacts of Canberra third grade football and bade a farewell to mighty ANU Griffins.

I stumbled across the Exceed training squad in Canberra and, despite not being able to swim 100m non-stop, started out racing the local Sunday Triathlon ACT races. I jumped in the deep end riding and running with multiple Ironman finishers and Kona qualifiers. (I remember the first open water swim on the Lake Burley Griffin rowing course where I blew to pieces swimming to the start buoy! The swim hadn't even started!) Again, a rookie to local football can't go and train with the state representative team - which is in effect what I was able to do and soak up all I could. The friends I found at this group are my best mates to this day.

Little by little I would get dropped a little later on the Saturday Man Rides, would be lapped a little less often in the swim squads and be a little less behind on the Wednesday lunchtime interval runs. After expressing out loud in my first summer that I could never see myself training and racing Ironman, I got hooked on the sport - the equipment, the pushing yourself in training, the tangible fitness improvements, the pro racing, the lot.

What I have been able to do is maintain my own training progression while mixing in joint sessions with friends. This summer I had planned a lighter race schedule, with one mid-long distance at Callala Beach (2k / 60k / 15k) - could not recommend this race enough - and two long course races at Huskisson and Challenge Batemans Bay.

I've accepted now after a few hard lessons learned that I need to adapt group training sessions around what works for me. And just as importantly, plan my race week / weekend and of course race execution to suit my abilities and age. Being the only one of my group over 40 I've taken on board advice regarding training intensities and recovery which need to be adapted from approaches that younger athletes can use. I do a select number of sessions with my friends that suit me, but have learned when to stay solo.

This really hit home for me during last winter after some ok but mostly frustrating races last summer. I'd possibly over raced, not been as careful with race nutrition, and executed a poorly paced race at Ironman Melbourne. During last winter I had a really good couple of months of training preparing for a mid distance race in the UK (3rd overall) and executed a good day at the Las Vegas 70.3 world champs. (One of the best memories of the day was seeing Josh bombing off the front at Vegas coming out of the National Park with Keinle and the field trying to reel him in.)

I had quite good races this summer at Callala (4th in AG, just being pipped in the Exceed World Champs despite being older than the rest of the crew), Huskisson Long Course (12th AG and a 10 minute PB for that course) and Challenge Batemens Bay Half this past weekend (3rd AG and being pipped in the rematch of the Exceed champs by a few seconds.) What I am most pleased about is the preparation and race day execution. If I had one thing to offer from my somewhat limited experience is to get a plan and execute it - both preparation / training plan and race day plan. A good friend and Kona Qualifier wisely told me regarding coaching and training to not act like the cancer patient going from doctor to doctor (or coach to coach - or even internet article to article) looking for the next miracle.

Looking forward it's an easy week or two - a mini mid-season break basically - then lock down in an ironman prep for IM Mont Tremblant in Canada in August. I've put it out there that if the stars align, and I execute a great day ('good' probably won't be enough) I may be in the mix for a ticket to the Big Island. Maybe.

Thanks again to Josh for the opportunity to share my story, and all the best to him and anyone reading.

 

Follow Adrian on twitter Adrian_Moy

 

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René Durrant - Triathlon or Die

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René Durrant - Triathlon or Die

As someone who is so passionate about triathlon, I often come across people who ask me why I would partake in such a gruelling activity - sometimes I ask myself the same question. 


My desire to participate in triathlon was definitely not inspired from leaving one of Melbourne’s many feral nightclubs twenty or so years ago and seeing crazed individuals in fluoro spandex swimming, riding or running down along St Kilda’s beach road. Nor was it while driving up Mt Dandenong and watching these lunatics climbing what seemed like an endless hill on their bikes. Who were these mental cases? I thought these triathletes had serious neurological conditions. So why is it that I love the sport so much so, that my day and week is focussed around my next training activity, or dreaming of that feeling of crossing a finish line so smashed, and knowing I could not have gone any harder.


And there it is. I just love the emotional, psychological and physical feeling I experience from training and racing. I will probably never win my age group, grab an age group prime, or win a tri- except maybe against a field of local clubbies. But that is not the reason I love the sport. Yes I love the competition, and without racing against others, there is no way I could get that feeling, but the main reason I do triathlon is because I love the training and the feeling of racing.


Triathlon is hard. Anyone who says it is not is lying. And that’s why I love it. While there is the satisfaction and fulfilment I get from doing the training, it is the fact that I can race that gets me through and what I long for. Nothing can beat that feeling just before the gun goes off. With every second, your heart beats faster and faster, until it is nearly going to come out of your chest. To when you come sprinting into T1, fumbling with your kit thinking your heart is actually going to explode and wondering ‘where have all the bikes gone’. Or that feeling of riding TT amongst 1500 other athletes feeling like you are really part of something special – although you wish so many guys were not going past you. But the ultimate and my most desired feeling is when I come out of T2. Everyone knows it, but there is no feeling like trying to run fast after biking like a mad dog at full-gas. That feeling of dead, unresponsive legs, the burn with every step – there is nothing better! For me, the run is where it all gets really fun. The accumulation of lactic acid off the bike, and now I am trying to do a PR for the run. Yes, now that’s what I love about triathlon  - the sting of race day!


I have to say, I now go riding or running down past some of the same areas I use to frequent at what some would call, ungodly hours, and I look at those misspent youth leaving clubs and parties and wonder, who are these crazed individuals who have been out all night. Who knows? Maybe one day they might see the light as well.


Follow René on Twitter


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