January 23, 2018

Anatomy Of 70.3 PR

Okay, so how did I do it? How did I manage to put together the race of my life? Piece of cake!

Training Volume

A key ingredient to race performance is how much you train, and how much you train in each segment. Most people don’t need to worry about training too much but some do. You know the A++ personality.
Primarily two things dictate your training volume: the distance you’re going to race and your age.

The longer the race, the more you’re going to have to train. The younger you are, the more you’re going to have to train. In my mind those are just the facts.

Now my good friend Russ Jones is about to embark on a career in triathlon training and his philosophy is “less is more.” I totally agree with this but race distance and age have a lot to do with it. So I guess if I could modify his philosophy a bit I’d say “Train as little as you have to, to win.” Not as catchy!

Concentrate On Your Weaknesses

I’m a strong believer in training harder on your weaknesses, but relative to your race distances. This generally isn’t appealing because you’re typically strongest at the thing you like to train at the best. For most triathletes that means they lack in their swimming and excel either in cycling or running.

But remember, I said relative to your race distances. In general, the swim comprises 20% of the overall time in sprint and Olympic distance races but only 10% in 70.3 and full Ironman races. So, if you’re not a swimmer, work on it, but not to the detriment of your cycling and running.

Concentrate on your weaknesses. For me that has always been my cycling. Here’s what I did this season: dropped one of my swim workouts (my strength) and picked up another cycling workout.

I now do three CompuTrainer workouts and one long ride each week. This really helps me because the bike portion of the race, no matter what the distance, is generally 50% of your overall time. That means I had a lot of room for improvement.

Training Consistency

Why does everyone think that it’s easier for the top athletes to crawl out of bed at 4:30 in the morning than for everyone else? It’s not! It’s a pain in the ass for all of us.

My typical week has me training seven days a week with a total of 11 distinct workouts (two-a-days on Monday – Thursday).

Don’t get lazy and blow your workouts off. Even if you can’t squeeze your full workout in, do something.

Strength Training

By far I think this is the thing that allowed me to still have legs after pushing so hard on the bike. Yes, I’ve been training really hard on the bike but the weight training has made a huge difference.
We harp on this all the time (especially Jarrett) but I believe it’s true. Naturally, if I have to miss a workout during the week it’s going to be strength session but I haven’t missed many.

Mental Toughness

I never got really competitive in my age group until a few years ago. My athletics were always about trying to stay in shape and hanging out with people that inspire me.

Within the last few years I’ve worked a lot harder at my racing, which has moved me up in the ranks. As a result, when I race I’m more confident.

It also helps that prior to the California 70.3 I had won my age group in the last three races. Granted, they were all small races but it does boost your confidence.


I hate to admit this, but it does get better with age. There were 62 finishers in my age group (M55-59). There were 338 in the M40-44.

Hang around this sport long enough and you’ll eventually qualify for Kona.


Nutrition is critically important to the top triathlete. Oh hell, who am I kidding? I eat like crap. I hate to admit it but I went into this race seven pounds heavier than my ideal race weight and I eat junk food and ice cream on a regular basis.

Does that mean nutrition is overrated? Probably not, but I just don’t pay that much attention to it.
Now, since Ironman Arizona is my “A” race this year I will drop the weight and start eating better. While I’m not sure how much it matters I figure it’s got to be better for me and it’s cheap insurance.

Cheap Insurance

Speaking of cheap insurance, there are a lot of things you can do to help your race, especially your “A” races. Here are a few:

Get new goggles and use defogger. If you can’t see where you’re going on the swim you’ll probably cover a much longer distance.

Have your bike checked. Little things like new tires a new chain or new brakes can make or break a race.
Run in good shoes. One injury and you could be out of commission for an entire season.

See the doc. Dr. Sam Sunshine is my doctor. He’s a family and sports doctor in Foothill Ranch. He’s also a really good triathlete. Sam put me back on track with my Achilles problem and got my body chemistry back in balance.

Check out EFX Performance (www.efxusa.com). Now I’m really not a believer in this kind of stuff but I won the Desert Triathlon and came in 2nd at California with mine on. Does it work? Don’t know, but it’s cheap insurance.

That’s all I can think of at this time. There’s no magic here just hard work, common sense and a little voodoo.



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Interview With Sherry Rennard – Episode 21

Guess who was back with us this week? That’s right, my old sidekick, Sherry Rennard! This week Sherry tells us exactly how she “rocked” the Ironman 70.3 California and got her first Kona slot. Congratulations Sherry!

iTunes Podcast

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Race Report – Ironman 70.3 California, Larry Davidson

The California 70.3, held in Oceanside is a race I have now done 5 times. It is a triathlon that I participate in that is basically in my backyard. I get to sleep in my own bed the night before, and it only takes 25-30 minutes to drive to the start on race morning.

This race “sells out” early every year because it is one of only five half ironman events held around the globe that has entry slots to the Hawaii Ironman. The race also draws some of the best triathletes in the nation, many of whom are “gunning” for their entry into Kona.

Due to the fact that an athlete generally must “win” their age group to garner a Kona Slot, it is definitely a tall order to make that a reality.

2,135 athletes participated in the race this year, and I would be battling it out with 63 other men in the 55-59 year old age group. The competition for me would include last year’s winner, and the runner-up, so I had my work cut out for me.

It was a perfect weather day, except I noticed it was a lot more windy than normal when I arrived in the transition area at 5:40AM. My swim wave was set to go at 7:21AM, so I had time for prepping and getting mentally ready for the 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run that was ahead of me.

Swim: I had one of my worst swims, and I think I did a lot of zigzagging, and swimming off course. The gasket on my swim goggles didn’t hold, so I swam with my left eye shut throughout. I didn’t feel bad in the water, but my swim was not good. I exited the water in 19th place in my age group. Swim time 35’13”.

Bike: I have worked hard to improve my cycling every year, and I am very confident when I get on my Quintana Roo. I know I have to chase guys down on the bike, and that provides me with a lot of motivation. I went hard all day, and was able to average 20.7MPH for the 56 mile effort. It was a very windy day with most of the time spent, fighting it head on.

I got off the bike in 7th place, with 8th and 9th right on my heels. I had the 4th fastest bike time in my age group. Bike time 2h42’34”.

Larry Ironman 70.3 CaliforniaRun: I can bike pretty well, but running is my weapon. I wasted no time in transition, and now I was off to run quick and catch the 6 guys in front of me. I caught 6th, 5th, and 4th in the first 3 miles. I caught my friend Ron who was in 3rd at about mile 4 and wished him well. It took me till about mile 8 to catch the 2nd place guy. When I approached him, he said: “Larry, I am in 2nd place”, I told him: “Mark, you WERE in 2nd place”. I had one more guy to catch, and I just kept going as hard as I could. I had to stop 3 times on the run to clear a hamstring cramp, so that was annoying. I ran out of real estate, and came in 2nd place; 1’44” behind the winner. I had the fastest run in my age group. Run time 1h36’39”.

My takeaways:

1. I had a great race, and I am blessed to be able to participate in these types of events
2. I am blessed to have a supportive wife who encourages me in my passion
3. I am blessed with terrific friends who I train with (mostly S&Q; you know who you are!)
4. I need to learn to swim straight, the winner beat me by almost 8’ on the swim
5. I need to work harder to improve on my swim ability
6. I need to transition faster, the winner was 45” faster in the swim to bike transition
7. I am 100% jazzed for my friend Gary who won the 60-64 age group and is going to Kona!

I won a slot to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Lake Las Vegas in September. There were only 2 slots in my age group for that race, and the winner and I took them. Below are a few shots from the race taken by my buds Oguz and Ben.



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Race Report – Ironman 70.3 California, Ron Saetermoe

I gave myself four chances to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in 2011. My first opportunity was Ironman Arizona in November last year. Ironman 70.3 California would be my second.
Qualifying at Cal would be tough. I took second last year but I also had the race of my life! There were two really great athletes “aging up” this year and last year’s winner would be back again. I figured it would be a race among four. I was right!

Having completed five Ironman distance races and not being completely satisfied with any of my performances, I’ve changed up my training this year to hopefully yield some better results. This year my training has mostly been in my aerobic zone which simply means I will burn more fat as fuel than carbohydrates. The concept is burning more fat will help be avoid the dreaded “bonk” when I get to the run.

All year I’ve been right on my training plan. Logging un-Godly miles in the pool, on the bike and on the run. Since it was mostly LSD (long slow distance) the efforts seemed easy and the chance of injury slim. I feel like my endurance is good but haven’t felt particularly strong or fast.

My early season has been good. I performed well at my two half marathons and won my age group at the Desert Triathlon, but 70.3 is a different beast. Last year I had a good swim and the fastest bike split and a good run. This year I hoped to be able to improve on my bike split because of the miles I’ve turned in and that would translate into a good run split.

I caught a bit of a cold prior to the race and had to go on a quick trip to chilly Chicago just before the race. I’m not sure if that had an impact on my race because I felt good race morning.

Like the evening before most big races I find it hard to sleep. I tossed and turned and finally gave up at 3:00 a.m. and got up. Downed some carbs, got dressed and headed down to Oceanside.

Got there early and got a good parking spot. My pal Mark Arenal wasn’t too far behind so we rode in darkness the 1 ½ miles to the transition area. Even though I was early there were already four bikes in my rack. I guess us old guys don’t have much else to do!

Men 55+ were in wave 14 which went off at 7:21. My other pals Larry (Lar Dog) Davidson and Gary Clendenin and I went into the long corral for the swim start. We got some great news race morning – the water temperature was 62 degrees! Warm enough that I didn’t need to wear my neoprene cap. Yipee!

We made our way to the boat ramp which is where we entered the water to swim out to the deep water swim start and there’s another pal of mine, Russ Jones, encouraging us on.

Just a quick aside. It really does mean a lot to most of us athletes to have our friends and family at these races. Also there was Scott Callender (out for the season due to a broken collar bone and wrist) and Oguz Yildiz, my partner in Triathica. Thanks to all for coming out!

Anyway, Gary and I started next to each other at the front of our wave. Gary is also a very good swimmer so I was hoping to get on his heels for the swim.

The gun went off (actually I think it was a siren) and Gary took off like a bat out of hell! I wondered if I’d be able to stay on his heels! We all settled into a nice pace and I actually pulled ahead of Gary fairly early.

Because of the spacing between our waves, and because I’m one of the better swimmers, it was nearly impossible to find anyone to draft off of. No worries, I did the swim entirely on my own.

The traffic on the swim got more intense as I neared the first turn buoy but then it cleared up again. No incidents on the swim. A good start for the day.

When you exit the swim you run up the same boat ramp where you entered then there’s a long run to the transition area down a narrow chute. I managed to pass a couple people in the shoot and had a smooth, but not particularly fast, T-1.

The beginning of the bike was fast. We had the wind behind us and the course was flat. This is my specialty. I like it flat with no wind. These are conditions where it is difficult to beat me.

This part of the course is very familiar to me because I usually ride it about once a week. This really does give you an advantage over the athletes that don’t know the course. That’s why I always suggest you get as familiar as you can with a course before you race it – even if you’re not a contender.

The race makes a right turn into the Camp Pendleton Marine Base and becomes quite hilly. Whenever I’m on the base I think of my father (he passed away in 1980 from cancer) as he was a private in the Marines here during World War II.

Now the wind that was at our backs was in our faces, and we had to contend with the hills too – not my specialty!

At this point I figured I was near the front, probably in 2nd place. It was right about that time that I got passed by one of the guys I’d figured would be a factor; Mark Stoner (what a great last name!). He shot past me at about mile 30 going up the biggest hill of the course. He’s a small guy with an amazing power-to-weight ratio.

Now I figured I was in 3rd.

I tried to push it on the bike but as I said it just doesn’t seem like my training was giving me the power and speed I had at Kona last year.

T-2 was slow for me as I struggled to put on my socks. The #1 guy, Kim McDonald, beat my T-2 time by nearly a minute. In this tight of a race you just can’t afford to give up that kind of time.

I had tried to pee on the bike but haven’t mastered that particular skill so I had to stop at the exit of T-2 and I was passed by a guy named Jeff. So right there, between my slow T-2 and my pee, I gave up two minutes.

I felt pretty good starting out on the run. The sky was overcast and the temperature was 60-something. The run course is mostly flat and goes along the ocean. A two-lap course that allows you to see your competition (and your friends) several times when you’re out there.

As I headed out on the run I heard someone yell my name. It was Scott. I asked where Larry was and he said he was behind me. Okay, so McDonald and Stoner were ahead of me and Larry just behind me. There’s your four-horse race!

It took Larry about three miles to catch me on the run but when he did he blew by me! I saw McDonald on the course so I checked my time and estimated how far he was ahead of me. Almost exactly at that time Larry passed me and I told him that McDonald was about 5:30 ahead of us. Larry said “That’s too much” and pressed on.

I was shooting for a 7:30 pace and managed to keep that for most of the run but it fell off eventually. I thought I could close the gap on Stoner but the reality is that I didn’t close the gap very much. I coasted the last several miles on the run making sure no one passed me in my age group.

I crossed the finish line and felt good, but not great, about my performance. I took 4th place and actually bettered my swim and run splits from last year. But the combination of the headwinds and lack of power training gave me a significantly slower bike.

The really great news of the day is that my good pal Gary Clendenin won his age group and earned his Kona slot – his 1st time! All of us were very happy for him.

Sherry Rennard and Max Biessmann also got their Kona slots. Congratulations to you all!

I’ve still got two more chances to earn a Kona slot this year: Ironman St. George, where I’ll be racing Larry and Mark Stoner again, and the Honu 70.3 . . .

Ron Saetermoe

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