February 24, 2018

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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Race Report – Desert Triathlon

Personally, I love to race. I love the preparation for the race, the excitement just before the gun goes off, the fitness I gain from it and the camaraderie with my pals. My Olympic distance race on Sunday, March 6th would exceed all my expectations.

I had very mixed emotions going into this race. I was very happy that my good pal Larry (Lar Dog) Davidson and I would be racing together again, but I was bummed because another good pal, Scott Callender crashed on his bike a week before and broke his collarbone and elbow and wouldn’t be racing. Get well soon pal!

Lar Dog came by the house at 4:30 a.m. race day morning to pick me up. It’s only about a two-hour drive out to La Quinta and the conversation was great on the way, so the time went fast. While Larry and I are fierce competitors we also support each other and hope we each get the best performance race day – win or lose.

The weather was perfect. The sky was clear (unlike last year where it was cold, windy and rainy), and the air was still. The temperature would max out around 80 so you couldn’t ask for better weather.

We pulled into the parking lot about 6:45 and had to park out on the far end. No worries, we tossed our backpacks on and rode to the race start.

There was absolutely no line at packet pick-up so we breezed through that and actually got good rack space in the transition area.

A quick potty stop and warm up and the race start was upon us. Normally, I get to the race site a couple hours before the race starts and fidget but this time it felt like “butter.”

Just prior to the race I like to get wet. For those of you that are interested in what this veteran of the sport does before the race, pay attention. I like to get into the water prior to the start of the race to get used to the temperature. Even though the water was a relatively warm 65 degrees it still comes as a shock. You can’t always get in early but when I can I do.

After I’m in the water I swim a couple hundred yards – yep, not just 10 or 20. Most of them are easy but I do a couple bursts of speed to get my blood pumping. Getting used to the water and doing a couple quick intervals seems to help me avoid hyperventilating when I start.

Then, I frequently pee in my wetsuit . . . helps keep you warm. If others say they don’t they’re lying!
Back to the race. Lar Dog and I were in the very last of nine waves. I don’t mind starting last except that I’m a pretty good swimmer and have to pass a lot of people ahead of me. Oh well, everyone in my age group has to deal with the same thing.

I lined up behind a hulking guy to the right. I was hoping he’d be fast because he was confident enough to line up in front. Wrong!

The gun went off and I took off quite quickly, but within myself. Only experience and practice can tell you how fast you should start. The pace I started with hurt a little but I settled into a fast, comfortable groove quickly.
I had two other swimmers in front of me I was following but they got too far ahead of me to draft off of. No worries, clear water was fine with me.

I was about halfway to the first turn buoy when I started catching up to the previous wave that went off three minutes before ours. From this point on I’d be passing people all the way to the swim finish.

One of the tricks to swimming fast in open water is to try to keep your head down while going as straight as possible. I quite literally count my strokes when I’m racing. In the beginning I’ll count four cycles (left and right), then stretch that out as I get my bearings and things settle down. Eventually I’ll try to count up to eight cycles then sight. As I get closer to a turn buoy or the finish I shorten that back up again. So I’m counting the entire swim.
About halfway back I was swimming side-by-side with another guy in my wave (I could tell because his swim cap was the same color as mine). As we reached the final turn buoy I turned it on and dropped him.

Another little trick I do when I come to the swim finish is swim right up until my hands hit the bottom of the lake/ocean/river, before I jump up. It’s faster but you may run into some other folks.

As I exited the lake my heart rate was up there but I felt good. Stripped off my cap and goggles and half of my wetsuit before I got to the transition area. I had some trouble getting my wetsuit all the way off because it hung-up on my timing chip. That would cost me five seconds.

Ran through transition with my bike. The bike mount area is on a hill so it’s a little more challenging than most races. I put my bike in the right gear before the start so that was fine but when I got out there was a lot of traffic at the mount line. It took me two tries to get on my bike and start pedaling. There goes another five seconds!

I like to clip my cycling shoes into my pedals prior to the start and put my shoes on while in motion. I’m not sure how much time this really saves but I do it anyway. It is a little tricky so I waited until I was on flat pavement before I actually put them on. A guy just ahead of me was obviously doing the same thing for the first time because he was weaving all over the road.

Since I won this same race last year I had a pretty good idea how hard I should push on the bike. The problem is that Lar Dog didn’t race last year and I figured he’d be my main competitor this year. My goal was to keep my wattage around 200 (I have an Ergomo power meter on my bike) and monitor my heart rate to make sure it didn’t go too high.

I started out a bit fatigued because I haven’t’ really been training at such high wattage yet this year but pushed on because my heart rate was within an acceptable range (165).

I eventually caught up to one of my training buddies, Julia Juliusson. Julia is an amazing triathlete and “podiumed” at the world sprint championships last year. We chatted a little and did most of the remaining bike ride together. She passed me on the bridge on the way back into the park.

My second transition was fast and I was out on the run in just over a minute. As usual, my legs were a bit confused about going around for over an hour and now going up and down, but I got into a groove pretty quickly.
The run is two loops around Lake Cahuilla and it totally flat. Some of it is off-road but not too bad.

A tall, lean 38 year-old guy was just ahead of me and going at a good pace so I tucked in behind him. We were moving along pretty well, passing other runners. Eventually, I caught back up to Julia and gave her a few encouraging words, and she did the same.

Then, I ran into another good pal of mine Al Gaspari. He was laboring but in good spirits.

As I started on my second loop of the run the aid station was busy and not very organized. I wanted water but no one was ready so they shouted “down there.” I ran a few more steps only to see that there wasn’t anyone there handing out water. Not feeling like I could wait until the next aid station I stopped and ran back. There goes another 15 seconds, and Julia!

I passed Julia again and shared my plight with her and ran on. I was going at a good clip because I knew Lar Dog was back there stalking me. I looked over my shoulder around the 5-mile mark but didn’t see him.
On the way back now and feeling strong. One last glance over my shoulder for Lar Dog and on to the sand that leads to the finish.

Not seeing anyone around me that was an immediate threat I cruised to the finish. As soon as I finished I turned and looked behind me and there was Lar Dog. He was only seconds behind me! Thank God it didn’t turn into a sprint finish!

We congratulated each other on a good race and met Julia and Al who were also close at hand. Paul (noted below) is one of the athletes I train. He also had a great showing!

A really great day!

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San Dieguito Half Marathon

If you want to race fast you’ve got to train fast. No, I didn’t make that up but I do believe it’s true.

All of my training these days is focused on Ironman but whether you’re training for a sprint distance triathlon or an Ironman you should be incorporating some speedwork with your other training.

For me, running races are the best way to improve my running speed. And since I’m training for Ironman St. George, my distance of choice is the ½ marathon.

On Sunday, February 13th I ran the San Dieguito ½ Marathon down in beautiful Rancho Sante Fe (in San Diego county). It’s a hilly course on blacktop through a wonderful residential area.

This year there were four of us that made the pilgrimage: Larry (Lar Dog) Davidson, Scott Callender and Sara Gilles. All of us pretty decent triathletes. Larry qualified for Kona once, Sara twice and me once (Scott’s going to qualify this year).

The thing is, since we’re all triathletes we don’t expect podium positions in running races because we’re competing against some folks that are pure runners. So whenever you fare well in a running race you’re doing quite good.

It was crisp but clear race morning. We parked a couple blocks away from San Dieguito State Park and picked up our race bibs and shirts. The start is below the park which is probably a ½ mile walk. The funny thing is each step closer to the start the colder it got!

I learned a little trick years ago from Lar Dog to help in these situations – maybe it will help you too. I bring a “throwaway” shirt/sweatshirt with me to the start. Either just before the race starts, or just after, I toss it. That way I can stay warmer and if I don’t retrieve the shirt later, no loss.

Another element made this race fun: Michellie Jones and Joanna Zieger were racing as well. We knew they’d be fast, and they were with Joanna taking 1st and Michellie taking 2nd in the F40-44 age group!

The gun went off at 8:00 a.m. and we all started fast because the first mile or so is downhill. First mile pace was around 6:30 – way faster than I’d be doing on this hilly course.

The pace felt fast but my goal was to try to manage the race based on my heartrate rather than any particular pace. I tried to maintain my heartrate within the 165 and 175 range with an average of 170.

Naturally, going downhill your heartrate would drop but that also gives you an opportunity to pick up the pace. Just the reverse going uphill.

At about the one mile mark Larry and Scott started to pull away. Since I’m not in either of their age-groups I let them go (like I had a choice!). From that point on there were a group of us all going about the same speed. One of us would pull ahead for a while then someone else would take the lead. While we weren’t talking at all we were all on the same mission.
Shortly after the first mile the queen of England was standing there cheering everyone on holding her dog. Maybe it wasn’t the actual queen but it sure looked like it.

Right along the same spot was the beer station. You could choose water or beer – no kidding! Larry grabbed some beer and instantly spit it out. Guess he didn’t hear they were handing out beer.

The second mile was entirely uphill. It seemed like that hill would never end. The good thing is that we’d have that same hill to help us on the way home. At this point I noticed my heart rate hit a high of 178. I backed off a little to get it back into my range.

I’m not going to lie to you, it was painful. I did the Southern California ½ Marathon a couple weeks before but that course was nearly flat – this was anything but!

Like a lot of races, I had periods where I didn’t think I could take another step and others where I felt great – and the great periods weren’t always on the downhill. It’s funny how these races go.

Just before the turnaround I saw Scott and he looked great; running like a gazelle (a 6’3” gazelle)! Scott gave a wave and a shout. Just behind him was Larry. Larry gave no acknowledgement at all. No worries, he was focused.

Once I get into a groove the miles seem to click by. I can usually get into this trance-like mode after about six miles. Rather than the seven minutes or so that it takes per mile they seem to fly by in a matter of seconds.

My group and I were still chugging along. My miles ranged from about 6:30 to about 7:30. I was doing the calculations in my head and was hoping I could beat my time here by a couple minutes. Seemed like my chances were good.

The long steep downhill at mile 12 felt great. The final mile? Not so much! All uphill my heartrate hit 178 again. Oh well, nearly there.

The finish was great with lots of race fans there to cheer you on. A race I’d highly recommend to anyone.

Final tally:

Scott Callender (1:28:39, 6:46 pace, a PR on this hard course good for 9th out of 99 guys M45-49 – 1:30:58 last year)
Lar Dog (1:30:59, 6:57 pace, good for 5th out of 99 guys M50-54 – 1:33:55 last year)
Ron (1:33:57, 7:10 pace good for 2nd out of 52 guys M55-59 – 1:37:12 last year)
Sara (1:37:40, 7:27 pace, good for 14th out of 135 gals F40-44 – 1:39:38 last year)



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Race Report, SoCal ½ Marathon, Ron Saetermoe

Swimming arm positionThis time of the year is great for shaking off the cobwebs and getting out there and doing some running. The ½ marathon is my favorite distance to race because it allows me to go fast while improving my endurance. And while a lot of people enjoy doing marathons I find that it takes me too long to recover from them to make them beneficial to my Ironman training.

This year the SoCal ½ marathon was going to be different. In prior years I’d done quite a bit of speed-work prior to my race but I haven’t done any speed-work since September last year. This was going to be interesting.

I had a ½ marathon PR last year averaging 7:00 pace (1:31:57/8th place in the M50-54 division) and felt great. Something to shoot for but giving the fact that my training was different and that I’d gained eight pounds from my racing weight, I wasn’t expecting much.

No matter what happened it was going to be a great day. I was surrounded by my pals Al Gaspari and Stan Gertler. Our goal was to finish in around a 7:00 pace so we were united.
We hung together from the moment the gun went off, but it wasn’t easy. A 7:00 pace was faster than I’d run in the last four months. I didn’t even want to look at my heart rate monitor . . . but I did . . . 175!

Now a lot of people would be headed for the emergency room with a heart rate that high but since my max is 200 I was still okay . . . laboring badly but still okay.

I told the guys I didn’t know how long I’d be able to hold it but I’d give it my best. I’m not sure if they were feeling as bad as I was but I was trying not to show it. In fact at one point Al said I was looking good! I guess I’m quite an actor.

The first miles went by very slowly for me. The race begins in Irvine’s Woodbridge area which is quite beautiful and mostly flat. The only real hills are those going up and down the overpasses. And while it’s pretty flat there are a lot of turns. In one sense it’s nice because you get to see all the other runners, in another it’s not as fast as it could be.

The three of us hung together until about mile six. That’s when Al succumbed to a slightly slower pace. He waved at us as if to say “You guys go get ‘em.” So Stan and I labored on.
While I was getting quite tired the miles did seem to go by faster. The personnel at the aid stations were great, giving the athletes everything their bodies and spirits needed.

As an aside, in a race as short as this, I only drink water and don’t take any solid food or gels. I can’t seem to get anything other than liquids down anyway.

Stan and I were coming up on mile 10 and I had a really strong urge to pee, and the porta potties were coming up on the right. I was having a good race – right on pace – so I didn’t want to stop and decided I’d go as far as I could without stopping, knowing full well that I may need to find a tree along the way.

As we blew by the porta potty the urge suddenly left. Cool! We pressed on.

Last year Stan won the M55-59 age group with a 1:33:04 (7:06 pace). This year it was hard to tell where we were among the other racers but we were definitely beating Stan’s pace from last year. We were holding right at 7:00 pace.

Stan pulled slightly ahead of me around mile 10 but I still had him in my sights. It was around mile 11 that I caught back up to him again. Stan asked if I had found someone better looking to run with.

We ran to mile 12 together and I was doing everything I could to hang on, but Stan was still talking. I knew Stan had me today.

At mile 12 Stan turned it on and was gone. I had nothing to answer with and wished him well.
At the finish Stan had turned in a 1:31:39 (7:00 pace) and quite a bit faster than last year. Sadly, there were some faster guys there this year so his efforts only got him 4th. I finished in 1:31:59 in 5th place. I was never so happy to see the finish line of a race. I definitely gave it everything I had.

And Al? He had a pretty good race too and finished in 1:33:42 (7:09) pace. Not bad predictions all in all. We shot for 7:00 and finished in 7:00/7:01/7:09.

Thanks Stan and Al for a really great day! I couldn’t have turned in the effort I did without you!


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Ironman Arizona 2010 Race Report – Ron Saetermoe

Ironman ArizonaBackground
Ironman Arizona has been my “A” race all year. I’ve been training hard for it for a year and have had some great success in the run-up to the race. In April I took second at Ironman 70.3 California (half Ironman) only a little over a minute back from first place. Then in June I did the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii and earned a coveted slot to the Ironman World Championships in Kona.

Needless to say, my plans changed when I won my Kona slot. Now, all of a sudden, I needed to adjust my training to prepare for Kona, then to come back from that race and taper again for Ironman Arizona (IMAZ).

The problem is that when I got back from Kona I got sick. Nothing serious, just a nasty cold. Ordinarily no big deal but with only six weeks between these events this would make things a little more difficult.

I have several workouts I do on a regular basis and I monitor my heart rate during them. Generally speaking, if you can do the same workout and maintain a lower heart rate, you’re getting more fit. I watched my heart rate continue to drop pre-Kona but when I started working out again after Kona my heart rate was running 20 beats higher than pre-Kona! Okay Houston, we have a problem!
I adjusted my training as much as I dared but knew I wouldn’t be in the shape for IMAZ that I wanted to be in. Didn’t matter, I was going to give it everything I had on race day.

There are two primary reasons for me selecting IMAZ again (third year in a row): it’s only a 5.5 hour ride from home and the bike and run courses are relatively flat. The only flatter course is Ironman Florida which I have no desire to do.
The drive out was uneventful and the hotel nice and cheap! Thursday night I had dinner at Kings Fish House with Dr. Scott Neubauer. Scott helped me work out some of my kinks prior to IM Kona. Scott is a two-time IM Kona qualifier and is a great chiropractor so if you’ve got some kinks, go see Scott. http://www.coastalhealthandfitness.com/

Friday I went for a short bike ride and transition run. The weather was perfect but was going to cool off for race day. I went down to the Expo and met Rene Rodarte, another OC guy in my age group and some of his friends. We got checked in and had our race numbers and age stamped on our bodies. They certainly didn’t have their stuff together because we waited in line over an hour. In Kona this took five minutes!

Later that night was the athlete’s welcome dinner. If you’ve been to one of these affairs you can certainly miss it but since we already paid for it, what the heck! Rene, Rob Hogan and Tim Kliegle (both in my age group too) and Tim’s friend, Laura sat together while we loaded on carbs. We all bolted prior to the “mandatory” athlete’s meeting. Again, nothing ever new in these speeches but if you’ve never been, you should go.

My goal Saturday was to stay off my feet as much as possible. Saturday was also the only day they would let us swim in Tempe Town Lake so I took advantage of it. I took my bike for a quick spin to make sure everything was still working correctly (thanks to Russ Jones for loaning me his race wheels once again), and checked it, and my bike transition and run transition stuff in.

After that Rene and I went for a quick swim and discussed race strategy. I decided to line up where the most traffic, and draft, would be – close to the buoys. While I don’t recommend this for newbies or weaker swimmers, I do believe if you can survive it you will get a better draft.

After our quick dip I went back to the hotel to relax. I napped and returned some emails.

Later that night Scott and another friend of mine, Roy Nesbitt, went back to Kings to finish filling the tank for race day. I was getting excited and was full of expectation.

Sunday morning was finally here. It’s funny when you sign up for these events a full year in advance it doesn’t ever seem like they’re going to get here, then all of a sudden . . .

I woke at 3:30 and took a quick shower. Ate my breakfast of cottage cheese with walnuts and blueberries, toast with peanut butter and OJ. Hit the rest room, finished packing and was on my way.

I arrived at the race site about 4:45. It was chilly. Much colder than it had been, and there was some wind. I’ve learned to over-dress race morning because it just isn’t any fun being cold before jumping into a 60 degree lake!

I made my way to the bike corral. I really want to thank Brad (another guy in my age-group and the only guy to beat me on the swim) for the use of his pump and actually helping me pump my tires up. Sounds silly that it takes two full-grown men to pump up a bicycle tire but you haven’t seen Russ’ tires.

As I finished setting up I noticed the guy at bike #2004. It was Miroslav Vrastil. I spoke to him briefly and he told me that IMAZ would be his 20th Ironman this year and would attempt to do two more! Now that’s an Ironman!

We all donned our wetsuits, dropped off our morning clothes and headed down to the race start. It was still dark.

The Swim
If you read my race report from IMAZ last year you’ll know I had some problems (to say the least). I wasn’t about to make the same mistakes this year. While they were allowing people to get into the water 20 minutes ahead of the start I waited until about 12 minutes before. Treading water at 6:45 a.m. in 60 degree water isn’t that much fun.

I made my way near the front of the group near the buoys as I’d planned. It got very crowded, very quickly. We were being held back by guys in kayaks so we wouldn’t screw up the pro start which was at 6:50.

The pro cannon went off and they were gone. It was just beginning to get light.
After the pros left we were allowed to move up to the start line. Now it was getting very congested and hard to tread water. It didn’t seem to take long and our cannon went off.

These mass swim starts are really something to behold . . . from the shore! When you’re in it you’re wondering how anyone survives! 2,800 people all starting at the same time. Basically, you’re swimming on top of people and they’re swimming on top of you.

You know it’s going to be rough for the first 500 yards or so, so you just hang in there and hope for some clear water. While I’m a “good” swimmer I’m not a “great” swimmer which means I’m not going to be in the lead pack. What it does mean is that there will be plenty of traffic around me for the entire swim.
The first 500 yards were tough with some getting kicked and punched. I took one really good shot to my left eye that nearly knocked my goggles all the way off (note to newbies: always put your goggles on BEFORE you put on your swim cap). I stopped and put them back on and continued.

It’s hard to get into any kind of rhythm when you’re being jostled but I managed to find a groove once I was able to break free of the box I was in. It’s funny what you think about when you’re actually doing one of these. I remember thinking about what a nice town Tempe was and how lucky I was to be there. A sort of calm.

The turns were effortless. We were going in a counter-clockwise loop with just two left turns.

There was good clear water on the return and I managed to catch a couple of short drafts off other swimmers. You think it would be easy to draft since there are so many people at these races but I seem to have a problem finding someone that’s going the exact speed I want to go. I can’t say as much for the person drafting off of me. They kept hitting my toes about ½ the way back. Well, good for them!

The swim exit is a little gnarly. They’ve got a nice set of stairs to help you get out of the lake but the problem is the first step is only two inches from the top of the water. In other words, you have to hike yourself up to the first step. There were people on the stairs to help you but it isn’t easy.

Once you get out of the water there is a long line of wetsuit strippers. Next time I volunteer I’m going to take this duty! I bypassed them because I actually think it takes longer if you have them do it.

Good swim. 1:02:38. 2nd place of 84 guys that started. 97 were registered but I guess 13 didn’t start.

Transition #1 (T-1)
I stripped my wetsuit down to my waist and ran, which seemed like ½ mile, to the area where the bike bags were lined up. The woman there had my bag waiting for me as I arrived.

From there you enter the changing tent. I was lucky because I got a VERY enthusiastic guy to help me. He popped open my bike bag and spilled everything on the floor and yanked my wetsuit off. I quickly put on my socks, my cycling shoes and helmet and I was off to my bike.

Generally, I’m one of the faster guys in transition and today wouldn’t be any different. 5:05. 2nd fastest of the day.

The Bike

Normally, because the bike course is relatively flat, this is an easy leg of the race. Not so today. It was windy all day and it rained heavily at one point.
My goal today was to maintain 190 watts on my bike. Watts are measured by a special computer you can buy that keeps track of your cadence, speed and the power you are actually applying to the pedals. I maintained 200 watts at Kona so I figured if I dialed that back to 190 I would have more success with the run.
I knew right away that 190 wouldn’t be possible. I’m not quite sure if that was because I wasn’t fully recovered or if my watt meter doesn’t account for the wind. Regardless, it was a tough bike ride.

As I was about to finish my first loop a tri buddy of mine Stu Lowndes was standing on the corner held up one finger (no, not that one!) and shouted that I was in first place. Cool, I was having a really good day!

I made the loop and saw Stu on the other side of the road now shouting out words of encouragement. It really means a lot to us athletes to have our friends and family there.

Off to the second loop. The roads were starting to get more crowded now because the course is three loops and some of the slower swimmers were coming on to the course. There was a little drafting but I only saw one guy get nailed and he was quite obvious.

The “out and back” course is uphill down the Beeline Highway and the wind was fierce. I predicted a finish time of 5:15 but that simply wasn’t going to be possible today.

I made the second loop still in first place but I was working hard. It was on this loop that the rain really came down. It came down so hard I had to lift the visor on my aero helmet so I could see. Fortunately, it didn’t last too long.
It was inevitable, I finally got passed by Miroslav – and he BLEW by me! I didn’t attempt to hang on.

On to loop three and Stu let me know that I was in fact in second place now but not far behind. I yelled out that I was losing ground on him and would just let him go.

The rest of the bike was hard but uneventful . . . other than my crotch was aching. Hey, you try riding a bike for 5+ hours!

Then, at mile 110 or so, I got passed again. This guy also blew by me but it took him 110 miles to catch me.

Okay, so I’m doing the math now. There are going to be just two Kona slots in my age group but Miroslav got his already at Ironman Wisconsin. That means if I can take second or third place I’m in. Okay, let’s have a good run.
Good bike for such a hard day. 5:37:27. 3rd overall and I’m in 3rd place.

If nothing else, I’m fast in transition. The “bike catchers” grabbed my bike and I ran to get my run bag. Again, the volunteers were totally on their game. I ran to the changing tent and got another very enthusiastic helper.

He dumped my bag on the floor and yanked off my helmet as I put my running shoes, hat and sunglasses on.

Good transition. 1:25 the fasted of all the racers. We call this “free speed” because you don’t have to elevate your heart rate to get faster at it. Just practice.

I actually caught the 2nd place guy and passed him out of transition. I’m now in 2nd place.

The Run
This is where the race gets tough for everyone.

My goal for the run was to start out at an 8:35 per mile pace and see if I could hold it. 8:35 would put me at a 3:45 marathon pace – good enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

My first mile? 8:35. My heart rate? 150. Perfect. Only 25.2 more to go!
The bad news is that the guy that passed me at mile 110 on the bike, passed me on the run.

I held my pace for another mile but it wasn’t going to hold because of the wind again. Running down one side of that lake you had the wind right in your face and it does slow you down. Oh well, so I wasn’t going to qualify for Boston here today. Bigger goals in mind now.

Most of the run course goes up and down Tempe Town Lake and is fairly flat. There are some hills when you come to bridges but there is really only one hill to speak of. When your legs are fresh none of the hills seem bad at all. When they’re not . . .

The run course is also three loops which is good, and bad. It’s good because you can see your friends. It’s bad because it gets kinda boring.
I saw Stu on the run course and he ran alongside me for a short time and told me I was in 3rd (he was looking all this up on his smart phone at www.ironmanlive.com) but that there was some dude coming strong from behind at a 7:40 pace. NO WAY!!!

Oh well, I was going as fast as I could and managed to hold on to 3rd place until mile 11. That’s when the wheels fell off! I used the porta potty and felt a little dizzy. I got out and started to walk a bit. I was toast!

From this point on my goal was to run as much as possible and walk the aid stations. The walks became progressively longer.

It’s very disheartening knowing your race is falling apart. The will was there, the cardio was there but the legs were not.

At this point you just have one goal in mind: to finish. That’s what I did. I give the guys that beat me a lot of credit. It was a very tough day. A really good day for me, for a while.

Disappointing run. 4:36:33. Good enough for 8th place and 8th place overall.

Post Race
I don’t know if I would have done anything different. I held back on the bike and only averaged 167 watts. Much lower than the 190 I was planning on.
I’m not sure if I was fully recovered from Kona or my cold or simply not fit enough to run a marathon that day. Don’t know.

Yes, I’m disappointed. The Kona slots went to William Ankele the guy that passed me on the bike at mile 110 (1st place) and Konstantin Preradovic (3rd place) that passed me on the run. Miroslav took second place but already had his Kona slot.

And while it is a disappointing finish for me, it only inspires me to double my efforts next time (after a couple Double-Doubles from In & Out Burger).
If you’re interested in what us anal-retentive types do to analyze our race results, drop me an email and I’ll send you my spreadsheet.



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Ron’s 2010 Ironman World Championship Race Report

Ron race startI couldn’t help but think that it was a force greater than me, pulling me toward the finish line of the 2010 Ironman World Championship. It was like gravity . . . or perhaps delirium.
It was nothing less than a 27 year dream to do that race and it seemed so big, but yet so insignificant. Much like the birth of a child. To its parents it’s such a huge event, but in the scheme of things, sort of a non-event (there are over six billion of us after all).

I’ve had a pretty good run leading up to my first Ironman World Championships (IMWC). I managed to podium in most of my triathlons and even in a couple running races. As a result, I was feeling strong and confident. Not confident that I would have a miraculous race, but confident that I could “race.”

I subscribe to a three-week taper before an Ironman. For a guy my age I feel that this timeframe works best. If you’re younger, I think you can get away with less but I’m a M55-59, so . . .

During my taper I started to feel sluggish and weak. This is normal but it is disconcerting. You feel like all of the hard work you’ve put in during the prior months is going to disappear. Personally, I think it’s your brain acting as a governor for your body, purposely holding you back so you can do your best on race day.

I stuck to my training plan (the formula created by me for Triathica), even though it was difficult to hold back from training more.

It was important to me to seek the assistance, advice and support of several key people in my network:

• Genny Saetermoe: My mom and great friend. While I know she really didn’t want to go to Kona she did it for me. What we won’t do for our children.
• Steven Saetermoe: My son — becoming a wonderful young man of whom I’m extremely proud — also came along.
• Lar Dog, Larry Davidson: A great triathlete and student of the sport. He’s always very free with his best advice, even if we’re competing.
• Chris Johnson: Having qualified and competed at IMWC 15 straight times, you’d be foolish to ignore his advice.
• Russ Jones: A guy who puts it all on the line more than anyone I know. Even though he’s a short-course guy, he’s loaded with great advice.
• Scott Neubauer: Worked on a tender knee before my race.
• Jamie Flores: Kept things going at my company while I was away
• Mark Arenal: A great friend and training partner came along for the ride of my life. Mark worked numerous volunteer jobs at the race all day Friday and Saturday.

Race Week
Easy 2,000 yard swim in the morning at 24 Hour Fitness Monday, October 4th. Mom and I flew out on American Airlines later that afternoon. I upgraded our seats so we went in style! Crappy service at Alamo but we got a new Cadillac . . . perhaps not the most stylish but a very fun land yacht.

We got in late Monday so we just went to the condo I’ve rented several times before from John, a retired UAL pilot. He’s always very gracious and reasonably priced. (Side note: Mark Allen stayed in the same development and gave me some race day advice.)

Tuesday was extremely hectic because we wanted to get as much of the “stuff” out of the way that we could. Registration, picked up bike from Tri Bike Transport, swam, grocery shopping, etc. How my 80 year old mother keeps up I have no idea. Guess that’s where my Ironman genes come from.

One of the members of the KQ (Kona Quest) team, Art Sosa qualified just weeks before IMWC at IM Canada. He and I took a ride out to Hawi. Nice, but it sure seemed to be a long way. We didn’t get home until after dark.

Wednesday’s concentration was on “hanging loose.” I did a nice swim down at the pier with the guy I beat out for my Kona slot; Charlie Brockus (thanks Charlie!). We followed that up with a 60-minute bike ride . . . at least that was my plan.

We got about 10 miles from town on the Queen K and Charlie flatted. Problem was this wasn’t a puncture; it was a 2” slash. All the Fix A Flat in the world wasn’t going to fix that! No spare, and I didn’t offer mine (hey, not with my race coming up).

He decided to walk even though I urged him to let me hitch him a ride. I took off and told him when I got to my car I’d come back and pick him up. No need, a nice German couple picked him up and carried him into town. Cool, I did my 30-minute run down Alii.

Had lunch on Pat Flynn an old friend of mine. She came out IMWC week to visit her mom and brother and to watch me compete. I really appreciated her taking the time to come out.

Thursday I swam at the pier again, this time with my doctor, Sam Sunshine. Sam’s the guy that figured out nitroglycerine would help my Achilles problem. It was fun, but the butterflies were starting to come on.
The entire atmosphere around Kona was amazing. Everywhere you look there are the fittest people on the planet with the most expensive bikes. What a thrill to be part of it all.

I met a pal of mine, Pete Condy and his wife Chris (both volunteered) and we walked the expo and he treated me to an OJ and a muffin at Lava Java. Hopefully Pete will get his IMWC slot next year.
Ron and Mark at Ironman Transition Area
Anyway, later that afternoon we picked Mark up from the airport and went to the carbo load banquet. I’ve been to three of these affairs before but this one seemed special. Mom, Mark and I sufficiently loaded; they took off for the airport to pick up my son Steven. I sat around for the athlete’s mandatory briefing. Same old stuff but I don’t think you can skip this meeting just in case they have something you need to know.

I was very tired at this point having kept extremely busy for the past four days and got a good night’s sleep. I’ve heard it from many people that you really need a good night’s rest two nights before your key race because you probably won’t sleep much the night before.

Friday was a quick bike and run and a swim later on during the day, followed by bike check-in. You have to leave your bike at the transition area the night before to help avoid the confusion on race morning. Good rule!
Remember the sluggishness I felt during my taper? All gone! I had to hold myself back on my bike because I was pushing so many watts. My confidence was soaring!

Managed to take it easy most of the day and even got a nap in. Mom treated us to dinner at my favorite Hawaiian restaurant, Roy’s. Capped off the meal with a famous chocolate soufflé. Probably not the best pre-race meal, but I can never resist it.

As predicted, I didn’t get much sleep Friday night but the adrenaline was pumping so hard who needs sleep?

Race Day
I had my usual pre-race breakfast of cottage cheese with walnuts and blueberries, an English muffin with peanut butter and strawberry jam, and a glass of OJ.

It was great having Mark along because with the help of his GPS and Google Maps he found us a great place to park near the race site but allowed them to avoid the closed roads in town.

Everyone got up on time and we left promptly at 4:00 a.m. And no, we weren’t the first ones there.
I checked in my special foods bags. My bike bag had a bottle of Infinit (Gatorade on steroids) and a PB&J and my run bag just a PB&J. Went to my bike and got situated.

Mark volunteered for so many assignments I think he may have actually been more tired than me. He started out in the transition area helping the athletes with whatever they needed. Many of them were grateful he was there (his fourth time volunteering there), especially me!

My bike was racked two spots down from Joe Bonness, the odds-on favorite in my age group. He is simply a freak of nature!

I was racked right next to a very good triathlete, Brian Smallwood. Brian earned his slot at IM St. George. He’s got a very interesting story but here’s the short version: he had a mild stroke after a triathlon several months ago and had heart surgery three weeks before the race. He decided to show up to volunteer unless his wife would let him race. She approved it but only if he wouldn’t let his heart rate go above 115. Hard to do on this course, but he managed to do it. Another amazing IM story!

I also said hello to Herb Spicer, another amazing athlete. I would have picked him to challenge Joe Bonness but he said he had a bad cold and didn’t expect too much.

Kevin Moats was there as well. He took the age-group win at the Honu 70.3 I competed in in June and won my age group here last year.

My predictions were Joe 1st, Herb 2nd and Kevin 3rd.

I got to see my mom and Steven before the swim start at 6:30. Steven was sleeping on a couch at the King Kamehameha Hotel but woke up long enough to wish me luck.

Before I get into my race story I just want to say that this race is so different than any other race I’ve done. It’s not just the scope or what’s at stake, it’s the fact that these are the best triathletes on the planet. You might be a big fish in a small pond but you’re probably a small fish in this one. At least I was.

The Swim (also known as water wrestling)

I made my way down to the water at 6:45 a.m. and chatted with another athlete that qualified for the IMWC at the Honu 70.3. We were both obviously nervous so the chat did us good. I wished him luck and slowly swam toward the swim start at 6:50.

The water felt great and was relatively calm. I was ready to get started.

I made my way toward the middle of the starting line (surfers paddle back and forth along an imaginary line to keep people from starting too soon) and behind one other guy. By the time the cannon went off I was about four guys back. No matter, it’s a long day.

I had kept track of the time when the pros started (30 minutes earlier) so I knew approximately when the cannon would fire. They don’t do a countdown so you don’t know for sure. I told the woman treading water next to me I thought the cannon would go off in about 30 seconds, so I started my watch.

BOOM!!! The cannon goes off and it’s simply mayhem. 1,800 swimmers all headed in the same direction. You’re swimming over people; they’re swimming over you; you’re getting kicked and punched. It’s like being in a washing machine full of ball bearings.

After about 500 yards things started to spread out a bit. I still got my goggles knocked off my face, but not my head, four times during the swim. I also lost my swim cap.

I got into a steady pace and could really feel the drafting effect of all the swimmers around me. Chris Johnson knows I’m a pretty good swimmer and suggested I mix it up with the best of them. Great advice!

The swim turn-around gets bunched up again and one guy actually locked arms with me so it took some doing to get out of that. No one means any harm, this stuff just happens during the race.

On the way back I found some clear water but felt really slow. I guess the current that carried us out was now making it difficult to get back. The swim times seemed a lot slower for everyone this year.

On the return I had time to enjoy the great above- and below-water views. I was actually doing the Ironman!

It’s funny, but even though the swim makes up only about 10% of your total IM time, I was anxious to get on to something else.

The volunteers help you up the ramp to the transition area which is a good thing because you need some help getting to your feet after having been swimming for over an hour. I thanked them for the help and ran up the ramp.

I took a 5-second shower from one of the many hoses they have hanging from an EZ Up and ran through transition. I’d scoped out the exact spot where my bike was so I could find it easily. Even though the bike racks are numbered, when you’re running, and not clear-headed, it helps to have landmarks to find your bike.

As I donned my socks, cycling shoes and helmet I looked to my left and noticed Joe Bonness’ bike still in the rack. That’s a first – I beat him out of the water.

My transition was smooth and without incident.

The Bike (also known as blazing saddles)

To help make it interesting for the spectators, the bike course runs around Kailua-Kona for a bit before heading out on to the Queen K for Hawi. This is a great time for your friends and family to see you. Mom and Steven were standing on Palani Drive waving and shouting, although I didn’t see them.

I felt really powerful on the bike but knew I’d have to hold myself back or I wouldn’t have any legs left for the run. You see, my bike has a power meter on it that measures my cycling effort. My goal was to average 190 watts for the entire bike portion. I used that number because I averaged 193 watts at IM California 70.3 in March and 203 at the Honu 70.3 in June. So, I figured 190 would be doable.

The bike course was windy all day. And since I’m not a great cyclist, the strong winds would punish us weaker riders.

I finally looked at my watt meter when I got to Kawaihae and was averaging 215 watts. Slow down big fella, you’ll never hold that! It was a good time to take the foot off the gas because this is where the long steady climb to Hawi starts.

When you do the IMWC you have to keep reminding yourself that these are the best triathletes in the world. The reason why you need to keep reminding yourself is because they’re all passing you. Literally hundreds of men and women passed me during the bike portion of the race.

As far as support on the course, you couldn’t ask for any better. They had aid stations set up every five miles. Usually it’s about every 10 miles so this was a real treat.

I sipped on my Infinit and chased it with water all the way up to Hawi. I topped off my aero bottle with water at every aid station and took another bottle for a 20 MPH shower.

Speaking of getting wet on the bike, I didn’t pee once. Not a great sign, but I didn’t feel the least bit dehydrated. I know for those of you that aren’t triathletes this is more information than you need but the hard core bunch likes to know. They’d also want to know if I used a porta potty or just whizzed on the bike and what color it was. Maybe that was too much information.

The winds on the road to Hawi were intense – even more intense than those in June. I actually saw a couple riders that were blown off their bikes that were being tended to by medical staff. It’s not as bad going up to Hawi because you’re going slower uphill.

Got to the Hawi turn-around and now we’re going downhill . . . and fast! I picked up my special foods bag and trashed the PB&J (can’t seem to eat when I pushing hard) and got my fresh bottle of Infinit.

Now the cross-winds were really noticeable because you’re just flying downhill. I nearly lost it several times.
Other than the fact that my ass was on fire, I felt really great. Another look at my watt meter and I was now averaging 200 watts. Still 10 more (5%) over what I predicted. It may have been the excitement or the fact that I didn’t want to let everyone pass me on the bike. I was hoping this decision wouldn’t come back to bite me.

My transition from bike to run was non-eventful. I thanked the guy that caught my bike and zoomed into the changing tent to put on my shoes. Another guy took my bike helmet and slathered on the sunscreen. I was off!

The Run (also known as the death march)
I admit I was a little wobbly when I started out on the run but I didn’t feel bad. The run starts out going south on Alii Drive for about five miles. This is where I told my mom and son to meet me. And they were right there! What an awesome sight!

Mom was trying to hold back the concern for me and Steven was egging me on. They took a quick picture and I ambled on.

My goal on the run was to maintain an average heart rate of 150 (mine runs high, don’t worry). I tried to run to the turn-around without walking while maintaining my 150 heart rate but it was to no avail. I didn’t walk but I couldn’t get in the 150 range. I think the first five miles are slightly uphill.

The next five miles were actually faster (probably because it was downhill) even though I started walking through the aid stations from this point on.

Yes, the decision to push the bike just 5% harder was now coming back to me. I was mildly disappointed but not deterred.

Since they have aid stations every mile on the run course I took two cups of ice and threw them down my shirt and filled my cap. I poured water on my head and chest and I alternated drinking Coke and Perform (Gatorade). I wouldn’t change anything about this.

When you loop back into Kona you encounter Palani again. I made the decision long before I got there that I would walk the hill up to the Queen K. It made sense. Why burn all that effort just to impress a bunch of people I’d never see again.

When I finally got onto the Queen K the miles just started to click by. Perhaps I was entering a trance or maybe it was just that there wasn’t much out there to distract you.

By this time I was passing quite a few people but noticed several of my age-group competitors passing me. I really didn’t care. I was going as fast as my legs would carry me.

At about mile 15 you enter the Natural Energy Lab (NEL). This is a government site that tests different forms of natural energy (solar, etc.) and is not open to the public during the year. It’s a beautiful two miles down to the turn-around overlooking the ocean. The sun was beginning to set at this point.

They had the music cranked up down in the NEL and the volunteers were great. The road out of the NEL is brutal because you now have to run up the hill that was much easier going down.

At about mile 19 you exit the NEL and you’re back on the Queen K headed for home. There’s a huge physiological boost when you make that turn. My pal Chris Johnson said he usually treated himself for a little walk for the effort up to this point. I did better than that; I walked the entire mile 19.

My logic was at mile 20 I just had a 10K left to do and I would do my best to run it in. I started out great for the first three miles then I ran out of steam. I walked for about another half mile and ran the rest of the way in.
With just two miles left you can clearly see the lights of Kona. Most of the trip now is downhill and it feels effortless to run again. As you near town you run downhill on Hualalai and make that famous right turn back on to Alii Drive.

The streets are lined with people screaming out your name (printed on your bib) and giving you high-fives. It feels like a dream. As I crossed the finish line I tossed up the old Hawaiian shaka symbol and smiled from ear to ear.

My pal Mark was there to greet me and carted me off to the medical tent, the award tent and the photography area.
I didn’t see mom or Steven at the finish line but they were there in the bleachers. I saw them a few minutes later at the hotel and gave them lots of sweaty hugs and kisses.Ironman Kona Finish Ron Family

What a great day it was. This was a huge accomplishment in my life. One that I wanted for so long and had worked so hard to achieve. While I didn’t make my goal time I’m extremely proud of myself for having done it.

I didn’t feel like eating that night (I didn’t eat anything solid all day/night since breakfast) and I took a shower and went to bed. Slept like a baby!

My official time was 11:47:31. A very respectable time for my first time and a guy of my vintage. That was good for 29th out of 68 guys in my age-group. Top half! I’m the 29th fastest Ironman in the world in my age group. Pretty impressive!

As I mentioned, I gave my mom four possible time scenarios. Here’s how my actual performance compared to my “good” projection:

Ironman Kona race projection

I’m totally happy with my performance and want to thank all of my family and friends for their well wishes and encouragement.

Next? Ironman Arizona in five weeks! With any luck I’ll earn the privilege to come back again to punish myself next year!

Mahalo and aloha!

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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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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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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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