January 23, 2018

Sprint Triathlon National Championships

Sprint Triathlon National ChampionshipsSo here’s the Race report from the National Sprint Qualifier for Worlds in Iowa!

2010 Quad Cities Sprint Tri on June 18th was the national qualifying race for anyone wanting to be on Team USA for ITU Sprint World Championships in Budapest September 12th.

This is a changeover year in that USAT made the race in Tuscaloosa, AL September 19th the National Sprint Championship for 2010 but that occurs AFTER Worlds so it cannot be a qualifier. So even though I won my age group at the qualifying race for Worlds, I can’t say I am the National Sprint Champion because that race has yet to occur!

Still, the Quad Cities Triathlon attracted triathletes from 35 states, with MANY returning World’s athletes trying to qualify again. It was held in the middle of nowhere Iowa . . . quite an experience in itself.

I flew in on Thursday before the race (on Saturday) and quickly realized . . . “I’m not in Kansas anymore.” While the people were very friendly in the Milwaukee airport, I felt like I was in the movie Fargo. People just sounded funny and truly were mid-west!

I flew there to meet my friend Heidi who is from Wisconsin and also competed in Sprint Worlds last year. Together we drove three hours to Davenport Iowa to stay for the race.

On Friday we woke up early and met fellow So Cal teammates Russ Jones, Sam Sunshine, Renee Rodarte, and Mark Disman to pre-ride the course. It was cloudy and windy. We rode the 15-mile course of rolling hills with a few short climbs just before the weather took a turn for the worse.

We went to breakfast and watched as a severe storm cell overtook the town with Wizard of Oz type rain wind and tornados super severe rain!! We sat and stared outside saying “OMG what if it does this tomorrow!”

Fortunately, it didn’t. We lucked out and the clouds parted for race day Saturday. It was a warm sunny day with moderate wind on the course, which literally took us through the cornfields of Iowa. The lake was 74 deg (toasty in the long sleeve wetsuit I had) the air was about 85 and fairly high humidity. The swim had a time trial start with two people going off every three seconds. I had never done that kind of start before. It was okay. It still did not make it any easier to get to clear water I still had to swim through a sea of slower swimmers as they always start women 40 and over next to last!!

I had a great swim though — 600 yds in 9:59. Happy with that one. Then a great bike: 15 miles in 40 minutes. Then a good 5K. (trails, grass and hills).

My friend Heidi pushed me on the bike and swim. She mountain bikes a TON and she is very strong on the bike because of it. She is also a natural runner and always goes a little faster than me. I swam faster than her but she runs faster so we always come in about the same time.

I finished the race without anyone passing me so I figured I had done well. I go to get my results and find out I am not in my age group listing at all! I have a panic attack and begin to think I have been DQ’d for some reason. I knew that I hit or maybe crossed over the center yellow line at one point trying to pass people so maybe I got DQ’d for that?

I ran to a USAT official. No my name is not on any penalty or DQ list!

Finally I go to the timing company . . . “Where am I?”

They have pulled me out for the overall. I am 3rd Overall ( female)!! They say I can’t “double dip” and win my AG and win an OA award. They were giving cash prizes for OA!!

I tell them I don’t want the cash prize I want to qualify for Worlds, and I am amateur so I can’t accept money!!
NO, NO I am thinking I want Door #2 not Door #1 . . . put me back in age group I say. I want to win my AG!

No they say, I have won 3rd overall and I’m getting a check! So I run back to the USAT official and plead . . . “Can I still qualify for Worlds if I accept the check??” YES is the answer. Turns out all three OA females were all age groupers and we beat the Elites that day!!

We all declared ourselves so we all qualified for Worlds!! Whooo Hoooo! We are going to Budapest 2010 ITU Sprint World Championships!

I intend to podium! Going for the Gold!

Nice people in the mid-west. Remind me to race there more often!!

Julia Juliusson ( 45-49 Female)

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Ironman 70.3 Hawaii

Ironman 70.3 HawaiiIf you’ve been keeping up with your Triathica Weekly reading you’ll know that I just competed in the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii on Saturday, June 5th. I didn’t have this race on my schedule but when I took second at the Ironman 70.3 California I thought I’d better seize the opportunity to try to qualify for Kona.

I probably jinxed it by saying I was going to the race with the intention of qualifying for the Ironman World Championships but what the heck! That was my plan.

I checked out all of the competitors in my age group (M55-59) ahead of time so I’d get some idea of what I was up against. If/when you get to a place where you’re trying to qualify as well you’ll know why. Anyway, the guy that I figured would win is a guy by the name of Kevin Moats.

The good thing is that Moats already has his Kona slot because he won the Ironman World Championships last year so you get an automatic entry the next year. So, I figured I’d need to finish second to him (sounds easy, right?).
I went to www.athlinks.com and checked out as many of the competitors as I could and knew the competition would be stiff but I thought if I could put together another great day I could do it.

Then, I got some bad news. A friend of mine, Gary Clendenin, told me that Charlie Brockus somehow got into the race AFTER it was announced it was sold out. Fair? Don’t know, but Charlie is a perennial favorite.
Oh well, at some point you TRY to forget about all that stuff and just “leave it all out there on the course.” That was my plan.


I was very fortunate to have Oguz Yildiz and my 15-year old son Steven with me on this trip. It sure makes it more fun when you’ve got company. It would be a short trip with us only staying three nights. Didn’t matter, we were on a mission!

We got in Thursday and took our time getting to the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. Nice place and right on one of the best beaches on the Big Island. I would definitely go there again. I carbo-loaded Thursday night, which is my normal day to do it for long races (two nights out from race day). I don’t like loading the day before because I feel heavy and bloated.

Friday was one hectic day! Ideally, before a big race you stay off your feet as much as possible. We certainly didn’t do that. Had a swim in the morning, went to registration, picked up the bike, went for a ride/run with Al Gaspari, grocery shopping, went to the swim start/T-1, etc. Not restful or relaxing at all!

I managed to get to sleep around 9:00 p.m. (12:00 p.m. PST) and slept until 2:15 a.m. Five hours – not too bad. Got out of bed at 4:00 a.m. and had my breakfast (OJ, English muffin with peanut butter and jelly, yogurt with some blueberries and walnuts mixed in).

Oguz and I headed down to the swim start at 5:00 a.m. while Steven slept. I got my tires pumped up, gear sorted out and went down by the swim start to stretch and get nervous.

Race morning was windy. Hapuna Beach is usually flat in the morning this time of year but we wouldn’t have that luck today. It wasn’t bad, but it was choppy.

The Swim

I went out for a quick warm-up in my brand new Tyr Sayonara speed swimsuit, which I would only use once because the rules change September 1st and they won’t be legal after that. I looked fast and felt fast! As I got out I looked at my watch and it was dead! Uh oh! Oguz quickly gave me his watch and although it didn’t have a heart rate function would still keep time. Problem #1 of the day. (There would be more.)

This is a mass, deep-water start with about 1,300 competitors, including the pros, who started with us. I seeded myself wide left for the clockwise course because a guy I met in the jacuzzi the day before told me this would be beneficial because of the current. Heck, I don’t know so I followed his instruction.

We treaded water for about five minutes before the gun went off – which was before I could start Oguz’ watch. Oh well, I wouldn’t have my swim split. No biggie! Problem #2.

I felt like I was swimming fast and really felt good. Maybe I should have swum so I didn’t feel good! Anyway, for those of you that have swum with over 1,000 of your closest friends, you know how rough these swims can be. There was all of the normal thrashing and kicking. I had to swim over a guy because another guy was cutting me off and he tried to kick me. Why do people do that? I’m not trying to swim over him.

I got about ½ through the swim and got kicked in the face and it knocked my goggles halfway off. I had to stop briefly and put them back on. Problem #3.

I finished the swim and felt good about it. Who do I see just ahead up the ramp to T-1? Charlie Brockus. I tap him on the shoulder and congratulate him on a good swim. No comment or reaction. This dude is focused!
I figured my swim time was pretty good because Charlie had the fastest swim split at this race last year. The problem is that I didn’t know where Moats was. You see, my buddy, Russ Jones, thought I should try to get out ahead of him on the swim and try to see if I could hang on with him on the bike. Nothing doing today, he was ahead of me already.

I keyed on Charlie because he was the only one other than Moats that I knew in my age group. I beat him out of T-1 so I felt good about that.

The Bike
My plan on the bike was to go harder than I did at Ironman 70.3 California. There, I averaged 192 watts. I figured I could manage 195 watts because I was in better shape and a couple pounds lighter. I also averaged 198 at the OC Duathlon but that was less than ½ the distance.

Ironman 70.3 HawaiiI started out hard on the bike because I knew the competition would be formidable, and Charlie was just behind me. Well it certainly didn’t take long because Charlie blew by me about three miles into the bike. Wow! I would never see him on the bike again all day.

The wind seemed to die down for the first leg, which started south on the Queen K, which was very welcome. I was fast on the first leg and didn’t have too many people pass me. BTW, they don’t stamp your age on your calf for this race so you can’t tell how old the competitor is in front of you. I HATE that!

I was pushing hard on the bike and wasn’t sure I could hold my pace but pressed on. As I made the left on the road to Hawi the wind seemed to pick up. And the closer we got to Hawi the stronger the wind got, and it was all up hill!
It was probably about 10 miles or so into the bike leg that my pal Al Gaspari passed me. He gave me a few words of encouragement as he blew by me. Al’s got the biggest damn calves I’ve ever seen!

I continued to check my heartrate (my Ergomo computer has heart rate function), my speed (which was disappointing) and my watts. I was averaging 215 watts heading into Hawi! Slow down big guy, you’re cycling waaaaaay over your head!

The turn before Hawi isn’t the same as the world championship. We turn a bit earlier but it is still hallowed ground to me.

Now we were going downhill and with the wind. It was great!

One thing I notice about most triathletes is they tend to coast going downhill. While it is a good time to take a little rest it’s also a good idea to keep your legs turning over so they don’t cramp. Also, I like to keep my watts up as much as possible so I don’t have a lot of peaks and valleys in my effort. Having said that, I do tend to “spin out of my pedals” occasionally and have to coast.

I could tell I was really getting fatigued on the bike. My watts had dropped to 205 and my heart rate stayed right at 160.

So I’m nearing the right turn to head back to the Fairmont Hotel and T-2 and a bee somehow gets into my cycling jersey (which was zipped up) and it stings me in the chest and then stings me in my stomach where it leaves it’s stinger. Naturally, I’m weaving all over the place trying to stop the pain and a guy from my age group passes me and asks if I was stung. “Yep.” He tells me that he’s done for the day if he gets stung because he’s allergic. Lucky me, I’m not. Is that problem #3 or #4? #4 I guess.

T-2 was fast, as usual. I’m pretty good at transitions.

The Run

I was dog-tired starting out on the run and it was getting hot! The entire venue for this race is great but difficult. The run takes place on the roads and golf course in and around the Fairmont Hotel.

It’s kinda cool in a way to be running on the fairways and cart paths of a golf course but I can tell you that running on that spongy grass isn’t fast!

The other thing about the run course is that it’s hilly! Seems like there are very few spots on the course that are flat and after 56 miles on the bike I’d kinda like some flat. Not going to happen.

One of the great parts of the run course is that there are a lot of “out and backs” which gives you the opportunity to see who’s in front of you.

Ironman 70.3 HawaiiI guess I’m about four miles into the run and come to one of the out and backs and I see old Charlie (you can’t miss his HUGE moustache). His head was down and he was really focused now. He passed a sign and I checked my watch. I checked the time again as I passed it. He was 2:15 ahead of me.

Shortly after that I passed Al. He was struggling. He asked about Charlie and I told him I’d need to make up 15 seconds each of the next nine miles in order to catch him. It would be tough but I thought I could do it if I was patient. The being patient part would be the hardest part for me.

Since I didn’t have access to my heartrate I had to go by feel. I knew my heart rate was elevated from lack of sleep, the heat and the humidity but I also knew I was running much slower than the 7:30 pace I thought I could hold.
The next time I saw Charlie I checked spread again. Guess what, now he was only 1:30 ahead of me. I was closing on him just as I planned.

Every rest stop I doused myself with cold water and drank either Gatorade or Coke and took a cup of ice and tossed half of it down the front of my shirt and half down the back. After a few times I couldn’t even feel the ice!

I guess it was about mile nine as I was approaching a big hill on the golf course and whom do I see walking up? Yep, Charlie. Guess whom else I see? Oguz with his video camera. He’s about to document my pass. Very cool!
As I passed Charlie I patted him on the shoulder again and told him he was doing great. Again, absolutely no response.

The last several miles of the run course are on a false flat. In other words, you’re running uphill. My final split was very slow but Charlie wasn’t going to come back to challenge.

I guessed that Moats was done by now but I had no way of knowing if there was anyone in 2nd place because I didn’t know any of the other guys. I crossed the finish line in 5:19:14. What a disappointment! But, would it be enough?

Oguz met me at the finish line and I needed to sit down so I found a massage table that wasn’t being used and kicked off my shoes. I was so tired I couldn’t even make my way to the results board to see how I did, even as much as I wanted to know.
Ironman 70.3 Hawaii
Oguz was on the ball and pulled out his iPhone. I took 3rd! Oh no! Moats was first and Nicholas Kaiser was 2nd! I was crushed! I missed by one spot! Crap!

Then it occurred to me that there are a total of 44 Kona slots for the residents of the Hawaiian Islands. Kaiser doesn’t sound Hawaiian but Oguz pulled up his detail. He’s a Honolulu resident! As tired as I was I screamed and yelled as loud as I could. There were a ton of people around and one of them said, “He’s got his Kona slot!” Everyone knew it.

Post Race

Ironman 70.3 HawaiiI was basking in my dream come true after the race. We had to hang around so we ate and drank and worked on our tans. I would have to enter the roll-down at 2:30 in order to claim my spot and the awards ceremony was at 4:00 and the roll-down at 4:30. They missed ALL of their projected times but I was too happy to care.

I collected my award and congratulated the other podium finishers and then collected my slot.
It still hasn’t completely sunk in. I’m going to Kona in October!

I want to thank everyone for their support and encouragement during this entire race season. It really kept me going. Special thanks to Larry Davidson, Chris Johnson, Kevin Cowell (your 808’s rock brah), Oguz Yildiz, Steven Saetermoe and especially my mom who sponsored me for this race.

The Stats

Here are my bike stats for you computer nerds:
Ironman 70.3 Hawaii Bike Stats
Here are some times from people I know:

Ironman 70.3 Hawaii Race Results

Ron Saetermoe

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OC Half Marathon

OC Marathon MedalsI love the ½ marathon. For me, there is no better run preparation for the full or ½ Ironman. It’s long enough to help you with your run endurance but short enough for you to recover from it in a couple days.

Sunday, May 1st was the 2010 OC Marathon and Half Marathon. I did this race last year and took fourth in the M50-54 age group. Pretty good, since I don’t really consider myself to be a runner.

The race starts at Fashion Island in Newport Beach and winds its way around through the Back Bay and finishes at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. The marathoners continue up through Irvine and Santa Ana before turning south down the Santa Ana River Trail and finishing at the Fairgrounds.

Most of the racers parked their cars at the Fairgrounds and took the buses provided by the race organizers over to Fashion Island. I parked at Fashion Island and had my mom drive me back to get my car later. Thanks mom!

Those of you that know me know that I like to get to stuff early, because you just never know . . . Yesterday was no exception. I had plenty of time to use the restroom and warm-up.

It was an absolutely beautiful day for racing. The air was still, the sky was clear and it was cool.
My plan was to set out at a 7:00 minute per mile pace and see if I had enough energy to pick it up. 7:00 minute pace puts you at about 1:31:43, which just happens to be my PR from January this year. Eventually I hope to crack the 1:30:00 mark, which is 6:52 pace.

I had my Garmin with me so I was getting updates every mile. As the miles ticked by I was right on track. It was great because there was a guy obviously with the same objectives as me because we were both going the exact same speed. While he was about 20 years younger than me, his form was amazing! Perfect, fluid strides with his hands held high. A true inspiration.

This is really a great course that is fairly flat. There are a few bumps here and there but it is a pretty fast course. I stayed with my younger adversary until about mile 10 where he dropped me on a short, steep grade. If you know the Back Bay you know the grade I’m talking about where the bike trail meets East Bluff Drive. After that, he slowly pulled away.

My pace dropped on that mile to 7:18 and I was getting tired so I knew then there would be no PR today. Didn’t matter, it was still a great day!

Here are some results from folks we know:

Dave Aronne (1:25:41/6:33 pace, 1st M50-54)
Mike Burton (1:30:38/6:55 pace)
Ron Saetermoe (1:32:30/7:02 pace, 3rd M50-54)
Ryan Ritchie (2:03:18/9:25 pace)
Ly Ly Ta (Full marathon, 6:10:48/14:09 pace)

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Ironman St. George

Ironman St. GeorgeThis race report was written on Tuesday May 4th, 3 days after IMSG. Before I describe the race, I would like to talk about the build-up, because it seems like the build-up should give one an indication about performance expectations. This is only my 3rd IM, the previous two being at IMAZ in April 07 and 08. In April 07 I had a decent race given it was my first attempt and finished 4th in the M55-59 AG. In April 08 I felt better prepared, but DNF’d after pulling the plug after 8 miles in the run. My excuse for bailing was the heat and wind, which put me in a very dehydrated state. When IMSG developed the course looked interesting and the event was relatively close to my home in Southern California. I thought this would be a good year to do another IM in preparation of next year when I age up. In other words, I really did not have any great expectations this year, but wanted to go through another IM training cycle and gain the experience of racing another IM. I did a 20-week IM build-up and, unlike most buildups, was able to hit all of the key workouts and, more importantly, managed to avoid any major injuries and sicknesses. I spent a long weekend training in SG about 6 weeks before the race. I knew the course was going to be challenging so I did more hill training on the bike and run than usual, including a bike ride about 5 weeks (coinciding with my last 7 hr ride) out from the race that included 14,000 feet of climbing over 114 miles. I used this ride to practice pacing and nutrition. I thought the build-up and preparation was excellent going into the race. I don’t really like to set time goals, especially on a tough course, but one of my co-workers caught me at a weak moment and managed to get numbers out of me. So reluctantly, this is what I told him: Swim – 1:05: Bike 6:00; Run: 4:15. We’ll see how these numbers compare to actual numbers.

The Swim

I don’t like cold water. Apparently, a bunch of people hated cold water even more than I did. I got in the water about 10 minutes before the start and looked around and saw hundreds of folks still up on the shore (it was a deep water start). I went straight to the front of the start, wide right. My goal was to find flat water and angle into the first buoy, which appeared to be about 800 meters down the reservoir. By the time the gun went off things started getting a little crowded up front, but I got a good start and to my surprise found flat water pretty quick. Things got a little congested at the first buoy and then opened up again. I never really felt like I was swimming hard–maybe at 80-85% max effort. I had been working on more of a “wind mill” type open water stroke and this seemed to feel pretty good. About 500 meters from the exit I started getting cramps in my left lower leg and right calf. The cramps never really got so bad that I had to stop, but they forced me to hold back my effort a bit. I got to the exit ramp and heard Mike Reilly say to the group exiting “nice job 1:02″. I peeled the top of my DeSoto 2-piece suit off before crossing the timing mat. The peeler took off my wetsuit bottom and as I was laying down for that, my right calf went into spasm. I had to lie there a minute or so until the spasm subsided and then continue into the T1 changing tent. My official swim time was 1:03. I was 118th out of 1915 people that started the swim. My T1 time was slow as put on makeshift arm warmers and a light jacket. I later found out it took me over 8 minutes in T1.

The Bike

My goal was to ride conservatively, knowing the run was going to be tough. For the first 20 miles I had to work on my calf that had gone into spasm. That took some of my focus off cycling, but I knew I had to stretch the calf to get the muscle to release. The first 22 miles or so were from the reservoir to town, where we began two 40+ mile loops. The bike course is challenging, but beautiful. I rode very much within my aerobic zone, rarely exceeding my MAHR even on the many hills. I did not have any major glitches on the bike except losing one of my two bottles of nutrition on a bump, which I did not discover until much later. Luckily I had placed extra nutrition in my bike special needs bag, so I was OK nutrition wise. I made 3 other pits stops to pee (gotta learn how to pee on the fly). In my AG, I am typically out of the water in the lead or near the lead, so I have a pretty good feel for where I am in the race. At mile 40 or so the eventual AG winner passes me on the bike (multi-time Kona AG champion) and then a couple of miles later the guy that ends up finishing 2nd passes me (another Kona AG winner). At this point I feel as if I am in pretty good company. I don’t chase either of these guys as they pass me. I just ride my race. I did not know at this point that some uber swimmer and decent cyclist was also up the road. So at this point I am sitting in 4th place. At mile 70 I passed the eventual winner. I had met this guy (Greg Taylor) a couple days earlier at the swim practice. As I passed him, I asked him if he was OK. He replied “yeah, I’m OK, it’s gonna be a long day out here”. I kind of knew what he was talking about at the time, but his words really came into focus a few hours later on the run. Well, at about mile 80 GT passes me again, so I am back into 4th position. The next time I see GT it is on the run. So I rode comfortably. As later discovered I think I rode too comfortably as my avg HR was way too low for a course like this. My bike split was ~6:30, more than 30 minutes over my predicted time. Do not make predictions. :)

The “Run”

You notice the quotes around “run”? They are there for a reason. My “run” was as much of a “walk” as it was a “run”. What happened? My run training was spot on. I had been running comfortable 8:45 to 8:30 mile pace in my long training runs (which included a 30 second walk breaks every mile) on rolly terrain. I figured on this course I would be slower, perhaps in the 9:15 per mile range. I really had decent legs coming out of T2, although I had developed a little patellar tendonitis on the bike. For the first 2 miles, which are up a 2-3% grade, I ran between aid stations. I think the first big hill up Red Hills Parkway came between miles 2 and 3, which I walked. I managed to “run” most of the first lap, except the steeper hills and the aid stations. At this point I did not even feel like I was in a race. So many people were walking, carrying on conversations, as if they were taking a walk in the park. I would catch glimpses of the two guys that I knew where ahead of me and actually ended passing the uber swimmer, so for a while I had slipped, surprisingly, into 3rd place. On the second loop, which I mostly walked (not proudly), a guy in my AG ran by me like a gazelle. I watched in amazement. This guy ended up running himself into 3rd place and Kona slot, finished at 59 yo with a 3:58 run split on a tough course. At mile 22 or so another guy in my AG passed and I had to watch him go. So, I really did not know exactly where I was place, but figured somewhere between 5th and 6th place. Other than not being able to run, I felt pretty good, the stomach was fine and I did have any cramping, etc. I managed to run the last 3 miles relatively strong, primarily because it was downhill into the finish. There were many times during this run where I hated IM, but despite the disappointing run performance I pulled it together enough to cross the line. My “run” split was something like 4:47. I know, that really sucks. You are correct. My total time was 12:34 and I ended up 6th in my AG.

The Rolldown

I was initially planning to go to roll down, but I figured with only 2 slots (the typical allocation for M55-59) there was no chance the slots would roll down to 6th. I woke up at 6 AM on Sunday, felt great, and asked my wife if she wanted to pack up and hightail it back to Orange County. So we packed up, had breakfast with some race buddies and hit the road by 10 AM. One of my buddies (Jeff Rhodes—read the inspirational story about Jeff at www. ironman.com) stayed for the awards and found out that my AG had 3 slots and that two of the top three guys had passed because they either had slots already or had no interest in Kona. This meant the slots would rolldown to at least 5th place. Jeff tried calling me, but due to poor reception I did not get his voicemail until 10:50 and rolldown started at 11 AM. His voice mail message said “where in the hell are you, you have the possibility of getting a roll down slot”. Well, at this point I was 35 minutes out of town. To make a long story short, the 5th place guy took the last slot, which I am so happy about.

The Takeaway

IM is hard. It is tough to find the right balance between effort and restraint. In my case, the 5th place guy beat me by 8 min. I know for sure I left 8+ minutes out there on the bike course by riding too conservatively. I left 4 minutes out there in T1. An 8 min T1 is ridiculously slow. Could I have run any faster on that day? I don’t think so. But with the bike and T1 better executed I would have been perhaps writing “My Kona Story” instead this race report. But, at the end of the day it wasn’t meant to be and I’m OK with that. I have been blessed with incredibly good health, a great family, wonderful friends and training partners, and a good job. At the end of day that is better than Kona any day. Does that mean I’ve given up my KQ? Hell no, next year I race as a 60 year old and the Lord willing I will toe the line again and if Kona is in my cards hope to make it.

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The Big Build Up

IM Honu 70.3 logoI’m just about two weeks away from my first “A” race of the season: Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. I didn’t have this race on my original schedule but since I did so well at the Ironman 70.3 California I figured I’d add this race to try to qualify for Kona.

So this is the “big build up” as well as the “taper.” It’s a build up because all of the excitement and emotion before your really big race. I’m already starting to pack. I’ve had my bike checked out once, and will do so again when I leave it at Edge Cyclesports for TriBikeTransport to pick up. I’m double-checking my flights and hotel accommodations. Check, check, check!

No sleepless nights yet but there will be as we get closer to race time. I get into Kona on Thursday, June 3rd. Since the race is Saturday I’ll do my really big carbo-loading Thursday night. For some reason I just don’t race well when I’ve eaten a big meal the day before a race.

I’ve checked in with Dr. Sam Sunshine about his advice. Increase the salt intake a week prior to the race and drink lots of fluids a couple days before. Check!

I’ve been to the website numerous times to check on who’s racing and then gone to Athlinks to see what their race results have been. Check!

I’ve also invited Oguz my partner in the Triathica Academy and my 15-year old son to come along with me so I’ve had to revise the travel plans. Check!

I’ve had lunch with Al Gaspari, a great age group competitor to discuss his experience at the same race two years ago. I’ve also called Kirk Matkin and asked for his advice as he’s done the race numerous times. Check!
Frankly, it’s all a bit exhausting! After all this I think the race will be the easy part.

The best you can do is just check and recheck everything because this will help prevent an over stressed situation come race day. Be sure to taper appropriately and rebuild the muscles you’ve torn down from the previous training.
Two weeks left. Can’t wait!


Ron Saetermoe

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OC Duathlon

OC SuathlonI’ve never been a big fan of the duathlon because my strongest event has always been the swim. But just to give it a shot I did the OC Duathlon last year just for kicks, and training.

Getting on the bike AFTER a RUN was something I never practiced for (I have since, however) so it was a little weird last year. I felt like I had a good race (for me) and finished 6th in my age group with a 1:51:57. Not too shabby.

So this year I was going into the race with higher expectations but didn’t do any tapering for it whatsoever since this was really just an intense training day for me. Funny how we still expect more even though we do less preparation! And I KNOW it’s not just me!

I’m up at 4:00 a.m. and jump into my racing clothes and sweats and grab breakfast. English muffin with peanut butter and jam, glass of OJ and cottage cheese with blueberries and walnuts. Same thing I eat every race morning. I think I over did it this morning though because I felt really heavy.

Made my way to the race site and got a spot near the end of the bike rack – the end near the start/end chute. Used the porta potty a couple times and chatted up some of the other racers. No pressure!

I told my buddy Russ Jones to watch for me because I had him in my sights. His comment? “Sure Ron.” He knows me too well to be worried. We’re in the same age group again so I know when I race against him the BEST I can hope for is 2nd unless he flats. Heck, even if he does flat I’ll still probably come in 2nd.

The morning was cool. A perfect day to race. And plenty of friends racing too. It was going to be fun.
The run starts out downhill so it was fast. My first mile was 6:02! Whoa, big fella, you’re not an 18:00 5k guy! The next couple miles were considerably slower. I could see my pals Russ and Scott Calendar up ahead. No way I’m going to try to go with them.

My goal was to press hard on the bike. At the Californian 70.3 I managed to average 192 watts for the entire 56 miles so my goal today was to go 200. Sounds easy, doesn’t it.

I did go hard and managed to pass more riders than those that passed me. I saw my pals Dave Aronne and Stefani McMillen. I’m pretty slow up hills but hold my own in the flats and no one passes me on the downhills. My goal is to try to keep my wattage within a range no matter what the terrain.

The bike went well and I managed to average 198 watts. Only 1% less than my goal.

If you’ve never done a duathlon before you don’t know how much the second run sucks! Most people, including me, go out too hard on their first 5K and don’t hold enough in reserve for the second 5K. It’s fun to look at the disparity between the first and second 5K times. Most are a minute or more different.

The 2nd 5K was the same fast start as the first 5K, which my legs really appreciated. My pace was slower but still under 7:00 which is still good for me. My legs felt like rubber and my heartrate was climbing.

Since the run was an “out and back” you get to see a lot of the other athletes out there. Good old Stan Gertler was still yelling words of encouragement to everyone he knows. He’s a great sport!

That last ½ mile really hurts because you’re toast anyway and it’s uphill. I passed Pete Kobrick who was the race’s official bike mechanic. He yelled out “Good job Ron. No one even close behind you.” That’s good, because I’m too tired to look . . . or care, at the moment!

I was very pleased with my race and finished a predictable 2nd behind Russ. 4:27 faster than last year. Cool!
Here are some of the times from my mates:

OC Duathlon Participants

Ron Saetermoe

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California Ironman 70.3

California ironman 70.3Last June I took my wife and twin 15 year-old boys to Grand Cayman for our annual family vacation. While we were there we participated in the Cayman Island Mile swim. It is a yearly race on the island that brings competitors from as far as Australia.

In addition to my family, some friends who also go to Cayman each year also participated. Since I was the ‘veteran’ triathlete with about ten sprint and Olympic distance races under my belt, my family and friends expected me to have the best time in our group. I know I swim like a brick with arms but I had been training for several years and the others were only recreational swimmers.

At the end of the event, the only person who I beat was my son Jeremy who went kicking and screaming to the starting line. He was on vacation and didn’t feel like swimming in a race. Needless to say, I was embarrassed and decided right then and there that as soon as I got home I was going to hire a swim coach.

We flew home a few days later. When I walked in the door there was a stack of mail that had piled over the days we were gone. I went through the mail and found a tri-fold brochure for a place called Triathica. “Train like a triathlete” was written on the front fold. I located Triathica and met Ron Saetermoe.

Forward almost one year later. I utilized Ron’s coaching program for swimming. After completing my lessons I had become a much better swimmer and wasn’t wasting so much energy during the swim portion of the races. Since I wanted to move to the bigger events, I hired Ron to create a training program for my Oceanside 70.3. The program was tough but I felt myself getting stronger. I knew I was ready to try to “race.”

I slept poorly the night prior to the race. I knew I was fit but I still had some nervousness mostly due to the fact this race was much longer than anything I had completed. I know I was not going to be a contender for anything other than a good race. But still, those competitive butterflies were running wild. Stu, a friend of mine from work was also doing Oceanside. It is his fourth time doing the race. I just wanted to finish in front of him. I hoped to finish just under 6 hours but truly expected 6:15.

I ended up falling asleep watching an old episode of Miami Vice on television. In its day that was the coolest show on Friday night. I woke up with plenty of time to get to meet Stu at Denny’s in San Juan Capistrano but still left my house 10 minutes later than I planned. I met up with Stu and had a stack of pancakes and a few egg whites. We finished breakfast and headed down to Oceanside.

My wave was scheduled to go at 7:00 which would make it easy to keep track of my pace. Stu is in my age group and the same wave so we got things set up in the transition area and slid into our wetsuits. I was surprisingly mellow as we got into the herd to get set up for the swim. At this point there is nothing else I can do but just go and do it. We got into the water and I was pleased to discover it was warmer than I anticipated. That was good because I had not done any open water swims except for the Toyota Desert Tri. All my training was in an 80 degree pool at my gym.

When the horn sounded, I found myself in the middle of the crowd being slapped around. How did I do this? I got into my rhythm thinking about Ron’s advice to me. “Push yourself in the swim”. Too many people don’t go hard enough during the swim.” So I stepped my pace up a notch from what I usually do. As I made the turnaround and headed back to the boat ramp, the glare filled my goggles. I was warned about the glare but opted to stick with what I trained with. I just used the bodies around me as a guide. I started to increase my pace being that I felt really relaxed and was probably holding back a bit. I finished the swim in 37:25. That was 5 minutes faster than my mile time in Cayman and at that time, when I finished I was exhausted.

I came up the boat ramp feeling really good. I ran to the transition area and had what I thought was a good time. I got out of my suit and into my shoes. I put on my race belt with my bib facing rearward just like the rules require. I ran out and hopped on my bike. Since there were people lined up at the transition exit I was tempted to race down the road as if I was actually a contender for a podium spot. I chose to take Ron’s advice again and just be cautious for the first half of the bike portion and see how my legs would hold up. So, I kind of went for a bike ride for the first 25 miles. I let people pass me and that was okay. It was my first 70.3 and I did not want to blow my wad on the bike. Also, my legs would not warm up. The air had a chill and my tri suit wasn’t drying. I held a decent pace until just before the first climb. My heart rate did not get above 130 bpm.

I needed to use the porta-potty so I decided to stop to relieve myself. I also had a PB and J sandwich that I had brought along. I re-mounted my bike with a sandwich in my mouth and I got the strangest looks from people as they rode by. I made my way to the first climb and saw a big ball of riders slowly going up the hill. I tried to settle in with the crowd but quite honestly, they were too slow. So I stood up and went up the hill. It was not as bad as anything I have trained on, so up I went. I passed the big ball of riders and once I got over the top I figured it was time to push it harder.

I pushed myself harder for the second half of the bike. I got my heart rate up to 150 and I knew I could hold it there with minimal difficulty. The rest of the ride was uneventful aside from the wind. That sucked.

The last long straight heading back to Oceanside was great. I got into my best TT position and just hammered. I looked at my speedo from time to time and it was always 26 or above. I figured I was making up some time and I passed some of the guys that had passed me at the beginning. When I got back into Oceanside and into the transition area, I felt really good. My heart rate was at 155. My legs felt good and I was glad I had Ron create that program for me. I did the bike in 3:00:06. I am sure I could have knocked at least 10 minutes off if I pushed a bit harder at the beginning and didn’t take a potty break.

I have only run four half marathons before and only once did I do it in less than 2 hours and that was 1:59:58. I looked at my watch and saw that I had 2 hours and 20 minutes to finish the run and I would make my 6 hour goal. I got off my bike and put on my running shoes. The rules state that during the run the bib must face forward, so I grabbed mine and went to move it to the front. As I pulled on it my bib ripped. Uh oh. I was concerned that I would be DQ’d if I ran without a bib so I stopped and asked a volunteer for help. It took an extra 30 seconds or so but we got my bib reattached and I was off and running. I could hear the announcer saying Michael Realert was the race winner. Damn those guys are fast.
I held a pace that I thought was doable for 13 miles. The sun was out and the day was warming up. I prefer the warm over cold. My heart rate was at 160 and I know I am good holding it at 170. I saw some of the leading pro females finishing their last loop as I was in the beginning stages of mine. Also saw my coach Ron and I shouted out encouragement to him. He looked too busy working on a podium finish to bother with a “middle of the packer.”

At the first turnaround I saw my heart rate was still just 160. I decided to try to pick up the pace but my legs wouldn’t go any faster. As I was coming to the end of the first loop, I began to get a cramp in my calf so I stopped to stretch it out. I looked at my watch and figured I might break 5:45 if I hold this pace. I decided to run through the cramp and hope for the best. At the 2nd turnaround I was able to push it a tiny bit more but still couldn’t increase my pace by much. My heart rate was still under 170.

At mile 12 I started to realize that I was going to be under 5:45. That was much better than I thought I was capable of doing. I made the final turn and headed to the finish. I had hoped to just finish the race and had a much better time than I anticipated. Although this was not Kona, I still filled up with a great sense of accomplishment. The picture my wife took of me as I approached the finish line, I think says it all.

I ended up with a run time of 1:57:39. It was my fastest half marathon yet. My overall time was 5:42:13. I placed in the middle of my age group but I am still dammed proud of my time. However, I wanna go faster.
Thanks Ron. Your program was a huge part of my “success.”

Oh yeah, and my buddy Stu did 6:15:22. Way to go Stu!

Mark Chavira

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Mulholland Challenge

Mulholland ChallengeSaturday, April 10, 2010. While most people are sleeping and dreaming whatever it is they dream about, eight stupid guys were up at between 3:30 and 4:00 a.m. getting ready to go to the parking lot in front of the Starbucks at the corner of El Toro and Bake to meet up so that we could carpool to the Mulholland Challenge. At 4:45 a.m., I drove up and parked and was greeted by Gary Clendenin (The Kid), Ron Saetermoe and Mark Matyazic. Right after that Larry Davidson (Lar Dog), Kari Kraus, Quinton Berry (Banger) and Jeff Rhodes (Bat) showed up. Everyone was quite timely. We got the bikes loaded and gear in the cars. We then had to wait for Starbucks who was suppose to open at 5:00 a.m. but it was obvious that they are not used to having eight guys waiting outside for opening. As much as everyone wanted coffee, I think the real dash was for the restroom. Needless to say, the day was starting out good and I remember someone saying, “Why do we do this?” Since I have asked myself this question numerous times, I really had no answer.

We head out and get on the 405 and things are good. I was driving and had Kari, Lar Dog and Ron in my Car. Yes, we were driving in my wife’s Honda Odyssey but as the ride went on, everyone kept commenting how comfy it was and how smooth it rode. We had XM radio and I set it on Channel 8, which is dedicated to the 80s. Kari was very pleased as he was singing songs from the Hooters (which he informed that they were from somewhere in Wisconsin). We all were happy and had smiles on our faces.

Flashback to a year ago. Last year, five of us did this. Daniel, Quinton, Jeff, Lar Dog and myself. The whole way up Daniel was so excited that we were doing this ride because it was where he did a lot of his training. He kept saying how beautiful the mountains were blah blah blah. He was acting like someone that was going to show off his hot looking model-like girlfriend to his friends. Well, it was the most miserable experience ever for me and it was a suffer-fest. Why do I bring this up? Well, I purposely log everything into BT (Beginner Triathlete) and I use that to look at previous training and I usually put in certain notes to myself. See below from my BT after this ride last year. Note the last paragraph titles, “Note To Self.” What an idiot. As you can plainly see, I did not reference this log prior to signing up. It was all “c’mon Scooter, good for you, we will have shits and giggles.”

7h 00m 102.50 miles 14.64 Mi/hr
Equipment: Cervelo P2C

King Of The Mountains Century
Challenge Stage 1 – Mulholland Challenge

Several things. If this isn’t an Epic Ride than nothing is. We climbed exactly 11,333 feet. What a day. The only thing good about this ride was the company. Did this bad boy with Lar Dog, Banger, DD and Jeff Rhodes.

Key Learnings: 1) Do not eat too much on the SAG Stops. Ate one too many peanut butter granola bars at SAG Stop 1 and my stomach was bloated until mile 70. 2) Never carry two nutrition bottles. Always make sure one is water. I switched out water for Heed at one stop and craved water so bad. Not good. 3) Need to learn to take salt tabs during long training rides or runs and not just races. Legs cramped up. 4) The saying that you will always go thru a rough time at some point during a long bike and run and you have to just get thru it is very valid. Between miles 60 and 70 was just miserable but after that and through prayer, I felt great and finished strong.

Note to self: Never do this ride or another like again. I had to put this in, in case I even think of signing up for something like this again.
Ok, back to the highway to hell. So, we arrive, hit a Mickey Ds for relief from Starbucks and other manly functions and then park in the designated lot. Weather was looking good, overcast, and a little cold but not too cold. At this point, I have been relatively calm, not really thinking or referring to the hell I went through last year. I am enjoying all of the smack talk between the gang. We are ready to roll and ride across the street to the Renaissance Hotel and get checked and attach race numbers to our jerseys get our maps. Funny thing is that while I am folding my map, I fail to look at the distance. Note distance from last year, 102.5 miles and ONLY 11K in climbing. Last year we were the last group out and we were dropped after only 200 yards. This year they were starting everyone out as they were ready and so they noted our race numbers and the time and off we go. 7:24 was the time I was told to start. Key to note how observant I was at this point.

Off we go and of course, Lar Dog is leading the way. We started off much easier than last year and some of the scenery looked familiar. We were on Mulholland Hwy I knew that had a few rolling hills but was fast and nothing to hard and that would lead to PCH and the nice scenic Pacific Ocean. Last year when we got to PCH we had to wait like 20 minutes for someone and since we were in the last group, we were constantly fighting to make cut-off times. This year would not be rushed and plus, I was going to beat my time by at least 20 – 30 minutes. I am with Kari and Gary at this point and hit a stoplight and Lar Dog, Banger, Ron and Bat make the light and they are off to the races. Please note that this is the last time I see Banger and Bat until near the end. Have a great time guys. At this point I have to use the restroom but I am afraid that Kari and Gary are going to give me crap so early in the ride. As we are cruising along PCH, we get a nice little pace-line going and I am pulling at this point when I see two blue structures of pure delight …yes, porta-potties. At this point and since I am the lead, I pull-up and pull over. Relief is finally here. The funniest part was that Gary and Kari had also wanted to go to the restroom but was afraid to saying anything as well. Ron was smart and had stopped as well so he joined our group. We continue along PCH until we hit Topanga Canyon. I knew this turn well. This is like going from the Honeymoon to the real life. From this point on, it was just hill after hill after hill. The entrance to the dragon’s lair.

At this point it is really lots of giggles and talking and saying how nice the scenery is etc. We get to the first Sticker Stop and meet up with Lar Dog and get our stickers and some water. Away we go. No time to chat with this group. After this it is just hard riding. I remember Ron saying something earlier about the race being 116 miles and 12K+ of climbing. The whole time this is just not computing in my head. He must be wrong. I know they left out Stunt Hill last year but that would only add in a little bit. Kept checking my Garmin for feet climbed and it was only about 1K. Long day ahead. We ride and hit the first SAG stop. While I noted I was an idiot for not ready my BT log, I did remember that I ate way to much at the SAG stop (this one in particular – Too many Salty Peanut Butter bars) so this time I just get water and 2/3 of a banana. I feel like I am Einstein at this point and leave with a big smile on my face.

Somewhere along the way The Kid took off and I never saw him again. All I know is that he was riding strong and he was on a mission. Kari, Ron, Lar Dog and I would be together the rest of the way with some sightings of Mark here and there. Last year I was really suffering between miles 50-70 due to my stupid pig out at the first SAG stop. Feeling good and we are all riding strong. We then hit a stretch of road that was most likely laid down in the early 1900s and it has not been repaved to date. The worst part is that at first you climb on this horrid road and then you have to descend down it and I swear, you are hanging on for dear life. Your hands hurt from the vibration, you arms are so tense that you are actually more fatigued than rested after descending and in my case, I am sure my brain got knocked loose and that probably happened last year as well and is why I am stupid enough to have done this ride again. After this we are treated to some short 16% grades that you don’t think much of but they really wear you down. Finally, we are on PCH and get some nice pace-lines going with everyone taking a turn in front. At this point I am averaging about 232W and feeling good (heck, compared to what I felt last year, I am ecstatic). Things are nice and peaceful until I see what I called the entrance to Hell. Yes, you guessed it, DECKER. I spell it out in caps to give it the respect it deserves. I hear Lar Dog say “Scooter, this can’t be DECKER already.” Unfortunately, it was. When we did the race last year they had to change it a little and DECKER came about mile 85 and this year it embraced us at mile 71.6. Let me add in that I find it funny that Daniel did this race the only year Stunt Road was removed and now that it is added back in, he is spinning in the canyons and eating at The Counter. Fortunately, Kari and Ron had no idea was they were about to get themselves into. Just so you know, DECKER is where I hit my darkest place last year. I had to pull over and pray, I was so cramped up and just couldn’t go. No matter what your thoughts are, God answered my prayers and gave me strength to make it up that hill and finish the race. Ok, back to reality. Lar Dog suggests we pull over and remove vest, jackets or whatever would cause overheating. After that we hit it. First third of the ride is just a bunch of 16% grades. It is hard. And at Mile 71, it makes it even harder. We all ride strong up DECKER and Lar Dog comes up and joins me at about 2/3 of the way and is looking really strong. As the race gets longer, the dog gets stronger. We all meet at the DECKER SAG stop, which is at a Fire Station. We refuel and realize we still have a long way to go. I mention to Lar Dog that we still have 4K of climbing left and he says something to the effect of that can’t be right.

We continue to ride and head toward Stunt Road. Never done it before so I have no idea. What I was able to glean was that it was not as bad as DECKER and it was 3.8 miles long. Well, let the carnage begin. While DECKER is hard, doing Stunt Road at 92 miles into a race was the most horrendous. My mileage seems like it was stuck. I was in the Pain Cave and then was escorted into a Special Room in the Pain Cave. Once again, this is when you really have to reach deep. For me, that is praying and asking for Strength from God. I think about my family and how blessed I am. This is also I time that I have a few choice words for my buddies like Lar Dog and Banger. I was also thinking about The Kid who told me that he would be holding down the rear and at this point, I am thinking he is at the top enjoying life. At this point, you hate everyone and you are going to sell your bike when you get home or toss it in the ocean, whatever is easier. Ron passed me and he looked like death and I only imagined what I looked like. I see a guy sitting in a nice shady part of the hill just relaxing and the thought crosses my mind to join him. As much as I want to, I can’t. I am stupid and have to ensure the pain. About 2/3 up the Lord did answer my prayers and I felt much better. I was now able to get up to 6mph versus the 2mph I was going. I pass a guy walking and he says, “Great job, can’t believe you are doing this on a Tri-bike. I pass Ron and tell him what a Stud he is. I look up and see people and bikes at the top. That must be a SAG stop and I am off to the races. Nothing like a finish line to something to get me going. As I am getting close I finally get to see Banger, The Kid and Bat. I am thinking to myself, something is wrong here. Find out that Bat and Banger thought the ride was a little too easy for them so they decided to ride an extra 9 miles. So the whole gang is together expect for Kari. Banger, Bat and The Kid, or what I refer to as the Elites, take off because they had already been up there too long. Bat starts taking off going left up a hill while we are all shouting at him, “wrong way!” He quickly corrects direction and off they go. See you at the finish line. Kari arrives, we all fuel up and the Lar Dog realizes he has a flat. I think we all secretly found this as great news since it meant we had an additional break.

While I have written mostly negative stuff about this ride, it was at the top of Stunt Road that I realized the beauty of the scenery we were privileged to today. I look around from every angle and it was just beautiful. The vistas, the views of the oceans, the beautiful mountains and the gorgeous homes and ranches. You truly feel that you are not anywhere near LA. I then stop and think to myself, this will be the last time I see these hills unless I am in a car!

The group is upbeat from the rest until Lar Dog says something that I had been thinking. We still have 20 miles left. As they say at IMCDA, “Get ‘er done gents.” We head off and after a very short downhill section we are climbing again. Cruel! As Bill Paxton says in Aliens. “game over man, game over!” I am at this point. We would continue to do another 2K of climbing and at this point in the ride it is survival mode. We finally hit Agoura Road with 4.3 miles to go. Lar Dog and I are riding together and as beat as we were, it was funny how we still push each other. Lar Dog would come pushing past me and I would hang on and try to keep up and then I would push past Lar Dog and he would be right there. At last, the Renaissance Hotel and the cowbells. Finally done. We get checked in. The guys kept telling me a number and I was like 4:36? Huh, it took me longer than 4 hours. Well remember how astute I was in the beginning and knew my start time, he was telling me my ending time. I had no idea. Like a Zombie, I rode my bike to the side and parked it and went in to get my Dinner. It is funny because in the e-mail you get, they say Bristol Farms has prepared a nice lunch for you all. Lunch! By the time I got in it was dinner.

I see Banger, Bat, The Kid and we all get our sandwiches and sit down for some shits and giggles. I was so craving hard food, that I think I downed a bag of Fritos in one gulp. We all eat, get dressed, load the bikes and go to Starbucks and head home.

Some observations:

 First and foremost, Glory to God for getting me through this and for keeping us all safe.
 The only good thing about this ride was the company. I am blessed to be friends and training partners with such quality people like you all.
 This is only my third year riding an it was the toughest race I have ever done.
 What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
 Kudos to Lar Dog, Bat, and Ron for doing this on Tri-Bikes. This is my second time doing it on Tri-bike, which again shows my low IQ.
 Bat, you are an uber biker and a beast. Next time I am bring a cord and attaching it to your bike and just hanging on.
 Banger, same for you, uber biker and great job going the extra 9 miles. Less is more for you bru!
 The Kid, whether you think it is or not, you are uber biker and you put us younger guys to shame. If we can ride and look like you at your age we are golden.
 Lar Dog, you never cease to amaze me with your abilities. Awesome job on the ride and thanks for doing it on a Tri-Bike and keeping me company.
 Ron, you are riding and racing the best ever. Keep it up.
 Kari, you did great and you never gave up and what I liked most was that you always had a smile on your face.
 8 hours and two minutes in the saddle to do 116.5 miles and over 14K of climbing.
 IMSG – Bring it baby!


Scott Callender

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LA Tri Series, Championship Distance

Triathlon at BonelliI’ve seen a lot of emails flying around about the quality of the lake water out at Bonelli Lake in San Dimas. Coming from the “land of lakes, “ Michigan (or is it Wisconsin), I have personally swum in over 100 lakes in my lifetime and I can tell you 99 of them had dirty water. The only exception being Torch Lake in northern Michigan.

Yes, the water’s dirty . . . it’s a lake . . . get over it!

However, don’t let the dirty water dissuade you from doing these really great races. There are a bunch of benefits: it’s on a lake so the swim is flat, it’s close, it’s a great environment, it’s challenging and it’s a small race. If you haven’t done any of these I highly recommend it. They have three races in the series and you can select from the “Tri Express” (short) or “Championship” (long) courses.

I did the Championship race on Sunday, April 18th and had a blast.

I want to preface this report by saying that while I had a good race it certainly wasn’t anything to write home about. The 92-mile bike ride (which we hammered) didn’t make my legs feel that great! (I say this again in case you missed my comments above.)

The morning was cool but the sun was starting to come out at the beginning of the 500-yard swim. And while the wave I started in probably only had 100 people in it, I was thrashed.

Since I’m a “good” swimmer I usually try to go out fast and get ahead of the crowd. I’m never alone in this thinking but this time it seemed like EVERYONE had the same idea. I’ve never been beaten up so badly in any race start!

By the time I got to the turnaround buoy we finally formed a nice pace-line. I got on the heels of another swimmer and just followed him in. By the way, if you don’t practice drafting off other swimmers, you should.

Coming up the steep ramp into transition I caught up to one of my fellow M55-59 age-groupers, Rich Pfeiffer. I encouraged Rich to speed up, which he promptly did.

The bike portion of the race was a blast because Rich, Sam Sunshine (my doctor) and I were all in the same pack. I’d pass them, one of them would pass the other two, and so on. The entire bike portion of the race was like this with Sam entering transition first, Rich second and me close behind.

We all seemed to transition about the same speed but Sam just took off and left Rich and I in the dust! He was running strong with no way for my tired legs to catch up.

Rich on the other hand was directly in my sights. I guess I passed him about a mile into the run and once again encouraged him to stay with me. No way, Rich wouldn’t be able to keep my pace.

I just couldn’t seem to get into a groove with my running so I just hung in there the best I could. Guess what? It was good enough for 1st!

In the last five races I’ve done I’ve got four 1st place finishes and one 2nd place finish. I guess the M55-59 age group suits me well. Again, sorry if I missed anyone.

Chris Davis 1:08:24 (3rd M35-39)
Mike Catanzaro 1:12:02 (6th M35-39)
Stefani McMillen 1:13:18 (2nd F30-34)
Sam Sunshine 1:13:39 (6th M45-49)
Ron Saetermoe 1:14:27 (1st M55-59)
Rich Pfeiffer 1:16:20 (3rd M55-59)
Camille Longino 1:24:27 (2nd F50-54)
Julie Vargas 1:25:27 (4th F35-39)

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Ironman California 70.3

Ironman California 70.3 Ironman California 70.3 was a “B” race for me, which simply means it was important, but not my most important race of the season. It wasn’t my most important race because I had calculated that Ironman Arizona would be my best chance all year to punch my ticket to Kona.

It was going to be a great day. The weather was perfect and the swim at Big Corona last Wednesday with Lar Dog wasn’t as cold as I had anticipated.

I was up at 3:00 a.m. and finished packing my gear and had my regular pre-race breakfast of cottage cheese with walnuts and blueberries, an English muffin with peanut butter and strawberry jam and a large glass of OJ. I was in my car on my way to the race by 4:00 a.m.

My wave wasn’t scheduled until 7:17 but I’m always early, by design. Got my stuff set up and chatted with a bunch of other athletes. I was loose and confident.

We all play these games in our head about things that can go right, and wrong. I figured if I had the perfect race I might be able to podium, but top-10 would have been fine with me. The reason is that the top two dogs in my new age group (M55-59) were both registered.

Dean Harper was the big dog. Back in the day, Dean was in the same pro ranks with guys like Dave Scott and Scott Tinley (who was there on a surf board at the swim start). The guy is still an amazing athlete. The other top guy was Kim McDonald. Kim is primarily known as a short-course guy and won the world sprint championships last year in Australia. He is simply amazing. So, since the first two slots were taken I figured, why not 3rd?

Never having met Dean before I asked around to see if anyone had seen him. I wanted to introduce myself and wish him a bad race (kidding). No one saw him but Kim traded emails with him and was sure he was coming.

Both Dean and Kim are known for their swimming prowess. And while I’m a “good” swimmer I’m certainly nowhere near their caliber. Last year they swam 26:04 and 27:17 respectively. I did 30:57. So I knew they’d both be well ahead of me on the swim.

The swim went well until about the final 300 yards where I nearly swam over the top of a large woman. She was so upset she kicked me. Look, I know it’s a bummer when someone swims over the top of you but no one is doing it on purpose. If you don’t want to be swum over get in the slow lane!

Anyway, I swam hard but since I had cut back on my swim workouts I was simply trying to hold the same time as last year. Not bad, went 31:06. The day was looking good so far.

Normally when I race against the “Dog” (Larry Davidson) we’re in the same age group but since I aged-up he went off in the wave in front of me four minutes earlier. Since I just swam with him on Wednesday I knew his swim had dramatically improved and that it was unlikely I was going to make up four minutes on him. True enough, Larry did 32:58. Great job!

I’m very speedy in transition and came in just seconds behind another formidable Ironman competitor, Brian Smallwood. Generally Brian beats me by a little bit on the swim then kicks my butt on the bike. Today I was off on my bike just ahead of him and I never saw him again all day. (Footnote: Brian beat me by 1 second at IMAZ when I stopped to see if he was okay when he fell just 10 feet from the finish line.)

It was a little cold getting on the bike but I knew I’d warm up because I planned to go hard. I had the karma of Russ Jones’ race wheels with me so I didn’t want to disappoint him. Russ is another great friend, supporter and athlete. He’s going for the sprint world championships this year. Odds are he’ll do it!

I pushed hard on the bike and whom do I see just ahead of me but Lar Dog. We trade a couple words as I pull ahead but he manages to catch me on the next hill. And that’s how the ride was all day. I’ll pull ahead on the downhills, we’d stay about even on the flats, and he’d pass me on the hills.

Now you have to understand that Larry is a far superior cyclist and runner than me and that the ONLY reason I was racing along side him was because he had just come back from St. George, Utah on a recon mission to check out the course there. He obviously wasn’t recovered from his training there but it sure made it nice for me to have someone I knew to help push me along.

I really couldn’t have pushed the bike any harder. I figured I’d lay it out there on the bike and just see if I could run at all. Guess what? It worked!

Guess what else, as I came in on the bike there was Kim McDonald just seconds ahead of me. I asked if he’d seen Dean and he said “no.” Kim was off. I had another speedy transition to the run. This year the only difference was that I was going to run with socks on. I got a massive blister last year so I figured I’d wear socks because I wasn’t going to be a contender anyway. I saw Kim pull away and figured that was it.

As usual, the first steps on the run my legs felt like lead. I’m not sure when it happened but Larry passed me on the run. Since he usually passes me on the run I figured that would be the last I would see of him all day. We chatted for a couple seconds and he pulled ahead. A funny thing happened though; even though he was ahead he wasn’t pulling away.

At about mile three I got a bad stitch in my side. You know the kind that only go away when you rest and catch your breath? It was to stay there for the remainder of the run.

I followed Larry for several miles, always keeping him in sight. Then, just ahead, I saw him stop at an aid station to take on some fluids and I caught up to him. We started to run together again and I told him I wasn’t sure I could hang on because my side was killing me. He said, “This is your day Ronnie.” so we both pressed on.

At one point Stu Lowndes a Triathica member and good friend yelled at me that I was only one minute behind Kim. Great information that I couldn’t do anything with! I was going as hard as I could and I also knew that Kim is an outstanding runner and I didn’t have a prayer of catching him even on my best day.

Eventually I pulled ahead of Larry and pushed as hard as I could. I watched my heart rate closely and kept it close to 170 (not advisable for most) but I knew I wasn’t running fast as I was suffering from cardiac drift.

I finished strong and totally exhausted. 4:55:25 a PR and a time I only dreamed of – 1:07 behind Kim – good enough for 2nd place! I missed qualifying for Kona by 1:08!

It was an unbelievable day for me. I’ve been competing for 48 years and Saturday was my proudest achievement.

Here are some additional times from some of my friends:

Ironman California 70.3

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