January 23, 2018

Chat with Ironman World Championship Qualifier Art Sosa

This week in TriChatter Ron and Sherry talk to Ironman World Championship qualifier Art Sosa.

Art trains with the Online training program and has successfully used that formula to qualify for the Big Kahuna . . . Kona.

iTunes PodcastArt will provide you with his views on what it takes to be a Kona qualifier both physically and mentally. He’ll also share his race experience at Ironman Canada, which is where he qualified.

Learn from Art’s experience and perhaps you can be a KQ (Kona qualifier) too!

Tune in weekly!


Ron and Sherry

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Ironman Canada, Art Sosa

Pre race:

Art SosaWell the night before my friend Jeff and I were talking about our expected finish times, we kept on going over what we thought we could do at this race. I told him I didn’t see how I could go slower than 9:50(but that was assuming normal conditions). I figured I could swim 1:03 to 1:05 and bike 5:10 to 5:15 and run 3:20 to 3:25 and with T1 & T2 added up it came in at about 9:50 or so. We had already looked at the previous few years results and new that breaking 10hrs would be a Kona slot(according to the previous few years). So our race plans were set we were going to go after that coveted Kona Slot. But like we all know everything looks good on paper but when that Cannon goes off everything gets thrown out the window!!! And now it was time to sleep. Well I woke up early at about 4am on Sunday morning. As usual I didn’t get much sleep. I was going to eat some oatmeal and a bagel for breakfast. But my friend Jeff said you shouldn’t eat oatmeal because of the fiber content. I already new that but had never had a problem with the oatmeal pre-race meal. He suggested the bagels and gel on them. So I ate 1 bagel with 1 hammer gel on it and another bagel with strawberry preserve on it. I figured the bagels were about 300+ calories each and the gel & strawberry preserve was about 100cals each as well. I washed it down with a bottle of Gatorade probably another 100cals. I figured this would top off the fuel tank as the race didn’t start for a while and I would be able to digest all this way before the race started. I also had another Gatorade in my bag and some clif bars just incase I got hungry before the race started. We headed down to the start after eating, got everything ready and then I realized I forgot my warm clothes bag, so I just used the bike special needs bag as my warm clothes bag since I wasn’t going to stop at special needs on the bike. After that I got in line to use the portapottie. I really didn’t have to go to the bathroom but I figured that by the time I got to the front of the line I would have to go. Got in the water and did a warm up and found a nice place in the middle of the lake without too many people. Well of course as 7am approached everybody started bunching up right to the start line. So I knew I had to go out a little harder on the swim as it is my weakest event. In the previous two IM’s I haven’t gone out hard enough from the start and then I just settle into a slow pace. So the cannon went off and I was off. I went hard for about 500m or so. But I went a little too hard, I didn’t have any problems with other swimmers. But then it hit me that I was redlining on the swim. I slowed it way down and I was just thinking great, I just blew up on the swim and I am going to have another bad swim and there goes my chances for a Kona Slot. Well I slowed the pace down for a while I don’t know how long it was maybe it was just a few minutes not sure. But then my HR and breathing settled back down and I started swimming at a good pace and I felt good, at the turn buoy I started to feel even better and the swimming really felt effortless. I did notice I do tend to drift to the left when I swim, that is something I have to work on. I am not swimming straight in open water, it was not the current because it did seem that I veered to the left on the way out and the way back. I also notice a lot of people in front of me cutting the buoys and swimming short. Well I get to shallow water at just under 1hr, but the beach is full of rocks so at this point I figured I banked 5min on my goal time and I was going to carefully walk to the timing mat. I was stepping on so many rocks that I got back down and started using my hands on the rocks to float over the rocks. I didn’t want to twist an ankle. The thing that I learned from this swim was that I have to warm up a little longer on the swim and that I can go out hard at the beginning and still settle down, but I just have to back it off at about 200m or so not 400m to 500m

Swim: 1:01:36

T1 was uneventful. I did take the advice again of my friend Jeff who was doing his 17th IM. He said to just relax in T1 sit down and put your shoes and helmet on calmly and let the Hr settle a little. Well I did just that, the change tent was not too crowded so I found a seat. I put everything on pretty fast except for the Arm warmers I bought at the Bike Barn. I thought the race was going to be really hot so I didn’t bring anything warm to race in. Big mistake I will never do that again. I learn something new every IM race. I couldn’t put the arm warmers on since I was all soaking wet from the swim and I never put a towel in my T1 bag. Got going got to my bike to a delightful surprise that most of the bikes were still racked! J

T1: 3:25

Well I get to the mount line and get on my bike and start pedaling easy. I immediately start passing people and I am going easy. The Hr is not that high but I was wishing that it would be a little lower for the effort. I check my watts and they are not very high either so I just keep the pace for a little while. I realize that once again I forgot to start my Garmin 705, so I turn it on(It was on and displaying power,speed, watts…etc but no distance or time, I also had the 310xt on my wrist with the total time running) . After a few minutes I figure that my legs are a little loose and I gear up and start going at a moderate pace. I am passing bikes with ease. I am thinking wow, I thought I had a good bike and look at all these people I am passing. I know my bike is my strength and my swim is my weakness. So I check the Hr and the watts the Hr is still a little higher than what I would like it to be but not by much, the Watts are fully in check and the effort feels easy. At this point I figure that my Hr is probably elevated because it is quite cold and my body is trying to stay warm. I am all wet and biking so the wind is feeling really cold and I haven’t been biking long enough at a hard effort to have my body heat warm me up. So I gear up and settle into my IM pace. At this point the course is mostly flat, with some false flats and some rollers. We have hit a couple small hills but nothing major. I am really moving past people. I then catch this big German guy in my AG and a few others about 4 more that are in the younger AG’s. We all start working together it was great, we are all doing legal drafting at this point and we are just moving really fast. We hit another hill not a major one but a small climb. At this point these guys start climbing hard, I drop back a bit and then catch them again on the flats. But I start to think are these guys too strong for me? Should I let them go? I think that at this point I am bordering on being just over my comfort zone on the bike. But I stick with them once I catch them on the flats and re take the lead. I am in the front for a little while and then they all start passing me up and I go to the back again. We are just constantly passing bikes. I am saying wow I need to improve that swim. I know that the big climb Richter is coming up. It is billed as an 11 kilometer long climb. So we turn and start climbing and these guys are climbing strong, so I have to let them go. As I have to keep my Hr and Watts in check. I summit and I eventually catch some of the guys that went out too hard. But that Big German guy in my AG is up ahead. I then gear up as the watts dropped at the summit and try to get back on with him but I notice that I am biking too hard. At this point I am approaching the 80K mark and I notice that I am at about 2hrs. I go wow I am biking really fast. I know that the first part of the course is the flatter and faster part but that was fast. At this point I decide to slow down and do a reality check. I start thinking am I biking too hard? Did I just start the bike off too hard? Am I going to be able to run if I hold this pace? A few minutes later my friend Jeff comes up behind me on one of the Rollers after Richter Pass. He yells at me Art you are looking strong you look good! He slowly starts to pull away. I am still thinking about my first 50 miles of the bike. I see Jeff slip away slowly but surely. At this point I tell my self, “Art this is a race not a training day, you need to get on it if you want a chance at a Kona Slot.” I know Jeff is a really fast biker and that he is very good at pacing(as he was a former cyclist). What I didn’t know at this time is that he actually only swam a little slower than me. He thought he was going to swim closer to 1:10(since he is the guy that broke his collar bone at IMSG and walked the entire run along with our 2 other friends). So I check my HR and it is low and I say to my self it is time to race. I go after him, I start closing in on him at a very slow pace. And then it happens all of a sudden we are now riding into one of the strongest head winds I have ever ridden into, with really nasty cross winds all the way back to T2. I am just visualizing staying aero, staying small and putting a small hole through the air. I start passing people and am closing in on Jeff at a slow pace, we are riding over the 7 sisters. I am about 30 meters behind him and figure that If I can just not loose too much ground too him I will have a good bike split. I follow him all the way to special needs and then he stops and I take the lead. Right out of special needs I notice the road is wet but there are some sprinklers on. But a little further up the road the entire road is wet and I can now feel the rain(remember the wind is still blowing really hard it has not stopped). We are a getting ready to climb to the highest point of the race Yellow Lake. At this point I realize that there are hardly any bikes in front of me. I start climbing and keep passing a rider here and there. The rain feels good on the climb as it keeps you cooler as you Hr rises and the watts increase. We start the Yellow Lake climb and there are literally thousands of people lined up in the middle of the road(on both sides of me). I start to climb and they are all cheering me on, It was like the Tour De France. They are all cheering you on encouraging you and just motivating you. This was incredible as it was just pouring rain on the entire climb and they were out there getting soaked. This was probably the best experience of the race(of any race I have ever done). I always thought it was so cool for the bikers to ride with all those people right next to them on those climbs. Well I have experienced that. At the summit it flattens out for a good mile or more and my watts had drooped so I geared up and got on the aerobars and was on it as I knew this was the last climb of the day and it was mostly down hill from here to T2. Well all of a sudden I realize it is not raining anymore and that it is now hailing. I say great I have probably the fastest descent and most technical descent and the roads are all wet from the rain and now it is hailing and of course the wind is blowing even harder now. So I start to descend and I see a few people going down really slow. Lucky for me Jeff and I pre drove the course and rode down some the descents. So at this point I make a decision that it is full gas to T2 since it is down hill and I will probably be spinning out. I start descending in the aerobars to pick up speed, hail is just bouncing off of me, my bike and helmet and I am passing the few bikers like they are standing still. I think that Climbing and descending Big Bear with Chad and Max really gave me experience and confidence to bomb down the hill in the rain, hail and strong crosswinds. Well needless to say I almost get blown off the bike so I decide it is not such a good Idea if I want to finish the race. I switch up to the bullhorns and stay low and aero. I know have more control and a little less weight over the front wheel. I look up front and I see a biker that I am gaining on really fast and he is really leaning left. It looks funny, well all of a sudden I realize why he is leaning left, the wind is so strong that I have to actually lean into the wind so much that I think I am going to fall over or have the wheels slip from under me(still raining hard but since we drooped in elevation it is not hailing anymore). I pass him and get some confidence back and get back on the aerobars. At this point I don’t see any more bikers until about 3 miles from T2 and to my amazement it is someone wearing the MAO kit, it is DJ. He is now easy pedaling and taking a gel. I am still going full gas as it is down hill the HR is low and the watts are not too low. I have been spinning the 53×11 the entire time on the down hill. The cold rain and hail seemed to have helped me. It was as if my legs were iced right before the run. The legs felt great, I almost think that I should have tried to stay with the Big German on the bike.

Bike: 5:11:21(I thought this was a good time for me considering the conditions and that fact the course read 6,200ft of climbing on the Garmin 705)

T2 well I come into T2 and no one is there and all the T2 Bags are there and all the bikes are gone. I go wow am I that far ahead? As I am getting ready to sit down DJ comes by me and encourages me. He is gone out of T2 and I am too.

T2: 1:57

I start the run feeling fresh and start tracking my speed on my Garmin 310XT. The HR is in check and the pace is fast for me Low 7’s. I start to think, I know that my long runs were at a pace better than 7:20. so I decide to back it down a bit as I know that my Hr will start drifting and that fatigue will set in. I feel good on the run and I start heading out of town. I start seeing a few bikers come in on by one. Some female pro’s run by me and then a male pro is running by me, not too fast it looks like he has had a bad day. I decide to try to stay with him as his pace is not too fast. We are running together for some time. A few people pass me but they are not in my AG. Then Mitch Gold from Counterpoint training is running next to me, so we run together. I figure he is in good shape and I am doing well. So I talk to him for a minute but he doesn’t want to talk he pulls up ahead just a bit. I am still about 20yds behind him. At about this time I see the lead pro male coming back and 1,2 & 3 are pretty close. I say to myself I am having a good race since they are still out here. Later on I see the women 1,2 & 3. I am trying to hold on to the pro who is having a bad race and to a younger kid as they are both just slightly running faster than I am. I feel good on the run, my pace is good my HR is in check and I have no problems except for one I have to go to the bathroom. I stop at the next aid station and use the porta pottie and continue running a few guys pass me but I repass them back, We now start hitting the hills, some guys start walking them. I was able to run them without elevating my Hr too much. We get to the turn around and I see a few more guys in my AG that are ahead of me, I see that that big German guy is not too far up ahead. I hit the turnaround get my special needs bag and start heading home. I still feel good I am under control the Hr is good, the effort feels good and I am not in any pain(at least not yet). I pass some more people not in my AG as they start to blow up and start walking or just stop all together. I then hit the hills again and they feel a little harder this time around. I see some guys in my AG and I settle down and take some deep breaths as I don’t want to make a pass on them if I am not up to it. I pass one then another. I then catch the Pro and pass him. I then see Mitch Gold again and I pass him and a little bit later he repasses me. As he passes me and I hold my pace. I am approaching mile 16 when Mark Allen says let it rip. At this point I hit the aid station and I have to use the Portapotie again. I come out and catch the guys that repass me. I start to speed up as I know now is the time to let it rip. I start to pass the Pro again and I see Mitch Gold again up in front as I get closer to passing Mitch the pro yells at me from behind, “Arthur when you do it this time make it stick, stay strong!” I just nod my head in agreement(I figured he read my name on my bib as it was behind me at this point). I pass his and don’t look back. I know I am heading home, I am running a little faster. Remember the strong head wind we had on the bike well now it is even stronger. I try to find guys to run behind. I am slowly passing people but they are not in my AG. I come up behind them and try to stay behind them so that they shelter me from the wind and I get a little breather before I make the pass. I keep doing this for a few miles. And then I run into the Big German guy. I run up behind him and stay behind him for a few minutes, he seems to be running at a good pace. But I know he is in my AG and I have to make the pass. I make the pass and hope I can hold it. I can feel him hanging on me now he is using me to block the wind. I pick up the pace a little more and separate my self. I am looking at the miles now I have only a 10K left. I know that I have less than 50min of running left most of it now slightly down hill but into a tremendous head wind. By now there are a lot of people on the run course heading out. But to my amazement there are still people heading in on the bike. We come to what I think is a little dangerous cross over where the bikes and runners cross over to opposite sides of the street. I know I am only about 3 to 4 miles from the finish and I am speeding up some more and I can see that I am gaining on a runner, I see he is in my AG so I get motivated to pass him and I do. As soon as I pass him I see there are two more guys in my AG that are running side by side, we only have about 2 miles to go. I know I have to pass them strong because either one of the two can come with me. I make the pass and accelerate as I pass them. I am now heading towards the finish line just before the out and back and to my surprise it is a runner in my AG that had passed me earlier on the run. He is running at a good pace and I am hardly gaining on him, he doesn’t know I am slowly running him down. We are heading to the last turn for the out and back. At this point I make the decision that I am going to try to get as close to him as possible and pass him on the last turn of the out and back as we head home so that he will not be able to seem me as we are approaching the last “U” turn on the out and back I see a couple of guys look at me as they are on the home stretch and start running a little harder I figure they are in my AG but I can’t make up the distance as I only have about ½ mile to go and they are about 100+ yards ahead of me or so.. I close in on the guy in front of me and am right on him on the last “U” turn and I am full gas coming home. I don’t look back at this point. I don’t know if he is going to try to pass me or not. I am just hoping I don’t blow up in the last ½ mile. I am running about 6min/mile pace and the Hr is climbing, I am in the Pain Cave and my legs are burning. I am just thinking that I have to hold him off for my Kona slot. As I approach the finishing line I was hoping to be under 9:45 and I see 9:43, but by the time I actually pass the line it is 9:44:04. A new PR for me!

After thoughts. I talked to the Big German guy after the race and I told him I wanted to stay with him on the bike but that they were climbing really hard and that I had to watch my watts. He said that I raced a smart race and that is why I was able to beat him on the run. Turns out he biked a 5:06, that may have been a little too hard to do and run well. I thought I had a good bike considering the conditions and the climbing(garmin 705 showed 6200ft of climbing). I also thought my run would have been faster but after looking at my Garmin the run also had over 800ft of climbing with all that wind so I think considering the hills of the course and the windy conditions that was a good run for me.

All in all I had the best race of my life. I PR’d the Swim, Bike, Run and of course the Total time. I also accomplished my goal of getting a Kona Slot without a roll down.

I thought I could do that with just breaking 10hrs.(from viewing previous results in the last few years) although I thought I could go 9:50. Yet I went 9:44:04 that time would have gotten me 2nd place three times and 3rd place once from 2006 to the present at this race, yet I took 6th with those conditions. The qualifying times are getting faster as better quality athletes are now entering these events.

But if I could qualify for a Kona slot there is no doubt in my mind that anybody who has proper coaching and training can get to Kona by qualification.

All it takes is the will, determination and proper coaching.

I have officially changed my Team KQ status from Kona Quest to Kona Qualifed!

Arthur Sosa Jr.

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Triathlon Workout Types

Types of triathlon workoutsWhen you go to do a swim, bike or run workout do you have any structure in mind or do you just head out the door and do what strikes you that day? If you do, you’re not using your time effectively. And since most of us need to make the most of our training time you should have a plan.

When I coach triathletes I tell them there are really four primary “types” of triathlon workouts: power, speed, endurance and recovery.

A power workout is designed primarily to build the muscles you use in that particular event. As an example, a good power workout if you’re using a bicycle trainer is a high effort, low cadence spin. This type of workout really burns the quads and improves your power when you’re climbing hills and cycling into the wind.

A speed workout is designed to get your muscles used to turning over quicker. A good example here is a treadmill workout where you do intervals and decrease the length of the interval while increasing the speed. Contrary to what many believe, speed workouts are essential even for those doing half and full Ironman distance races.

Endurance workouts help get you ready for long hard efforts. An example of a good endurance workout is three 1,500 yard/meter reps in the pool. It gets your body ready to go longer distances. And just like speed workouts, endurance workouts aren’t just for half and full Ironman distances. You should incorporate endurance workouts no matter what your racing distance.

Then, the recovery workout. Recovery, also known as active recovery, is designed to stay active and repair damaged muscles. I generally subscribe swimming as your active recovery. I’ve been doing this for years and it seems to work for me. As cycling and running work your lower body you can give your legs a rest while you work your upper body when you’re swimming. An easy bike ride is also a good form of active recovery. I don’t like running as a recovery workout because it’s too hard on the body.

So how do you apply this? At a minimum, you should be doing three swim, bike and run workouts each week. At times you may combine them but that means nine workouts per week. Seems like a lot, doesn’t it?

Therefore, if you do three cycling and three running workouts. That’s six. You should do one each of power, speed and endurance. Then, the recovery days will be your three swim days. In general, you won’t combine any cycling or running on swim days (unless you’re doing a brick).

To vary your swim workouts you can use paddles for your power workouts, do short intervals of 50s or 100s for your speed and do two to three 1,500s for your endurance workouts.

That’s it. Not too tough, but starting out with a purpose for each workout will definitely yield better results.

Indoor Cycling DVD

Triathica is introducing the first DVD in the Triathica Academy series: Power Up! Power Up! is a 60-minute spin workout designed to help build your leg strength to climb hills and power through the wind.

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Your “A” Race

A Race TriathlonYour “A” race is your most important race of your entire triathlon season. There is a bit of a problem with this theory, however.

For example, when I designed my 2010 season last year my “A” race was Ironman Arizona. My plan was to train hard until then and lay it all on the line for that race to try to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in 2011. So far, so good.

My plan needed to be modified when I raced well at Ironman California 70.3. Now all of a sudden I needed a good race at Ironman Hawaii 70.3 to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in 2010! Therefore, my “A” race now was Ironman Hawaii 70.3.

Now that I’ve qualified my NEW “A” race is the Ironman World Championships so I’m training hard for that. BUT . . . I still have Ironman Arizona in November!

So I started out with one “A” race and all of a sudden I’ve got three! Can you really be effective with three full/half Ironman races in one season? I’m not sure but I’m about to find out.

There are many factors that may impact your season and the importance of the races you do. If you’re building for a big race such as the world sprint championships it’s obvious that will be your “A” race.

Personally I believe it’s important to have more than one “A” race in a season. The problem with only having one “A” race is the pressure you’ll put yourself under. You’re going to train so hard that you may actually over-train and not have a good race. You may not feel well on that one day and not have a good race. Or, you may have a mechanical problem. There’s just too much riding on it.

If you race primarily sprint and Olympic distance races you can have several “A” races, perhaps as many as four to six. If you do mostly half and full Ironman races I think you can have two to three. This helps keep the pressure off and I think actually make you race better.

By all means, classify your races but consider having more than just one “A” race per season.


Ron Saetermoe

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Pacific Coast Triathlon

Pacific Coast TriathlonThe Pacific Coast Triathlon is one of the best run races around, and one of my favorites. The venue is great and you can always count on some great competitors showing up. This year was no exception.

The difference this year is that the pressure was on because of a bet I had with Russ Jones. In case you don’t know Russ, he is one of the best age-group sprint triathletes in the world, as evidenced by his sixth place finish at the world sprint championships a couple weeks ago in Hungary.

Russ and I have been racing against each other for many years and I’ve never beaten him and I certainly didn’t expect to beat him today. However, to make it interesting we had a bet – he gave me a two minute handicap. The loser would buy lunch. Now I was REALLY motivated.

I figured he’d beat the spread because I did a 70 mile bike ride followed by a six mile run the day before. No matter, it’s fun.

I decided to go hard all day. Normally, I hold back on the swim a bit but today I let it all out!

A lot of guys lined up to the right and actually ran down the beach to the right a bit to try to shorten the distance to the first swim buoy. I started right in the middle and didn’t run down the beach. Turns out that was a good move because the current pulled everyone north of the buoy and a lot of guys had to swim back to make it around the buoy.

I was going hard and only saw two guys (men 50+) in the same swim caps as me. We passed a bunch of people in the earlier waves but there weren’t a lot of guys in my wave ahead of me.

I’d say my swim was about perfect even though the water was choppy.

Once leaving the water you have to run up the beach and up a long, steep ramp to get to transition. In years past I’d run up the entire thing, but not this year. My legs were toast from my Saturday workout.

A really great age grouper in the 60 – 64 category passed me going up the ramp – Peter Hoyt. He took second at the sprint worlds.

I got through transition quickly and headed out on the bike. The bike course is two loops and has some rollers and one hill most of us have to get into our small gear to climb.

I was pressing as hard as I could but only managed to average 192 watts which is pathetic. Again, no legs from the day before. In order to make up for it I spun like crazy. My average cadence was 97 which is even fast for me.

As I made the turn at the top of the hill I saw Russ behind me. I figured I’d try to stay ahead of him for the entire bike leg. Good goal!

I kept my pace up and managed to pass one of the guys that were ahead of me on the swim. He was racing “old style” (Speedos only). As I reached the nine mile mark Russ finally passed me. He was digging deep and I was no match for him.

The rest of bike was tough and I wondered if I’d have anything left for the run.

I transitioned well again and headed out on the run. My legs were tired but I managed a pretty good pace. I passed another guy in my age group about ½ mile into the run. Then, I saw my pal/doctor, Sam Sunshine up ahead. He was in my sights.

I pushed the run on the flats and downhills and was barely able to move going uphill but I was reeling in Sam . . . until we hit the sand. This race has about a one mile stretch that you run in the sand, followed by another steep ramp back up to street level.

Sam was gone, but I pressed on. I ended up walking up about half of the ramp holding my knees for leverage. How pathetic!

Once you reach the top of the hill it’s flat all the way in so I used up everything I had left. It was a blast!

I ended up finishing second behind Russ and beat the two minute spread. All in all, a really great day!

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Swim Crack, Tapering and Race Reports

In this edition of TriChatter Ron and Sherry discuss their recent race reports as well as “swim crack” and tapering.

It’s always interesting to hear race reports from other triathletes and Ron and Sherry’s insights can help you determine whether the venues they race might appeal to you. In addition, they will provide tips and tricks that might save you some time and aggravation at your next race.

iTunes PodcastIn the “swim crack” segment Ron and Sherry discuss swimming tools such as kick boards, paddles and swim buoys. They don’t agree on much but the debate is a spirited one.

Tapering is a critical element of preparing for your triathlon and Ron and Sherry will give you their views including how long you should taper prior to each distance event (sprint, Olympic, 1/2 Ironman and Ironman).

As always, it’s entertaining and educational.

Tune in weekly!


Ron and Sherry

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Race Report, Lake Las Vegas Triathlon

If you’ve never been there, Lake Las Vegas is really a great venue for a triathlon. The lake appears to be an offshoot of Lake Mead and is surrounded by two great hotels and a wide range of homes. Silverman will be held there on November 7th.

The hotels are the Lowes and Aston (used to be the Ritz-Carlton). Lowes, the race hotel and location of the start, was about $200 a night and the Aston was about $100 a night. I chose the Aston and the one mile trip to the Lowes. A very small logistical problem for the savings, I think.

Usually this time of year I do the Malibu triathlon but my good friend Mark Arenal was doing this one so I switched things up. After all, an 80 degree lake swim has a lot more appeal than a 60 degree ocean swim!

We got in Friday evening and checked in. We looked at the pre-registered racers and noticed there were only about 75 people total doing the intermediate (Olympic) distance race (they had a sprint as well). We looked through the list and noticed that Mark was the only 50 – 54 male racer and I was the only male 55 – 59 racer! Cool! Looks like we both podium – as long as we both finish (you must NOT stop reading if you’ve gone this far in the story).

We had dinner Friday night at the café at Lowes. Pasta and pizza. Very good, actually. Then to bed about 10:00 p.m.

Got up at 4:00 and did the normal morning pre-race ritual. Breakfast of cottage cheese with walnuts and blueberries, PB&J and OJ. Got to the transition area at 5:00 and finished setting up.

The weather was cool and breezy. Some of the athletes didn’t dress warm enough for the cool morning but I had my sweats and gloves on . . . toasty!

At 6:30 we headed down to the lake. Speedos only for me . . . old style! The lake was in fact 80 degrees so no wetsuits were allowed. Good for me because I’m a pretty good swimmer.

The intermediate group was all to start together, again, because there were only about 75 of us. It was a beach start, which was fine, but we had to swim over the swimming area ropes to get into the open water. This was just one of many race organization errors.

I took off quickly and swam under the bridge to get out to the main body of water and around the buoy. I went out quickly but was gasping for breath. Eventually I settled into a good pace and headed out.

It appeared that there were only 10 – 12 swimmers ahead of me but they were slowly pulling away so I let them go. There literally wasn’t anyone around me to draft off of so I just kept going.

Rounding the turnaround buoy the waves seemed to pick up. Then when I rounded the next buoy the waves definitely picked up. I’ll bet I drank 10 mouthfuls of water on the way back.

On the way back I passed several of the swimmers still working away on their sprint swim and literally had to stop cold because one of them was swimming on her back directly in front of me!

Finished the swim without incident and got out. The run to the transition is probably ¼ mile up a smooth blacktop sidewalk. I looked at my watch about ½ way up and was at 33 minutes. I thought I should have been faster but it’s hard to get accurate distances on swim courses, so, whatever.

Transitioned smoothly, but not fast and headed out on the bike. The bike course starts with a good sized climb directly out of transition. Putting your shoes on while still in transition was the only way to go on this course.

The bike course is a very hilly affair that went out toward Lake Mead. The sprint and intermediate courses shared the same bike course, we just went out farther.

About two miles into the bike I noticed a sprint athlete down on the asphalt on the other side of the street. Look like he wiped out. He must have because just about a minute later there were police cars and ambulances on their way. Bummer!

I was picking off the sprint course riders left and right on the way out but didn’t see any international athletes ahead of me. I know they were out there because about 10 athletes beat me on the swim. Eventually I did pass another guy as he nearly cut directly in front of me at the sprint bike turnaround.

Then another rider, not in my age group, passed me on the bike. It wasn’t hot but it was windy on the bike course, making the hills just that much harder.

My goal was to try to maintain 220 watts on the entire ride but I could tell that wasn’t going to be realistic. I did manage to maintain 213 which is 10 more than my Honu average. 5% isn’t too bad, and amounts to about one mile per hour. Cool!

I took in a lot of fluids on the bike along with a couple of salt tablets. I sipped my Infinit and tried something new (I know I said NEVER try something new on race day but this is just a practice race to get ready for Kona), geranium oil.

I read an article a few months back (I’d quote the source but I don’t remember) that was talking about how geranium oil is better than caffeine for endurance athletes. I didn’t have any adverse effects during the race and seemed to have a caffeine-like boost without the jitters. Here’s mine: Professional Supplements, pure DMAA 1,3 dimethylamylamine in 40 mg capsules. Try it for yourself and let me know.

Since I had taken in so many fluids I had to hit the porta potty on the way out on the run course. I have no idea if any other athletes passed me but I figured I was probably in about 10th place overall at this point.

There was a 41 year old guy ahead of me that I followed for the climb out of transition. I eventually passed him after we hit the dirt road before the turnaround. This is where I had my trouble . . .

I got to the turnaround and grabbed some Heed to drink and poured some water on myself. I was so focused that I guess I missed a sign! Oh no!

My pace on the run was good. I’m guessing I was maintaining about a 7:30 pace even though the course was hilly. On my way back I heard Mark yell out as he was finishing thee bike course. “Hi Mark!”

I followed the signs and oddly came upon the finish line. I thought there must be a different path for the intermediate runners and asked the official at the finish line. I asked where the intermediate course was because I’d only gone about three miles. He said he didn’t’ know and pointed me back on to the course.

I ran about ½ mile back on to the course and asked the police there directing traffic. They had no idea. Obviously, I messed up somewhere.

I ran back to the finish line and heard someone call out “Hey Ron!” It was Jordan, an old member of Triathica.

Turns out, the turnaround was only for the sprint course, not the intermediate course. No one at that turn was giving directions so I blew it there. I should have stopped but didn’t have any reason to think I was going the wrong way. I messed up but the race director should have had someone directing traffic as well. Anyway, that was my first and only DQ in my entire triathlon career! I was so bummed!

Mark did great and finished 1st! Way to go Mark (we’ll leave out the part about him being the only one in his age group)!

So there you go, even a seasoned triathlete like me can blow it. I’ll be back next year to rock the course!


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Cycling and Running Cadence

Does your cadence (the rate at which you complete a pedal or foot stroke) really matter?

cycling and running cadenceIf you’ve ever watched your tri buddies on a bike ride you’ll notice that some of them are spinning really fast while others are spinning really slowly but they’re all going the same speed. Seems weird that there would be a lot of variation but there is.

Everyone is built differently so it’s hard to make generalizations but I’ve read and practiced a bit on the subject and have drawn my own conclusions.

Let me start by saying that I’ve got two top age-group friends that are “mashers” (people that pedal slowly) that race different distances. Russ Jones races mostly sprints and Chris Johnson races mostly Ironmans – both pedal around 80 RPM – and both are extremely strong cyclists. Of course there’s a guy by the name of Lance Armstrong who is a high cadence guy.

Same thing with the run. You’ll see some runners that take huge, slow strides while others take shorter quick steps. Again, it would seem like there would be one optimal way to do it.

Joe Friel in the Triathlete’s Training Bible explains running cadence this way: “If you run a 5km race with an average step length of 1.5 meters and an average cadence of 170 steps (not RPM) per minute, your finish time is 19 minutes, 36 seconds. But if you take three more steps per minute and step length stays the same, you finish 20 seconds faster. Or, if you increase the length of each step by 0.025 meter (about 1 inch) and stride rate remains at 170, your time is improved by 19 seconds. If you are able to accomplish both the faster stride rate and a longer stride, you lop of 39 seconds and have a new personal best of 18:57. Small changes in technique can produce significant results.”

Point taken. Something to give a try.

Here’s my take on it. I try, and usually succeed, at keeping my cadence on the bike, and run, at 90. I find that on the bike it gives me the ability to run “fresher” than if I’m grinding away at a lower cadence. It simply feels better. In fact, in some sprint races I’ll spin even faster and find my final cadence to be closer to 100 than 90!

On the run I regularly count my RPMs so I know I’m right around 90. By taking longer strides I find that I end up with more muscle soreness and more prone to injury. Of course, I’m an aging triathlete so some of you younger folks may not experience this problem, but if you can run efficiently, at any age; it’s going to help you in the long run.

Pay attention to your cadence while cycling and running. Test faster and slower turnover on your rides/runs next week and see what you think. It may be hard at first if you’re cadence is slower but give it a try; it might just help you find a new PR!

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Triathlon Training and Racing in the Wind – The Run

We don’t often think about running in the wind. Doesn’t really seem to be a factor because we don’t have waves to contend with like the swim and we’re not going that fast like we are on the bike. So, does it even matter?

The short answer is “yes.”

When you run and there isn’t any wind you really don’t need to concern yourself with it. The type of clothing you wear won’t matter and you won’t gain anything by drafting another runner. But, when it’s windy you should make some adjustments.

Again, my recent trip to the Big Island really helped me realize how important racing in the wind is. I ran three times during my recent trip there – two out of three in the heat – and all three in the wind.

One day in particular it was very windy. I put my Garmin on and planned to go eight miles that day – four out and four back.

I was really fighting the wind as I headed north out of the Hilton Waikoloa on the Queen K and actually had to lean into the wind to feel like I was making any progress. At times the gusts nearly knocked me off my feet. My goal was to maintain the same level of effort throughout my entire run. That put my heartrate at 160 (mine runs high so don’t worry).cycling and running cadence

The turnaround couldn’t have come soon enough. I made the quick turn and instantly felt the difference . . . I was flying! On the way back I maintained the same 160 heartrate but could really feel the difference in my speed.

Total run time: 59:30
Average pace: 7:26
First four miles: 8:00
Last four miles: 6:52

Wow! That’s a huge difference! See how important knowing how to run effectively in the wind can be.

But what can you really do with the wind? Are you really going to wear one of those slippery, one-piece suits like the speed skaters? Doubtful. Here are a couple things you can do, however:

1. Get mental. Get mentally prepared to run in the wind. Just like the swim and bike it is going to be more difficult so just get ready mentally for it. Know that it’s going to be a little harder and that it’s going to be harder for everyone.
2. Change your goals. Just like my recent Hawaii run, understand that you’re either going to have to increase your effort or decrease your time when you run into the wind. If I had tried to maintain a 7:00 pace into the wind I would have blown up.
3. Don’t expect the same cost/benefit. Like running up and down hills, running into the wind takes more out of you than the benefits you derive by running with the wind.
4. Lean. Lean into the wind to get the benefit of gravity. This pretty much happens naturally and helps you from falling over backward.
5. Draft. That’s right, if you can find another runner that’s going at your goal pace, tuck in behind them. It absolutely works!

You’re ready now, so go find some wind!

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A New Tri Show Is Here

Welcome to the first edition of Triathica’s TriChatter, a show that’s all about triathlon.

About a week ago three triathlon maniacs got together to make history (we hope). My good friends Oguz Yildiz and Sherry Boston Rennard got together to shoot our first weekly show/video/audio podcast.

iTunes PodcastThe purpose of our tri show is to spread the word about triathlon to get more people into the sport and to help those improve their performance that are already hooked.

Your hosts Ron Saetermoe and Sherry Rennard are both certified USA Triathlon coaches and they share their insights into the sport of triathlon in an entertaining way.

In this first show you’ll get to know Ron and Sherry and some of their philosophies of triathlon, their coaching styles and their triathlon

Each week we’ll bring you a new show and provide the audio podcast at www.triathica.com and iTunes the video (in segments) on YouTube.com.

The topics will change each week but will include training and racing tips, interviews, race reports and stories from Ron, Sherry and others. We’ll include guests and will shoot on location to help demonstrate things like proper water entry and transitions. Anyone interested in triathlon can benefit from.

Tune in weekly.


Ron & Sherry

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