Monthly Archives: March 2012

Una fiesta de sufriendo

A suffering party
The race in Costa Rica was a lesson in limiting losses. As I wrote previously, the bike didn’t go as planned. This was the best supported run I have ever been on.

Race morning we drove to the site from Playa Grande at 4:30AM. I had a couple of Powerbars, as I knew we had a while to go before the race start (pros started 30 min before we did). Set up transition (I had an end of the row, which was nice), filled up my water bottles and did my business. Note: I didn’t see ANY monkeys.

The Swim
I was able to borrow Ryan (rev3 teammate) Oilar’s speedsuit (easy on with some TriSlide) for the day when he decided to wear his wetsuit (I hadn’t brought anything beyond my tri suit). In the past, the race hasn’t been wetsuit legal, but this year the water has been cooler than usual so it was wetsuit legal for us amateurs. During the practice swim on Friday, the water had been really choppy… not as bad as New Orleans in 2010, but very difficult to sight in and get a clean stroke. Come race day, the water was calm for the start. I seeded myself halfway back in the group (which was male and females under 40). Swims had been going pretty well lately, so I figured I would just either swim my slow ass 36+, or get a bit better start and pass some folks. A two loop swim, the first lap was uneventful. Getting into the second lap, the water started to get a bit choppier. I still had no idea where I was with regard to the main pack, but that’s the norm. Very nice to see that after that, I had a 32:50 swim. Happy about that.
Lesson learned: When swimming into the sun and unable to sight, use the sun as your landmark: you can avoid looking up and just use the reflection of the sun. The last leg of each lap was into the sun, so it was impossible to use see the swim out arch. But I knew I had to keep the sun just off my left shoulder, I’d be on target. And I was.

The Bike
The bike started with a climb out of the resort area. A couple of punchy steep sections. And then we descended to the gate of the resort and at that point I lost one of my two feed bottles going over a cobbled section (though I wouldn’t realize this for another 10 minutes or so). So instead of having 3 hours worth of calories with me on the bike, I now only had 1.5 hours. The wind had picked up a bit at this point so we were blessed with a nice tailwind for 25% of the course and cursed with what felt like a headwind for 75%.
At the first aid station, the volunteers had tiny water bottles and tiny Gatorade bottles. Unfortunately, they hadn’t removed the caps yet at this point, so that was an issue. And then they didn’t fit in the water bottle cages. Well, shit. No water for the next 17 miles. A dual conundrum. My feed bottle was the only thing that had liquid in it, it was 90 degrees, and I needed to extend my feed bottle as long as possible.
The next time through the aid station, bottle caps were removed, so I was able to get some water in; third time through, I had both Gatorade and water. But still, not a great situation.
Coming back into transition, I flatted with 150 meters or so to go. No need to waste minutes on swapping out tubes, so I just ran into transition. Oy.
Lesson learned: Have a backup plan. I could’ve made super concentrated feed bottles, or had some gels with me. Also, in low humidity situations, check your suit for salt residue and make sure you’re not getting too dehydrated.

The Run
I was in a bad spot after the bike. I was dehydrated. I had been out in the sun for 3.5 hours. My goal was to limit my losses.
The run course started out with about 1.1 miles on the beach, then up the hill through Brasilito, then back into the resort with an uphill and a downhill. We did four laps. I think I tried 4 different lines through the sand but couldn’t find anything with a solid pack.
Lap 1 was all about getting fluids back into my system and cooling down my core. After that I tried to get as much running in as possible, but the speed just wasn’t there.
Lesson learned: Don’t give up. I missed out on 3rd place AG by 3 minutes. Definitely could have made that up if I hadn’t walked as much as I did. But then, after the bike I think I was on a pretty thin edge of being in bad shape.

Splits.

A quick Rev3 Costa Rica Half Rev Post Mortem

Sent this to my coach and then thought it might be of interest to everyone. A fuller report will follow, perhaps when I get back stateside. So will pictures of animals. It was an awesome first race with the rev3 family. My teammate Ryan Oilar and I saw each other frequently on the bike and run. Stuck around after to meet more of the Rev3 staff.

I don’t have my splits yet (bike was ~2:50, run was ~1:45)… no idea on the swim… finishing time was 5:14:34 or so.

so the bike:
i made the decision last night to take the wheelcover off of my bike. It was really windy, and I didn’t want to be wasting energy fighting to keep the bike on the road. Not sure if that was a bad call, but it was the call I was comfortable with.
there’s a hill climb right off the bat. I couldn’t get up the hill &lta lot of watts. You’ll see on the garmin file that it got pretty steep in places. I was trying to hold back. Anyhow, descending out of the gate of the reserva conchal, I launched one of my two feed bottles, only I didn’t realize it at the time (I only realized when I saw the shadow of my cages and noticed one was empty. At that point, I decided I was going to trying to conserve feed bottle while still trying to maintain watts. That last about 1.5 laps, but at that point I was getting really salty. Also interesting was that the water was in twist off bottles so when I put it in a cage on my downtube, it just launched itself out anyhow. Anyhow, at the second water station, they had realized to take the caps off, so at that point I started getting a bit of water (there were three water stops… 1 on each lap). but I was definitely fighting a losing battle with nutrition at that point. On lap three I also launched my toolkit, but I realized that immediately (it got caught in my rear brake). To cap off the comedy of errors, I flatted with ~250m to dismount. Not a travesty, I just ran it in, but still.

The run was all about getting back to feeling alive (I think I was in a real bad state at the start of the run with my heart doing funky things). So I made sure to get lots of water and to take it easy on the first lap of 4. There was no way I was going to go sub 7 miles… a lot of time I was feeling lucky to go sub-8 (I averaged ~7:56?). There was a bit of walking to make sure I didn’t cook myself as I didn’t really want to end up in the med tent on my first tri of the season. kicking myself in the ass a bit now as I ended up 3 minutes off the podium for 30-34, but so many other things could have gone wrong today that i’m ok with today’s result.

Pura Vida

I’m on my way to Costa Rica (first stop… Chicago… the joys of using miles to fly, but at least it’s first class). In any case, I thought I would host yet another contest in which you guess my finishing time, and if you’re closest to the time, I’ll donate to the charity of your choice. And I’m already thinking of a few marks at which I’ll donate if I beat them.

The first leg of the trip was pretty uneventful. Got to Logan at 5:30 thanks to a very generous and dear friend waking up to drive me. Checked in (no bike fee — significant bonus there), went through security, boarded… you know, the usual. Breakfast was tasty.. a southwestern omelette, a raisin bagel with cream cheese, coffee with Baileys and the largest strawberry ever. Now, I’m not a frequent traveler like my bru and sister (I can see why they appreciate status on airlines), and I have no idea of AA’s standing among US airlines in terms of first class service, but I’ve found it enjoyable so far.

Pretty soon I hop onto a flight to Miami. So enter the contest already, would you?

Why brands sponsor athletes… and why athletes race for brands

I got an email a couple of weeks ago, asking what Rev3 had to gain by sponsoring a team, and what athletes had to gain by being sponsored by Rev3. At first, I was dumbfounded.

Why wouldn’t any race series, why wouldn’t any race promoter, why wouldn’t any brand that had anything to do with triathlon, want to sponsor a team?
Obviously, running a team is a significant amount of work. You’ve got to organize a selection process, select team members, set up sponsorships, handle various logistics and communications throughout the team. If you’re a race series, you also need to manage your races, set up sponsorships for your race series (and this is alongside or separate from those your athletes are provided), and promote your race series.
Now, you can rely on word of mouth to promote your races, but a lot of races and race series are locally focused. For instance, MAX Performance runs a series of triathlons in Massachusetts. Promotion for a regional series can be done through local triathlon clubs. For a national series, however, it’s far more difficult to spread the word. You can attempt to spread the word through local clubs, but if you’ve no local presence, it can be a lot more difficult to draw attention to your races. Now, if you’ve got local athletes around the country who are in contact with those who run the series, who are making an investment in the series as well, that can go a long way towards getting athletes to show up at the races. Once they’re at the races, your sponsored athletes are able to listen on other athletes as they make comments about certain aspects of the race. If something was set up in a weird way, if something was wrong about the way the race was run, your athletes can be your eyes and ears on the ground (I hadn’t actually thought of this — Carole brought it up way back when she was doing interviews of prospective team members, and then Charlie–the godfather of Rev3– reminded me of it when I brought up this question to them).

Why join a national team instead of a local team?
There are actually pros and cons to both. A lot of local teams have access to deals with local bike shops where a certain percent is taken off of any purchase. You also get a strong base of athletes to train with (and drink with). Some teams even get discounts to a local race series or two. These are all very nice things that can be achieved at the local level. So why join a national/more spread out team?

  • There’s the ability to act as an ambassador for something you believe in. I believe that we need competition among race series and not have everything run by one promoter/overarching corporation. I don’t think that Ironman is bad, I just believe that there should be more than one national race series out there. I also like that you can have multiple races per weekend. At Quassy, I’ll be racing a Half on Sunday and my brother-in-law will be racing his first triathlon, an Olympic distance race, on Saturday.
  • There’s national recognition: “Oh you’re with Team X? Can you tell me about a certain race/athlete?” I’ve raced across the country and never been able to wear a recognizable kit.
  • The sponsorship deals are slightly more general, but tend to be broader. Just as a local team is generally promoting local businesses, the national team can promote national brands.
  • Finally, there’s a brand new set of friends you can make without even meeting them until race weekend. I’m going to Costa Rica in two weeks and I’ve already got a roommate for my hotel and places to hang out before and after the race. All through the power of email. Amazing.