Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Get into the mind of Team Evotri's Kona Qualifiers!

Evotri superstar JP is off to compete in Kona on October 8. Before he leaves, he, along with past Kona competitors Michelle and Chris will answer your questions on all kinds of topics. Just about anything goes! Feel free to ask about race specifics, strategy or nutrition, but don't stop there. Go deep into the minds and ask about the mental challenges (before, during or after), or even the most noticeable things you don't see on the television broadcast, or even the vast array of cultures that invade the island during the first week of October.

Submit your questions to the team on our Facebook page by this Friday, September 30 at noon and we'll gather them up and answer them in a recorded roundtable conversation to be published next week.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Easy as 1, 2, 3?

Chris Sweet brings us up to date on his latest races:


Well this has certainly been a roller coaster season!  My attempt to race well at a big Xterra event in April didn't really go as planned.  I enjoyed the challenge but the results were lacking.  I knew that our new baby girl in early June was going to entail a significant break from training.  The rest of the summer was one long struggle to get back into competitive form.  My strategy was to race a lot and hit just about every workout pretty hard since I was on a low-volume training program.  I didn't feel like I came into short course racing form until August.  By sheer coincidence early August was also when my Evotri team all got new Quintana Roo bikes.  The bike has been really good to me so far!  I literally put it together on a Friday and then raced to an overall win the next morning!  I think I've won 3 out of 4 of our local Tuesday Night Time Trials on the new bike.

Suffering on the new QR during a time trial.

I'm going to give condensed race reports for my last 3 races.

8/5/11
Canton Triathlon
1st Overall
This is a local-ish sprint race and one of my all-time favorites because I have been racing there for so long.  This year was the race's 20th anniversary and I actually participated in the kids race there 19 years ago!  This is a real roots race for me and being the 20th anniversary, I was gunning for a win.  It was also Cara's first triathlon back since having Lorien in June.

Chris Camp, a good friend from my grade school and high school swimming days has shown up as part of a relay the last two years.  We were both sprinters, but he ended up a big Division 1 school where he did quite well.  The week before Canton he pulled out a 47 sec 100 yard freestyle, so he's still got some speed!  In the swim, I jumped on his feet right away and hung on for dear life.  Fortunately for me, he doesn't have much open water experience and I held his feet for about 75% of the race. I blitzed through transition and jumped on my new Quintana Roo CD0.1. About 3 or 4 miles into the bike leg I had taken over the lead including the relay teams. I usually feel terrible on the bike during sprint tris, but my legs finally felt good for this race. Temps were good, winds were low.  I averaged 23.5mph for a somewhat rolling course and still had a lot left in the tank. I hadn't been happy with my runs all season and wanted to turn in a fast 3 mile split. I took off with that intention, but it is really hard to push deep into the pain cave when you aren't chasing anyone. I ended up running a 17:36 for the somewhat hilly run. My time was about 2 or 3 seconds slower than when I won the year before, so that at least showed my race form was finally coming around. Cara managed a win in her age group and good friend and fellow Tri-Shark Aimee Dziekan took the overall win for the women.

8/20/11
Xterra Illinois Wilds
2nd Overall
If you are one of the few that actually read everything I put up on my blog, you will recall that originally 2011 was going to be my big Xterra year, hopefully culminating with the World Championships in Maui.  A variety of factors -chiefly financial- derailed this plan this year.  I love racing Xterra, but the midwest races mostly require long drives and overnight trips which is hard with an infant and 3 year old!  Anyway, this is the second year for Xterra Illinois Wilds which is held near Peoria, IL (about 1.5 hours away from home).  This swim was 800 yards.  I knew that Chris Scott who won last year would be near the front as well as my friend and local masters swimmer, John Pratt.  This was a 1-wave start, so I really got out hard so that I wouldn't get caught up.  I was near the lead for a bit, then caught John's feet for a few hundred yards until he dropped me.  I think I came out of the swim in around 4th?  I had done two mountain bike races this season, but really didn't get out to train much on my mountain bike.  This bike course is actually quite technical and doesn't give you much opportunity to just open up and use your general cycling fitness.  I was pushing pretty hard and taking some risks until I got into second place.  Then I washed out on a loose corner and later went down really hard when I caught a handlebar on a tree.  Some spectators saw my wipeout and just stood there with open jaws, so it must have looked pretty spectacular.  Those two crashes caused me to slow up a bit and take less risks.

I'm riding a hardtail 29er this year, coming off a full-suspension 26er.  The carbon hardtail is fun, but I think I will eventually want to get back to a full-suspension bike for Xterra.  As for the 29er vs. 26er debate, I don't think it is nearly as big a difference as people (and manufacturers!) make it out to be.  The 29er is definitely better over obstacles and for high-speed descents.  The 26er is better in tight terrain.  I can't tell that the 29er has better tire contact, which is a common claim.

As for the rest of the race, Chris Scott had first place locked up after the ride.  I lost much less time to him this year than last which I was happy about since they added a couple miles to the bike course.  For the rest of this race I ran hard, but really just hard enough to defend second place.  Chris Scott cruised to the win about 6 minutes in front of me.  I'll take that since I don't think he has lost an Xterra race in the midwest the past few seasons!

Only other thing worth noting about the race is that Ryan Sutter of "The Bacherlotte" fame showed up at the race with a full camera crew.  As I understand it he was chasing Xterra points for either nationals or worlds and was in Illinois for the Chicago Triathlon.  As I recall, he raced Kona by actually qualifying rather than taking a celebrity slot. He is a Colarado native, so I had no idea what his off-road skill might be like.  He ended up 5th about 6 minutes back from me, so a pretty solid showing - particularly since I believe he did the Leadville 100, one or two weeks earlier!  Minus the camera crew, he pretty much just blended right in with all of us.  Nice guy from what I could tell.
Post-race at the Xterra.  Note the birdhouse award and recovery drink!

9/3/11
Great Illini Half Ironman
3rd Overall
Like lots of things this season, choosing the Great Illini Half Ironman was a compromise.  I wanted to finish the season with at least one half Ironman to see where my long course fitness was at.  I also had my eyes on Branson 70.3 and Rev3 Cedar Point, but eventually defaulted to Great Illini because #1 it had the cheapest entry fee, #2 it was the closest and #3 I thought I had an outside chance at winning prize money.  I've actually won this small half twice before, but it didn't have prize money back then.  I didn't have time to do much volume this year, so I wasn't sure how I would hold up for a half.  On the right day Great Illini can be quite quick and I thought I could turn in a time somewhere in the 4:20s.

We did not have the right day.  We had a downright sucky day. The race was the beginning of September, but summer temps decided to hang around for another week.

I traveled down to the race with good Tri-Shark friends Laura Wheatley and Aimee Dziekan.  My go-to pre-race restaurant when I am racing in Matoon has been the Amishland Red Barn Buffet and this trip certainly didn't disappoint!  It's also Jonah's favorite because they have 4 colors of jello.  A Dos Equis Amber at a little Mexican place by the hotel topped off my pre-race nutrition preparation.
Pre-Race Buffet Goodness!
Who shows up at this event is a big toss-up.  The prize money has pulled in a few pros and top age groupers in the past.  This year the only one I knew for sure that was coming down was good friend Andrew Starykowicz.  There went first place (but I think having Andrew race actually helped me. More on this later).  The water was really warm and well above the wetsuit cut-off. I don't like swimming in a wetsuit if it is above 75, but I also don't like racing in bathwater even without a wetsuit.  I ended up in second behind Starykowicz for most of the first lap of two. On the second lap my lack of swim training showed itself and I lost a little time to a group of about 3 athletes.  I hit transition in 31 minutes and change which isn't great for me, but not bad for a non-wetsuit swim.

The temps at the start of the bike weren't too bad yet.  My long bike training consisted of 3, 3-hour rides where I pretty much figured out what sort of power I could currently maintain for 56 miles.  I was targeting 225-230 average watts and ended up just a little under 225.  Out on the bike I actually felt really good and started picking places back up.  I think it took me about 15 miles to move back into 2nd.  The course is mostly flat, but has a bunch of turns including 5, 180 degree turnarounds.  The course had to be re-routed over some pretty rough roads that beat all of us up as well.  One the second lap some of the olympic distance riders began to mix in with us.  One guy went around me so fast I just assumed he was racing the olympic.  For the record, when racing for prize money, it is really not a good idea to ASSume!  It wasn't until an out-and back around 45 miles that I realized I was now in 3rd and down by quite a bit.  I put some extra effort into the pedals, but was pretty fatigued at that point. My ride was 2:26 or about 23 mph.  Not my best, but ok for this season.

By the end of the ride it was pretty hot and humid.  Having done the race a few times before I knew the run was completely open with no shade.  It was scarily similar to the terrible conditions the day I won the Effinham Half Ironman a couple years ago.  Starting the run I knew getting close to my PR was out of the question. Instead I just wanted to keep myself in the prize money and maybe move up to second overall.  I started out at a pretty conservative pace that I knew I could maintain in the heat.  I felt ok given the conditions and put some effort into the middle miles to see if I could close the gap on second, but he was running really well, so I went back to my strategy of defending third and not blowing up. The aid stations each mile couldn't come soon enough. The temps were in the 90s with clear skies and heat index around triple digits. I utilized one of heat management strategies of dumping iced down my jersey and pants -- and then eating that ice between aid stations!  It is a beautiful thing, I just recycle all my electrolytes! Run was one of my worst ever times (1:40) which contributed largely to my 4:40 finish time. For comparison I've ran under 1:25 and finished under 4:25 on this course in better conditions. In any case, that time was still good for 3rd overall and my biggest triathlon payday to date. I'm pretty certain that having Starky show up actually kept me in the money because it kept away some other racers who knew they wouldn't win overall, so didn't show up.  Thanks man! Seems like the hot race didn't phase Andrew much since he went on to win the Rev3 full the following weekend!  8:28 for his first full seems like a good debut!

So here's the results of the three races:
8/5/11
Canton Triathlon
1st Overall
8/20/11
Xterra Illinois Wilds
2nd Overall
9/3/11
Great Illini Half Ironman
3rd Overall

I think all of that leaves me conflicted over the season.  I knew it would be really tough having a new baby in June, but it was REALLY tough!  For a long time (see Lifetime Fitness race report!) it didn't seem like I was going to be able to get back into shape.  I don't think I ever did get into very good long course shape, but I've got to be happy with these results from my last 3 races.  Even if they were smaller regional races all of them had some good competition.

I had lots of friends and teammates racing IM Wisconsin and Rev3 Full and it really made me want to step back up to that distance.  I just don't see it happening soon though.  When I go back to Ironman racing I want to do it right.  A sabbatical in a couple of years (assuming I get tenured) might be my next legitimate opportunity.  Until then I am looking forward to getting better at cyclocross this fall and then racing Triple-T with my Evotri team next spring!  That sorta counts like an Ironman, right?! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The 10 Day Forecast

Stu takes us through his thoughts on preparing for the weather come race day:

I admit it. I scour the internet to find the weather forecast before big races. In the past I could only find a 7 day forecast, but recently, there are even web pages that give the 10 and even 14 day forecast. During my last big race, I kept a record of race day forecast to see just how accurate (or inaccurate) it really was. Take a look at the notes I made:

10 Days out:
High: 83 Analysis: Ahhh, perfect race conditions.
Low: 63
Sunny
0% Chance of precipitation.

9 Days out:
High: 82 Analysis: Looks like there will be no worries on race day.
Low: 63
Sunny
0% Chance of precipitation.

8 Days out:
High: 85 Analysis: Ok. Getting a bit warm. Windy? Where did that come from? And 10% chance of rain? I thought there was a 0% chance of rain? Don’t panic, this is still perfect.
Low: 64
Partly Cloudy with moderate winds.
10% Chance of precipitation.

7 Days out:
High: 80 Analysis: Rain? 40% chance? Wind? Come on, I like the 10 day forecast much better. Take a deep breath. Don’t worry. Still 7 days out, things can change.
Low: 62
Cloudy with wind, possibility of scattered rain.
40% Chance of precipitation.

6 Days out:
High: 78 Anaylsis: Ok, this is not funny. Wind and rain? This is really crazy. Who paid the person that made the forecast 10 days out? This is driving me crazy.
Low: 59
Cloudy with wind and rain showers.
60% Chance of precipitation.

5 Days out:
High: 72 Analysis: Ok. It’s going to rain on race day. I better get my gear ready. This is a pain, but since I know it is going to rain, I can be ready.
Low: 55
Clouds, rain and wind.
80% Chance of precipitation.

4 Days out:
High: 68 Analysis: This is not funny.  It was going to be 85 and sunny, now it’s going to rain all day? But why the 60 percent chance of rain, just yesterday it was 80% chance.
Low: 55
Clouds and rain.
60% Chance of precipitation.

3 Days out:
High: 65 Analysis: Ok, getting colder. What? Only a chance of rain? And what are rain showers? Is that the same as rain?
Low: 52
Clouds and chance of rain showers.
50% Chance of precipitation.

2 Days out:
High: 62 Analysis: So now just rain and no rain showers? Do meteorologists make this up to give me a headache?
Low: 55
Partly sunny with chance of rain
40% Chance of precipitation.

Day before race:
High: 63 Analysis: Now what? Where did the wind come from? It was 5 days out when I last heard of that. So now what? I have wind, clouds and those rain showers.
Low: 55
Partly cloudy with wind and rain showers


Race day:
As I woke it was a cool crisp 53 degrees. Not a bit of wind anywhere. As the sun came up, I looked for clouds. Nothing. Perfectly sunny. After the swim, still no clouds, and still in the mid 50s. During the bike I was waiting for the rain showers and wind, but nothing. What the heck? When is anything from the forecast from the last 10 days going to show up? I was ready, I was prepared.

After the bike, it was still sunny, no wind, and about 70 degrees. No thanks to the 10 day forecast, I was prepared for the worst, but race day proved to be perfect conditions. The run brought mid 70s with 5 mph winds. Were those the “winds” being talking about?

After crossing the finish line, I laughed when I thought about how much I worried about the forecast. Wind? None. Rain? None. Rain Showers? None. So what is the moral of the story? Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, but most of all, enjoy the ride and never tip your local meteorologist that write the 10 day forecast.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Charlie's CD0.1 Maiden Voyage

Here's Charlie's report on his CD0.1's maiden voyage:

I just took my maiden voyage on my incredible new Quintana Roo CD0.1. Wow – what a ride!

Living in a small town in Louisiana, I had to bring it to a bike shop out of town to have it all assembled. Good thing I had some paper towels with me – I had to clean so much drool off of it from every roadie and triathlete in the shop!


I got it home and took it for a short 30 minute ride to feel it out. What a smooth, fast, clean ride! Looking down at the frame as I rode, I could see how the frame design shifts airflow away from the drivetrain side of the bike to the “clean” side, reducing air resistance. With this and so many other innovative features, I can see why QR is making so much hype in the tri community.



I still have a few final adjustments to make. I have to move my seat forward a little, cut the stem once I’m sure I’m comfortable with my aerobar height, etc. But man am I excited about getting it out for a longer ride with some friends, especially with the weather starting to cool down!

This bike is sick! I just keep looking at it…


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Michelle's 2011 Ironman Wisconsin Race Report

Here's Michelle's 2011 Ironman Wisconsin race in her own words:


Ironman Wisconsin has come and gone but there are still stories to be told. What is so neat is that everyone's version of the story will be different. This is a recap of my day.

Prerace
By prerace, I primarily mean Saturday. That's definitely when you want things to be as uneventful and boring as possible if you're racing an Ironman within 24 hours. All told it was a predictable day until it was time to take my bike down to transition. Earlier that morning, I had met up with fellow triathletes, Julia and Nicole, for a quick dip in Lake Monona. Water temps were perfect for me in the low 70's. Next it was time for some chit-chat with teammate Rob and friend Laura. Most importantly, I was trying keeping myself busy with low energy, distracting activities. My family arrived in Madison about 11:00 at which time I was planning to take the bike out for a quick spin to make sure everything was working properly. I have no bike mechanic skills other than what it takes to change and pump up tires. So, if there was something simple going awry, I was hoping my husband could address it. And if something is going to go wrong with your bike it would be nice if that would happen a few days before the race rather than 1:30 before all bikes need to be racked. To make a long story short, it wasn't shifting properly and a cable broke. Great! I was trying to remain calm, knowing I now needed to get to the race site with all my bags and bike, find tech support, and hope that they had time to get things fixed all in 1:30. Stay cool, Michelle. Needless to say, I was quiet but silently freaked. The guys from the Madison Trek Bicycle Store were manning tech support and I cannot say how professional and pleasant they were. My problem was corrected and they even helped me out with a few other minor details. In retrospect, it was a blessing in disguise that the cable broke on Saturday as opposed to Sunday out on the course. My race would have been over had that happened. It really helped me to keep things in perspective. Stuff happens that we don't have complete control over. It's really easy to get worked up over a big race. This incident helped to remind me of the need to keep things in perspective.

5:00 am
Out to transition. Methodical and organized just like I plan for things to go. Dropped off special needs bags, got body marked, put my bottles on the bike, peed 3 times, finished putting on the sunscreen, hoisted on the wetsuit and I was set! I was one of the first people in the water so I think I ended up treading water for about 20 minutes. I actually got a little cold just sitting there.

Swim
The mass start of an Ironman swim is like nothing else you can ever experience. Don't let anyone tell you it's a nice swim with 2500 of your best swimming buddies. No Way! It's an all-out brawl! Getting pushed under water and hit in the head or clawed in the back is not how I would choose to start off a Sunday morning. Usually somewhere in the first 200m I end up stopping and asking myself why I do this. I will say, though, that after 5 of these mass starts, it does not bother me as much as it once did. I work hard to stay calm and look for open spaces. My strategy was to start more off to the right, closer to shore, than I have in the past. I seeded myself about 10 people deep. Which for someone of my marginal swim ability is a fairly aggressive place to be. I have been put through the wringer by my coach with the swimming this season. I have swam with tennis balls in my hands, old shoes on my feet, elastic cords around my ankles, you name it, I've done it. I put in a lot of time in open water which I think was the best practice strategy of them all. The swim is chaotic and scary at times. But, I worked really hard at focusing on good form and staying relaxed. I PR'd the swim at 1:11:30 which put me in 17th place in my age group coming out of the water.

T1
I had some lofty goals for this race and I knew to accomplish these goals I had to MOVE through transition! Transitions are a place to pick up free time. They need to be used to all their advantage. T1 starts with picking wetsuit peelers. Now, this is not a decision to be taken lightly! If you're going for speed, it's important to pick 2 peelers who look excited and aggressive and who appear ready to attack the job. I'm serious! My experience has show me that they are typical found near the front of the line and are young men. They need to look like they're having fun.What I do is make good eye contact with 2 and point at them to signal I'm coming their way. I'll have the wetsuit off my arms then plop down on my butt. Next, lay back, lift my butt up, and zip-zip-bang, I'm outta there! The next hurdle is running up the helix to get to your bike bag. It's long. But, once again, I'm focused on free time and I'm fresh at this point so I ran it for all I was worth. Once to my bag, it was all planned out. I go from head to toe with what I need. I had a great helper who dumped my stuff out and I just put it on. And I'm done. I made one mistake, I put my bike shoes on in the changing area. I had planned to carry them as I ran to my bike because it is a LONG way to the bikes. But, the adrenaline and flow of the process got the best of me and I messed up. Oh well, nothing goes perfectly. I ended up with the fastest T1 in my age group at 5:50.

Bike
I have now probably ridden this course about 12 times. I knew this would be to my advantage. The Ironman Wisconsin course is not easy. Well, really, no Ironman course is easy. This course is fairly technical in that there is a lot of cornering and a lot of hills. The hills are not necessarily long but they can be steep and often come one right after the other. This year in training I have been feeling a bit flat on the bike; not making much improvement but not falling off the wagon either. This left me feeling apprehensive about what I could do here. I had a goal of completing the bike in 6 hours. The last time I did this race was in 2008 and it took 6:11. I knew I would have to take some risk and lay it all out there. Mentally, I know, know, know I hold back a bit on the bike to save something for the run. But for me to accomplish what I wanted I had to go for it and push myself harder than I have before. Obviously, that is all relative to the distance. I never intended to ride like I would a half or an olympic. I did intend to ride an aggressive ironman-distance pace and this comes down to knowing my body and what I'm capable of. That's what training is for; learning and feeling what is appropriate. No overriding. No underriding. It's tough. As with anything that lasts 11+ hours, something is bound to not go exactly as planned. I lost a 300 calorie bottle of nutrition at about mile 50. No worries. No worries. I knew what was in the bottle for nutrition. I knew what was at the aid stations. And even though I HATE gels, they are a simple way to get in concentrated calories and I was able to adjust my nutritional strategy to make up for the loss. Temps were in the 70's throughout the bike. If anything, I was taking in too much fluid because at one point toward the latter half of the ride I was feeling full. So, I backed off and listened to my gut, resuming my nutritional plan when it felt right. I really think that is the key. Paying attention to my body and adjusting as the day progresses. The bike ended up going very well. 5:53:50. 3rd fastest bike in my age group.

T2
Here it was again. The chance for more free time! Move! Move! I got another awesome volunteer who dumped out my bag and I methodically moved from head to toe. The one thing I tried this year new was to put Body Glide on parts of my feet that often rub or get calloused in training. The hope was to avoid blisters and lost toenails. It was worth a try, but no such luck. I'll end up losing 3 toenails. Some things I did not do in transition; use the port-a-potty and put on more sunscreen. I am not losing 1-2 minutes to pee; that's been taken care of out on the roads of Dane county. I'm also willing to risk a sunburn. Yes, totally wrong, I know, but true. T2-2:33. Fastest T2 in my age group.
Run
It is true. The race in an Ironman does not start until the run. That is when it's figured out who overrode the course and who didn't, who can run and who can't. I admittedly did not feel so great the first 6 miles of the run. I often wanted to stop. But, I worked really hard to mentally block out the hurt and stick to my plan. Thankfully, I saw my family and Rob many times on the run course with updates as to what place I was in. I walked for about 20 seconds at every aid station to get in nutrition and fluids. I started to come around again after 6 miles. In retrospect, I think I was low on calories. As far as what I take at an aid station, it really boils down to what I feel like. For this race, I seemed to alternate Coke with Perform. No solids. Also, I think the day turned out to be hotter than we anticipated. It was in the 80's and that's getting up there for a long day of racing. The last half of the Ironman marathon is usually a death march. Everything hurts. My focus turns on remaining steady and repeatedly reminding myself of my goal. What WAS my overall goal? There really were several:

  1. Leave it all on the course. To not go home thinking I could have pushed harder.
  2. Time wise I hoped for a doable goal of 11:10 with a stretch goal of 11:00. 
  3. If the chips all fell correctly, I was hoping to qualify for Kona without needing a rolldown slot.
I ended up with the 2nd fastest run in my age group and a PR. 3:54:10.Final Thoughts
Well, I did it. I accomplished all of my goals. My total time was 11:07:52 placing 2nd in my age group. I grabbed my Kona slot happily and excitedly! My feeling of accomplishment is off the chart right now. I hope to ride this out as long as I can. But, I know it will fade. That's fine and good and as it should be. What, however, will not fade will be my appreciation for those in my life who help me along the way. Most people do not do this silly Ironman racing without support. And those that do, probably are not having that much fun doing it. I have an extremely supportive family. My husband and girls get as big of a bang as I do seeing their wife/mother cross the finish line screaming like a little girl. My friends and teammates are number one. I have an awesome coach who has gotten things out of me that I never thought were possible. Plus, I have great sponsors that have supplied me with products that work and get the job done! I thank them all from the bottom of my heart and hope they can hang in there with me as I figure out the next 'big thing'!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sarah's CD0.1 Maiden Voyage

Sarah (Pharmie) takes us through her thoughts on her maiden voyage of her new Quintana Roo CD0.1

Two weeks ago, I decided it was time. I had this sweet new ride calling my name, and I was SO eager to take it out, despite a little apprehension being 11 weeks postpartum. I dug through my drawer to find a pair of bike shorts that fit me, handed Henry off to Steve, and set out for a quick spin to try everything out. I hadn't been on a bike since May and haven't been able to ride outdoors since mid-October last year. Henry and I posed for this pic before I set out:


Henry likes the new ride. Mama likes it more!

It. Was. Glorious.

I only went for 15 miles or so, but I felt great. This bike is crazy fast, and though I was a little nervous that it would take a lot of time to get to know my R2C shifters, it seemed to click pretty fast. My average wasn't spectacular, but given my time away from the bike, it really wasn't that bad, especially considering the number of stop signs I hit.

I felt like me again riding. Although my running is progressing, my times aren't really coming down. I still feel slow and heavy, but on my bike, I felt like an athlete, like a person, not just a mommy milk machine.

I got home with a big smile on my face, and Steve snapped this photo:

Home after a quick fun ride.

I squeezed in another ride a couple of days later. Same thing. I felt great, and with that, I signed up for my first and only tri of the season - the St. Croix Valley Sprint Tri. The bike leg of my tri was only 10 miles, but most of it was one big hill with 7+ percent grade in parts. Having been on my bike only 3 times prior to the race, I was anxious to see what I would do. It was TOUGH, and I’ll be honest, I thought I was going to lose my Gu by the time I got to the turnaround point, but I had so much fun. I can’t wait to see where this bike will take me next year!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Michelle Takes on Ironman Wisconsin

Our best wishes go out to Michelle as she takes on Ironman Wisconsin Sunday. Stay tuned to our Twitter feed for the latest updates on her race direct from the course. If you want to track her official splits on IronmanLive.com, she's #660.

Have a great day Michelle!

UPDATE: Huge congratulations to Michelle on an awesome day! She set personal records in every discipline on her way to a 2nd place age group finish that automatically qualifies her for the 2012 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Well done, Michelle!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

JP Gets His QR bike

Here's JP's update on getting his Quintana Roo bike and how he fared during it's maiden race.

I heard the news of our new sponsor and fell out of my chair.  I have been a QR fan since I bought my first tri bike, a Quintana Roo Caliente.  I broke 1 hour for a 40k for the first time on that bike so it was dear to my heart.  It was my first foray into FAST bikes and going back to a QR was something I was down with in a major way. 

I took a look at the CD0.1 with my fitter, Phil Casanta of Hypercat racing, and sadly enough, the geometry just wouldn't work with my ridiculously long legs and tiny torso.  The engineering behind the CD0.1 is a revolution and driving wind to the clean side of the bike is the future...but alas, it was not meant for me. I will get into the fitting more later.  I talked to Heather and Mac at QR and we agreed that the Seduza/Lucero frame geometry would fit me like a glove.  That's a great thing about the QRoo fleet... the bike geometries span the gamut of body types.  It is pretty much a done deal that one of their bikes will be perfectly suited to you.

The Seduza arrived, tricked out with SRAM red parts thanks to Hub Endurance.  The Zipp 808 Firecrest and Super9 disc completed the INSANE build.  I got the thing ready to race literally 8 hours before breaking it in at the Santa Barbara triathlon.  I constantly preach not to pull stunts like this in races...never change anything the day of a race.  But I was super confident in Phil, the bike, and the fit we got that I figured it would be okay. As always, my large brain was dead on.

I hopped out of the water after a quick dip and blasted out onto the bike course.  First impression was like I was riding with a motor.  This thing literally sailed up the road.   The wheel combo is nuts. The frame is super responsive and the handling was spot on for the hairy descents that littered the course.  The climbing was startling.  The weight of the frame with the virtually nonexistent weight of the SRAM RED  components and Zipp wheels made climbing feel like flat riding.  The flats were the best part though... I need to get a 54/42 TT crank to keep up with this thing.  I was running out of gears on the flats!

Despite being cautious on the technical sections and losing 2 minutes on a wrong turn on the course (stupid mistakes), I still had the 4th fastest bike split!  It was ridiculous how easy it was on this bike... It is almost unfair. 

I have NEVER been so impressed by a bike and I loved my P2.  The bottom line is I feel like no one has an advantage over me out on the race course when I am on the Quintana Roo Seduza. I'm in love.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Nesting

Michelle brings us insight on what she does during those final days leading to an Ironman.

I've been searching for the right word to describe what the 1-2 weeks before an Ironman feel like. I think I've come up with it. NESTING! I realize it's the same word often used by pregnant women in their final weeks before delivery but it's kind of the same. In fact, I've made the recent self-reflection that the whole process of Ironman is KIND OF like pregnancy. All tongue in cheek, of course!

Just like gestation, the preparation for an Ironman takes MONTHS. Months of planning. Months of training. Months of thinking. A lot of time is spent daydreaming over what it will actually be like or how I would like it to be. Finally, by the time the big show rolls around I am so sick of it all that I just want to get on with it and be done.

The training can be exhausting. As I come to the completion of my big block of long rides and runs, I'm shot. A lot like being pregnant. I remember on both fronts how hard it was at times just to get off the couch.

Then there's nutrition. With Ironman training I often feel like I could eat and eat and eat. Don't put that WHOLE pizza in front of me or it WILL be gone! The battle in my head is constant. Even though I'm training hard, I can't indiscriminately eat. It's not good for me or my long-term goals.

So, now I come to the end of the line. Less than one week to go before delivery. The good thing is I KNOW when this baby will come! 9/11/11. My taper is in full swing. Training volume is way down and that frees up more time for other things.

I find myself getting my 'house in order'. Yes, literally my house. Stuff like washing couch cushions, organizing piles of crap that have gotten out of control, cleaning quilts, adding potting soil to my plants...good times! I've tried out a few new healthy meal recipes (kids are not so fond of that!) I'm also reconnecting with my girls and husband because, to be honest, when your weekends are tied up with hours of training or racing it's hard to stay in the loop.

I'm also getting my mental 'house in order'. LISTS! I'm a lister. I've got lists for lists. Reminders of things I need to pick up at the store before I leave. People I've got to call or email in the next few days. Then there's the race plan (like the birth plan, HA!). Which is basically another list citing what I will do here, when, and why. Lastly, I'm shoring up my mental fortress; affirming to myself that I've done what needs to be done and what can be done to assure myself success come race day. NESTING...I think that word sums it up perfectly.

Feel free to comment on Michelle's blog.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

JP Gets Fit

Here's some juicy details sent in by JP on getting his new QR and getting fit to it. Stay tuned for news on how he fared in his first race.

One of the first things I thought when I heard about the new Evotri/ Quintana Roo deal was fitting. As far as I'm concerned, it is one of the most critical elements of cycling. I have had one proper fitting in the past, but didn't felt it wasn't as thorough as I wanted so I went to my coach, Jill, for advice. She gave me the name of a fitter in the area. He's the same guy who has worked closely with Jordan Rapp in the past. I came to learn he's fitted top PROs and Ironman Champions as well, not to mention some of the nation's top mountain bikers. I figured if he is good enough for them, I'd give him a crack.

His name is Phil Casanta and, along with his wife Rachel, owns and runs a company called Hypercat Racing in Ventura, CA. They do coaching, bike maintenance, sales, and fittings. Phil likes to say, "if you've seen fast and the furious... we do for bikes what that shop does for cars." I need an umbrella cuz it's raining cold hard facts up in here. I walked in an my initial impression was jaw dropping. Phil collects vintage TT bikes and some of the stuff he has is off the charts cool. Talking to Phil, I knew he was the guy. Super thorough, detail oriented, and he had the equipment to do the job to a degree of accuracy that I had never seen before. Digital measurements, levelers, the works.

We took coordinates off my P2 set up and got to work on his fitting bike to get my ideal position. At first Phil just did a basic fit with some ideal angles and once we had the bike, we would do a 3-D Retul fitting.



The first revelation was that my P2 did not fit ideally. I had the suspicion as I had to jam my seat forward and run some spacers and I was still too low. We found the stack and reach values for the frame of an ideal bike and compared to the QR CD0.1 -- bad news. It was short enough but WAY too low. I would have to ride tons of spacers to even get close. The problem with this, outside of looking heinous, is it compromises the handling significantly.

We looked at the other geometries in the QR stable of bikes and found that the Lucero/ Seduza geometry is perfect. I called QR and arranged a swap.

A week later I came in to see the bike built with SRAM red components and Aipp wheels. I have never been so stoked to get on a bike. Phil tricks the bike out with matching cable housing in any color you want. He also pops on a small little contraption that he helped develop which hides the wiring and pivots with turns to keep the cables hidden. What a wizard.



I got on the bike and Phil placed the dots on me for the Retul fitting machine. He places these small Velcro dots at the majority of joints on your profile and then the Retul machine reads off those points in real time as you pedal. It captures these point in three dimensions. Phil used this to get a range of angles throughout my pedal stroke as well as hip angle. After dialing in the basic contact points, he check out my knee tracking and made some adjustments on my cleat which cleaned up the pedal stroke. It has kept me pain free to this point. We did some adjustments to the Zipp Vuka bars to get into a more aggressive position and the set up was complete.

I must say Phil Casanta is a genius at this fitting stuff. The first ride I took on the new rig was in a race and a bike has never felt so natural. There was no pain and no wasted motion. The handling was crisp and the descending was fluid. The feeling was almost mechanical. Now I know what a perfect fit really means and how crucial it is...

Big thanks to Quintana Roo, SRAM, Zipp and to Phil and Rachel at Hypercat racing for making my dream bike a reality.

On to Ironman Hawaii! I can't wait to take this thing on the Queen K.

JP's new Quintana Roo Seduza