Friday, December 9, 2011

Evotri: Origins

This post is my contribution to an "Origins" series on my Evotri team website.

One of my early 90's triathlon efforts with my brother.

My earliest triathlon memories are fuzzy.  I recall awaking in a secret Canadian laboratory where my skeleton had just been replaced by Zipp carbon fiber and adamantium.  My blood was transfused with Espresso flavored Gu.  I had super powers such as the ability to relieve myself at race pace without breaking stride….

Actually, when I signed up for my first sprint triathlon in 1992 I knew exactly zero other people who had ever done one.  The sport was much smaller back then and I was in the summer between Jr. High and High School. 

Metamora Summer Swim Team circa 1990? In later years I would coach this team of 100+ swimmers.

I had been on a summer swim team since age 9 and had started running track in 5th grade. In track, I was quickly pegged as a distance runner, but since we were a very small school I volunteered to do a little bit of everything including sprints and throwing shot put.  I still contend that they should handicap gradeshool shotput by weight since I only weighed like 3 times more than the shot put.

My shot put career was short-lived.  

Due largely to the abilities of my teammates, I actually ran the 4X100m relay in the grade school state track meet.  I started Cross Country in 7th grade and was immediately one of the better runners (albeit on another small team).  For a time I held the 7th and 8th grade cross country 2 mile records, but those are long gone.  I ran in the state xc meet in 8th grade finishing with a high 11 minute 2 mile I think.  

 St. Mary's Grade School Cross Country.  Old. School. 

 Back in the pre-internet days people always learned about races at the local running store.  In my case this was the awesome and still thriving Running Central in Peoria, IL.  They had a huge row of paper entry forms that I always picked up when I went in.  In the summer of ’92 I picked up entry forms for two “sprint” triathlons: Tri-Tremont and Canton Bi-Tri Classic.   

Tri-Tremont was first and there was no kids division so I did the same distances as everyone else 400m pool swim, 13 mile bike, 5k run.  I don’t recall if I won my age group, but I definitely placed.  Moreover I was hooked on this concept of doing 3 really fun sports as part of one race.  Later that summer I raced the Canton Bi-Tri Classic and this race did offer a shorter distance kids race.  I had lots of success over the years at Canton. I think I won the kids race every –or almost every- year that I did it. As far as I know my record for the kids distance still stands.  This past year was the 20th anniversary for Canton. One of the triathlon accomplishments I am quite proud of was winning this event (2010 and 2011) that helped get me started.  This coming summer will be the 20th anniversary of my first race at Tremont.  The event went away for a few years, but has been brought back.  One of my goals for 2012 will be to go back to this race that got me started and try to win it 20 years later.

For the first half of my triathlon career, I literally never trained for the bike leg.  I biked some as a means of transportation, but never really for fitness.  I mostly relied on my swim/run fitness to carry me through all my early triathlons.  I ran and swam competitively in High School (Metamora High School) and in college (Augustana College).  During this time I never raced more than 1 or 2 triathlons a summer and never longer than sprint distance. It wasn't until I finished undergrad that I stepped up to longer races and began focusing on triathlons, but that is more recent history and fodder for a later post.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Making the Team: 2012

Now entering its sixth year, the members of Team Evotri continue to challenge themselves and others to live a healthy and active lifestyle through endurance sports. They have been given an extraordinary opportunity to train and race with the same equipment and coaching as the pros. They continue to dedicate themselves to maximizing their potential, to sharing what they learn from their experiences, and to making a positive contribution to the endurance sport community.

Team Evotri is again ready to welcome a new member to the family. For 2012, Team Evotri and its sponsors have pulled together a one-of-a-kind package to provide an age group athlete the opportunity to train and race like a PRO, while giving back to the triathlon and endurance community. The current team members will be looking for an individual who embraces the spirit of triathlon: a positive attitude, enthusiasm for the sport, desire to improve, and dedication to give back to the endurance community. Years of triathlon experience and good race results are not deciding factors in choosing a winner, but passion is.

The next team member will benefit by receiving an excellent package courtesy of the team's sponsors:

  • QuintanaRoo will provide a top-of-the-line CD0.1  frameset with innovative shift technology that will undoubtedly take your bike splits to a new level.
  • Zipp Speed Weaponry knows just how to outfit a frame like the CD0.1 with a 404 front and 808 rear wheel set.
  • SRAM will add to the bike with its latest cockpit and drivetrain components.
  • CycleOps finishes the bike off with its cutting edge SL+ wireless PowerTap hub and Joule 2.0 computer.
  • HUB Endurance puts it all together providing a full year of expert triathlon coaching to deliver the newest Evotri athlete to the top of their potential in 2012.
Here's how you can be the next Team Evotri member:
Create a video that's no longer than three (3) minutes. The video should answer the following three questions:
  1. Why Evotri?
  2. Why You?
  3. Can you Evotri?

  • Videos must be posted to Team Evotri's Facebook page:
  • Videos must be posted by December 31, 2011, at 11:59 PM CST.
  • Videos not within the time constraints will not be considered.
  • The current team members will select finalists from the video submissions.
  • The finalists will be notified by January 15, 2012 and will be invited to be interviewed via teleconference by current team members.
  • The winner will be announced on February 1, 2012.
Important Notes:
  • By posting a video to Evotri's Facebook page, candidates grant contest affiliates permission to use said video for promotional purposes affiliated with Team Evotri and the 2012 contest.
  • The winner of the team slot forfeits all awards if he/she is unable to continue as a team member for any reason for a period within two years of joining the team.
  • The winner of the team slot agrees to contribute to the Team Evotri web site for as long as he/she is a member of Team Evotri.
  • The winner agrees to race in an Evotri team uniform for all multisport events. Winner to purchase choice of uniform apparel upon final selection.
  • The winner of the team slot must participate in the yearly Team Evotri event. The 2012 event is a training camp in Chattanooga, TN from April 12-15, 2012. You must be present for the entire time.
  • No reimbursement will be made by Team Evotri or its sponsors for the creation, submission or any other expenses associated with the video entry.
  • No reimbursement will be made by Team Evotri or its sponsors for any travel, lodging, race entry fees, or other associated expenses in attending Team Evotri activities.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Announcing Evotri - Hub Endurance Sponsorship!

Madison, WI

Team Evotri is excited to announce a new sponsorship collaboration with Hub Endurance, Chattanooga, TN.  Hub Endurance is Chattanooga's premier multisport shop and also offers a full range of custom multisport coaching options. "The Hub" is the only bike shop in Tennessee to offer professional bike fits utilizing the state of the art Guru Dynamic Fit Unit. Hub Endurance also carries Evotri's favorite line of tri bikes: Quintana Roo! Hub Endurance will provide a year of custom coaching and a professional bike fit to all new Evotri members. In addition, Hub will offer discounted coaching services and products to the full Evotri team.

Team Evotri's tagline has always been "Synergistic Multisport" and that concept is something we take seriously.  Synergistic Multisport means that we are always looking for new and innovative ways to interact with our sponsors and supporters.  We don't just expect to be given great equipment, but also to dialogue with sponsors about how that equipment actually performs from month to month and year to year. In the past we have had sponsor representatives train and race alongside the team. Evotri's yearly WIBA training weekend is a free event to anyone who wants to show up.  So when Andy Sweet (brother of Evotri member Chris Sweet) started a coaching company and multisport shop this new synergy was a no-brainer.

Below is a Q&A with Hub Endurance owners Jamie Ingalls and Andy Sweet.

Tell us a little bit about your athletic backgrounds. 

Jamie Ingalls - Former division 1 ski racer, and semi-pro cyclist. Been racing bicycles since 1988 (age 13).

Andy Sweet - 5-time IM finisher, UMCA RAAM qualifier, competitive swimmer since age 6.

Hub Endurance originally started out as a physical location for your coaching business where you could do bike fits and indoor group rides. Pretty quickly you guys realized that people wanted a lot more.  Tell us about that transition from a coaching home base to multisport shop. How has it benefited the coaching side of your business?

The biggest benefit is that it allows us to better care for and equip our athletes for optimal performances. Upon the growth of our coaching business, we quickly realized that most of our athletes were riding improper equipment and were getting frustrated with the process of trying to find/buy the right products. We started bridging that gap with information and recommendations... then eventually clients started asking us to 'just get me what I need!" In addition, Chattanooga never had a retail location dedicated to the multisport athlete (no swim shops, few bike shops with tri bikes, etc); so we decided that with our bike and retail knowledge, we could attempt to fill that gap.

10 years ago there were literally only a handful of serious triathlon coaches in the country, now USAT certifies big classes of new coaches every few months. How does Hub stand out? What are your coaching philosophies? 

Our coaching philosophies are rather simple and effective:
    1. We focus on forming and maintaining very open lines of communication with all of our clients. We encourage our clients to call/email/visit with us as often as they can, because the more direct interaction we have with them, the better we are able to assess their fitness, their health, their motivation, etc.
    2. We believe coaching is much more than providing workout schedules. We feel that we have a responsibility to our athletes to help them progress in all aspects of their fitness, which includes important (and often ignored) aspects, such as form, technique, mental preparation, and stress management, in addition to strength and endurance.
    3. We believe in helping our athletes balance their schedules to optimize fitness gains in a realistic amount of time. We realize that most people have full-time jobs, families, and other commitments outside of athletics, so we constantly strive to help our clients maximize the time that they have available, rather than asking them to sacrifice other aspects of their life.

Your "Advanced" and "Professional" levels of custom coaching offer quite a few perks you don't usually see from other coaching companies. What are some of those "extras" that you've built into your coaching packages?

We offer features like regular power/HR reviews, which generally other coaching groups charge extra for, because we feel these are essentials for athlete progression. We love going through files with clients, because the more that they understand their performances (strengths/weaknesses), the better athlete they will become. As a full service bike shop, we are also able to offer some other perks, such as discounted bike service/camps/clinics.

Hub made a substantial investment in a Guru Dynamic Fit Cycle (DFU). Tell us about what the DFU does and why you chose it over other fit cycles / systems that are out there. 

The GURU Dynamic Fit Unit is far and away the greatest fit tool designed to date. We researched all the different offerings in the fit world, and were simply blown away by the DFU's capabilities. It allows us to adjust rider position in real-time (no gettting off and on the bike, swapping components, etc), while providing detailed feedback on the riders performance. It allows us to measure aspects such as power output, efficiency, spinscan, right/left leg balance, and even torque angle. After a DFU fit, we are able to provide customers with their optimal position, bike geometry, and component choices.

What is one thing that absolutely drives you nuts about triathletes?

We find that triathletes are very involved in researching their sport, however, they are not always the best at finding factual, supported information. They love internet forums!

Outside of the family relationship, what made you want to sponsor the Evotri team? Was it the across-the-board good looks that would enable any Evotri team member to be a Hub Endurance poster child and drive gobs of business to the shop?  

Looks are everything! But, in all actuality, we are really looking forward to working with the Evotri team to help us announce HUB Endurance to the nationwide public. We have been extremely successful in growing our business locally and regionally, but feel that our coaching structure and talent will be able to help athletes all of the country. Through Team Evotri's large online presence and nationwide following, our partnership will highlight our remote coaching abilities.

Evotri plans to visit Chattanooga next spring for a team training camp. What local ride/run routes will you be sending them on? Will anyone cry?

They will all have the opportunity to train in the mountains and valleys around Chattanooga... the number of classic ride and run routes are endless. But, the infamous 3-State 3-Mountain ride will likely be featured... some will cry.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Bicycle Built for Two (Huffy Daisy Daisy Restoration Project)

Daisy Bell
By: Harry Dacre (1892)

There is a flower within my heart,
Daisy, Daisy,
Planted one day by a glancing dart,
Planted by Daisy Bell.
Whether she loves me or loves me not
Sometimes it's hard to tell,
And yet I am longing to share the lot
Of beautiful Daisy Bell.


Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do,
I'm half crazy all for the love of you.
It won't be a stylish marriage -
I can't afford a carriage,
But you'd look sweet on the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.

We will go tandem as man and wife,
Daisy, Daisy,
Ped'ling away down the road of life,
I and my Daisy Bell.
When the road's dark, we can both despise
P'licemen and lamps as well.
There are bright lights in the dazzling eyes
Of beautiful Daisy Bell.


I will stand by you in wheel or woe
Daisy, Daisy,
You'll be the bell which I'll ring you know
Sweet little Daisy Bell
You'll take the lead on each trip we take
Then if I don't do well
I will permit you to use the brake
beautiful Daisy Bell


History was one of my undergraduate majors (literature was the other) and continues to be one of my abiding passions. Naturally, anytime that I can bring my passion for history together with my passion for cycling I'm like a little kid on Christmas morning. This tandem restoration project has been quite a few years in the making, but before I get to that there is another bit of historical trivia that relates to the inspiration behind the original Daisy Bell song.  As the story goes, when Dacre (an English popular composer) first came to the United States, he brought with him a bicycle, for which he was charged duty. His friend joked, 'It's lucky you didn't bring a bicycle built for two, otherwise you'd have to pay double duty.' Dacre was so taken with the phrase 'bicycle built for two' that he decided to use it in a song.

I haven't been able to pin down a date on the bike itself. It is definitely late 50's or early 60's. The first time I saw a picture of one of these I fell in love with it. To me, it is just so iconic of that era. The cars and bikes from that time period both had gorgeous curves with barely a hard angle anywhere. So obviously the bike is good old American steel and quite heavy.  I had saved searches set up on Ebay for years before I finally found this one within a couple hours of home.  Actually I bought two bikes, neither of which was actually in working order.  Both had been stored outside for some period of time, been repainted with probably a can of spray paint and were just generally abused all-around.

Since I knew I didn't have time to jump right into the stripping and painting (I had just started a new job and was in the process of buying a new house and selling the old one) I took parts from both bikes to make a franken tandem that sort of worked.  It was lots of fun to cruise around on, but the handling is complete crap and the gearing was too high.

This is one of the only pics I took of the "original" frame.

Fast forward a couple of years and a friend had found me an original chainguard in excellent condition to repaint.  I thought this was as good an excuse to buy a sandblaster as any, so I picked up one of those and started the hard labor of removing multiple layers of paint and rust.  There were so many problems that I just took everything back down to the bare metal.

Originally I was going to dredge up my rusty and dated automotive painting skills, but decided if I was going to put this much time and effort into the project that I wanted a professional paint job with modern paints. Enter Mike's Collision Center. Mike Mavec is a local triathlete and owner of Mike's Collision.  He had just begun dabbling in bike painting and I approached him with the tandem project. We made a deal to swap a paint job for some coaching-related services.

The pinstripes I am adding in these pics were not original, but one of my personal enhancements!

Don Fogler of Fogler Signs did a great job helping me re-create the original decals that all went under the clearcoat.

After painting, decals and clearcoating it was time for rebuilding.  I was only able to salvage a few of the original parts. The chainrings and seatposts are original but that's about it!  I was amazed at how cheap heavy steel parts are!  The new wheelset cost $45 and the fenders were like $20.  Refreshing since a single tire for my triathlon bike runs about $75!  Getting everything to work took some tinkering.  The fenders and tires are both wider than the originals, but I love the look!  I still need to do some tinkering with the idler pulley that maintains chain tension.

The new bike's maiden voyage was a trip of a couple miles around Lexington.  We live right off old Route 66 and Cara and I did a portion of the ride on the old road that is now a bike path. It seemed so iconic to be riding a classic 1950's American steel frame on the classic highway from the same era!  Really looking forward to having this bike to cruise around Lexington on!

Maiden Voyage! No parts fell off!

So the bike basically handles like crap.  It has a flimsy front fork that has to provide direction for a 50+ pound bike plus two riders.  Little spooky, but the thing isn't meant to go fast!  The only brake is a coaster brake which is pretty effective actually.  I haven't had a bike with a coaster brake in probably 20 years, but it was amazing how natural that braking motion is if you grew up riding old school bmx!

Those of you with short cycling memories probably only associate Huffy bikes with their current line of garbage department store bikes. In the 1980's Huffy invested heavily in supporting professional U.S. cycling and developing cutting-edge race bikes.  The 7-Eleven cycling team rode Huffys for a few years that were actually re-branded Serottas (Huffy made their own copies for the average racer).  In the 1984 and 1988 Olympics athletes aboard Huffys took home gold and silver medals.  Huffy even got into developing time trial bikes and eventually triathlon bikes.  Mark Allen's 1991 win the Ironman World Championships in Kona was aboard a Huffy Triton (pictured below).

Early Huffy Time Trial Bike

Even Greg Lemond raced on a Huffy (briefly!)

Mark Allen won Kona in 1991 aboard one of these!

So what's the next project, you might ask? Well I've got something at least equally as cool as the Daisy Daisy in the works: an Evel Knievel 10 speed!  As far as I have been able to determine this is one of the first production bikes to be equipped with a disc brake! Check out the video of the man selling these bikes! Mine is currently in considerably worse shape. When I have this thing done and find a stars and stripes jumpsuit to match, I am going to be so badass!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

As easy as 1,2,3?

Canton Triathlon
1st Overall

Xterra Illinois Wilds
2nd Overall

Great Illini Half Ironman
3rd Overall

Well this has certainly been a roller coaster season!  My attempt to race well at a big Xterra event in April didn't really go as planned.  I enjoyed the challenge but the results were lacking.  I knew that our new baby girl in early June was going to entail a significant break from training.  The rest of the summer was one long struggle to get back into competitive form.  My strategy was to race a lot and hit just about every workout pretty hard since I was on a low-volume training program.  I didn't feel like I came into short course racing form until August.  By sheer coincidence early August was also when my Evotri team all got new Quintana Roo bikes.  The bike has been really good to me so far!  I literally put it together on a Friday and then raced to an overall win the next morning!  I think I've won 3 out of 4 of our local Tuesday Night Time Trials on the new bike.

Suffering on the new QR during a time trial.

I'm going to give condensed race reports for my last 3 races.

Canton Triathlon
1st Overall

This is a local-ish sprint race and one of my all-time favorites because I have been racing there for so long.  This year was the race's 20th anniversary and I actually participated in the kids race there 19 years ago!  This is a real roots race for me and being the 20th anniversary, I was gunning for a win.  It was also Cara's first triathlon back since having Lorien in June. 

Chris Camp, a good friend from my grade school and high school swimming days has shown up as part of a relay the last two years.  We were both sprinters, but he ended up a big Division 1 school where he did quite well.  The week before Canton he pulled out a 47 sec 100 yard freestyle, so he's still got some speed!  In the swim, I jumped on his feet right away and hung on for dear life.  Fortunately for me, he doesn't have much open water experience and I held his feet for about 75% of the race.  I blitzed through transition and jumped on my new Quintana Roo CD0.1.  About 3 or 4 miles into the bike leg I had taken over the lead including the relay teams.  I usually feel terrible on the bike during sprint tris, but my legs finally felt good for this race.  Temps were good, winds were low.  I averaged 23.5mph for a somewhat rolling course and still had a lot left in the tank.  I hadn't been happy with my runs all season and wanted to turn in a fast 3 mile split.  I took off with that intention, but it is really hard to push deep into the pain cave when you aren't chasing anyone.  I ended up running a 17:36 for the somewhat hilly run.  My time was about 2 or 3 seconds slower than when I won the year before, so that at least showed my race form was finally coming around.  Cara managed a win in her age group and good friend and fellow Tri-Shark Aimee Dziekan took the overall win for the women.

Xterra Illinois Wilds
2nd Overall

If you are one of the few that actually read everything I put up on my blog, you will recall that originally 2011 was going to be my big Xterra year, hopefully culminating with the World Championships in Maui.  A variety of factors -chiefly financial- derailed this plan this year.  I love racing Xterra, but the midwest races mostly require long drives and overnight trips which is hard with an infant and 3 year old!  Anyway, this is the second year for Xterra Illinois Wilds which is held near Peoria, IL (about 1.5 hours away from home).  This swim was 800 yards.  I knew that Chris Scott who won last year would be near the front as well as my friend and local masters swimmer, John Pratt.  This was a 1-wave start, so I really got out hard so that I wouldn't get caught up.  I was near the lead for a bit, then caught John's feet for a few hundred yards until he dropped me.  I think I came out of the swim in around 4th?  I had done two mountain bike races this season, but really didn't get out to train much on my mountain bike.  This bike course is actually quite technical and doesn't give you much opportunity to just open up and use your general cycling fitness.  I was pushing pretty hard and taking some risks until I got into second place.  Then I washed out on a loose corner and later went down really hard when I caught a handlebar on a tree.  Some spectators saw my wipeout and just stood there with open jaws, so it must have looked pretty spectacular.  Those two crashes caused me to slow up a bit and take less risks. 

I'm riding a hardtail 29er this year, coming off a full-suspension 26er.  The carbon hardtail is fun, but I think I will eventually want to get back to a full-suspension bike for Xterra.  As for the 29er vs. 26er debate, I don't think it is nearly as big a difference as people (and manufacturers!) make it out to be.  The 29er is definitely better over obstacles and for high-speed descents.  The 26er is better in tight terrain.  I can't tell that the 29er has better tire contact, which is a common claim. 

As for the rest of the race, Chris Scott had first place locked up after the ride.  I lost much less time to him this year than last which I was happy about since they added a couple miles to the bike course.  For the rest of this race I ran hard, but really just hard enough to defend second place.  Chris Scott cruised to the win about 6 minutes in front of me.  I'll take that since I don't think he has lost an Xterra race in the midwest the past few seasons!

Only other thing worth noting about the race is that Ryan Sutter of "The Bacherlotte" fame showed up at the race with a full camera crew.  As I understand it he was chasing Xterra points for either nationals or worlds and was in Illinois for the Chicago Triathlon.  As I recall, he raced Kona by actually qualifying rather than taking a celebrity slot. He is a Colarado native, so I had no idea what his off-road skill might be like.  He ended up 5th about 6 minutes back from me, so a pretty solid showing- particularly since I believe he did the Leadville 100, one or two weeks earlier!  Minus the camera crew, he pretty much just blended right in with all of us.  Nice guy from what I could tell.

Post-race at the Xterra.  Note the birdhouse award and recovery drink!

Great Illini Half Ironman
3rd Overall

Like lots of things this season, choosing the Great Illini Half Ironman was a compromise.  I wanted to finish the season with at least one half Ironman to see where my long course fitness was at.  I also had my eyes on Branson 70.3 and Rev3 Cedar Point, but eventually defaulted to Great Illini because #1 it had the cheapest entry fee, #2 it was the closest and #3 I thought I had an outside chance at winning prize money.  I've actually won this small half twice before, but it didn't have prize money back then.  I didn't have time to do much volume this year, so I wasn't sure how I would hold up for a half.  On the right day Great Illini can be quite quick and I thought I could turn in a time somewhere in the 4:20s.

We did not have the right day.  We had a downright sucky day. The race was the beginning of September, but summer temps decided to hang around for another week.

I traveled down to the race with good Tri-Shark friends Laura Wheatley and Aimee Dziekan.  My go-to pre-race restaurant when I am racing in Matoon has been the Amishland Red Barn Buffet and this trip certainly didn't disappoint!  It's also Jonah's favorite because they have 4 colors of jello.  A Dos Equis Amber at a little Mexican place by the hotel topped off my pre-race nutrition preparation.

Pre-Race Buffet Goodness!

Who shows up at this event is a big toss-up.  The prize money has pulled in a few pros and top age groupers in the past.  This year the only one I knew for sure that was coming down was good friend Andrew Starykowicz.  There went first place (but I think having Andrew race actually helped me. More on this later).  Water was really warm and well above the wetsuit cut-off. I don't like swimming in a wetsuit if it is above 75, but I also don't like racing in bathwater even without a wetsuit.  I ended up in second behind Starykowicz for most of the first lap of two.  Second lap my lack of swim training showed itself and I lost a little time to a group of about 3 athletes.  I hit transition in 31 minutes and change which isn't great for me, but not bad for a non-wetsuit swim. 

The temps at the start of the bike weren't too bad yet.  My long bike training consisted of 3, 3 hour rides where I pretty much figured out what sort of power I could currently maintain for 56 miles.  I was targeting 225-230 ave and ended up just a little under 225.  Out on the bike I actually felt really good and started picking places back up.  I think it took me about 15 miles to move back into 2nd.  The course is mostly flat, but has a bunch of turns including 5, 180 degree turnarounds.  The course had to be re-routed over some pretty rough roads that beat all of us up as well.  One the second lap some of the olympic distance riders began to mix in with us.  One guy went around me so fast I just assumed he was racing the olympic.  For the record, when racing for prize money, it is really not a good idea to ASSume!  It wasn't until an out-and back around 45 miles that I realized I was now in 3rd and down by quite a bit.  I put some extra effort into the pedals, but was pretty fatigued at that point. My ride was 2:26 or about 23 mph.  Not my best, but ok for this season.

By the end of the ride it was pretty hot and humid.  Having done the race a few times before I knew it was completely open with no shade.  It was scarily similar to the terrible conditions the day I won the Effinham Half Ironman a couple years ago.  Starting the run I knew getting close to my PR was out of the question.  Instead I just wanted to keep myself in the prize money and maybe move up to second overall.  I started out at a pretty conservative pace that I knew I could maintain in the heat.  I felt ok given the conditions and put some effort into the middle miles to see if I could close the gap on second, but he was running really well, so I went back to my strategy of defending third and not blowing up.  The aid stations each mile couldn't come soon enough.  The temps were in the 90s with clear skies and heat index around triple digits.  I utilized one of heat management strategies of dumping iced down my jersey and pants....and then eating that ice between aid stations!  It is a beautiful, I just recycle all my electrolytes!  Run was one of my worst ever times (1:40) which contributed largely to my 4:40 finish time.  For comparison I've ran under 1:25 and finished under 4:25 on this course in better conditions.  In any case, that time was still good for 3rd overall and my biggest triathlon pay day to date.  I'm pretty certain that having Starky show up actually kept me in the money because it kept away some other racers who knew they wouldn't win overall, so didn't show up.  Thanks man!  Seems like the hot race didn't phase Andrew much since he went on to win the Rev3 full the following weekend!  8:28 for his first full seems like a good debut!

I think all of that leaves me conflicted over the season.  I knew it would be really tough having a new baby in June, but it was REALLY tough!  For a long time (see Lifetime Fitness race report!) it didn't seem like I was going to be able to get back into shape.  I don't think I ever did get into very good long course shape, but I've got to be happy with these results from my last 3 races.  Even if they were smaller regional races all of them had some good competition.

I had lots of friends and teammates racing IM Wisconsin and Rev3 Full and it really made me want to step back up to that distance.  I just don't see it happening soon though.  When I go back to Ironman racing I want to do it right.  Sabbatical in a couple of years (assuming I get tenured) might be my next legitimate opportunity.  Until then I am looking forward to getting better at cyclocross this fall and then racing Triple-T with my Evotri team next spring!  That sorta counts like an Ironman, right?! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Strategies for Training and Racing in the Heat

Chris Sweet
USAT Certified Triathlon Coach

(This is an outline of a longer presentation I gave to the Tri-Shark Triathlon Club. If something is unclear from these notes shoot me an e-mail or comment and I can elaborate.)

 About 75% of your energy expenditure during exercise results in heat!         

  • Proper heat management starts with your last workout
  • High SPF/ Waterproof sunscreen.  Can do 1st application night before
  • Keep the hydration up all day long. At night you should be up to pee at least once.
  • Urine should be light yellow, but multivitamins can make it darker
  • When possible train in off-peak hours: early morning and evening
  • During high heat consider the bike trainer or treadmill as more effective alternative to racing outside
  • Don’t forget to hydrate during swim workouts
  • Racing- can cut holes in the top of your swim cap
  • Hot, but wetsuit legal swims.  Put ice inside your wetsuit. 
  • White or light-colored clothing.
  • White helmet
  • Consider wearing a camelback pack with iced fluids to keep up with hydration
  • Desoto arm coolers (white arm sleeves designed to keep you cooler)
  • Racing: put extra water into your helmet vents and over your torso for extra cooling
  • Monitor your peeing.  Should be about every 1.5 hours.
  • White hat (not visor).  Can douse with water/put ice under
  • Racing: put ice from aid stations in your singlet and down your shorts (femoral artery)
  • Racing: latex gloves filled with ice
  • Racing: Reapply sunscreen if needed
Hot weather nutrition
  • Take in electrolytes, but research shows they don’t help with cramping.
  • Use water, but with gels/electrolyte drinks.  Too much water can cause hyponatermia
  • If your drink has electrolytes additional salt tablets are usually not needed
  • Begin rehydrating immediately.  Key components are carbohydrate plus a little protein and a little electrolytes
  • Foods for hydration: watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, smoothies, slimfast shakes
  • For serious dehydration first recourse is an I.V.  Pedialyte is an effective home treatment for moderate dehydration
Know your sweat rate.
  • This involves working out in a given temperature for a fixed amount of time and determining the rate at which you lose fluids. has a simple calculator to assist you with this:
Heat acclimation training
  • The concept here is to regularly submit your body to training in the heat prior to an expected hot race.  Research shows this can be an effective strategy. Training in heat increases blood plasma volume over time and promotes other positive physiological adaptations to exercising in the heat.  It is not a “quick fix.”  Training in the heat the week before a race won’t help.  Adaptation occur over a 3-4 week time period.  Sessions need not be longer than 100 minutes. Acclimation must be maintained otherwise the positive effects begin to diminish.
What is sun poisoning? 

  • Not real poisoning.  Just a severe sunburn.
  • Symptoms include:  blisters, fever/chills, headache, nausea
  • Treatment: cool bath/shower, ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain, aloe gel, increased fluid intake for a few days following.
What is heat stroke?

  • Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that occurs when your body temperature reaches 104 F (40 C) or higher. Heatstroke can be brought on by high environmental temperatures, by strenuous physical activity or by other conditions that raise your body temperature. 
  • Symptoms: 104+ body temperature (measured rectally when heat stroke is expected), bright red skin, abnormally high heart rate, light-headed, nauseous, extreme fatigue, headache, cramping, dark urine
  • Treatment: Immersion in an ice water tub or coverage with ice water-soaked towels or evaporative cooling with cool mist and fans.

Additional Resources:

Collection of Runners World articles on training and racing in the heat:,7123,s6-238-267-269-0,00.html
Exertional Heat Illness during Training and Competition. Position stand from American College of Sports Medicine.  Authoritative, but technical:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Announcing Evotri - Quintana Roo Sponsorship!

Evotri Age Group Triathlon Team Partners with Quintana Roo

Chattanooga, Tenn. – August 17, 2011 – For the 2012 season, Quintana Roo is excited to partner with Team Evotri to provide each of the team members with the bike that Triathlete Magazine has called "the most innovative in the past decade from any brand," the CD0.1. The QR Shift Series is the only line of aerodynamic bikes designed specifically to minimize the substantial drag created by the drivetrain. QR's exclusive 18 millimeter offset downtube SHIFT Technology diverts concentrated airflow away from the drive side to produce a true, measureable bike-course advantage for every athlete at every level.

“We are very much looking forward to the partnership with Team EVOTRI for the upcoming season,” said Peter Hurley, QR CEO. “Having active social networking athletes on the CD0.1 for 2012 and beyond is an exciting direction Quintana Roo is heading.”

Team Evotri was conceived in 2007 based around the idea of finding out what happens when age group triathletes of all ability levels are provided with top coaching, technology and precision equipment. The team currently has eight members who share their journey via blogs, podcasts and social networking.

Evotri’s team model has been proven successful since 3 of the 8 age group athletes have qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii for the first time after joining the team. Other team members have also seen substantial improvements resulting from the team sponsorship package. The Evotri team also focuses on giving back to the triathlon community through organizing one of the fastest growing training camps for the Ironman distance. Held every summer, the Wisconsin Ironman Brick Adventure (WIBA) is a completely free weekend full of solid training, good sportsmanship and a wealth of knowledge.

Evotri Team Manager, Stu Joannes ("Simply Stu") states, "When I walked my rickety old bike into my first triathlon years ago, I remember seeing an incredible bike with a cool name - Quintana Roo. I told myself that one day I would ride one. Well, that day has finally come, and I couldn't be happier. The new CD0.1 is just an incredible ride that is packed with technology. I have come a long way since that first triathlon, and so has bike technology. My passion for the sport is only matched by the passion that Quintana Roo puts into bikes!"

Quintana Roo:
Team Evotri:

Enroute to a Tuesday Night Time Trial Victory on board my new QR CD.01!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Racing Into Shape!

When I was doing my library science graduate degree at the University of Illinois, we had a really solid group of avid triathletes that came together and formed the Fighting Illini Tri Club. Far and away the most successful in our group was a German native by the name of Patrick Bless. Patrick was a German triathlete formed in the classic mold of Jurgen Zach, Thomas Hellriegel and Norman Stadler: an uber-biker paired with a solid swim and run. Since our college days he has gone pro, but even back then, we were always listening closely and picking his brain for training and racing tips that would magically make us win lots of races. I distinctly recall this gem about rest and recovery: "I took a few months off before Collegiate Nationals and then just trained really hard for a couple of weeks before the race" (he happened to win that year). Patrick on nutrition during a training ride: "Hey guys I stopped at Panera and got a bag of bagels for the ride, want one?" (they were stashed down the front of his jersey in very Euro fashion). The last bit of knowledge wasn't something I remember Patrick saying explicitly, but it was more of an observation in retrospect. Whenever he really started ramping up for a big event (he did Kona 4 or 5 times as an amateur) he raced.....a lot. From a coaching standpoint this strategy is what I would call high-risk, high-reward. If you can hold up without getting injured, racing your way into shape can be a very effective strategy. Specificity is a training term that is tossed around a lot and the reason racing is such effective training is because it is absolutely specific to race day.

A sufficiently goofy picture of Patrick that I swiped from the internet!

All of that long exposition was just a way to provide some context for my early season racing. This year I am considering the two months post-baby (June 3rd) my early season. If things work out right I might actually be able to get into decent shape over the summer and peak for a fall race. I know just about every trick in the book to get the most out of very little training time. I really haven't had the luxury of doing an easy ride or easy run for the last two years or so. In general I try to go hard or long every workout. Since I don't really have time for long rides, that pretty much means I go hard whenever I am on the bike or in the pool. This is mentally challenging, but quite effective. If I race on the weekend, time trial on Tuesday and run hard intervals on Thursday and then need to take some days completely off during the week it is not a huge deal. So basically that's my plan: do race-like efforts as frequently as possible. I may target a half-ironman in the fall, in which case I will need to do some longer rides eventually.

So far my "early" races have included:

6/18 Lexington (hometown!) 5K: 17:54 (5:46 pace)
7/4 Park to Park 5 mile 29:52 (5:58 pace)
7/9 Lifetime Fitness Olympic: 2:13 (bike was 1 mile long)
7/16 Evergreen Olympic: 2:06

The Evergreen Tri had near perfect conditions this year, but I think it also shows that the racing my way into shape thing is starting to work. I've also been doing our local time trial almost every Tuesday night. The Tuesday night before Evergreen we also had great conditions and I rode about 25.5 mph ave for a rolling 20K course. Evergreen later in the week was one of my best olympic bike splits since I came in right at an hour.

In two weeks I will race a local sprint that I won last year. Hopefully I will be able to defend and turn in a similar time to last year's race. Unfortunately the Xterra World Championships are financially out of the picture for this year. Instead, I'm looking at the ITU Long Course World Championship in Vegas (haven't qualified yet) or possibly Branson 70.3 followed by more of a fall cyclocross focus. One way or other, I'll be out there racing!

Lastly, me and the rest of the Evotri team will soon be tearing it up on some top-of-the-line bikes from a new sponsor.....stay tuned!

A few pic from Lifetime Fitness: