High Cliff Triathlon 2007

The High Cliff Half Ironman race was the final race of my busy month of June (4 races in 5 weeks, 3 of which were Half Ironmans).  Going into this race I had some private doubts about my fitness and conditioning, along with the amount of fatique I had from racing so much.  Earlier in the week there was a part of me that thought it would be a good idea to withdraw from the race or switch to the sprint.  I held out and went for the half.

I started the race in Wave 2, meaning that I had a 3 minute advantage on all of the fast people in the first wave.  The swim was a clockwise rectangular swim.  As usual from the start line it seemed like a super long swim.

Since Mary was starting in the same wave as me she and I started right next to each other – it was great being able to give her one last “Good Luck” and a kiss with 20 seconds to go!  I started strong from the start – after the Rockman debacle, I had a private bone to pick with myself about the swim, so I swam hard.  By the time I got to the last turn buoy I had caught the main pack of the first wave, and I quickly blew by them.  I could see one or two people up ahead a bit, but I couldn’t catch them.

I felt great in the swim, Mary told me that “I tried to stay with you, but you just took off.”  When I exited the water I was sub 25, and about mid 25 when I crossed the timing matt after a short hard run up a hill.

Time: 25:39
OA/AG: 1st/1st

T2 was empty when I got there, not a soul to be seen.  If I hadn’t see a couple of folks way up there on the swim from the earlier wave, I would have guessed I had passed everyone.  I moved quickly, with purpose through tranistion – not rushing but making sure I had my ducks in a row.  The course at High Cliff doesn’t reward a speedy transition because within a quarter mile you have a healthy mile or two climb before you can get rolling.

I got out of transition and sped towards the hill, started up it and popped it into a nice easy gear to just spin up it.  I was passed pretty quickly by Terry and another guy (who wears a candy strip jersey, so I’ve taken to calling him Candystriper – no offense intended).  I frankly didn’t care because I knew that it was early in the race and the race couldn’t be won on this hill.

Once I got up the hill and out of the park, I shifted up into the big ring and started riding.  I passed Candystriper pretty quickly, and settled in to reel Terry in – kind of scary, really a year ago I would have never thought myself capable of riding with Terry, let alone reel him in.  Within a mile or so I had caught Terry, and I passed him strongly to try and gain a mental edge by not only having time on him on the road, but having 3 virtual minutes in my pocket.

I road as hard, or harder then I did at Rockman, with no respect for the fact that I had to run 13 miles afterwards.  I traded passes with Terry once or twice, but around 10 miles he and I got passed by a rocket, and I found another gear and went after that guy – dropping Terry in the process.

From that point on I rode pretty much alone the remainder of the ride, cussing every now and then about the lead car being a bit to close to the lead guy.  Around what felt like mile 40, my legs started to really complain about the tempo, I had a bit of a weak moment and let up for a little while.  That lasted a couple of miles until a look back showed Terry and a couple of other guys in sight behind me, I shifted back into extreme suffer mode, and held the gap until T2.

It wasn’t my fastest HIM ride, but it was a more challenging course then Rockman and had a bit meaner of a headwind throughout.

Time: 2:26:18
OA/AG: 6th/2nd

As I was leaving T2 a spectator told me that with the stagger I was down 4 minutes from first place.  As I was leaving transition I could hear Terry’s wife cheering for him, so I figured I was about a minute up the road from him.  My plan for the run was to run a moderate pace to the hill, then to just get up it, and then see what I could do.

The run is up the big hill, two loops around the top of the park, and then back down.  90% of the loop is through the woods on a bark chip trail that winds throughout the park.  As I was running up the hill I glanced back every now and again to try and gauge where Terry was, and the other one or two guys who rolling into T2 near him.  When I got to the top of the hill I wasn’t able to see them, but they were probably just around the bend.

Around mile 1.5 I was passed by a guy who was really moving, I didn’t feel comfortable trying to stay with him so i just kept running my pace.  Finally around mile 2 I could hear Terry running behind me – at this point I picked the pace up just a little to keep him back.  As we neared mile 4 Terry and another guy caught me – at the same time a spectator told us we were 4 minutes down on the lead – so 1 minute for me.

Shortly after that Terry started to pick up the pace a little bit, I don’t know if it was the urge to catch the leader or to drop me, but I was determined to keep with him – I stayed with him for another mile or so until my quads threatened to start cramping.  I decided to back off the pace a bit.  Terry quickly ran off from me.  Every couple of miles I tried to pick the pace back up, but between my legs wanting to cramp and a nasty blister I had formed – I just couldn’t push the pace.

Time: 1:36:53
OA/AG:  19th/5th

Final: 4:31:17
OA/AG: 5th/1st

Back on the horse

This week is the first week of my training cycle for Kona.  I’ve spent the last 8 weeks or so with my training in a holding pattern.  I’ve done a few hard races – but I’ve really been limiting my training to the 15ish hour or so range since IMAZ, with the first two weeks pretty much off.  I’m very fit, but not “sharp”.

Last week was pretty interesting, I did the High Cliff Half Ironman.  Early in the week I was contemplating how much I really wanted to do this race – I was feeling a bit tired, and not super motivated.  In the end I decided to go for it and see what I had.  Saturday as I was packing for the race I discovered a horizontal crack in my bike’s seat mast.

After freaking out a bit, I headed to Emery’s to see what they could do for me.  Turns out they were able to move all of my equipment over to a new frame of the same size and model at no charge – since the frame was covered under warranty.  They even got it done that same day so I could race the next.  Great guys!

The race went well, I beat my time at High Cliff from last year by about 2 minutes.  I had a great swim, an awesome bike (8 minutes faster then last year), but a “bleh” run.  Around mile 5 I had to make a choice between push it to keep up with speedster Terry Labinski (who ended up winning) or risk quad cramps forcing me to walk, or worse.  With Hawaii being the focal point of the year I decided it was best to slow down a bit.  I ended up crusing in with a 1:36 run, which just happens to be the time I only dreamed of running just a couple years ago; and now I cruised to that.  What a difference a couple of years makes.

Back on the subject of Hawaii, training has started for it.  So far this week has been great – I’ve had some great rides so far, and a couple good runs.

  • Monday
    • Easy Swim in the PM ~ 1,000 LCM
  • Tuesday
    • AM: 3,000 SCM – IM work
    • PM: 1 hour 50 minute EZ ride, with 15 minute run
  • Wednesday
    • AM: 6 mile (45 min) run – Super hot and humid – was pretty tough
    • PM: 2:30 Aerobic Ride
  • Thursday
    • AM: 3,100 SCM – 200/400/800/400/200
    • AM: 2:30 Ride – 2×4.5 mile Zn4 intervals
  • Friday
    • AM: 10 mile run (1:09) – Zn 2 effort was perfect running weather
    • PM: 3 hour ride planned


  • Saturday
    • 1 hour swim, 2:30 bike, 30 minute run – Zn 2
  • Sunday
    • 4:30 bike, 45 minute run – Zn 2 with a couple Zn 3 efforts

That will put the total for the week right around 23 hours, pretty good for a first week back – fairly light on the running, but after the Half Ironman last weekend, I want to give my legs some rest.  Hopefully, my body will remember how all this works and will be sharp to take some wood to the course in Racine.

Thought for the day

…When I say something is important, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s linked to my personal happiness and satisfaction. Rather, it means that I am elevating its position in my life because, I believe, that the goal will help me be the type of person I want to be.

-Gordo Byrn

July Training Goals

Here are my training goals for the 4 week span between June 25th and July 21st

  • Swim: 60,000meters
  • Bike: 1,000 miles
  • Run: 175 miles

These miles will all be “slow” base miles, mostly in Zone 2. The intention is to provide a huge aerobic overload at the beginning of my training cycle for Hawaii, and then after that slowly trade pure volume for a little intensity to sharpen my conditioning.

Counting your eggs

I learned a very important lessen this last week.  A couple of them actually.  Actually it's not that I learned a lessen, it's more that the value of the a few basic concepts was simply reinforced. 

The race I did last weekend, the inaugural Rockman Triathlon, was put on by a member of an internet forum I participate in Slowtwitch.  The reason I signed up for the race was because the race director promoted that the fastest swimmer out of the water would win a set of race wheels.  I was instantly stoked for this race and added an extra swim to my weekly plan to add in some yardage to help give me every advantage I could. 

Race day comes, and having heard no more about the prime for the swim since the original annoucement, I asked the race director abot it that morning, and was told that the sponsorship for the wheels had fallen through.  Although I was disappointed, I was in a way relieved because I could swim my "normal" race swim, and race for a fast overall time.  Between some unorganized chaos (that's like a double negative isn't it?), me misunderstanding where we were supposed to make a turn for the beach on the last lap, and not feeling an urgent pressure to be the first one onto the beach, I was the second swimmer out of the water.  Offically it was by 3 seconds.  As I wrote in my race report, I went on to have an awesome race, with a 4 minute PR.

Monday I find out from a member of the Planet-X team, that PX was under the impression the deal was still on.  To skip some drama, the wheels were awarded (1 set for Ruben Figueres the fastest male swimmer, and 1 for Nicole Horst the fastest female).   I fully support the decision made by the RD, and PX, to do anything other then what they did would have been very bad PR for both organizations. Needless to say I am disappointed with the outcome.  I had been looking forward to hooking up with some sweet wheels at this race for a long time, but to be honest I have no one to blame but myself.

Long story short it was a good reminder to not count your eggs before thy're hatched, and a lessen in remembering about how to deal with disappointment.

Final word – Ruben you are going down in Kona.  Chip – I'm going to rock your course next year – just tell me when I can register (I want bib #3).  I am exceedingly happy that the sponsorship did not fall through the cracks and the people that earned their primes got them.

Standing outside the fire

I've been driving my wife's car a lot this week, so I've been stuck listening to the CDs in her car (the morning shows in Milwaukee are pretty boring).  One of her CDs has the song Standing Outside the Fire by Garth Brooks.  To me the lyrics of this song are pretty powerful.  I've been thinking about them a lot lately.  For those of you not familar with the song one of the key lyrics is "Life is not tried, it is merely survived if you're standing outside the fire." 

Those lyrics can be interpretted in a lot of ways – to me it is a reminder to not take life on cruise control or take it for granted, but to pursue my passions with every ounce of my being, I won't get where I want to go unless I make it happen.  You might fail and get burned in the process, but you definately won't suceed unless you go out and try it.  Something to remember.

Don't know what more to say about that.

24 seconds!

24 seconds is all that seperated 3rd and 4th place in the race I did on Sunday. 3rd place was being run down by 4th, and the guy in 3rd managed to hold off the stalker for the spot. Fortunately (?) 3rd place was me!!!

Yep, I did the inaugural Rockman Triathlon this past weekend and finished third. It was a great race and I pulled off a 4 minute PR. You can read my bloated race report here.

For a first year race, and a first race ever by this race director (Record10Carbon on slowtwitch) I was impressed. I was a little disappointed that the deal with Planet-X for the race wheels for the fastest swimmer fell through, but I was more then happy with the race.

In other news one of my training partners recently suffered a potentially season ending injury – it really has me taking a step back and evaluating my training for this week. I had originally been planning to hit it pretty hard this week, rest next week and try to have a great race at High Cliff, and then go into my training cycle for Kona. Now I’m thinking I might be safer to take another moderate week this week and a rest week next week prior to starting the cycle for Kona – you can’t have a good race if you are injured or burned out.

Then again it’s hard to imagine being burned out two days after a 4 minute PR in a Half (on a hardish course)!

I’m not a sprinter

One of the races I was really looking forward to this year is done and gone. I don’t know why, but I get a huge kick out of the Lake Mills Sprint, I’ve done some other sprint races and I just don’t enjoy myself – I think they are to hard. Lake Mills though, I’ve got a soft spot for. It’s a short and sweet race with a flat as can be run course, and a 15 mile bike that is flat with just a couple really small little bumps to make it interesting.

I had a great race there this year, I bettered my time by nearly 3 minutes over last year. A little bit faster on the swim, a couple seconds on the run, and about 2 minutes on the bike (~1.33 mph faster). This was my first bike ride where I averaged over 24 miles per hour.

I was a little disappointed with my run – in the sense I was mad because I only went 19:19, but that it has stagnated compared to my bike, and I’m not sure why – I have some theories that I’m goign to try and address.

Overall I had a great race, and it was actually a great experience to do a race and get devoured by people. At IMWI and IMAZ (even more so), I was never really in a situation where I got passed by people like I was a bum, but at Lake Mills, while I did an OK job of holding my own on the bike, I got scraped off the pace on the run like I was a newbie. Very humbling. I came home with a lot of respect for those guys running 16’s and 17’s in a tri for a 5k, they are hauling ass. In a small way it makes me want to avoid those races to avoid getting beat down like that, but it also inspires me to train to become an all around better triathlete – which will ultimately make me a better triathlete at my preferred race distance(s).

One of my training partners, Lauren, mentioned to me the other day that I should consider doing USAT nationals and maybe worlds if I were to qualify. I initially dismissed the idea, but in reality the focus on shorter training even if it was only for a month or so would benefit my longer distance racing skills. Lot’s to think about.

Race time

Well June is the month I planned to spend a lot of time racing. In the 5 week span between Memorial Day and July I have 4 races. The DeSoto American Triple-T, Lake Mills Sprint Tri, Rockman Triathlon, and the High Cliff Half Ironman. Busy month. While it will be great fun racing that much, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for training. Fortunately I have a huge fitness base from Arizona that I’m going to lean on. So that 5 week span is mostly: hard week, easy week with a race, hard week, easy week. Once I hit July is when I plan to start rebuilding my base towards Hawaii.

One of the races is in the books already, the Triple T. I plan to post a race report on it (and for Arizona – finally) today or tomorrow. The short report is that it didn’t go as planned. Originally, I was signed up for the solo division, and Mary and Paul (our brother-in-law) were signed up for the coed division. Friday night, and Saturday morning were great races. Both were faster then last year – I sliced 3 minutes off my 40k bike from last year, and 30 seconds off a 6.55 mile run. Not bad IMO.

Unfortunately, that’s where the good news really ended. Paul’s second race ended in a pretty spectacular crash which ended his race. I backed out of the solo division and joined up with Mary, now partnerless, for the last two races. It ended up OK though, we ended up as the 3rd COED team overall!

Training has been going pretty good – despite having a pretty relaxed focus on it I’ve had some pretty good sessions. Once I start the offical training cycle for Hawaii I’ll start posting updates on what I’m doing.