Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to Racing

There has been a lot of changes going on for me these past two months. Last time I posted on here I was just starting the recovery process after a crash in a local tri in VA Beach where I broke my collarbone and separted my shoulder.

Anyone who has dealt with this injury knows it can be a big challenge trying to return to top form. After about 7 weeks of doing very little I was able to return to normal training. It took me a good 3 weeks before I felt like I was actually making some headway. This past week (week 11 post crash) I really started to feel like my old self.

My wife and I also decided to move back to northern Michigan in early August. This is where we're from and both our families are back there. We found good jobs and could not pass up the opportunity. So far it has been great. I am loving my new training environment. There aren't as many people to train with, but I've always kind of been more of a solo trainer anyways. There are awesome fresh water lakes to swim in, hill after hill with very little traffic and wonderful sights for cycling and running, trails everywhere and a track less than a 1/4 mile from my house. Only problem...the long winters! It's all good though. I will swim more, have never had a problem banging out hard sessions on the trainer and treadmill, and will be taking up xc skiing.

Anyways, my father and I were co-directing a small local tri & 5k this past weekend in northern MI. I decided about mid week that because it was a pretty small event I'd try to race if everything went smooth on race morning. Plus, my father was there if anything went wrong and we had a lot of great

volunteers. I wasn't able to get in a warm up because of all the running around getting things sorted, but I had enough adrenaline to get me rolling and I was excited to just be back out there racing. The gun went off and I just told myself I'd sit on whoever's feet was in first. This plan worked and I felt strong. Came out of the 1k swim in 11:47. It was a bit short, but still a good swim for me.

Onto the bike and I was on fire. My coach and the man I coach alongside, Janda Ricci-Munn, has been implementing a "secret" bike session the day before races. Both of us have been trying this out on our athletes and it has shown some awesome results.
Each time it's the same feedback, "Man, I felt great on the bike from the first pedal stroke." I was excited to try this out for myself and sure enough I felt magic straight away. Cycling is my biggest strength in triathlon as it comes quite naturally to me. This course wasn't awful hard, but fair. I rode away from the majority of the field and came in right at an hour for 40k. I've only done a handful of hard bike sessions since the accident so I was pleased.

Onto the run...this was the bigger question mark of the day as I really have only done extensive/intensive run sessions since early June and have only been running for 4 weeks. I just told myself to run hard to the turn around and then if I had a big enough lead I'd just shut things down in hopes of being able to get right back into training a day or two later. This plan worked. I ran about 6:00 pace until the turn around and then shut it right down. It was so much fun being back out there...and even more fun winning. I won't ever take racing for granted again after missing out on Eagleman this year because it was one week after my crash. It has been tough getting back in shape, but the hard work I do year round has allowed me to bounce back pretty quick.

I want to thank Jake for helping our event out in a big way. He sent all kinds of sweet apparel and more. Our participants walked away pumped and thankful for some cool stuff from Zoot. You're the man Jake!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Boulder 70.3 Race Report - Evan Macfarlane

One of these days, I'll put together my perfect race. Over the past year I've had a lot of races where my bike or run is solid, and I'm even happy when my swim doesn't take me completely out of contention for the AG win. Yet in every race I've also had a lack luster discipline. That happened again today, and this time where I least expected it -- on the run.

SwimKnowing I veer left while swimming, I lined up on the far right so that other swimmers would box me in and prevent me from heading off course. I kept my turnover high and even found a few pairs of feet to sit on at times. About 1250m into the swim, I felt something against my neck and thought it was a strand of sea weed. I grabbed the thing and yanked it, only to pull off my own goggles. Oops. I quickly put the goggles back on even though they were flooded with water. To my surprise, my vision was amazing. Turns out I've been having sighting issues in large part because my goggles are completely fogged up. With goggles full of water, I could see everything -- picking a line and finding feet to sit on have never been so easy. I've found few strategies to prevent goggle fog and hopefully I'll perfect then before IM Louisville in two weeks.

The swim went well for me and I exited in 31:24, good for 14th out of 86 in my age group. That's five minutes off my competitors' times, but I was also off by five minutes at the shorter Boulder Peak swim. That's progress, I suppose.

This is a fast bike course. Even though it's two loops, it seems like the route is 3/4 downhill.

Heading out of T1, I kept an eye on the SRM and kept my power below 300W. It's easy to crush the first few minutes of the bike, but that's not a wise strategy. Still, when the first few miles are crowded -- and they were very crowded since I started in one of the last waves -- I'm will to put out a bit more power than would otherwise be prudent.

About 5 miles into the ride two-time IM world champ Tim DeBoom passed me (due to the wave format and Tim being much faster than me, he was on his second loop while I was on my first). I was actually able to legally hang onto him for a bit, and even had to sit up at times to avoid getting too close, before he pulled away on an uphill. The rest of the pro pack following Tim soon passed. These guys ride hard uphill, and for a while I put out more watts than I wanted to an attempt to keep up. I was hoping to legally ride their train for the rest of the loop. My lack of legal drafting experience got the better of me, however, and I allowed such a large gap to open that I was no longer getting any benefit. I'd have had to push real hard to catch back up, and even then I was afraid of getting a penalty. Anyhow, there's an out and back 15 miles later and I was able to see that they only put about a minute on me during that time.

I drank a lot on the bike. Two sports drinks, almost two waters, and a few Gus. That's probably IM equivalent fueling at about 400 cal/hr. A tad much for a half, but my stomach was quickly taking care of any pooling from the big gulps I was taking.

Usually at the end of a hard 56 mile ride my legs are beat. Actually, they're typically beat about 40 miles in, and I spend the last 16 miles really focusing to keep the effort up. At this race, however, leg tiredness was never an issue. I got off the bike feeling better than I can ever remember for a half. Not that there was no fatigue, but I never had to dig deep on the bike.

Time: 2:10 (a whopping 8 minute PR for a 56 mile ride). This ride moved me up to second in my AG and in position to get the AG and overall amateur win with a really good run.

239 average W (Yes, just 239 W for 25.8 mph.)
243 W normalized
87 rpm average
164 bpm average (Wow, is that high! This number may include some inaccurate readings since that's about my HR for an FTP test.)
48.8 max speed (Where'd that happen? St Vrain?)

I left T2 2:44 into my race, sporting a new pair of Zoot TT 4.0s (more on these later). That meant a 1:20 run, two minutes slower than my PR, would give me a 4:04 half IM. Great, I thought, don't push too hard, just hang onto 6:00-6:15/mile and run right around 1:20. No need to try for 1:18 only to blow up and run 1:30.

The run started great. I was easily hitting 6:00/mile (well, not easily, but maybe 0.5/10 below the PE I think I can hold for a half). I was really thinking I could hold that pace until mile 9 or 10 and then go all in from there. Through the first half of the race, my plan was working. 6:08/mile for the first 6.55 miles -- right on track for 1:20 and feeling good.

(A nice shot by my coach taken along the Boulder Reservoir. Nice shoes!)

Then, pretty shortly after mile 7, I recognized some trouble. There's a short hill and my PE climbed way up just to get over the thing. I had a bit of fluid pooling in my stomach, but I craved water. That's always the worst situation -- the one thing you want the most will only exacerbate your other problem. The temp was hot at 90 degrees or so, but not unbearable and not unlike what I've been training in.

I think some salt pills would have aided my digestion, allowing me to take in more water and Coke. I haven't been successful racing in heat, and fueling is one primary reason for that (or at least that's my present theory). Yes, this is another "oh, I'd have gone faster if I had nailed my nutrition" race report. I apologize for that, but I *think* it's the case. My run strength is there and my endurance is there, so there's no reason to fade other than heat (which wasn't
that bad) and fueling.

Anyhow, I dropped to 6:46/mile for the last 6.55 miles and finished the run in 1:24. Bah! A 1:20 would have put me right in the vicinity of Brian Schaning, a fast dude and the eventual AG winner, and while I'm not the fastest runner in triathlon I'd be glad to have a race come down to the run.

So, there ya have it. Acceptable swim, fast bike, good 1st half of the run, bad second half of the run. Overall, I still finished 2nd in my AG and 16th overall. Plus my bike was only about 5 minutes back of some of the top guys in the sport. Now just to put it all together!

(A cell-phone podium shot.)

Back to those Zoot TT 4.0s, I received them shortly before the race and only had a chance to do two short runs in them. Still, I've been perfectly comfortable running sockless in the TT 3.0s so I figured I'd give the 4.0s a go sans socks. My experience was very positive even though they were a new shoe -- I had one blister on my right heel but otherwise I was fine. Not only that, but thanks to the shoes' drainage vents my shoes never got soaked with water even though I poured what seemed like gallons of it over my head during the race.

My one tip for those running sockless (and this is regardless of what brand of shoe you wear) is to put gobs of vasoline on any areas of the shoe where you normally get blisters. I neglected to do this at Boulder 70.3 even though I'm pretty sure it would have prevented me from getting any blisters. I was so confident with the Zoot shoes that I didn't even think of bringing vasoline. Now that the shoes are broken in, I probably don't need the lubricant, but I will still err on the side of caution and use it.

Next up for me: Ironman Louisville. This is my AAA race for the year and the only one I've really been training for. It's tough to put all your eggs in one basket like that, but when you're an amateur that races Ironman it's so difficult to race more than one a year. At any rate, wish me luck on August 29.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mountain Man Half IM

I was 3rd overall, 1st Master, but the finishing pic is the BEST!

Friday, August 6, 2010

SheRox Triathlon Philadelphia

What a fun day! I’ve always wanted to cross the finish line and “break the tape” and even though I’ve won some races I’ve never had that chance. Being in my hometown made my win that much sweeter. The day started off at 5:45, a much more reasonable hour than normal. I ate breakfast and headed down to the race. Surprisingly, it was a beautiful morning with cooler temperatures and low humidity. The heat wave we have been having on the East Coast has been brutal and it was a nice change. The forecast was calling for scattered thundershowers all morning but it looked like the weather was going to cooperate. I set up my transition, headed out for a warm-up run and was flagged down shortly into it by a friend who told me my back tire had flatted in transition. Yikes! I was thankful for the heads up which gave me a little more time to get it fixed but not too happy. I was a little anxious about this tire too since it had flatted last weekend during my race. I thought I had it fix but obviously not. I ran my bike over to the mechanic. He did a very thorough (and fast!) job of checking my tire out and thankfully with was only a faulty tube (thanks to High Road Cycles!). I re-racked my bike with just enough time to get down to the swim start and in the water. The swim course was shortened this year from 800m to 600m (sweet!) due to safety concerns. I swam as fast as I could knowing the swim course was short but in reality I think my 600m speed is the same as my 1.2mile speed. Ha! Anyway, I managed to get out of the water in second but still 2min down on the first girl. I had a bit of work to do. I grabbed my speedy Orbea (thankfully the back tire still had air in it!) and took off. I didn’t do myself any favors by deciding to go the wrong way in the first mile of the bike course. I had a moment of confusion when I went the way of the Philadelphia Olympic Tri course. I realized it about halfway up the hill. I turned around and headed off the right way but now with so much more work to do. Luckily my bike legs were feeling good and I could see I was gaining some time on the leader. There are a lot of corners and loops on the bike so plenty of chances to see where you are compared to everyone else. I finally managed to catch her ¾ of the way through the first loop (it was a 2 loop course). I got off the bike with a nice cushion for the run but of course still continued to push hard. It was great to have so many people I know out on the course cheering. I made sure to soak up all the excitement. It felt great to cross the finish line in first place! NBC10 was there and they let me catch my breath before talking with me. I really couldn’t have asked for a better place to win. My husband, parents, and friends were all there to celebrate with me. The only disappointment came 10min before the award ceremony when the rain finally came. The torrential downpour sent everyone running for their cars. I was disappointed in the lack of award ceremony but it did mean Mexican food and margaritas that much sooner!