Yet another cold

Seems like I can’t catch a break. I guess this is partially life when you have a 2 year old that goes to daycare. I’m just over the ear infection and started getting some good training sessions in only to no have caught another cold. This one seems somewhat mild so hopefully I can rest for a day or two and then be back at it.

With this I don’t have high hopes for Escape from Alcatraz. Sure, I’ll definitely be able to start and complete the race but I have for sure lowered expectations about results and performance.

There is still time to build up more endurance for IM Sweden. So I’m not too worried about that, yet. However if things continue like this I will be worried. Time will tell and I will have to do whatever I can to stay healthy from now until August.

Some pictures from yesterday’s super EZ ride on the new bike. Now with rear mounted bottle cages.

IMG_5459 IMG_5460

Don’t pretend to be a doctor 

Ok and update. Don’t pretend to be a doctor. I don’t have a sinus infection. I have an ear infection. Antibiotics for a week should probably take care of that and then I’ll be back in the game. 

Out of commission for 2 weeks and counting

So at first I wasn’t too concerned about this cold. I mean, I’ve had a cold before and usually that means takin it easy for a few days and the slowly build back and the impact is generally not that bad. However this cold turned out to be different. For the most part I recovered in about 5 days. But I’ve had this lingering sinus infection for a total of 2 weeks now. I have made some half ass attempts at working out, all at HR zone 5 while going at an extremely easy effort. Also every easy workout has lead to the sinus infection being worse in the evening. 
So now I’m writing this from the waiting room at the doctors office. Let’s see what happens. This is almost turning into an off-season in the middle of when I need to put most of my training efforts in. 

Back at it for 2015

The first race this year is Escape from Alcatraz. Training is going ok with the exception that I got a man-cold from hell last week and still haven’t fully recovered. Not too worried about it since the race is on the shorter side (except the swim) and it’s not really the A race for this year.

So, got a new bike this year, QuintanaRoo cd0.01. Also just got a new training watch, Garmin 920XT. The bike will probably make me somewhat faster, at least for longer distances. The watch won’t but it adds a little bit more motivation in getting some of the training in. Can’t wait to try it out in the pool later today.

Got an update from the Escape from Alcatraz race today. I think its ok but there is still that wording of “Sharks of any significant size do not generally come into the Bay…”. Generally? So it could happen :)

“Yes, there is marine life in San Francisco Bay including sharks, seals, and sea lions. The half dozen different types of sharks San Francisco has within the Bay itself are small, three to four feet in length, and hang out well below the surface of the water. Despite rumors, these sharks are not interested in Escape participants. Larger sharks do live outside the Bay where it is saltier. Sharks of any significant size do not generally come into the Bay because it is comprised of brackish water (half salt and half fresh water).”

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Challenge Rancho Cordova

Rancho Cordova is a town outside of Sacramento, CA. I have driven past numerous of times without paying attention to it and when I heard about the race I didn’t realize that it was the name of a town at first.
Challenge is the name of a series of races just like IronMan and HITS for example. The most famous Challenge family race is probably Challenge Roth but they are expanding with new races every year.
I had some plans to finish my season with Big Kahuna in Santa Cruz, a race that I have done a couple of times before. However because of my schedule I opted for Challenge Rancho Cordova (CRC) instead.

One of the deciding factors for me was the ability for me to pick up my race package the day of the race. I didn’t want to drive all the way up there on Saturday the day before the race and then drive up there again the day of the race. I also didn’t want to fork out money for a hotel in the area. So with that I set my alarm to 3.10 am and headed out. Made it up to Rancho Cordova around 5am in the morning.

This is when the cluster of having to different transition areas started. I needed to get my number and start package in order to get in to either of the two transition areas. There was no communication on where the packet pickup would be so I went first to T2 (where it was not) and then to T1 (where it was).
My plan had been to set up my stuff at T1, then drive over to T2 (where the finish also was) and then take a bus back to T1 (where the start was). This so that when I finished I had access to my car and all gear that would either already be at the finish or be transported there by race organization.

Since I had to spend time trying to find packet pickup I didn’t have time to drive back to T2 after setting up T1 and therefore my car was left at the start. This also added an element of uncertainty for me since I had to just drop a bag at the start with my running gear that would then be delivered to T2 and waiting for me there. So how would I know if it would make it there? Where would it be? etc? This was no problem, more on that later.

So I set up T1, dropped the T2 bag, loaded up with sunscreen and put my wetsuit on.

The swim was in Nimbus Flat State Park and the water temperature was 66F. So pretty good conditions. I would have been ok with a bit colder since you work up a pretty good sweat in the wetsuit and a bit colder temperature would be optimal.
The first part of the swim went really well for me. The second part didn’t and it was a bit frustrating. I felt that I was swimming ok, sighting ok but for some reason it was apparently pretty slow. One part to this was that the course was a bit confusing. Some people had said one thing before the race started, now everyone around me was swimming a different route and I was somewhat being nudged in that direction by the lifeguards in kayaks also.
In the end I didn’t have the fastest swim but also not my slowest for a 70.3 distance race. I could have don ethos swim faster. More to improve on for next year but its going in the right direction.
Out of the swim and on to the bike. T1 was pretty fast. Wetsuite off and stuffed in a bag (for transport to finish), sunglasses and helmet on and off I went. Lake shoes where already clipped in and I was really close to bike out. On to the bike and I managed to get me feet in the shoes pretty quickly.
Started off with a decent pace on the bike and started to pass people immediately. Didn’t feel thirsty and it wasn’t that hot but I knew it would be a long day and that the temps would get into the mid 90’s so I started drinking. Settled in and started eating after about 20 minutes.
The bike course wasn’t really one that fit me all that well. It was extremely flat with some minor rolling hills and a few stepper climbs that were extremely short. I think I do better with tougher and hillier bike courses.
I was passed by a total of 6 guys throughout the bike course, if my memory servers me right. Might have been a few more or a few less but it wasn’t many. I completely lost track on how many I passed, ~50 maybe.
Came into T2 and was a bit worried about being able to find my run-bag with my shoes. Turned out that T2 was extremely well organized. I left my shoes in the bike and dismounted. A volunteer took care of my bike and all I had to do was run to s long line of bags that was arranged in numerical order. Easily found my bag and quickly got socks and shoes on, grabbed visit and run belt and popped the helmet into the now empty bag. The off to run a 1/2 marathon.

I felt really good and went out with a really good pace. It did start to get hot at this point. I had tons of Gu packed up on my belt and in pockets. I quickly walked through every aid station that was basically set up at every mile. It was a 2 loop course and the first loop went by really fast. I felt like I was pretty much flying through the miles and had no issues to talk about up until that point. Maybe some tendencies to leg cramps but I was able to manage that. Then, boom at mile 7 both my hip flexors cramped up. Haven’t had it that bad before. I was able to run still but the pace went from an 8-ish min/mile to more like 10-11 min/mile. I had to take longer walk breaks but tried to do so in conjunction with the aid stations in order to keep motivating myself to keep running in between them. I had gotten far enough that I was committed to finish the race even if I had to walk the rest of the way.
Ended up with just over a 2 hour run. Definitely not good and I wanted better. However I had hip flexor issues leading up to the race so wasn’t surprised that gave me problems during the race.
Managed to sprint passed a guy in my age group down the finish chute. However I was passed by several during the last loop of the run so this one spot didn’t really make much of a difference and I ended up 18/51 in my age group and 109/470 overall.

So now that I had finished and wanted to get on the road to head home the cluster began. I had to take a shuttle to the start to get to my car. No one knew where the shuttle left from so I had to partially guess and moved in the right direction and finally found someone that could tell me exactly where. I missed the buss with 39 seconds, I actually saw it drive away. Had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. After about a 15 minute shuttle ride I got dropped off about half a mile or so from my car so had to walk that part. Got to the car and drove back to the finish where I now had to try and find parking. Then went into transition only to not find my bag with me wetsuite. Apparently my number fell off and the bag was in a pile of random stuff that didn’t have numbers in them. Luckily I had attached my Zoot ankle strap to the bag so I eventually found it. Collected the rest of the stuff and started a 2 hour drive home. It was about 95F the whole drive and the AC in the car is busted. Yes, the shower felt amazing when I got home.

Even with the issues on the run and not being able to push through a run the way I wanted I still got a PR 70.3 with a total time of 5:26:27.

It’s now time for somewhat of a break. Rest up and then start to focus on strength and flexibility. Probably not much more biking or running for the rest of the year. Much more yoga, strength training and swimming. Need to build a strong and flexible body that can handle IronMan training next year.

It’s been a great fun season. Not as good as I’ve hoped for but much due to some badly timed colds and because of being injured for a lot of it.

It’s been great fun to race with team Zoot the entire season.

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More thoughts on Leadville Trail 100 MTB

After digesting the race for a while now i had some additional thoughts Could be used as input and possibly some recommendations for anyone looking at signing up for the race.

Start strategy
I did a pretty bad job on this part. I actually arrived in Leadville pretty early in the morning. I knew where the start was and I parked about 2 blocks away. However it was really cold in the morning so instead of heading over to the start I opted to sit in the warm car and wait it out. About 20 minutes before race start I braved the cold and started rolling. Did a bit of riding to warm up some before I headed over to the start area. It was packed. Since it had not qualified for the race but got in on the lottery I was already in the white start corral, the last start corral.
As a result I ended up being one of the last ones to cross the start line. This meant lots and lots of waiting when I hit the first climb of the race. Slower people walking where I could have been riding. I am pretty sure it also affected the biggest climb of the race, Columbine.
My recommendation would be to bring some old sweatpants and a thick jacket or sweater. Something that can be thrown away just before race start but would keep you warm when holding a good spot in your start corral. This is obviously even easier if you have a support crew with you and they are willing to get up dead-early in the morning to support you. This way you can bring whatever you want/need to keep you warm. The support crew might not be able to get to you in the middle of the start pack but you can just leave your bike for a few seconds to hand your extra gear over.

Crew
Crew or no crew doesn’t really matter in the end. It is totally doable to perform well in the race (from an amateur standpoint) without a crew. Sure, its very nice to have friends and/or family out there along the course to cheer you on along the way but it definitely not needed to finish the race.

Cooler drop-bag
I packed all of my stuff in a regular draw string bag. In the end I didn’t end up using any of the stuff in my drop-bag. However when I dropped it off the day before I did see all the other drop-bags lined up. Someone had packed their stuff up in a small cooler. A very smart idea since it can get very hot during the day and depending on nutrition pack dup in your drop bag it might go bad. So if you don’t have a crew to help out this could be a really good option.

Tire choice
This is what I ended up agonizing about the most in preparation or the race. I did tons of research on this topic and finally came to the conclusion that the best option would be something with fairly low rolling resistance and a rally strong side wall. I ended up with Continental X-King ProTection 29 x 2.2 both in front and rear. I didn’t really pay much attention to weight at all. In the end, had I come to a conclusion about tire choose earlier in my preparation I probably would have switched to riding tubeless. I didn’t and ended up carrying one spare tire with me and had a spare tube in my drop-bag. I didn’t really have enough time to make the switch to ride tubeless since that would have basically meant doing so just shortly before the race and with that being uncertain on how all of that would work. I would have wanted more rides with tubeless before the race in order to feel comfortable with riding on that set-up during the race.
I didn’t have any problems at all with grip or flats or anything related to my tires so I am extremely happy with my choice and think I made the right one.

High altitude
This is probably a topic that is very individual. I personally don’t have tremendous amount of experience with endurance racing at high altitude. I did a Half Ironman (HIM) distance race at around 6k-7k ft a couple of weeks before Leadville and that was about all the experience I had. That HIM didn’t seem to affect me all that much and to be honest neither did Leadville. The altitude probably had some affect to the performance but not to the extent that it bothered me or that I could significantly feel it.

Hard tail vs. full suspension
This is a very common topic. To me it came down to the fact that I had one MTB at my disposal, a hard tail 29er. So whatever the preferred bike would be was a moot point to me as I was not going to go out and buy a new MTB just for this race. I think a top of the line full suspension bike would probably be preferred in the end but a hard tail 29er works extremely well. I did get pretty fatigued in my arms and wrist towards the end of the race. Now was that because lack of training and strength or because I was not on a full suspension bike. Who knows. If you want to take on the race and don’t have the budget to buy a new bike, just roll with what you have, it will work.

Weather
I ended up being extremely lucky from what I understand. I didn’t end up having a single drop of rain all day during my race. It also wasn’t that cold during the day with the exception of early in the morning. But I quickly ended up shedding layers and rode all day in shorts and a short sleeve.
I have heard that the weather can be brutal. Cold, warm, rain, snow and even hail all in one day. It could be brutally hot before starting the climb up Columbine and snowing when you reach the top. The weather can also change extremely quickly at that high altitude.
I did pack some extra gear in my Camelback during the entire race. I had arm warmers and a very thing rain jacket just in case. I had also loaded up my drop-bag with some dry gloves and other dry gear just in case. I think being prepared for any weather is the way to go.

Nutrition
This is a very individual topic. It also depends heavily on the weather. I started with a  full 100oz of water in my Camelback and also had a bottle that was mixed with two packs of Osmo. I had a bunch of picky-bars and bonk breakers. I had made some home made nutrition from the book Feed Zone Portables (sweet potato and rice waffles) and I also had some delicious candy bars from Cake Nouveau (www.cakenouveau.com). I used more Omso that the two packs since I kept refilling my bottle at every aid station. Towards the end I was munching on whatever they were offering. PB sammies, bananas, chips, pretzels, coke, etc.
I could have probably done better with nutrition and been more diligent with eating and getting calories in to my body on a more regular schedule. However I didn’t have any stomach issues at all during the race. I did start to feel pretty tired and fatigued towards the end but I’m not sure that was due to poor nutrition or just not being fit enough to handle such a long distance race.

Where to stay
I stayed about 30 minutes outside of Leadville in a small place called Twin Lakes. This is close to where the Twin Lakes aid station is located at the bottom of the Columbine climb. I rented a very small cabin that was perfect for me. However it was very small and would have been too small had my wife and son joined me.
I also found myself driving a lot back and forth between Leadville and Twin Lakes and the 30 minute drive each way added up. My recommendation would be to stay in Leadville if possible. The problem with that is that everything rents out very quickly during the race week so you better be on top of it if you want to get a good place to stay.

No crash and no injury
I am very happy with the fact that I didn’t end up having any mechanical problem. I also didn’t end up crashing or falling or injuring myself in any way. I did see some cuts and bruises along the way. Given that it is a MTB race over a 100 miles the risk is obviously there. Descending Columbine is fast and if you loose control on that fire road you will be hurting. Other than that I think one of the bigger risks would be a stupid crash during one of the steeper climbs with having the real wheel spin out or something.

Bike shipment
I was originally thinking of bringing my bike in a bike case that I had borrowed. After doing the math I figured out wasn’t worth it. The airline would charge a bunch for the case and that would also mean a lot more stuff to get to the airport and to deal with at the airport. I ended up using a bike transportation (tribiketransport.com) company instead. They had a local pickup spot at a sports store (Sports Basement) where I dropped my bike off about 1 week before the race and where I also picked it up again about 1 week after the race. The cost ended up being almost the same as what the airline would have charged my but with a lot less hassle. One of the best parts to this was that I could hand my bike off as soon as I crossed the finish line.

After the race
I stayed around the finish area for a while. Then made my way back to my car that was parked somewhat nearby and changed in to so clean clothes. Then went back to the finish area and grabbed my free beer. They did have food here but it was cash only and I didn’t have any cash so that didn’t work out.
The day after the race they have the awards ceremony. This was honestly a bit of a snooze fest. They called out the names of literally every person that finished the race and you were supposed to wait for your name to be called and then pick up your belt buckle. If there is a group you that did the race this might be ok. I was there alone so this was pretty boring and mostly a long wait.
Make sure to head up to the official Leadville Trail store or wherever you picked up your start package to grab your finisher sweater. This wasn’t really clear to me but I did read something about a finisher sweater so I went there and I had some other errands up there anyways. You get a sweater with your name and finish time printed on it.
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Oakland Triathlon Festival – Race report

This was the inaugural Oakland Triathlon Festival. I signed up a long time ago because I felt I wanted to support and race a local race. The fact that I would be able to ride my bike to the start was an added bonus. Ever since signing up when telling people about this race all I’ve heard has been negative comments. “Who wants to swim in that dirty water”, “Is the swim going to be in Lake Merritt, thats gross”, “Will you be riding in a bullet proof vest?” and so on. None of the people that had these comments did the race and completely missed out on a great fun race with a very unique course and a great organization.

I rolled down the 3 miles to the transition area at around 5am in the morning. Entered the transition area from the location where both swim and bike in would be. Found a perfect transition spot on the first rack. This meant shorter running barefoot after the swim and also shorter barefoot running after the bike (since I ride without socks and leave shoes clipped in).

Proceeded with the usual setup of the transition area and met up with my buddy D who was doing the duathlon (bike and run).

Early morning

Early morning

For some reasonI wasn’t entirely prepared for this race and there were a couple of details that I didn’t know about. I had to check when my exact start time would be. All I knew was that the race started at 7am but there would be start corrals and I had no idea when I was going to start. 7.08 am it turned out.

I had brought some old socks to wear during the 10 min walk to the swim start. Smart I thought since it was probably much more comfortable compared to being barefoot.

I got into the water and got about a 10 minute or so warmup before my wave started. This was a deep water start and not a beach start. Only time I have done this type of start before was at a race in Stockholm. So instead of starting on the beach and running into the water you start in the water and everyone is lined up treading water before the gun goes off.

The swim was another part of this race I hadn’t researched properly. Or hadn’t researched at all I should say. When I arrived at the swim start I did overhear some people talking about the course. I then asked some more people but everyone seemed a bit confused about it. I finally decided to just go with the flow knowing that I most likely wouldn’t lead my start wave on the swim anyways so there would be people to follow.

I general I had a good swim. I was for once able to follow a bigger group of swimmers and it felt pretty good. The course was a bit unusual but fun. Had a 1 mile swim time of 24 min 18 sec.

The swim was followed by a 0.2 mile run that included running up some stairs to get to a bridge over the train tracks and then down stairs on the other side. I had no problems with this. Felt pretty good and running barefoot here was no big deal as it was mostly carpeted or pretty smooth tiled surface. It was pretty slippery at some points and I didd hear someone behind me eat it when we were running down the stairs.

T1 as a whole (run from water to heading out on bike) took me 5 min 40 sec. Thats pretty long but it did also include a long run for being transition. Getting wetsuite off and gearing up for the bike ride was pretty uneventful. I did fumble a bit when buckling the helmet but that probably only cost me a few sec.

Out on the bike I managed to get my feet in the shoes and getting the shoes on properly pretty quickly. I had my shoes clipped on to the pedals and held up by rubber bands in transition and then ran through T1 barefoot. Jumped on the bike and started pedaling with my feet on top of the shoes and when I got some speed going strapped on the shoes properly.

Started to work up a pretty decent pace right out of T1 and also started to pop some nutrition down early on. Had a few Bonk Breakers, some Gu and Osmo during the ride. The bike course was basically dead flat in comparison to any other triathlon I have ever done. It was also probably one of the more technical bike courses I have done. And by technical I mean a lot of turns. It’s not really that technical but compared to an out-and-back course with a few turns only this was technical.

I kept a pretty good pace on this two loop course and was passed only by 2 guys during the 40k. Those two were probably some super fast guys from the waves behind me (the overall winner and the 2nd place were 47 and 40 years old so probably those guys).

The ZIPP wheels performed really well in the winds and surprisingly well given the amount of turns involved on this course.

Finished the 40k bike course in 1 hour 7 min and 25 seconds.

I messed up a bit when arriving to T2. I had not prepared and unbuckled my shoes and had to kind of last minute unbuckle one of them to get my foot out and then had to stop with one foot on the ground to unbuckle the other foot. Probably lost a few seconds on this.

My rack space was immediately to the left when entering the transition area so I quickly racked the bike and made a very last minute decision to run in socks. Put socks on and while doing so heard D’s voice next to me as he entered transition also. The duathlon had started around the same time as I started my bike ride. I told him we should run together and bolted out on my run.

T2 ended up being reasonably fast given that I took time ot put socks on. 1 min 32 sec.

I set out targeting a  7 min/mile pace on the run. Felt really good early on and I kept pushing. Eventually made it to my stoping grounds around Lake Merritt where I end up a lot of times for training runs so i know that loop really well. Early on I passed a lot of people but when the sprint and international run course parted ways it got lonely for a while. I finally caught some people and then some more. After the loop around the lake we eventually hit the same stairs that we ran when exiting the swim. Running up 3-4 flights of stairs and then down again was tough at about 4-5 miles in to the run. I had to scale back a little bit at then end because is was almost about to cramp. Managed to keep a pretty solid pace for the whole run and did eventually cramp but that was just after passing the finish line.

Run time (6 miles) 42 min 59 sec.

Total time 2 hours 21 minutes 54 seconds.

Had wife, son, mom and dad greet me at the finish line. Looked like a great after party with beer and food but the lines was a bit too long. We made plans to go grab brunch instead so I went and collected my stuff from the transition area and biked the 3 miles home.

I ended up 12/79 in my age group and 63/918 overall. My buddy D that did the duathlon grabbed 1st place with almost 6 minutes to spare!

I’m definitely doing this race again!

Greeted by fam

Greeted by fam

Oakland Tri Festival

Oakland Tri Festival

Brunch liquid recovery drink

Brunch liquid recovery drink

 

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Oakland Triathlon Festival – International distance

Finished 12/79. Happy with the result. Had a really fun day and great performance given that this is a shorter distance than what I mostly do. Probably most happy about the sub-7 min/mile run.

Race report to follow….

Oakland Tri Festival

Oakland Tri Festival

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