Life as a triathlete, Vehicross's and off-roading

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Hot and humid day at the Firecracker

Sunday July 7 2013 0330…alarm clock awakes me. That could only mean one thing. It’s race day! The 2013 Firecracker Triathlon. A 750 meter (long course) serpentine swim in the Hildebrand pool, a 3 loop 12 mile bike and a 2 lap 3 mile run through the UofA campus.
After a quick breakfast, car was loaded and I made my way across town to the UofA campus. After arriving I racked my bike, set up my gear and got body marked…#300.
Up next was a bit of volunteering. The youth triathlon was first and I was a bike course marshal. Along with keeping an eye on the kids (bike course is on city streets around the university), it was an opprotunity to check the course for debris and new pot holes. Some of these kids are fast and a few had equipment that rivals the adults.
Next up was a short warm-up run followed by a solid swim warm-up.
0736 and it was my start time. “Ready, GO”! And I was off.
I quickly settled into my pace and was feeling good. As I exited the water, a quick glimpse of my watch showed I had swam a bit slower than usual and definitely slower than I felt I should have been able to do. 12:55…24th male overall out of the water.
T1 went smooth and fast. Ran the short distance from the pool to T1, goggles of, helmet on and run to the mount line. I threw my leg over the bike and missed my pedal. This caused me to swerve a little directly into a cone. Stayed rubber side down and got on my way. Not the smoothest mount but it could have been worse. Once up to pace I slipped into my shoes.
I quickly started catching people who had started before me. I was rolling fast. There was a light cloud cover and the winds were pretty calm…however the Arizona monsoon humidity was a factor. I maintained the same pace for all three laps. My legs felt great. As I was coming to the end of my last lap I slipped my feet out of my shoes in preparation for T2. My computer showed 28:47.
As I hit the dismount line I threw my leg over the bike and hit the ground running. Bike racked, helmet off, running shoes on, run! Sunglasses, hat and number belt on on the run!
T1-bike-T2 30:24…5th fastest male.
On the run my legs felt good. I quickly got into a solid pace. I didn’t know what place I was in so I wanted to just go as hard as I could the whole way. The clouds had started breaking up, the sun was heating up and the humidity was high. The sweat was pouring off of me, but I maintained my pace. I crossed the line with nothing left. 19:19…10th fastest male.
I biked and ran my way up to 8th overall and 2nd 45-49 agegroup missing the AG win by 38 seconds.
I now stand in 2nd overall/1st 45-49 agegroup after 2 of 3 races in the Tucson Triathlon series.

2013 Tucson Triathlon. Great start to the season.

Today I started my 2013 race season off with the Tucson Triathlon. Usually by this time of year I have a A distinctive sound of a tire popping was heard. I helped CEO Seton, who was spectating, replace the tube of this unknown competitor so that their race would not be over before it started.
Time had finally come to warm up. I had a brand new pair of race shoes and what better way to break them in than a little warm up run. Yea, yea, I know! No new equipment on race day. My Brooks Pure Drifts felt great during my warm up…light, great fit and comfortable. After my short run I got in the pool for 15 minutes of swim warm up.
It was now about 9:30 and time to rock! The final wave contains all the fastest men in the race. The horn sounded and we were off. 825 yard, 33 lengths or 16 laps. I swam steady and felt good. I was out of the water in 12:08, about normal for me. My time put me 44th overall out of the water.
Transition was fast, 45 seconds. Goggles off, helmet on, unrack bike and run to mount line. An efficient “flying” mount and I was on my way.
The bike is a 3 loop course covering 12 miles. Slightly uphill on two sides and slightly downhill on the other two with one really rough section that is in severe need of a repave (are you listening city of Tucson). The temperature was starting to rise and a bit of a wind had started to kick up. After slipping my feet into my shoes I quickly got up to speed and began to pick off the speedy fish in front of me. My legs felt good as I powered through the course in 29:00 averaging 23mph. The first two laps had a lot of traffic from the earlier waves, by the third lap the traffic had thinned out. I avoided what could have been an ugly collision when a pedestrian stepped off the curb into our path, oblivious to her surroundings, despite the police officer yelling at her to stop! As I approached the final turn into the transition area I slipped my shoes off in preparation. As I hit the dismount line I swung my leg over the bike and hit the ground running.
T2…rack bike, helmet off, running shoes on…20 seconds. Onto the run course with number belt, hat and sunglasses in hand. I finished “getting dressed” on the run.
The 5k run consisted of an out section, two loops of the UofA mall and then back to the finish. The course is flat and fast! I was feeling great and my new shoes were feeling awesome! My form and leg turnover felt great from the very first step. I continued to pick people off not knowing were I was in the placings. Lots of traffic, passing people from my wave and the previous waves. I hit mile 1 in 6:14, dropped to a 6:12 for the 2nd mile and then a 6:10 for the 3rd mile. As I took the final turn to the finishing straight I had one of the young, fast fish (a member of the Canadian Junior National team) that started in my wave in my sites. I kicked into a 5:47 pace for the final 10th of a mile and made the pass before crossing the finish line. Run time 19:10!
My overall time…1:01:23, once again narrowly missing the magical 1 hour mark.
Good enough for 7th place overall and 1st place in my age group (thanks to Cam Hill being fast enough to finish in the top 3 overall).
Now it’s time to work on a little speed for the rest of the season. I am sure the coach already has that all worked out for me!

2012 Firecracker Triathlon…the race.

7-1-2012….4am alarm. Only one thing getting up this early could mean…race day.

Quick breakfast, got dressed and mixed a couple of bottles of Gatorade. Gear was pre-packed the night before. Out the door and off I go to the University of Arizona’s Hilibrand pool for the 2nd race of the Tucson Tri series. The race consists of a 750 meter serpentine swim in the Hilibrand long course (50m) pool, a 3 loop 12 mile bike that is slightly uphill for half of each loop and slightly downhill the other half, and a flat 3 mile run consisting of a short out and back and 2 loops of the UofA mall. The morning weather was overcast, hot and hummid…the Arizona monsoons are in season.

After racking my bike and setting up my transition area I got body marked. I then had a few minutes to catch up with friends. It was then time for the youth race to start. I was a volunteer to help monitor the bike course…a great way to get in an easy warmup and to recon the course (one section is notoriously rough and has construction going on). One loop with the future of our sport  ages 8-15. Once I returned I ran a loop of the run course to warm up and then got into the pool for a few hundred. It was now race time!

My start was about 10 people from last.


Up and back on the right then under the laneline…repeat x 7 1/2. I quickly got into my pace and  felt smooth the entire swim. I must have been seeded right since I didn’t have to pass or get passed (we started at 15 second intervals). After the final length I was out of the water and running for T1.

Swim time 12:29 44th fastest of the day/3rd in agegroup

T1 was fast…drop goggles, helmet on, go. A nice flying mount and I was off. Slipped into my shoes and got up to speed. I quickly started passing earlier starters and had a lot of traffic for the first 2 laps. The 3rd loop was less  congested but still had some slower traffic. Fast and smooth on 3/4 of each loop and fast and death grip on the aero bars on the rough 1/4. The legs felt good as I motored along. I consumed a bottle of Gatorade to counter the heat and humidity. The cloud cover however was helping to keep the sun from beating on us. Te temps though were reaching 90! After 3 loops I made the turn into transition for T2 and slipped out of  my shoes.

Bike time (including T1 and T2) 30:46 9th fastest of the day/2nd in agegroup 

A quick dismount and a short run to my rack. Racked bike, helmet off, running shoes on…run! While running out of T1 I put on the hat, glasses and number belt. I quickly got up to speed and quickly noticed the clouds had parted…the sun was hot! As I hit the first aid station I was refreshed with the ice-cold spray from a super-soaker! Grabbed a cup of water, drank half and dumped the rest over my head. Again I was picking off slower traffic. Each aid station was half a cup of water in the mouth, half over the head. I was feeling the humidity but focused on maintaining my pace. After the second loop I turned and burned! Headed for the finish. I crossed the finish line and was cooked!

Run time 19:44 15th fastest of the day/1st in agegroup

Total time 1:03:00 good for 9th overall and 2nd in my agegroup.

I now lead the series for my agegroup with 1 race to go!

Firecracker Triathlon race report.

Sunday was the second race in the Tucson Triathlon Series…the Firecracker Triathlon.

The alarm awoke me at 4am. A quick check of the tempature showed 83 degrees! With the desert monsoon season in full swing the air was also thick and sticky. After a quick breakfast of 3 Eggo’s I got dressed and jumped into my pre-packed Vehicross and made the 30 minute drive to the University of Arizona’s Hilibrand pool. Even though I arrived early there were quite a few bikes already racked. I found a good spot and set up my equipment. I then had a bit of time to waste so I caught up with a few old friends.

A kids race was held prior to the adault event. I volunteered to ride the bike course with the kids. A great way to get in an easy warm up and recon the course. The 11 year old kid I rode with was a blast. While averaging about 16mph he took the time to wave to everybody along the course…police, spectators, people at the bus stops! He was having a great time!

After that I went for a 10 minute warm up run and then got in the warm up pool for a bit. I was feeling pretty good.

By now the temp was well into the 90’s and the humidity was well above the single digits we are used to here.

 The swim was a serpentine swim with swimmers starting time trial style every 15 seconds. I had the “honor” of starting in the very last position. Lucky me!

It was now time to race. The swim distance was 750 meters (long course). The starter gave me a 5 second warning and then GO! I quickly got into a smooth stroke. A few quick peeks into the lanes of those that started earlier let me know I was keeping a good pace. I focused on my stroke and counted down the laps. As the last to start I was the last to exit which would give me a lot of “rabbits” to catch. I exited the pool in 12:05…an 8 second improvement over last year and 32nd best of the day. I was off to a good start.

Last to start...last to exit.

Leaving T1

Out of transition I quickly got my feet into my shoes and settled into my aero bars. The course is a 3 loop 12 mile course. The first 2 miles of each loop are slightly down hill followed by 2 miles of a slight climb 1 mile of which is full of bumps and pot holes. I was going strong and quickly began to catch and pass people. The first loop was a bit congested and I found myself calling out “left” a lot to get around the slower riders. By the second loop the traffic had thinned and i was able to focus on just going fast. My legs felt good the entire time. As I came down the final section I slippped my feet out off my shoes and prepared for T2. T1/bike/T2 combined time was 29:52…20 seconds faster than last year and 7th fastest of the day.

Flying down the bike course

T2 was again a fast one. Rack bike, remove helmet, slip on the Fasttwitch’s, grab race belt, hat and glasses…run!



Getting dressed on the go


 I imediately felt the heat and humidity but my legs were feeling good. The run course is a short out section, 2 loops and then a short section back to the finish totaling 3 miles. As I turned onto the loop section the front runners had just passed through to start their 2nd loop…rabbits to chace. CEO Seton Claggett was 2 steps ahead of me starting his 2nd lap. I jumped on his heels since he was setting a good pace. He slowly pulled away from me but i was able to keep him close. We were closing the gap to the leaders. At the end of the loop they turned of for the finish line and I headed out for loop 2. With no more rabbits it was time to focus and maintain my pace. I continued to catch and pass the slower runners that had started before me. I tried to keep the pace high but the heat and humidity was trying it hardest to slow me. I still finished with a strong second loop though. Run split was 19:32…3 seconds slower than last year and 7th fastest of the day.

Chasing the rabbits

The 2nd loop

Stopping the clock

Final time was 1:01:30…a 25 second improvement over last year and 7th place overall/1st place 45-49.

Collecting the hardware