Friday, July 11, 2014

Hey baby, you wanna see my drag coefficient? (A2 Wind Tunnel Visit)

I learned long ago to embrace my inner tri geek.  The national and international regulations surrounding triathlon are far less restrictive than those imposed by the UCI on professional cycling.  You wanna ride a crazy aggressive forward position or wear obnoxious compression socks?  Triathlon says go for it, UCI says no way. Moreover, at this point in my career really long races are the only thing that I am passably competitive at as a professional.  When you start looking at how tiny savings add up over the course of 112 non-drafting miles then the geekiness starts to look more like a strategic calculation. For example, at my weight and average ironman bike speed every watt saved through drag reduction (or increased through training) yields a bit less than a 1 minute improvement. A wind tunnel visit is certainly the pinnacle of tri geekiness. You bust out all the aero equipment and start to look for these small marginal gains. For the great majority of riders though, those marginal gains can really add up. 

Our joint summer family vacation (where we spend most of a week with my mom, my brother and his family) was near Asheville, North Carolina this summer.  This was about a 10 hour drive from Central Illinois, but it had the fringe benefit of putting me within 2 hours of the A2 Wind Tunnel in Moorseville, North Carolina. Fortunately they had two hours available during the time I would be out there. Generally people know that wind tunnel testing is one objective way to measure the aerodynamic differences between various pieces of equipment and positions.  They also know  it is prohibitively expensive.  Two hours of wind tunnel time will run you around a grand, which just seems absurd to me given that my total investment in my first road bike that I raced for many years was $300.  I checked the family savings account and it still had the same 7 cents that we've been able to put away the last five years!  Essentially all of our family equity is in the form of bikes and wheels, so I was able to liquidate a few things to fund my tunnel visit!  Even with the price tag, I think I can show that this visit was definitely worthwhile.

Outside of the tunnel

There has been a very cool trend among the triathlon community to openly share wind tunnel data.  This always comes with the standard caveat that you go to the tunnel because it is the only way to find out what actually works for you. The helmet that tested the best for me (Giro Selector) did so because of my particular position and back shape. If you already know all about drag coefficients, yaw, and aero watts and just want to see the raw data in an excel spreadsheet, click here. Below, I briefly explain the wind tunnel testing procedures and summarize the tests (runs) that I did during my trip.

The A2 guys had a great sign with the above quote from rocket scientist Werner Von Braun.  This is the real reason to go to the tunnel.  Cut through all the marketing hype and BS and find out what works for you in real time. 

Very easy to see the rotating platform in this pic which allows testing of various yaw angles.

The way wind tunnel testing works is that they mount your bike on pedestal in the tunnel that can rotate in order to test both head-on and cross winds (yaw). The pedestal has a computrainer underneath that records power output.  You start out with the baseline position that you came in with and then make incremental small changes looking for drag reductions. Each "run" in the tunnel lasts a little over a minute during which time the fans come on and you test head-on and then at 10 degrees yaw.  The tunnel has a very cool projector set-up where while you are riding the floor in front of you displays 4 images: best run of the day, current live image for comparison, an overhead live image and a head-on live image.

The testing is very methodical and progressive.  For example they will test bar drop in both directions (higher and lower) until drag stops decreasing and then you are done with that aspect.

For my two hours I wanted to test a few position changes and then a few pieces of equipment.  Thanks to sponsors Zipp and Quintana Roo I did not need to spend any time worrying about wheels or different frames.  My 808/Sub 9 disc combo and Illicito frame are as good as anything on the market!  I got a Guru DFU (Dynamic Fit Unit) fit from one of the best in the Midwest: James Coudright at SBR St. Louis.  That fit resulted in me comfortably riding far more drop than my past conservative positions. I came into the tunnel with what I thought was a pretty clean position aerodynamically and I really didn't expect any major changes.  I did want to find out if I could ride less drop without adding drag, though.

Let's walk through the various runs we did.  To keep things (somewhat!) simple I'll just list two numbers here: average aero watts and average drag coefficient. The average includes both head-on and 10 degree yaw runs.  Aero watts are the amount of power required to overcome aerodynamic drag at a given speed ( a realistic 23 mph on my spreadsheet). Drag coefficient CdA(m2) is the industry standard measurement and is the product of the coefficient of drag and frontal area.

Run #1 Baseline Testing
178 aero watts, .267 CdA

Run # 2 Tie up front brake cable. This cable sticks out somewhat on the Illicito. Tying it up actually showed a small increase in drag, but this wasn't tested at yaw, so not really a comparable number to above.  Looks like QR was right not to sweat it about this cable.
182 aero watts, .274 CdA

Run #3 Helmet position change. I came into the tunnel with the new Louis Garneau P-09 aero helmet. For this run we positioned the helmet tail more towards my back.  First bit of drag reduction seen here.
173.5 aero watts, .260 CdA

Run #4 I was already riding about as much drop as possible on the medium-large Illicito frame.  We tried a quick test of removing my elbow pads which dropped me down 1-2cm more.  This actually increased drag a bit, so we didn't need to try and get any lower.
174.5 aero watts, .262 CdA

Runs #5-#7 All tested pad width (both moving pads in and out from my baseline setup. I already had a pretty narrow set-up and it turned out my baseline was fastest in this instance.

Runs #8-#9 Were done to find out if I could ride less aerobar drop without creating additional drag. While this is actually the case for some people, raising my bars up did create additional drag.  Back to baseline position again.

Runs #10-12 Tested whether or not I would be better off with traditional up-pointed ski bend aero bar extensions as opposed to my current S-bends.  The S-bends look like they put you in a very aero position, but this was not the case for me. I should see a nice little reduction in drag going back to the ski bends.  As a bonus, I think they are a little more comfortable than the s-bends.
171.5 aero watts, .257 CdA.

Run #13 I had my bars tilted up slightly which caused the airfoil shape not to be perfectly level. Leveling the bars out seemed to create a tiny gain, but it would be within the margin of error for testing.

Run #14 Was a test of my P-09 helmet without the visor.  The helmet actually tested better without the visor. I know some others have seen the same result when removing visors from various helmets.  Again visors look very aerodynamic, but they turn your head into even more of a sphere, which is not a good thing.
171 aero watts, .256 CdA

Runs #15-17 tested the following aero helmets: Giro Advantage II, Giro Selector and Kask Bambino. The best of these was clearly the Giro Selector.  If you look at some of the images from the runs with this helmet it sits really nicely on my back. It kind of looks like I might be straining my neck to achieve this position, but I was careful to only test positions that I could hold for 5 hours.
169 aero watts, .254 CdA

Run #18 tested the Torhans Aero 30 bottle vs. the Profile Design Aero HC between the arms bottle that was part of my baseline. There was no real difference between the two which was nice to know.  I will probably use the Torhans for long course since I can start out with more fluid.

Run #19 The last thing that I had time to test was a Pearl Izumi Octane tri suit.  This suit has short sleeves and an aero fabric.  When I initially heard the manufacturer's time savings claims I just assumed they were comparing to a loose fitting bike jersey which I don't race in.  In fact, this suit tests much faster for many (but not all!) people compared to a tight-fitting sleeveless tri suit.  A full half of the wind tunnel savings I found came from this last run with the PI suit. With the tunnel fans running at 30 mph I could feel that this suit was fast.  When you scale it back to a more realistic speed of 23 mph it dropped my aero watts to 161.5 (a 7.5 watt savings) with a CdA of .242 (.012 savings).

Initial baseline: 178 aero watts, .267 CdA
Best position / equipment: 161.5 aero watts and .242 CdA

That's an impressive savings of 16.5 aero watts and a .025 reduction in overall CdA.  It's important to remember these numbers come from a realistic speed of 23 mph.  At that speed a savings of 16.5 watts would yield a time drop of more than 8 minutes!

My Baseline Position

Best position/equipment

Let's put these numbers into context.  First the ironman bike time savings from a good aero wheelset vs. a training wheelset at these same speeds (not 40km/hr which is often used) would be in the range of 6-10 minutes depending on whose numbers you use.  A good race wheelset will cost you at least $1000 and tops out at $3000.  Hey wait, all of a sudden my wind tunnel investment is looking really good for about the same amount of time saved!  Now let's look at how this investment might play out for me.  My two "A" races last year were Rev3 Branson half and Beach to Battleship full.  At the Rev3 Branson race where I qualified for my pro card I was second overall by 12 seconds.  Had I done this wind tunnel visit prior to that race it surely would have yielded a nice overall amateur win on my resume.  At Beach to Battleship I averaged about 22.5 mph and finished 4th overall.  An 8 minute improvement on the bike would have moved me up to 2nd overall along with a $400 increase in prize money.

So bottom line?  Wind tunnel uber-geeky? Yes absolutely. Wind tunnel a good investment?  For me, also yes, absolutely.

A properly geeky, goofy pic.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Biking Faster on a Budget

My local Tri-Shark Triathlon Club hosts a quickly growing spring Multisport Expo. This year we had people vote on a couple potential ideas for an educational seminar to be held during the expo.  Since many new(er) athletes come out for the expo the most popular idea was "Biking Faster on a Budget."  Unfortunately the sport of triathlon has a fairly high monetary cost just to participate in.  The cost of gear for 3 sports plus race entry fees is a big barrier for getting kids (and adults!) into the sport. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the costs associated with cycling while still performing at a high level.  The slides below discuss some of my ideas related to: #1 smart bike training and  #2 smart equipment upgrades.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

2014 Goals and Race Schedule

Getting ready for 2014!

2014 Rookie Pro Season Goals

#1 Win an Ironman race
#1 Go sub-9 hours at an Ironman race

There's no typo there, these goals are equally important to me. Whenever I have discussed goal setting with athletes I always push for having at least two types of goals: a time goal and a performance goal. Having placed 4th with a 9:22 at Beach to Battleship last fall these goals are certainly ambitious, but not unattainable. Last year my overall focus was not long-course racing, this year it will be.  I will have either one or two Iron-distance races on my schedule (see below).  If I go sub-9 at an Ironman and finish 20th I will be perfectly content.  Likewise, if I go to a race with nasty conditions and can pull off an overall win with a mid- to low 9 hour, then I also would be ecstatic. Both of these goals have been on my lifetime bucket list.  The sub-9 goal only became more realistic last fall.  The easy thing to do here to notch a win would be to just cherry-pick one of the really small iron distance races that don't offer any prize money, but that seems rather unsportsmanlike as a professional.  So I am looking at races that offer at least a grand to the winner which will ensure decent competition.  How might I pull this off in 2014?  Read on.

Tentative 2014 Race Schedule

Tri Shark Triathlon
Rockford Tri
Decatur Tri
Challenge New Albany 1/2
WIBA Evotri Training Weekend
Michigan Titanium 1/2 or Full
Border Wars 1/2
Beach to Battleship Full

That's my schedule as it now stands.  The amount of time and effort it took to arrive at this sequence of races is appalling.  First, I needed to compare the list of races I could possibly afford to travel to against our family calendar. Then I needed to make sure that the sequence of races would build me up over the course of the season to peak for my goal races in late summer and fall. I've been a huge supporter of the Rev3 races and all of their midwest venues.  Unfortunately for me they pulled the pro field out of the Dells race and Cedar Point hasn't had a pro field in a few years.  Rev3 Branson was a stellar venue, but it is now gone completely.

I really, really, wanted to race the new Challenge Atlantic City full in midsummer, but had conflicts with that one. As a pro, I have the option of paying $800 for a yearly pass that would allow me to race as many WTC events as I wanted, but a good part of the motivation for going pro was to reduce the financial burden racing puts on our family.  I love the tough competition of WTC events, but it is highly unlikely that I would bring in any prize money doing their events.  This season, I am targeting a number of independent events that are very-well run, have decent prize money and small pro fields. Hitting the WTC circuit may be my 2015 strategy.....

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Everything you need to know to create your own customized annual training plan!

Last week I led a workshop that taught participants how to create their own custom, periodized, annual triathlon training plan (ATP) using the tried and true Sweet method! There are many solid, free, training plans on the web, but they all share a few shortcomings.  #1 Almost all of them assume equal ability in all 3 sports when in reality this is rarely the case.  #2 They don't take into account your personal conflicts (family, job, etc).  #3 They are static. When you understand the underlying structure of an ATP, then you can then easily make adjustments for missed workouts, injuries, missed races, etc.

The steps outlined below are the same ones that I have used to structure my own training and to create custom training plans for other athletes. The whole thing is certainly an over-simplified version of what an experienced, knowledgeable coach would create, but beyond this being the free D.I.Y. method, it can also yield a training plan that makes better use of your time and yields better results than just picking a random plan off the web.

You can create your plan with a blank calendar and pencil and then transfer to something like Google Calendar or Training Peaks or use this Excel Spreadsheet.

If you want these directions in an easier to print format, use this Word document.

1. Always start with clearly defined goals.  These should include:
  • 3-5 year long-term goals
  • Yearly goals (3 or 4 specific goals for this year)
  • Monthly goals (these goals help you to reach yearly goals)
  • Weekly goals (do these later on)
2. Put all known family commitments, work travel, etc. onto your ATP. Decide if these will be no-training times, or maybe just a run focus (because you don’t have your bike or pool access for example).

3. Identify your A/B and some C priority events for the year.
  • “A” races: Generally you should have 2-3 “A” races per season.  If your focus is sprint/Olympic maybe 4. Your season is built around “A” priority races.  You do a full taper for these and take time off afterwards.
  • “B” races: These are stepping stones to your “A” races.  No more than 1-2 per month. You do a short taper (2-4 days) for these races and a short recovery (2-3 days). 
  • “C” races.  These are just part of your weekly training load.  Tuesday night time trials are an example for me.  You do not schedule a taper or extra recovery for “C” races. Do not expect to perform at your best for these events. It is not critical to have all your “C” events planned out for the year.
4.Build in taper and recovery time around your “A” races
  • Taper: 3 weeks IM, 2 weeks 1/2 IM or Oly, 10 days for a sprint. 
  • Recovery: 2 weeks IM, 10 days ½ IM, week for Oly/Sprint
5. Create defined periods for the entire season.  If you train pretty much year round you should have 2 complete training cycles, plus a couple months of off-season training. If you follow the guidelines below a full cycle takes a minimum of 20 weeks and a maximum of 40 weeks. When structuring your training plan start with your “A” races and work backwards. Here are simplified guidelines for traditional endurance periodization:
  • Pre-Season / Off-Season (4-12 weeks long)
  • Either complete rest or significantly lower volume
  • Low intensity-workouts
  • Often includes strength training and cross-training activities
  • No racing
  • Base (8-12 weeks)
  • Build into higher volume during this period
  • Primarily low-intensity workouts
  • OK to have a few “B” or “C” races in this period
  • Build (6-8 weeks)
  • Fairly high volume (can be less than base)
  • This period must include some high intensity / interval-type of workouts 2-4 times per week
  • Some of your “B” and “C” events should be in this period
  • Peak (3-4 weeks)
  • Somewhat less overall volume than Base/Build
  • Workouts during this period must mimic goal race pace/intensity.
  • A “B” or “C” race during the first half of the Peak period  is ok.  Be careful racing any later than that as it could negatively affect your “A” race.
  • Taper/Race (1-3) weeks
  • If you followed the step #4 above this period should already be on your training plan.  Tapering involves first reducing volume then reducing intensity prior to an important race
6. Create discrete training blocks within each period: I recommend 3 weeks focused, hard training then one step-back week at 50% volume.

7. Add-in some blocks of complete rest / no training.
  • These rest blocks should be 5-10 days in length.
  • Aim for one roughly every 3 months. 
  • Good times for rest blocks are right after an “A” or “B” event, during family vacations or work travel, or instead of one of the step-back weeks discussed above.
8. Add-in some sport-specific blocks to address weaknesses.  These should be a minimum of 1 week long and can be as long as 2-3 months if done in the pre-season period.

PRESTO!  That’s it!  You now have a custom, periodized annual training plan.  Now you just need to know how to structure a week and add in specific, period-appropriate workouts.  You can use this basic template for planning your weekly workouts in a given period.
Designing a period-appropriate week
  • Begin by reviewing total available time for that week.
  • Next look at what training period the week falls in. For example, the majority of workouts in the base period should be longer and low-intensity.  During your peak period, workouts will mimic race intensity (and sometimes duration).
  • One day of complete rest is a usually a good rule of thumb to follow.
  • Weekends are key for most triathletes. This is usually the best time to get a long ride in.
  • Long runs are also essential, but I recommend doing them every other week.  I also recommend mid-week long runs. Even for IM most long runs should stay at, or under, 2 hours.
  • Doubles (two workouts a day) are great if you can fit them in.
  • Try to space out key workouts. If you have 3 key workouts for the week every other day is a great pattern (part of the reason why I recommend a mid-week long run) 
  • Be sure to clearly identify those key workouts.  There should be 2-4 per week.  During the base period these should be your long workouts.  During build/peak they may be your shorter interval days.

Resources for filling in the specific workouts:

Websites Workouts for all disciplines   Swim workouts by ability

Swim Workouts for Triathletes by Gale Bernhardt and Eric Hansen
Workouts in a binder for swimmers, triathletes and coaches by Gale Bernhardt and Eric Hansen
One-Hour Workouts: 50 Swim, Bike, and Run Workouts for Busy Athletes by Amy White and Scott Molina
Run Workouts for Runners and Triathletes by Bobby McGee
For Swimmers 365 Main Sets by Andrew Starykowicz
Time Crunched Cyclist by Chris Carmichael

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pro Debut: Beach 2 Battleship Ironman

4th Overall

Validation.  More than anything this race was about validating my decision to go pro.  Validating according to my own personal standards and validating to the larger triathlon community.  Those that have trained with me and traveled to events with me know that I am very low-key, particularly before a big event.  I've done this sport a long time and I don't waste any energy getting nervous or stressed before a race. Pre-race stress and race-day adrenaline are the enemies of the long course triathlete. Over the the course of my competitive career I've set ambitious goals, but have managed to mostly avoid pressure to perform.  I like it this way. I put in the work and just let race day play out as it will.  By taking the pro card I did put some pressure on myself. When race organizers believe in me enough to extend complimentary entries I take that seriously.  When families are willing to host me for a weekend because they believe in my abilities and want to see me race I take that as positive pressure to perform my best.  I don't really want or need pressure to perform well, but in this case it worked out in my favor!

Let me give you the nickle tour through the last two seasons to bring everyone up to speed on how I ended up at the start line of B2B as a professional.  In 2012 I had two goals.  #1 Race well at the ITU Off-Road World Champs in the spring (I took 21st overall) and #2 win an ironman.  I fell a bit short when I took 2nd overall at the inaugural Michigan Titanium ironman. For 2013 I wanted to give my best effort at the Best of the U.S. Amateur race in the spring and then try to get my pro card at Rev3 Dells.  Goal #1 went fine, although it established that I'm never going to a great short course racer.  Goal #2 encountered a road bump when I broke my chain during Rev3 Dells.  I reassessed and switched over to 1/2 IM training for Rev3 Branson one month after Dells.  My short course training transferred well to the 1/2 distance. I finished 2nd overall amateur at Rev3 Branson. I immediately took my pro card and decided that since I was racing well I should do one more race in 2013.  Why not an ironman?!  This decision may have been a bit rash since I only had about one more month of training to get somewhat ready for an IM.  I buckled down and put in a few good long rides and long runs.  Still my count for the whole year was only 5 rides over 3 hours and 3 runs over 1.5 hours.  I intentionally almost never run longer than 2 hours in training, so I was pretty confident in my run, but I knew I was really light on bike volume.

I've really enjoyed racing non-WTC events in the last few years.  To the best of my knowledge B2B is the largest independent iron distance race in the U.S.  It's also the only independent race that I know of which fills to capacity.  B2B is held in and around Wilmington, NC.  It boasts one of the fastest iron distance race courses in North America.  It also features cool temperatures which was a huge draw for me, since more often than not, I have been roasted in my other ironman races.

I flew out on Thursday and met up with my Hub Endurance-coordinated homestay family in Wilmington.  The Hayse family were great hosts for the weekend.  They have two kids who are roughly the same ages as mine but with the genders reversed.  So fun to see the different dynamics with an older girl and younger boy.

Race day weather was colder than usual for Wilmington.  Race start temps were around 37 degrees and highs were mid-60s.  The swim is point to point, so I had to pick up some Dollar Store throw-away clothes to take to the swim start.  Even then athletes were huddled around 2 heaters until right before the start.  Rather than getting chilled by warming up I just skipped it.  I started right near the front and got out fast to avoid the big crowds (there was not a separate professional wave).  I always shortchange my swim training, so I just had to be content with a decent pace that I knew I could hold.  I did a better job than usual of always being on someone's feet.  The lead pack got away from me, but that was probably to be expected.  Depending on the tides sometimes the B2B swim is incredibly fast (low 40s for top swimmers). This year was supposed to be slack tide for most of the race.  Prior to the event, I had secured a new wetsuit sponsorship with Xterra Wetsuits.  Xterra hooked me up with their top-of-the-line Vendetta full sleeve and sleeveless suits.  I am huge fan of sleeveless, but because of the cold morning temps I had the full sleeve on.  Water temp was around 70 so I would have preferred the sleeveless in the water, but was happy to have the sleeves beforehand. The Vendetta is the most buoyant and flexible wetsuit I have been in.  The wetsuit plus saltwater plus some incoming tide led me to my best-ever IM swim of 55:52.  I would guess I got about a 3-4 minute push from the incoming tide during the second half of the swim.

Thanks for the extra swim speed, Xterra!

It was a long, cold quarter mile run to the T2 changing tent.  I had spent a lot of time considering how to dress for a bike ride that would start out around 40 degrees and finish around 60.  To try and keep my feet relatively warm I had used thin neoprene swim socks.  To help my T1 time I just kept those on since they would also help keep my toes warm.  I had toe booties on my shoes and I put those chemical heaters underneath those.  I put a single tight-fitting long sleeve on which was difficult when wet and cold.  I had put more heaters in the back pockets of that base layer which was quite nice on my lower back for the bike ride.  I also put on a headband and throwaway gloves.  Because of the long run and extra gear T2 took 4:35.  One of the few other pros in the race was my good friend and former Augustana XC and Track teammate, Jeff Paul.  Traditionally, the swim is the only leg where I had any hope of putting time into JP.  When I reached my bike, I saw that he was already out of T1.  He put in the swim training, so it was all earned through hard work.

40 degree bike start!

The B2B bike course is quite fast on paper.  They call it "totally flat" but that is a bit of a misnomer.  My Powertap Joule had around 2000 ft of climbing.  There certainly aren't any climbs, but lots of false flats.  My selection of gear seemed about right.  Early on I passed some racers who didn't have any warm gear on and they looked miserable. Even with the neoprene socks, toe booties and warmers, my toes were pretty cold for the first 1.5 hours.  My goal was to be around 5 hours for this ride, which would be a personal PR.  My last long training ride went quite well.  I was targeting 210-220 watts which was ambitious, but doable.  For the first 2 hours I was above my goal power range.  RPE should always trump gadget feedback, but I am wondering the cold temps were making me ride harder than I should have just to avoid freezing.  In any case, the winds were relatively low and I knew I should be able to turn in a decent ride.  I picked up a bunch of places in the first 15 miles and then I saw no one until around mile 85.  The meant lots of solo hours where I just kept an eye on the power meter and kept the calories coming in.  I've got my IM nutrition strategy pretty dialed in.  I put one bottle of Infinit in my between the arms bottle and then have concentrate for 4 more behind my seat along with a spare bottle of water that I swap out.  This is about 1300 calories.  I supplement this with 5 gels in a flask (about another 500 calories).  Since it was the week of Halloween I threw a couple snack size Snickers in my bento box and run special needs.  Stellar idea!  I was happy to let my power drop down into goal range after two hours. After 3.5 hours though I was averaging below goal range.  Fortunately for me there was a headwind and a net uphill in the first half of the bike.  My power was dropping off, but my speed was still quite good.  Average power is important, but how that power is distributed is also very important.  Had I started out too hard and then had a headwind the second half, this pacing strategy would have been disastrous.  I finally made a pass around mile 85 and soon after we merged with the 1/2 distance athletes.  At this point, I was content to not fight the power drop because I felt that I could turn in a great run. I hit T2 in 4:59:22 which was another PR for me. My brother was quick to remind me that I still fell 44 seconds short of his best-ever IM ride!  My time was the 5th best for the day, and no one passed me on the bike.  My average power dropped all the way down to 204, which is almost the same as my Kona power in '08.  I had done 212 in training, but probably need more volume to hold that power during a race.  The cool thing is that I could see myself splitting 4:45 on this course with just a little more fitness.

My fit and set-up on the QR CD.01 is now super clean and aero.

During T2 I had a moment of panic when the volunteers could not find my T2 bag.  I had hung it on the rack the day before, but somehow it had gotten moved.  I just started changing in place while the volunteers looked around for my bag and eventually found it.  The bag fiasco plus changing out of the warm gear yielded another slow transition, but hey, it's an IM, I have time to make it up.

This guy crawled across the run course at some point!  Sorry I missed it!

Despite my apparent lack of run volume, I was confident that I could run a quick marathon in cool temps. The long bikes take care of my cardio, so I like to focus on faster running.  The 90 minute "long" run with hard intervals built in is my long course bread and butter training run.  I didn't know exactly where I was place-wise, but I knew I was doing well overall. My marathon goal was 3:10-3:15.  I always just start an IM marathon based off of feel.  I ran about 4 miles at what I felt was a very conservative pace before I even started checking my splits.  The next couple of miles were all around a low 7 minute pace, which was a bit under goal pace.  It's damn hard to even split an IM marathon, so I was fine with building a bit of a cushion early on.  The run was two loops and it was harder than I expected.  The temps were great, but the run definitely has some elevation gain going out each loop along with one steep (but short) hill.  On the first out and back turnaround I got a sense of how I was doing.  Buddy Jeff Paul was in the lead and having a great race!  He was around 20 minutes up on me and there were a few guys between us.  It was hard to get an accurate count because the course was crowded with 1/2 IM runners.  The return trip into town was quite nice because of the net downhill.  In the first half I think I picked up one place and lost one place to a speedy runner.  I was still feeling good and pretty certain I wouldn't have too much of a drop-off.  JP had a solid cushion at the turnaround and he looked like a lock to win it.  Not long after the second turnaround I noted two guys running pretty well about 4-5 minutes back from me.  This gave me some good motivation for the last 6 miles.  I knew they would have to make up about 45 seconds per mile to pass me and I wasn't about to let that happen.  I'm very happy with the way I ran my last six miles.  I actually picked it up some compared to my middle miles. I finished the run in 3:18:37 (9th best run).  The course was a little harder than I anticipated, so I am pretty content with that split.

I might be suffering, but at least I look good?
First and Fourth!  One of us has obviously been done longer than the other in this pic!
On the other hand, I was thrilled with my overall finish.  9:22:10 and 4th overall.  This was a 30 minute PR and probably my best finish in a big race.  There was prize money for the top 5 finishers, so that made the finish place all the better.  JP clinched his first IM win with a 9:04:49.  Congrats again, buddy! So in the end I was less than 20 minutes from the professional winner of a large race.  This new step-up in performance shows me that a sub-9 hour IM on a course like B2B or IM Florida is now within my ability.  Most of the time drop will come from a better bike performance. Next year I will be completely focused on long course racing.  Which races remains to be seen.  B2B was a great experience and I'd love to come back sometime and race for the win.


2013 B2B Recap Video