Chris Berg – YTD Race Report(s) July 2016

A short and dirty run-down of what 2016 has been like.

Oceanside was a DNF.  Mechanical issue halfway through the bike so packed it in just after getting onto base.

Looking ahead after the DNF I went ahead and put myself into St. George for a hard course in a stacked field.  Great swim, out with the main chasers and into the bike around some familiar faces.  Holding on to the tail end of a small group I slowly came apart in the rain and the cold.  Coming into T-2 I figured the only way to stay warm was to run it out.  I warmed up but wasn’t moving too quick in the latter stages of the half marathon and shuffled home with my slowest half ironman since 2012.

Skipping OC this year in hopes of finding better form in training my next race was SDIT.  Typical swim for this race, fast and furious.  I was out onto the bike where I was feeling sluggish but my output was about what I wanted to do.  The run was mediocre at best.  I did not have any get up for 10km, and was settled into a steady and not fast pace.

Vineman was a good chance for me to finally put a good race together and I did just that.  A solid swim in the Russian River where wetsuits were disallowed saw me out of the water with the second group, but we soon broke into pieces on the bike and I found myself alone.  Strong headwinds early meant a preferred wind for some parts of the bike on the way back.  A solid 2:20 solo effort got me into T-2 just as two guys were on their way out, the first competitors I had seen since about halfway through the bike.  I held onto a good pace to finish 16th in a time of 4:13.

The plan for the rest of the year looks like last year, with 3 races in 8 days for Pacific Coast, and doubling up at Malibu again, capping the season off at Mission Bay.

As always, a huge thanks to the sponsors and supporters who make this happen, and my friends and team mates on the Nytro Men’s Team and Breakaway Training.

The Last Six Races of 2015

I suppose I should get through this quickly.

Into San Diego International I was holding some good form.  Happy with my riding to date, I was looking forward to a strong result at SDIT in a usually strong field.  The swim kicked off without a hitch and I found myself right where I thought I should be out of the water.  The fast 1k swim was right into the 30km bike.  I had good legs and kept a strong pace and was surprised by my efforts yielding less backwards motion through the field than I had anticipated.  Into T-2 I was getting set for a run which would never really materialize into anything worth talking about.  A poor run saw me drop back a few positions and I would end up 10th in the pro field.  Not my best performance at this race, usual swim, strong bike and my worst 10km performance in a very long time.

SDIT was backed up by Vineman 70.3, which I had not raced in a long time.  The trip for this race was sweet, bunking with the Butsko clan in wine country.  Good shake out ride and swims before the pro briefing and it was homemade meals and wine on the menu.  This is how to do an out of town race!  The swim for me was most unusual.  After setting up in T-1 (they forgot to give me my own placard and place in transition) I jogged out a good warm up, hit the water and got to the line.  This field was stacked, and I knew I had a good swim after SDIT so I should try to get with the first chase group in the Russian River.  Well it worked for the first 800m or so, then all of the sudden the group was gone, and for the first time since age group racing, I found myself incredibly alone and isolated.  The swim would finish with the lead group about 60s up on me, and the chasing group about 60s behind me.  To make this a super fun experience better, I ran right by my gear in T-1 because I was racing as the man with no name.  Onto the bike, I was isolated but was soon picked up by a good group.  Slowly as the mass of the group built some tried to break the competition, and others took the opportunity to use some of the traffic on the road to gain an advantage.  Isolated again, I was joined by Riley Smith with about 10 miles to go, and we hit T-2 together and started the run close to one another as we have so many times before.  After the first 2-3 miles or so I managed to pull away from Riley using my smaller frame to get away on a slight incline.  The run through the vineyard was great and I was swallowed up by the lead female.  Out of the vineyard I was experiencing some awesome pain in my feet, I stopped briefly to assess the damage.  Some blood, from cuts unknown at the time.  As I regained my momentum I was joined soon by second place female Magali Tisserye and ran a strong final few miles.  Not a great time, but a race full of learning experiences and firsts.

A long break with some great training took me out of July, into August and right into September for a frantic end to the season, lining up on the start line for 3 races in 8 days, a weekend break before finishing up in Mission Bay.

Pacific Coast wasn’t even on the radar until the week of the race when I learned I was in fact registered to race.  A two day out decision to race was made, and I would be racing this course for the second time.  A real half mile ocean swim saw me out of the water and into T-1 with another racer before I got to the front of the race.  Schepps was coming up quick on the bike and did catch me before getting into T-2.  I had a quick T-2 and an interesting start to my run after colliding with the lead marshall on the way out in the first few meters.  Not a super fast run for me, but enough to hold everyone off and finish the sprint in under an hour.  For some reason, I race fairly well in Orange County.

The next weekend saw me back at Malibu to hopefully defend the Olympic distance title from 2014.  With a good field including pro cyclists turned triathletes and an ITU stud I had my work cut out for me.  A good swim got me out of the water in the top 3, and onto the bike where I was chasing Jason Pedersen from 3rd on the road.  An unfortunate puncture took Jason out of the race, and I was looking at about a 5 minute gap to first heading into the run.  I could not summon the speed necessary to run down a fading first place and I slotted into 2nd place in the title defense.  In retrospect, perhaps I had the Classic distance race on my mind or mentally did not switch myself on to really dig on the 10km run.  Either way, I put the race behind me and looked forward to the Sunday race.

The Sunday race saw me lining up with Jason again along with Evan K, from OC International earlier in the year.  The 3 of us got out of the water relatively close, and I hit the bike course in 3rd an managed to get in front of Evan.  Evan is very strong on the bike, and I was expecting to work with him to try and close to the gap to Jason.  But hell have no fury like a strong Jason Pedersen fresh off of a disappointing race from the prior day.  He was gone, the race was for second.  I ran a steady 4 miles to finish 2nd again.  So would end my 3 races in 8 days with one victory and two second place finishes.  The weekend in Malibu would see me get on TV again for the Fox Sports West recap of the weekend.

The finale to the 2015 season would come at Mission Bay.  A new course yet again for the swim, but a fun way to end the year as always.  Soggy conditions on the bike after the shortest 500m swim in my life.  Derek Oskutis and I were out and on our bikes in less than 5 minutes…wish that swim was longer.  A strong group on the bike, but after seeing Sam Corace lay his bike down in a turn in the final miles, I went super easy into the turns holding 3rd place, but the gap to first and second growing.  Off the bike in 3rd and across the line in 3rd after a very un-motivating 5km run in the damp boardwalk of Mission Bay.

That wrapped up the season for me.  A lot of run racing, lessons learned as a neo-pro will not be forgotten.

A huge thank you to the sponsors of the Nytro Men’s Team and Breakaway Training for providing a platform for me to train and race as much as I do.  Also the fine people at Coastal Tax Advisors for the flexible work hours…

2016 should be another cracker of a year, still planning out my season and what I want to do, but it will start as it always does on January 1 at the Begganator 5000 in Solana Beach before a solid 2 months of training to get my fitness back.

Masters Nationals and OC Triathlon

It has been a long time, and I have managed to avoid posting here for no real reason.  I will breeze through masters nationals before getting to OC Tri.

Masters Nationals, short course yards meet with the gang from Wind’N Sea Masters in La Jolla.  Fly out to San Antonio, hop into the pool for a quick shakedown after not swimming at all the few weeks prior to the meet due to work and illness.  Felt alright, and managed really horrible swims for my first day in the 400IM and 100 FLY.  Bounced back the next day and managed a respectable 500 free and 200 FLY and scored some points for the team.  Had a good time with everyone there, might be enough to drag me back next year on the east coast, but we will see…

Back to triathlons…OC Triathlon which I have won the past 2 years was set to be another fun day out at the races.  I like the lake swim in a private lake with little to no boat traffic, hilly and challenging (read FAIR) bike course with a very unique run course half on paved roads half on wood chipped trails.  The weekend started as last weekend, Luke and I drive up and get checked in for the race, check into the hotel, then headed to Rubio’s for some very necessary fish tacos then a movie and grab some Reese’s and pop-tarts.

Swim – 19:44

Wasn’t first out of the water again, with a slower time than prior year.  Though this course did show as longer per the Garmin.  Out comfortably and onto the bike to go to work.  No fog like last year and the sun was out from the start.

Bike – 1:00:46

I stayed up front trading the lead on a few occasions with Evan Kraus who was the first man out of the lake.  The first half was mostly Evan and I alone with the media moto hanging around.  After we headed back towards T-2, Evan pulled out a good lead and I decided I would take my chances on the run as I decided to do last year seeing how it worked out well.  Not a super strong time, but it was good enough to hold off a strong group of guys riding behind us which included Luke, Felipe, CJ Olson, CW Moran, and Matt Ison.  Off the bike I was told that I was roughly about 40-50 seconds behind Evan.

Run – 36:51

I hit out on the run ready to go to work.  I ran a fast first 2 miles, and that is right when I caught up to Evan.  As I approached he found a good gear and we were side by side for a bit and then as we turned off the concrete and onto a bike path before some trails I was able to hold the strong pace from the first 2 miles and pull into the lead.  After I was sure I would not have to worry about Evan creeping back on me I went into cruise control and headed to line to take the win for the third year in a row, but little did I know some fast runners were approaching and had the course been longer on the run it would have been some real good head to head racing in the last kilometer.

And of course, as is tradition… my spot on the local TV coverage of the race.

Next race would be SDIT followed by Vineman 70.3 and I’ll see if I can get those reports up soon, and maybe try something different for those reports to keep things interesting around here, given how boring and intermittent these reports have been lately.

Huge thanks to the gang from Breakaway Training and the Nytro Men’s Team and all of our supports and sponsors for helping us out to do what we love to do everyday.

Oceanside 70.3 Race Report

This is long overdue, with the race being a month ago.  Pushing through the filing deadline, I can finish my Saturday ride with the guys and come home as opposed to going to the office.

I’ll try to get through this recalling my memories and thoughts during the race.  This was my first official race as a professional, and I was looking forward to competing against a very strong field to see how I stack up with these guys while actually racing with them.  The biggest goals for the race were to learn how to race at this level and note the differences and similarities this race has v. age group racing.  I’ll expand on those as I get through each segment of the race.

Pre-race I got to experience my first pro race briefing which was essentially listening to the course referees and officials talk through the course and what to look for and rules they are specifically enforcing.  In this race, it was a speed trap to limit you to 35mph through a corner where an amateur over a decade ago came off the bike.  Race morning I got into transition and got to my spot, set up and hung out.  Said hello to the old man as he was volunteering at the race per usual, said hello to friends from Breakaway and the San Diego scene before heading out on my warm up run.  Nerves got to me on warm up when the fact this was going to happen settled in.  Calmed down, finished the run and back to transition to get ready to go swim at the crack of dawn.

Swim – 24:50

The swim is probably where I noticed the most similarity between age group and pro racing.  The gun goes off, and everyone takes off like we are swimming 500m.  I didn’t really push and just swam through the carnage.  After the big first 200m or so, it cleared up.  In age group this is usually where there is only one dude around me, but here there were guys in front of me about 10-15m, and 4-5 guys around me.  Sweet, swim buddies and I don’t have to lead myself around the course.  Just tuck in with these guys, (they have no fucking clue who I am, so they won’t care I am not “working”) and stay strong.  I did exactly that.  The time was solid, I exited the water with a few notable names, so notable in fact that I am not strong enough to ride with them.

Bike – 2:23:05

Biggest difference between age group and pro racing is here on the bike.  First, actual racing happens, it’s not just a TT weaving through earlier waves of slower riders.  It is ride hard and steady, see who is around, take note of who you want to break, who you want to watch, who will try to go, who you can and can’t let go.  For me, it was more, watch the big guns ride away from me, settle in and see who shows up and with whom I can ride.  The first 10 miles or more were me alone as the likes of Lionel Sanders, Trevor Wurtele, Ronnie Schildknecht, and Michi Weiss rode away.  About less than 15 miles in Keith rode past me with two or so other guys and said to me, “this is the group, ride with us”.  Keith and I had some time to catch up and talk triathlon a few weeks before getting out to Big Bear for Charlie’s bachelor party (re: Chris and Keith run and drink a lot) and he gave me some great advice he picked up from his first year racing pro and I really appreciated the notes.  When he said this was the group, I thought, well, just fucking go man.  I stuck to the back as Keith and I were with a group of 4-6 guys making our way up and into the base.  We got onto the base and made our way towards the first big climb.  It was a great experience to ride with the group, keep legal distance and take your time in the wind when it came to you with some shuffling of order as the group moved around.  Right before the first big climb, Karl caught up to us and immediately showed me a clean pair of wheels.  I dangled on the back of the group as we climbed up.  When we hit the summit I was a little gapped, Karl took to the downhill and blew the group apart splitting us up on the descent.  I rode steady and hard as two of the original group were still close to me to where I had “contact”.  After 5 miles or so I had ridden through them, and had sight of Karl/Keith and the other guys in the front group.  I soon lost my visual, and was riding by myself.  This was just like age group racing, just me holding steady watts.  I missed my new friends.  The final 10 miles of the bike were hard, and lonely.  I was happy to see my bike split was faster, and my watts higher than what I would manage as an age group racer.  With that in mind, I wondered how much my run would slow down with more effort being put through my legs on the bike.  Onto the run course I went, entering T-2 with another rider, and a few close behind.

Run 1:24:53

Not a super fast time, but my legs felt good.  I did think my nutrition was one powergel too short and I was playing catch up.  I got into a good pace, and just ran.  I had some company for a little, but lost it as I pushed on.  I wanted to keep Keith close, and see if I could get up to him and maybe have a shot at Karl as a payback for blowing my legs off on the bike.  The course is empty except for the pros on loop 1, it is amazing.  Nobody to negotiate around, no one blocking aid stations, just racing.  Loop 2 is where things got interesting.  I got a time gap to Keith and it was about 2 minutes.  I thought, okay, I got maybe a minute out of him on the first lap, that’s not enough but keep going.  Then about 1km later, the gap was down to 1:30, then it came down to under a minute.  Surely, these people watching can’t operate their watches, no way time is coming down this fast.  Turns out Keith was a little lower on fuel than I was, plus he went with Karl for a while on the bike, while I was dispatched early from that group.  I passed Keith, and noticed the course was now consumed with age group athletes.  I couldn’t tell who was who as I ran through the field.  The biggest thing I noticed here was guys trying to run with you for a while on the second loop.  They’d hang for a while, and slowly drop off.  After that happened two times or so, I was caught by the lead female pro, Heather Jackson.  Her and I ran hip (more or less) to hip for the last 3-4 miles as we headed to the finish.  We broke into the chute, and I glanced behind, told her she was alone and the race was hers and to go ahead.  I dropped back and yogged in through the finish trying to stay clear of the media taking shots of Heather, but still managed to appear in the back ground of a few.  I didn’t catch Karl, and kind of wondered if I would have really just fucking buried myself how close it could have been to him.

My total time of 4:17:54 is a PR on the Oceanside course for me, so I was happy with that.  I was really happy with a strong swim with a group, and riding with guys and putting out higher watts.  I would have loved to go faster on the run, and maybe try to stick with some of the guys who got past me in the first 5km of the run, just to see how long I can hang with them and maybe surprise myself or blow up.  I ended up 24th in a very strong field, which Oceanside always seems to attract.

It was a lot of fun racing with guys at this level and learning things you don’t see in age group racing.  I still have a lot to learn, and I am sure lessons will come the hard way.  This season is about growth as an athlete and continuing to get better, which really makes it no different than any other season.

A huge thank you to sponsors of the Nytro Men’s Team, Quintana Roo and Newton for my bike and shoes, Matuse for the best wetsuits period (they are a wetsuit company which makes wetsuits, not a marketing company which sells wetsuits).  Of course Breakaway Training and the orange crew, thank you all.

Time for some fun training after working a lot and getting sick.  I’ll swim myself into shape at short course nationals for masters swimming next weekend in San Antonio with the WNS gang, come back for a month of good old fashioned hard work before racing again in June.

Late Season Race Reports

Getting down to business, Mission Bay World Championship of the World and Lifetime Triathlon Oceanside were my final two races of 2014.  I enjoy both, and each had a new course for 2014.

Mission Bay World Championship of the World made a shitty situation and ultimatum from SeaWorld into an awesome venue change for 2014.  The race moved it’s swim to where the ITU World Cup hosted it’s swim, kept the bike leg mostly the same and had a single loop flat 5k run through also mirroring the ITU race course.  I was looking forward to getting out there for a short and fast go with friends.

The swim was most likely shorter than advertised, with me getting out right behind Luke for the 500m swim in 5:13.  It was fast a furious to the first buoy then things streamlined out and I got on Luke’s feet and before we knew it we were getting into transition.  Not a lot of separation with the front guys, as the top 5 all got out on the course at the same time to ride.

The front group got down to 4, and it was Trevor, Luke, Guto and myself all trading blows up front with no one getting away.  The ride was hard and honest, and I actually enjoyed some real racing on the bike for a bit.  The split for the course was 21:55, and I got off the bike in 4th and a quick transition got me onto the run course in 3rd right behind Trevor, with Guto out in front.

The new run course was sweet, and after about the first 400m or so I got even with Trevor and pulled ahead after a slap on the rear.  Trevor was looking strong as an Ox in his week before Kona on the bike and was running like a Sherman Tank.  I looked ahead to Guto, but the Brazilian speedster was too quick for me.  In 2nd place I would stay across the line with Luke finishing 3rd.  My 5k split was a rather “meh” 17:56, and the fatigue from the previous two races in September was catching up to me.  Total finish time was 47:08 for day.

Onto Lifetime Oceanside!

My fitness was not at race fitness for this finale.  I had gotten sick, and while trying to stay away from the doctor, it turns out I would require antibiotics, and race day would find me in the middle of my 10 day run on the drugs.  Not ideal for racing, but I was feeling up for racing and even managed to get out and ride the two days before the race, so I know I could at least ride a bike.

The field for this race was awesome, I would have loved to actually been at fitness to get after it with everyone.  The swim was dead on 1500m, and Luke, Max and I hung close for most of the swim while a stud swimmer was out front.  Luke and I got out of the water together right at 18:00.  Onto the bike new bike course I knew that laying down a solid bike was really my only play to stay competitive, so I settled into my watts and the lead pack slowly grew to about 6 or 7 by the time we hit the final two more technical loops of the bike course.  I came in on the tale end of the group off the bike, ticking a split of 1:00:19, and not really happy about how I was starting to feel.

Onto the run course I barely managed a respectable first two miles, as Max and I exchanged some words as he passed me.  Then I shuffled along and was even brought to a walk as I turned into the human cramp for a bit, but not before I could say what’s up to Mr. Butsko who was out watching Reid race.  I crossed the line managing a 10k split worthy of the last 10k in an over-distance training run bonkfest, 43:05.  Total time 2:03:14, enough for a 13th place finish.

Despite my lackluster performance, Breakaway Training again managed to win the team competition in the olympic distance race and 2nd in the sprint team competition.  It is awesome to see all of that orange on the podium.  The team aspect of the Lifetime race series is something I really like.

That would close out my season for 2014, I am looking forward to training myself back into shape for 2015 which I am still planning.

A huge thanks to supporters throughout the year from the Nytro Men’s Team and Breakaway Training. (Quintana Roo, Matuse, Newton, Enve, Giro, Champion System, Power Bar, CEP, ProTour Fittings, )  It goes without saying, being able to train and race would be much more difficult without their support, and I am grateful they are willing to aid in my multi-sport endeavors.

The September Sessions: Racing at 30

September came and went fairly quick.  I’ll double down my efforts on this a run through Malibu Olympic and Princeton 70.3.

Driving up to Malibu, I was pretty happy to be racing there for the first time since 70.3 worlds moved to September.  I like the race venue, I like the course, and it has some fun memories of good hard racing.

Swimming time in the morning after a good warm up jog around the race site, chatting with Josh and Kasia on the way down to the start line, and some words of encouragement from the old man who was set to race Sunday morning in the classic distance.  A quick run into the water and we were all off and swimming.  Punched through the shore break and it was myself another guy out front.  Things were a little toasty as the southern California water temps were unusually high all summer and even now they are still in the mid/upper 60s (F).  Taking the right turn into shore the other guy timed the swell right and got himself out front with a nice wave.  Running into T-1 we were very much alone.  The swim was a tad longer than advertised at roughly 2000m instead of 1500m.  I won’t complain, the more distance we get in the water for racing the better off I am.  After T-1, I first onto the bike course.  Swim time was 23:47.

The bike course was a great as usual.  This time I really got to enjoy the open course.  Holding first position on the bike the entire 40km course.  I was chaperoned by the lead motorcycle.  Holding good watts the entire ride I was happy with my bike form.  August had been my biggest month this year for cycling miles, so my legs had to be good, especially with Princeton 70.3 looming the following weekend.  Off the bike I was into T-2 alone, with what my dad told me was roughly a 4-5 minute lead over 2nd place.  My bike split was 58:45.

Onto the run, I was still about 4-5 minutes in the lead (see the video here, Malibu Run Start), and took up position behind the chaperone on the bike in front of me for the 10km run.  I slotted into a fairly respectable pace for the first two miles.  August had seen me also dealing with an unhappy achilles so running training had been limited, but so it goes.  After about mile 3 I could see that the gap to second was still about 4 minutes.  I put myself into cruise control and sauntered across the line in first place to take the overall victory.  Run split was a meh 36:43.  Finish time was 2:01:32, not a bad time considering the long swim.

Post race was cool and a little unusual for me.  I got to take the banner at the finish and raise it (first time I ever had to do that at a race), then took some race photos with some press folks, did a short Q and A with Fox sports (FIGJAM!!!) and more photos with women’s champion Carly Johann.

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Hung around after the finish and saw some Breakaway friends and went to the top spot of the podium for some more pictures.  I was happy with the race and confident in my form heading into Princeton next weekend.

PRINCETON 70.3

When they announced this race, I was really excited for a chance to race in the town were I spent K-12.  The area is familiar, old friends to see and say hello, and I don’t have to stay in a hotel, setting myself up in Palmer Square where the folks have just recently revamped a studio apartment they keep on the books.  Of course the trade off would be not racing 70.3 worlds, but would be worth it to race in New Jersey for the first time since I was 17.

It was a short few days after Malibu then I flew into NJ on Wednesday, arriving in Princeton right about midnight.  Super easy travel (for once?) and a simple bike build, only requiring me to replace the broken bottle cage baggage handlers/TSA gifted me.  A short ride over to the old high school to say hello to familiar faces, my principal Mr. Z, high school swim team coach Recca, ladies LAX coach Ms. Mitchell (forget her married name), to name a few.  It is weird going back, things are different but still the same.  While there I got the okay from Mr. Z to use the track during school hours on Friday for my run workout.  Always nice to have free and nice facilities to use!  Speaking of, I was also able to jump into the pool with my old club swimming team for a short swim at the Rider University pool.  Which has to have a historical designation because it looks just as it did when I was swimming there from 2001-2003, which coincidentally is how it looked when it was built sometime around 1975 (not really sure, but this place is old).  Thanks to Sue Welsh for letting me drop in.

Finally onto race day!

I set myself up and spent pre-race hanging with former swimming friend Kris Farreny.  Kris and I spent a lot of time in the pool together in high school, and it was nice to see him at a race and catch up.  Right before swim start, my nose bridge decided to give up, and my goggles were rendered useless.  Luckily, a very nice competitor directed me to his girlfriend and said she had extra goggles in her backpack and I was welcome to use them.  Thank you friend!  The swim was drag strip style swim, right on the rowing course at Mercer Lake.  This was right on at 1.2 miles, and also very hot!  I was very toasty about 1k into the swim.  I got out of the water first in 25:36, and spoiler alert, that is where I would stay all day.

Onto the bike I was nervous with my wave having a later start.  I knew I would be weaving through carnage of other athletes, and probably dealing with a drafting issue as the course is fairly flat.  Surprisingly, not a lot of that going on.  By the back half of the course I was clear of most of the carnage, and riders were reasonably spaced.  Good job, but I still didn’t see any officials.  The bike is also a bit longer than 56 miles, at 57.5.  I held watts well, but also faded a little at the end with wind picking up.  I should have managed myself more appropriately early on the bike.  I got into T-2 to the sound of familiar voices and the sight of familiar faces, with Ben “Boots” Johnson coming down from NYC to watch the race and college friend/teammate/classmate Josh Lasensky coming in from Philadelphia as well as my good friend who has assumed so many roles in our friendship, Katie Welsh.  My bike split was 2:24:02, and watts were around my target for the day.

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My legs were good on the run early, and I settled into a good clip.  The course is two looped and somewhat technical and tight in areas sharing the path with runners from the other directions.  Nutrition was on, but towards the end of the run my lack of running miles from the previous month caught up and a came apart a little towards the end, losing time on my mile splits only posting up a 1:25:35 run split, on an honest 13.1 mile course.  Going out on loop 2 was great to see and hear the cheers of my friends, and knowing they were there at the finish was a huge boost.  I high 5’d Josh in the chute and crossed the line in 4:19:02.  This was good enough for me to take the AG win, finish as the 3rd amateur in the field, and finish overall at 12th place.  The time was not impressive, but the finish in the field was very satisfying, and would force me to make a decision about the direction I want to go in 2015 regarding my racing.

These two races in two weekends were so much fun, and I really had a great time traveling, seeing friends, and posting results that I am proud of.  My sponsors and supporters go a long way in making these things happen for me, Nytro Men’s Team, the gang at Breakaway Training and the shop at Nytro, Newton Running, Matuse, Quintana Roo, Giro, and Enve.  Also big thanks to Gregg at ProTour Fittings for getting my set up on the QR in the right position, and also keeping the #PBTE athletes fueled, especially me!

I’ll get a new post up soon about Mission Bay, and the season closing Lifetime Tri in Oceanside, as well as other happenings.

Summer Racing Recap

Quite a few races to go over here, so I will keep things brief-ish.

I swam at Masters Nationals in early May, and had some good events and some not great events.  Realized how much swimming you actually accomplish over course of a 4 day swim meet, especially when you race schedule includes the 1000 free, 500 free, 100 free, 200 fly, and some relays.  I had a great time with the gang from Wind’n Sea Masters, and look forward to more meets next year.

Back to multi-sport events where OC International was my first race since Oceanside.  Luke and I drove up and had a lovely dinner and movie date the night before the race, and took to the waters the next morning ready to go.  Fueled by my nutter butters and Reese’s I was set.  I got out front on the swim and only when I got out of the water I noticed Max was not with me.  Cam Hill had took the lead on the bike, and I managed my watts maintaining in 2nd wondering when Max/Luke or anyone else would catch me on the bike.  It never happened, and so by the time I started running, I was concerned more with getting front and running fast.  I took the lead around 800m into the run and that is all she wrote.  I posted a good 10k for that course going 35:39 locking my total time in at 1:55:42, a solid 3 minutes up over the rest of the field.  Really happy to defend a race title, and then as it did last year, this happened.  I really love this race, the organization and the venue, so I look to be back in 2015.

Next up was SDIT which always brings a deep field of local talent, and some heavy hitters from the ironman and ironman 70.3 circuit.  I was out of the water with the main chase group and onto the bike, covering ground.  I managed to split off course taking a turn too early and took Luke Mckenzie with me.  I apologized and continued on my ride, watched Luke go ahead up the road towards the front of the race.  I held off mostly everyone else on the bike, until the end of the ride where I took another detour.  This one didn’t cost time, it just slotted some guys in front of me as we took to T-2.  Onto the run I went with Karl Bordine and Matt Organista.  I got ahead of Karl and while Matt and I ran for a fe hundred meters together he went off ahead.  Around mile 2, Lewis Elliott got to me, and I decided not to let him go, and we ran hip to hip for the next 3 miles.  It wasn’t until the final mile where I gained some space on him as we hit more technical parts of the run winding through some blocks downtown by the water.  I managed a solid 7th place in race where Luke Mckenzie and Luke Bell didn’t crack the top 3.  Another solid 10k for me in 35:36 for a total time of 1:32:16.

Then it was back to Solana Beach for the first time since around 2011, my previous two races there saw me win and finish 2nd.  Bill Jones did the Bill Jones and was out in front on the swim.  He gifted me a few seconds by running extra into T-1.  On the bike our gap never really did anything, it stayed the same as I posted the second fastest bike split on the day, and off the bike I was running well.  But so was Bill, and essentially no material change in the gap between us.  A wire to wire victory for Bill and wire to wire second place for me.  Tons of rain during the awards ceremony with Keith downing beers under the tent while I sought refuge under a pizza box.  I rode back to the car in the rain and spent more time cleaning my bike than I did racing that morning.  Go figure!  Finish time of 47:01.

A big gap in racing until September, where I have stacked the back end of the season.  Each of those races will get their own report (I hope).  A huge thank you to sponsors of the Nytro Men’s Team and everyone at Breakaway Training, who have been racing alongside at these races all season.  The camaraderie with these groups is awesome and adds more fun to something I already enjoy doing.  Up next will be a report from Malibu, Princeton 70.3, with Mission Bay and Lifetime Oceanside to close out my season.

What the Hell Happened to Me?

It has been a long time since I have sat down in front of my computer and hammered out anything other than a post on social media.  So here is the quick and dirty double race report post, with OC International to come when something else is ready…

SuperSeal:

First race of 2014 was a good day to remind myself what exactly racing feels like.  With some cash money up for grabs a good field was certain to show.  Lined up on the swim start next Max, figuring we would end up being close to one another in the water anyway.  I was right, and after a chuckle when the horn blew I was into the water and around the first buoy.  Looking ahead wondering to myself, who the hell are these two guys out in front of me?  Did I miss my chance to be up front? Is Max up there?  Am I having a bad day already?  Yes and no to those questions.  It took a second for me to realize Max was next to me, so I calmed myself and said figured I was doing just fine where I was.  Uneventful after that, Max and I exited the water in 18:14.

Onto the bike after a fairly quick T-1 and my goal was to ride as if I didn’t have to run (which is hard to do considering I knew damn well I had to run).  I kept the watts high, and to my surprise managed to get in front of Max on the bike, and even held of Karl until the last 3 miles or so.  When Karl came by, I gave him a shout of “it’s about damn time”.  Into T-2 my legs were feeling the harder than normal effort, but for a bike split of 58:54 I was satisfied with the effort given my training.

Onto the run where a very unspectacular 10k saw Max show me a clean pair of heels at mile 1 or so, then I managed to catch up and pass Karl before the turnaround, letting him know “this is a soggy dream come true” because this would end up being the first time I had ever beaten Karl in a race (sure, at the point I passed him it was the furthest he had run all year, but I’ll take it).  I was passed up by one other athlete on the run before over taking another, crossing the finish splitting 38:12 (meh) for a total finish time of 1:57:02 for 6th place overall.  Not a bad day out for race #1 of 2014.

Oceanside 70.3

The early season focus on this race is something very normal, so knowing what I needed to do is ingrained in memory.  Into the water, swim around folks for 1.2 miles to post a 24:41 swim split.  Water wasn’t too cold, and it was calm.  Into T-1 I was in a good place mentally and knew that the bike was going to be the usual bike for Oceanside.

Managed to launch most of my nutrition out of the bottle cage, so my damaged control kicked in.  It used to go something like this, “I am so fucked”, after a few years of “growing” (I’m glad you said that) it is more along the lines of this, “well….now this is happening”.  It was easy grab what I could, eat and drink at the aid stations and move on.  No nutrition issues arose from any of this, so the net result of losing the bottle was null.  Not a fast bike split of 2:28:56 saw me into T-2 in 4th place, where I would stay.

The run was a lot of fun.  Being a local race plenty of people are out cheering and giving out time splits and gaps.  Also, Eric was running behind me letting me know the gap up to Kyle running in 3rd.  I was able to find good legs and spent the first lap of my run with Matty Reed.  It was a cool experience to run with him, even though his day was not going as well as mine, but it kept my pace honest and now I can say hey I ran about 10k with an Olympian during that race #FIGJAM.  It was until lap 2 when I started to notice something at the turnarounds.  Eric was giving me splits to Kyle, but those splits were being given to me closer and closer, which means Eric was running pretty damn fast, and I was thinking if he keeps this up, he’ll be giving me time splits while he is next to me.  Lucky enough, the finish came before that could happen.  I ran a 1:22 to keep 4th place, and Eric ran a 1:15 to move up into 5th.  My finish time was 4:19, and who would have guessed our age group made up more than half of the top 10 amateurs.  Tight racing, competitive racing, and of course fun racing.

Nytro Men’s Team had great showings at both races, and the team is stronger than every these days.  we can’t thank our sponsors enough for what they do for the team with keeping bikes underneath us, shoes on our feet, wetsuits for the swim, clothing to race and train.  Just great people to be involved with.  Breakaway athletes continue to grow and improve, and seeing orange on the podiums and the athletes stoked on great performances and achievements is always a nice feeling.

I’ll get OC International done soon, I promise.  Try not to let this blog go dormant for another 6-7 months.

Life Time Triathlon Oceanside Race Report

Yet another late race report in a series of late race reports.  This one will serve as the final race report of any nature for the 2013 year, a summary of 2013 will surely soon follow sometime as the new year approaches and will also include news and notes.

Life Time Triathlon made its first trip to Oceanside this year, serving as the finale of their series and the championship event.  This series is a premiere non-drafting Olympic distance series for the professionals, and provided a better athlete race experience than some other corporate brand putting on races around the globe.  This race provided the opportunity for the elite amateurs to separate themselves from the age group and race against each other.  I prefer this format, because it allows for an actual race to occur, and athletes are able to race at a competitive and higher level than they are used to in regular age groups.  In a regular age group, the skill level ranges from “very good” to “finishing”.  If I were to compete in hockey, I would damn sure prefer to play against and with guys my own skill level than have to take shots from Zdeno Chara right away.  Makes sense to place athletes in divisions based on skill and speed rather than age.  Cycling has something like this in place with the CAT ranking system, though working out the kinks in a triathlon could prove more difficult, but that doesn’t mean I would like to see it develop somehow, and the elite amateur wave is a good start.

Anyhow, another interesting and fun aspect of this race was the team competition, the top 5 times from each registered team are averaged and a winner determined.  Breakaway had a strong group at the race, and I was hoping for a good result.

Swim – 20:56

Hands down the most eerie swim of my life.  I have surfed in conditions like this, but never swam.  Fog delayed the start a few minutes, and after the pro waves we were off.  200m into the swim, you could barely see anything in front of you.  Charlie, Luke and I clung onto each other as our trio slowly and more cautiously navigated in a direction we assumed was the right direction.  Lucky enough for us, our heads were up when we happened upon a swim course marshal who instructed us that the buoy we were approaching was in fact the turnaround buoy.  Unfortunately for friend Mark Tripp, he swam a little more than required, and in retrospect was a gift to me, because otherwise he would have surely ran me down.  Out of the water and into T-1, the fog still ever present and the temperature slightly cold.

Bike – 1:01:09

This course was very fun to ride, despite the appearance of being flat, the course rolled nicely.  Being at the front of the race was fun.  Charlie was in front, and soon another strong cyclist, completing our leading group, joined us.  The order would change to other guy, Charlie, and myself and would remain that way into T-2.  The course was open and there was plenty of space even on the crowded second loop.  Numb feet from the weather were the only issue I had on the bike.  My watts where were I would like them to be, and my comfort level was fine.

Run – 38:07

This was a bad run.  I wasn’t expecting anything amazing.  Since Mission Bay, I had strained two intercostals.  This was my first run in two weeks, and the legs reminded me so.  I was hoping my fitness would be able to make up for the lack of running, but it did not.  First place was out of sight after mile 1, and the rest of the gang were closing.  I had one crappy mile in the middle of the race, and that is when Charlie passed me.  I regained whatever pace I was running, and tried to hold off the charging faster runners behind me.  Once again it came down to sprint finish, and until we checked the final results we had no idea who bested who, it would come down to whom had their timing chip hit the line first.  The end result was a difference of .06s, the closest race I had since I was swimming.  I had a lot of fun, even though I didn’t have a great run, and losing out on the sprint is tough.  Given the circumstances, I was happy with crossing the line 4th.

The plot thickens a little here, I crossed the line 4th, but at the end of the day the results had me in 3rd.  They handed Charlie a lame 2:00 penalty for not starting in the proper wave.  I was there in the AM when Charlie sorted the wave issue out and was told to start with us.  This penalty didn’t really have any bearing on the race itself, and wasn’t unilaterally enforced for all waves/athletes (but no one ever promised me there would be universal justice).  So while the results say I am 3rd, we all know who outraced whom on that day.  My final time was 2:02:19.

Onto the team competition, in which Breakaway Training took top honors.  I don’t have the data available, but between Luke, Charlie and myself, we had 3 times under 2:05, and the other athletes posted great times.  It was really cool to stand up on the podium with all of the Breakaway gang.  A reflection of all the hard work everyone does to achieve these results, and a great season ending race for everyone.

Big thanks to Nytro, and Skip for being kind enough to enter us in the event and for taking care of us all year with the Nytro Men’s Team, and for always being supportive of Breakaway Training.  Also thanks to fellow racers for making this a great race, I had a lot of fun and hope to see you all in 2014.  Congratulations all Breakaway athletes and great work by my team mates Luke and Charlie for stuffing the top 10 with Nytro Men’s Team athletes.

That’s all for the 2013 racing schedule, working on where I will be racing in 2014 and will have that finalized sometime soon I hope.

Mission Bay World Championship of the World

As is tradition with this race, speedo and mustache as well as any brightly colored clothing, glasses, hat, visor, socks etc. is encouraged.  So myself and other took the course wearing some day glow CEP compression gear and speedos.

The race was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed how everything turned out.

Swim – 6:00

Short 500m swim with the tide coming in.  Luke and I were next to each other while Bill Jones went to the front of the race, and stayed there (spoiler alert, he put a lot of time into us on the bike and won).  No superman look speedo over the wetsuit this year, so T-1 wasn’t horribly slow.

Bike – 25:26

Course change for 2013!  Not a big deal, less technical route abandoning the SeaWorld parking lot for a straighter shot to Fiesta Island.  I put myself into second and held steady power, the gaps in front and behind Luke and I were both growing.  A casual last mile into T-2 where Luke and I each looked at each other and kind of figured top 3 was already decided.

T-2 was very bad.  Took a while to find my shoes (they were hidden under someone else’s towel) and get them on, then in a fit of rage remove the towel from transition.  Luke was into T-1 only a few seconds in front of me, but after playing find your shoes I had lost about 20-25s.

Run 17:47

Not a bad run, but not super great either.  I didn’t start bringing Luke back until halfway through, and then did not have the speed or kick to move to the front.  But the run was as comfortable as it could have been for a 5k, and faster than last years unmotivated shuffle to the end of race season.

Finished the day 3rd overall, with a time of 51:14, 3 seconds back of Luke in 2nd, and some immeasurable time gap to Bill in first.  Nytro Men’s Team members rounded out 4 of the top 7, also claiming overall victory in the military division.  Breakaway Training was well represented with podiums as well.  Title sponsor of Breakaway, PURE Financial also sent their triathlon dream team in Joe and Mike to compete and I think they had a fun day out.

Final race of the season will be Lifetime Oceanside, report coming soon.