IronMan Sweden is just around the corner. Training is going well with the exception of running long. However the other day I was able to run a half marathon at a decent pace without issue. So thats a good sign for sure.

I got one long ride left to do and then the tapering will start. Looking forward to that.

Also looking forward to the race! I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been and I honestly think I can put in a pretty stellar performance in Sweden.

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IronMan 70.3 Vineman – Race report

Let’s start with some stats:

Swim: 37m01s
T1: 2m57s
Bike: 2h35m03s
T2: 3m56s
Run: 1h48m15s
Finish: 5h07m12s

Overall: 264/2574
Age Group: 33/285

For a 70.3 (half IronMan distance) this race is a PR by 19m15s. Basically a 6% improvement from the previous best 70.3 I did, Challenge Rancho Cordova I did at the end of the season last year.

For ones I actually didn’t have to get up at 3 or 4 am in the morning for a race. Officially the race started pretty early but I was in the 3 from last start group at 8.24 am and the start and T1 was open for set-up all morning. So got up at 6am and had the usual race day breakfast of coffee, banana and bagel with honey roasted PB.

Race day morning from our AirBnB

Race day morning from our AirBnB

My wife was very kind to drive me to the race. We stayed about 30 min away for the weekend.

The tricky part with this race was that everything from T1 would be transported to the finish (also T2) in a plastic bag. So it wasn’t really possible to bring the usual transition bag into T1 and therefore I basically got completely ready by the car and then walked down to the transition area. Racked the bike in an area blocked of for M35-39, quick bathroom break, body marking, wetsuit on and headed down to the beach. I had just enough time to get the swim cap and goggles on before it was time for my wave to hit the water.

The swim was not really that difficult. It was a course that went upstream in the Russian River to a turnaround point and then back down again. The water was really shallow in a lot of places and I could see people around me walking large sections of the swim. Not sure what to think about that. The race briefing said it was ok to walk so I guess its not cheating. However to me it doesn’t seem like the way to complete a swim section of a triathlon so I swam all of it with the exception of a few yards where it was actually so shallow that I couldn’t swim.

Out of the water I was a bit disappointed in the time. I have swam faster before so should have been able to pull of a better time at the swim. The think the problem here is that I really need some swim specific coaching to become a better swimmer. I have the cardio fitness and can probably swim for a while but I am not efficient and I need to improve my technique to get faster.

T1 was pretty uneventful. Just had to make sure to fit all of my stuff into the provided transition bag. I had already scouted the bike start and knew that it started with a pretty decent hill so the bike was in the lowest gear. Lost of people did not do this and ended up walking the hill.

The bike course was a blast! I had a lot of fun on this bike course. The fact that I started in the 3rd to last swim group (and that I am a crappy swimmer) meant that I had a lot of people ahead of me on the bike course. I kept passing people all the time on the bike and that obviously makes things easy. I honestly tried to keep track of how many people that passed me and when I tally it up in the end I think it was one guy. Some actually passed me but I ended up overtaking them in the end so net was one guy. And that was towards the end and I ended up staying right behind him for the last 4-ish miles in to T2.

So the bike part went well. Love the QuintanaRoo cd0.1 bike. I’m extremely comfortable in the aero position and spent most of the course in aero. It was an extremely flat course and non-technical so very fitting for a TT bike. Had no issues with nutrition, aid stations or anything else.

T2 started with a really long run. I hadn’t checked this out beforehand but I had heard about it. Dismounted bike and started running. For some reason I decided to run in my bike shoes. Since the run was so long I decided to run in the grass next to the path. I think that was a smart move, it cushioned the impact a lot.

When I dropped off my bike shoes the day before the race I placed them in the rack straight in from where you enter T2. So as soon as I entered the actual transition area I just kept going. Someone had placed and orange bag on the rack and I saw that when I dropped my shoes off. So at this point in the race I was hoping that the orange bag wasn’t moved. It wasn’t. Found my spot immediately, Out of bikes shoes, into socks and running shoes and out of T2.

At first running was easy. Later it wasn’t. I didn’t really know much about the run course besides the fact that it was 13.1 miles and that we were running through La Crema winery. I think I kept a pretty decent pace initially, I felt good. After a while the heat started getting to me and I started to grab a cup of ice at every aid station and dumped it into my race suite.
At some point, around La Crema, I started realizing that it would maybe be possible to beat 5 hours. At the point I tried to push the pace a little bit harder but my legs wouldn’t cooperate. I was borderline cramping and pretty much knew that if I wanted to run all the way (and not resort to walking) I had to hold back on the pace a bit. This has happened before and I’m not sure why. I was definitely well hydrated, had lots of energy intake but still borderline cramped. If it wasn’t for that I could have pushed the pace on the run way more. Cardiovascularly and from en energy standpoint I felt great at this point.
As soon as I realized that I couldn’t really beat 5 hours I kind of dropped back. Not really gave up but almost. I had put a goal in my head that I wanted to beat 5:15 and at this point in the race that was basically a given unless I had to walk for the rest of it.

All-in-all I am very happy with the performance. I know I could do much better. I can improve the swim, it would cost money to do so since I think the best way is to get a coach. I probably can’t really improve the bike a whole lot, maybe some but thats not where I need to focus for improvement. I can definitely run faster but need to figure out why I am borderline cramping in order to go faster.

A really fun race. I would definitely do it again.

After the race I have now trained 3 days straight, took one rest day after that and followed that with a 70 miles bike ride. I have to, IM Sweden is around the corner. More on that later.

After the finish line

After the finish line

At Cold Stone Creamery after the race. I look (and felt) pretty beat.

At Cold Stone Creamery after the race. I look (and felt) pretty beat.

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Half IronMan PR

Managed to put together a pretty good race today. New Half IronMan PR is 5:07:12. Not that great of a swim. Really good bike and a a pretty good run. Bummed I didn’t beat 5h but stoked to have a put together a solid race. 

Now for some more training. IronMan Sweden is not that ft out. 

More detailed race report to follow. 

New gear

I might do exactly what I’m not supposed to do on Sunday. Race in gear that I have not trained in. Just got this helmet and glasses today. 


Racing this weekend

On Sunday I am racing IronMan 70.3 Vineman in Guerneville, CA. The 70.3 notes the total distance of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run and is considered a half IronMan (obviously since its half the distance of a full IronMan).

Preparations have been pretty good. I’ve been able to get some pretty good sessions in since the last race, Escape form Alcatraz. However the clock is ticking and IronMan Sweden is coming up very soon and I have been trying to focus on longer sessions for all 3 sports. So with that some of the speed might be affected. As if I’ve ever been all that fast anyways…

This is the second of 3 races that I am planning to do this year and I’m petty excited about it. Escape from Alcatraz was a bucket list race and so is Vineman. Its the 25th year that he race is held and its famous amongst triathletes.

I will definitely push my hardest but the bigger goal this year is IronMan Sweden for sure. So in some ways, this is a “training” race. I have tapered a little bit but did a 90 mile ride this past Monday for example and have been training throughout this entire week. No real hard training but also not really full tapering, so somewhere in between. I do feel like I am in pretty good shape at the moment so should be interesting and fun.

In addition to the race this is also our anniversary weekend (5th). So will head up Friday and enjoy a nice dinner. Rented a house in Sebastopol and will be spending the weekend without the crazy little 2 year old we have at home. We will miss him for sure but will also make for a more relaxing weekend, at least until Sunday.

Supposedly there will be athlete tracking on In case that will be up and running and actually working my start number is 2250. I start in the 3rd from last start group so wont be at it until 8.20 am PST.

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I escaped from Alcatraz !!

I have been wanting to do this race for a while. I signed up in 2012 and got in (its a lottery) but had to turn it down because it ended up being to close to Coeur d’Alene IronMan. Then the race changed its schedule because of the Americas Cup in 2013 so that didn’t work out. I didn’t get in 2014 but now finally got in through the second round of the lottery this year.

I watched the race last year so roughly knew the course. I even ran part of it last year and tried to keep up with winner Andy Potts during the last mile (I ran as fast as I could but didn’t keep up).

Leading up to the race this year I did ride the bike course so I knew what it was like. I also ran the parts of the run course that I wasn’t familiar with. I did not swim the swim course :). It’s not like I would take the tourist ferry out to Alcatraz and then swim back by myself. There are swimming races so there would be opportunities to actually swim from Alcatraz every now and then but haven’t really checked that out.

I set my alarm to 3.20 am on Sunday morning. Had the somewhat usual race day brekkie, bagel with PB and a banana. Coffee obviously. Heated water and mixed some Scratch Labs Cinnamon & Apple in a thermos. I recently read a blog post about this tip to help stay warm during cold water swimming.

No traffic so the drive to Marina Green was a breeze. I was there very early and the reason for that was to get a good spot in the transition area. However when I arrived I realized that transition spots were numbered so I couldn’t choose anyways. This basically means that I could have slept longer.

I did however luck out in some ways. I had a spot all the way at the end of a rack. A bit further to run but the upside is that its really easy to find and I could run in/out on the side of the racks instead of the middle and with that avoid a lot of traffic.

I took my sweet time to set up and tarted sipping some of my hot Scratch Labs drink. The transition area filled up. Lots of people arrived pretty late. I borrowed a pump form a guy sine I forgot mine in the car and also forgot to check my tire pressure. Helped another guy pump his tiers since he couldn’t see what the pressure reader was showing (my thought was “How will this guy see where to swim or bike or run?”).

Got my swimsuit on and an old pair of socks with flamingos on them so I didn’t have to walk barefoot. Brought my 2 swim caps, googles, Picky Bar (Ah, Fudge Nuts) and anti-chafing stick (stuff you put on your neck so that the wetsuit won’t chafe). I made my way out of transition and the line to the shuttle buses was suuper long. I however lucked out and was told by a volunteer that the line for the bus started “here” right when I got out. So instead of having to wait in line for at least 15 min I jumped right on a bus.

The bus took us from Marina Green to Pier 3 where the San Francisco Belle would take us out to the Rock. The ride out doesn’t really take 1 hour but we spent 1 hour on the ferry. It got hot. Very friendly atmosphere all around. I hung out with some people I know from being on team Zoot last year.

when the gun (or horn rather) went off things happened pretty quickly. I was on the bottom level of the ferry so was able to actually get off pretty quickly. For some reason I was way less nervous than I thought I would be. Maybe because it wasn’t my first triathlon, maybe because of the fun conversations on the ferry or maybe because it all went so fast that I just didn’t have time.

I’m jumping at 3:06 in this video. Wearing a dark green swim cap and a wetsuit with some red on it.

Swim: 1.5 (I swam 2.2) 40:10 – 873/1807

I have never been a good swimmer. Leading up to this race I have been swimming a bit more frequently. I am also started to feel very comfortable with bilateral breathing. This should help me swim more straight. However for some reason I wasn’t really able to breath to the left during this swim. The waves came in such a way that breathing to the right was the only way to go for me.

I had no idea where to sight during the swim. Coit tower and Sutro tower had been suggested but the fog was too thick to see them. I had also heard on the boat to aim for Aquatic Park. My problem was I didn’t really know exactly where that was or what that look like from out in the bay. I basically reverted to just following everyone else. After a while I started aiming for what I thought was Ghhirardelli Square and knowing that was basically where Aquatic Park is.

For the most part the swim went well. I didn’t overshoot the exit so was happy about that. After the exit I did a game time decision to not take the wetsuit off immediately (at the swim exit area) and I also did not put on my extra pair of running shoes. I decided to just run the 0.5 miles barefoot and in my wetsuit. I think it as the right decision.

T1 went well. I guess with the exception that I accidentally hit the lap button on my new Garmin XT920 and when I was on the bike I discovered that the watch thought I was in T2. So I hit it again to get it in to the run mode so I at least would have some distance and time information on the display.

Bike: 18 miles – 58:11 – 189/1807

I had decided to bike without socks. Locked the bike shoes into the pedals and started them onto the bike with rubber bands. I’ve done this many times before but never on this bike and never with these shoes. It worked ok. The new shoes were a bit tricker than the old ones to get into while riding but I can probably practice that a bit more to get better.

I started pushing on the bike out of the gate since I knew the first part was really flat. We started climbing and I started passing a lot of people. Most of the bike was really uneventful. The one big problem was that there was a lot of people out there on the course. I think I could have done a better time had there been a bit more room and had people been a bit more spread out. But thats a part of the race and thats a result of me being a slower swimmer.

My QuintanaRoo cd0.1 performed extremely well. I was deciding between that and my road bike but happy with the choice. If nothing else so for the fact that this gave me some race experience on the TT bike.

Run: 8 miles (shortened to 7.3-ish) – 1:00:20 – 333/1807

Back in to T2 and racked the bike. It fell down but I didn’t bother picking it up as it was leaned agains the end of the rack anyways. It felt like T2 went fast even tough I spent time putting on socks since my running shoes has given me blisters before when running without socks. I grabbed my race belt that was loaded up with Gu and headed out. First thing I did was to reset my Garmin so that I would get some accurate running information. Next thing was that I noticed that my number bib was ripped and only attached to my running belt from one corner. This ended up being hugely annoying during the whole run and will probably result in me not fining a single picture of me form the run part of the race or the finish line.

I felt decent during the first part of the run. I had saved some in the tank knowing that the run would be tough. After about 1 mile I met Andy Potts and Eric Lagerstrom running shoulder to shoulder. Eric later won by 2 seconds. I then hit the stairs leading up to the Golden Gate bridge. It got really crowded here. I wanted to run but couldn’t so resorted to just walking fast. When I was going up Merinda “Rinny” Carfrae came running down and she yelled at some people to move out of the way. The volunteers kept telling people going up to stay to the right but for some reason everyone was on the left, not sure why but I just followed.

After the stairs we kept climbing. Got to the top and I still felt pretty good. Got a cheer from Meredith Kessler and then head down the hill and out on the beach. Ran out to the turnaround point but was able to run on the wet packed section so this part wasn’t too bad. Then hit the worst part of the run course, the sand ladder. No one was running here at this point and even if I had some energy left and knew I actually could run it (I tried that already when checking out the course) I decided to walk fast since I figured this would probably help the legs feel a bit more fresh for the remained of the run. When you hit the top of the sand ladder there is a significant amount of climbing to do still. Meredith Kessler again and then down the hill that we ran up earlier. The run course is basically an out-and-back so now we were just running the reversed course back to the finish.

Sand ladder: 2:51 – 201/1807

When I hit the bottom of the stairs that lead up the the Golden Gate I had decided to crank it up a bit. From there its about 2 miles left to the finish. However right at this point is when I stared feeling some pain in my left knee. I know the pain well since its related to some IT-Band (Iliotibial Band) issues I have had in the past. So this prevented me from pushing as hard as I wanted but I think I still was able to hold a bit of a faster pace during this part.

Came in to the finish chute and on to the grass. That was a strange feeling and not in a good way. Powered through and reached the finish in 2:46:20 and place 302/1807 and 56/262 in my age group.

I loved this race. It was really fun and the course is challenging and beautiful. I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to do a tough triathlon race. I think I will come back and give it another shot at some point also.

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Race tracking for Escape from Alcatraz

Alarm is set at 3.30 am and the coffee maker is loaded.

It should be possible to follow my progress tomorrow here:

If needed my race number is 719.

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Escape from Alcatraz packet pickup – a mess!

I’ve done a lot of races, triathlons, bike and running races. Some of them have been huge with around 40,000 participants and many of them have been smaller with only a few hundred.

Escape from Alcatraz has 2000 participants. It took me about 2 hours to pick up my start number and timing chip today. That was the absolute worse packet pickup that I have ever experienced. Its surprising given that Escape from Alcatraz celebrates 35 years this year. You would think that they would have this stuff figured out.

Not sure why it took so long. When I got to the actual pickup it only took me a minute to sign the forms and get my envelope.

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