Monday, July 20, 2009

Tiger Tri...grrr

Doesn't get much smoother than that
Photo by Greg Gallagher

If you have not read Jessi’s blog, then this will all seem new. Jessi and I often talk about a race afterwards which we have similar experiences at, and then we post that in our blogs. This would be another race that we had similar experiences. So I will summarize my experience.

Photo by Greg Gallagher

Tiger Tri has been around for about 20 years…a tad less. It was first founded on the Ironman platform in its distance. Not being an Ironman, but a ¼ Ironman. Though that distance never really took of (there are still some races out there that maintain that distance though), they decided to change it to resemble more of an Oly distance race this year, or at least that is what I was hearing. But ultimately it was to be a .6 mile swim, 24 mile bike, and 8k (4.97 mile) run. So, not exactly an Oly distance race…close, but not really. The bike portion is pretty fast since it is a point to point and starts at a substantially higher elevation. But don’t let that fool you, there are still hills. Tiger Tri starts at top of Tiger Pass and is a well done race with its own flavor. But it is a race that makes it very difficult to compare ANY times to…even prior years since they changed the distances this year, and will be changed again next year too.

Photo by Greg Gallagher

Photo by Greg Gallagher

My beautiful wife before the swim start
Photo by Greg Gallagher

This year the race started at a different location on the lake, but the swim was essentially the same. Since the daily temps have been so warm, the lake temp was quite nice this year. I would think about 72 degrees. As I warmed up, I appreciated the placid feel of the lake. Not a single boat on it. The only ripples were created by the swimmers. You could actually see dust particles on the water…now that is calm. They started the men 10 minutes ahead of the women/teams. Not too sure why 10 minutes, 1 or 2 should suffice, so I knew I would be able to see Jessi well before she finished the run. I enjoy being able to cheer her on and this would give me even more of a buffer. The gun went off and the race was on. I could see people on both sides of me swimming hard, but I eventually got a little ahead and I think they tucked in behind me. To be honest, I don’t enjoy drafting people. I know there is an advantage, but I would rather have open, smooth water to be comfortable in. Whenever I draft someone, it seem chaotic and you are constantly wondering if they are going straight, you lose their feet, hit their feet, etc. I enjoy leading the swim, even if I am not in the lead :) As I made the last turn of the .6 mile swim I found myself looking straight into the sun. I had no clue where the finish arch was. Small rant here, does anyone remember the days when there was a lead kayak? Where the kayak would guide the lead swimmer so that the rest of the field would follow what would be the “right direction?” That used to be the "standard." Now you never see it except for in IM events. At Tiger there was a kayak that stayed around me…sometimes in front, sometimes on the side. But I never knew if I was supposed to follow it…so I didn’t. Anyway, I exited the water and made a dash to T1 while I took off my B70 Helix.

Jessi coming out of the swim
Photo by Greg Gallagher

Photo by Greg Gallagher

Coming in from the swim
Photo by Greg Gallagher

I was in and out of T1 and on to my ever loyal Trek TTX. I got out on the road and got my feet into my shoes and the bike was on. I have been using my new Bontrager Tri shoes and absolutely love the comfort of them as well as the stiffness. Maybe my old Sidis were worn out. I was working hard on the bike and just found that my power was slightly sub par. I stuck with my plan and pressed on, but things just did not feel as comfortable as they normally do on the bike. I always ride with the feeling that someone is about 10 seconds behind, so when I do not feel like I am riding well, that 10 seconds goes to 5 seconds and screws with my mind. This is a very fast course. At times I was going in the low 40s (yes, mph) and still pedaling. But there were also times when you are going 10 mph up hills. So it really has it all. I was watching my distance and was just hoping to get closer and closer to the 24 mile mark which would mean the end. I came into T2, and being the first person, experienced some rather chaotic service. A little confusion, you could tell some of the volunteers did not know what to “really” expect. But they did a good job and got me my T2 bag and took my bike. Nice service really.

I bounced out of T2 and was off on to the run. The run is 2 laps on a gravel cart path. Due to construction they had to make some changes so they said it was 4.5 miles (though after mapping it, and multiple Garmin reports, it was just over 4.8 miles, and based on the times, that seems more accurate). The terrain is not very hilly, but there are some short hills that are VERY steep that just take it out of your legs. So you are constantly changing stride and intensity. I found myself looking forward to the long straights. Once I started the 2nd lap, I did not know if there was anyone close behind. I felt horrible on this run for some reason. Might have been the mile markers that told me I was running so friggin’ slow, or the heat, or just feeling like crap. Regardless, it was one of those runs that felt like ‘everyone’ was going to pass you. I made the final turn to head towards the finish and cruised on in.

Just trying to get it done
Photo by Greg Gallagher

Jessi on the run
Photo by Greg Gallagher

A win is a win, but since I am not paid for winning, or make a living off it, my rewards for racing are accomplishing things that show that I am improving as an athlete. I measure most of that on data…time, speed, power, heart rate, mile times, etc. The swim was faster than I have gone there before, so that was good. My power on the bike was higher than I did back in 2007, but a different course and 2 years ago. The run was a disappointment, but after I had discovered that the distance was not accurate (based on what I was able to discover, I did not “wheel” the course, so I still could be wrong), I feel a little better about it, but still felt horrible and it was only 4.8 miles. So what was the deal? I will have to look at my training and make some adjustments in it I would suspect. So no matter what place you get, we all have a race within that we have as well. And for me, that is the one I am trying to win.

All my prize money :)
Photo by Greg Gallagher

Just could not take our eyes off our prize
Photo by Greg Gallagher

It was a fun day with some great people. Thanks to the Huskinsons for volunteering to run an aid station and for the many cheers, and I would suspect the “signs” too? That was really cool. Wish we would have seen them at the awards/finish. That was so neat that they took their Saturday to support the athletes and a race…that was 90 miles away. Also, thanks to Greg for taking pics once again. You only are seeing a handful of the 350 he took…and they all look this good. It’s always fun to travel with a fun group of people. Makes meals fun, post race activities memorable, and decreases the stress most of the time…other than Nate moving at negative 10 mph all the time :). Congrats to Nat for having another great race on a course that she remembered loving, and still does. You are just getting faster and faster. Congrats to all the Tri Fusion people (racing and non racing) that came up. It was neat to see all of you in transition and out on the course. Nice to see Lyndsay S. go up there as a mere 15 year old and get 3rd overall. Very cool. And of course Jessi, who did not have things go all that well, still was able to fight for the overall win and have new information about herself in a race that she can glean some knowledge from to become even a better athlete. You did amazing! Way to push ‘til the end and not give up. Thanks to Ben for keeping me honest the whole time. Never really knew where you were, but knew you were somewhere :)

Keep winning ‘your’ races.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hagg Lake Tri Northwest Championship

Photo by Greg Gallagher

This was a “similar” course as the Nationals course in 2007 and 2008 in Oregon. I raced Nationals last year and thought that it was a great venue and course because of the terrain. After the race, we all agreed that there was about 3 miles of total “flat” section on the bike, and maybe a half a mile on the run. You were either going up, or down. That has its advantages and disadvantages, but all in all an honest course.

We headed over on Friday afternoon with Trish-ah, Nat, Greg, Jessi, Emma, and myself. The 6 hour drive is always eventful with a group like that. The stories, the jokes, …they never end. As we arrived in Forest Grove, it was getting to be late. So we were on the hunt for a place to eat. Since it was Friday, and it was about 8:00pm, places were packed. So we decided to go to a little hole in the wall Italian restaurant. You could not only order food here, but you could also gamble and play the slots. Classy place as you can imagine. We all made our order and sat and waited. Surprised to hear a microwave going off continually, we peered over the counter to see our dinners being prepared…in the microwave! Oh well, it’s just dinner the night before a race :)

Jessi and Natalie pre race
Photo by Greg Gallagher

Getting all suited up
Photo by Greg Gallagher

This course was set up similarly to Nationals for the bike and the run. But the transition was set up in a different spot, and the swim was in a different part of the lake as well. In transition I got to chat with some familiar faces…Matt Berg and Dave Campbell. Both are really great guys, and competitors, that I seem to run into at many races throughout the year. I got my transition set up and went to the swim start. I was racing in the elite wave which only consisted of about 8 people. So the swim start was pretty uneventful. I plodded along initially swimming behind Matt Berg since he normally swims faster than me. I eventually lost his feet and was swimming in clear water…which I prefer actually. My mind started to wonder a bit, but I was plodding along. I could see Matt was making time on me at each turn, but nothing that I did not feel I could not close on the bike. I eventually got out of the water about 30 seconds behind Matt. I had a quick T1 (fastest of the day) and was on the bike.

Natalie right before her start
Photo by Greg Gallagher

Jessi finishing the swim
Photo by Greg Gallagher

Finishing the swim
Photo by Greg Gallagher

The Hagg Lake bike course is very rolling. It really makes you stay on top of what you are doing all the time. There are lots of places that you can lose time since you are constantly transitioning from ascents and descents. You can easily find yourself easing up on the down hills and giving up time. I knew what I rode there last year at Nationals and figured I should be able to do something similar to that again. Going sub one hour on this bike course is tough. Even at Nationals not many people did. I managed to squeak under the hour mark, but was slower than I was at Nationals. I came into T2 fast and had a great transition, another fastest.

Natalie...lap one down
Photo by Greg Gallagher

Photo by Greg Gallagher

Jessi coming into T1
Photo by Greg Gallagher

Coming into T1
Photo by Greg Gallagher

The run at Hagg is very similar to the bike…hilly. Either up or down. You have to run well on the down hills here in order to have a good time, similar to the bike. I was feeling good and comfortable. I remember running this last year and feeling a bit tight and uncomfortable the whole time, so this comfortable feeling was welcomed. I eventually hit the turn and was headed back. I was bale to get a split on 2nd, which was still Matt. I had about 4 minutes on him at that point so I was not running scared. I kept running strong and ended the run about 30 seconds faster than I ran at Natz. I was very happy to see that since at Natz I was running for my life from Chris Thomas to hold on to 3rd place. At this race, I was just running steady. So though I am not a “fast” runner, I am running consistently better than I have before, and my bike times are not dropping either. If I could shave 2 minutes off my swim, life would be great :)

Natalie enjoying the run way too much
Photo by Greg Gallagher

Photo by Greg Gallagher

Jessi heading out on the run
Photo by Greg Gallagher

Coming back to finish
Photo by Greg Gallagher

Photo by Greg Gallagher

It was a lot of fun traveling with friends again. It makes racing a lot less stressful. Congrats to Natalie in getting in another Oly race this year and having a great time doing it. It’s fun to see and experience her excitement after races. She has watched so many and really knows what they look like on the outside, it’s neat to hear her participant experience. Also, thanks to Greg for taking all these amazing photos. Without him, all these photos would have some gigantic watermark across them and they would not have been as good a shot anyway. Greg is a phenomenal team player when traveling…always seeing where he can help out. Thanks to Trish-ah for coming along and entertaining us all with her antics. When she is not luring guys all the time, she contributes to our conversations too :) She also was Emma’s best friend during the race. Trish-ah is amazing with kids…just amazing. Jessi was in a bit of a quandary as to why in the world she was even doing this race on the day. I think we all get this way from time to time as we are standing with our feet in the water. We question what in the word are we doing? Do I have to do this? Who is really in control here? But once we get going, they seem to disappear. Jessi had a strong bike and ran really well off the bike on a difficult run course to win her age group and be 7th overall. I think we all question how we can perform when we have such an apathetic attitude at the start of a race. But it normally subsides and you find your grove. It’s always fun doing a race when you see your wife out there working hard too. It’s a great sport to share.

Thanks everyone for a great race weekend!

You can find Dave Campbell's race report that he writes for Racecenter.com, as well as results, at:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Stage 7 of the Tour

Today was the first day in the mountains which was going to be a real test as to who had the legs, and who did not. As with some of the other stages, there were one variables that you cannot see while watching the race. One in particular, the wind. I hate wind...hate it. I would rather ride in the snow and rain (not at the same time) than the wind. Fortunately with powermeters, they at least tell you that you are still working even though you are moving so slow. Now, in the Tour, complicate that with a mountain and you have very tough conditions. Headwinds, tailwinds, and crosswinds on moutain stages create some very unusual dynamics. Anyway, it was a great stage and it leaves me wanting more.

Here is my opinion on how the end of the race unfolded looking at the contenders, not who actually won the stage.

After watching the last climb, I think Contador attacked in the last kilometer in order to get a response from Cadel Evans and his Lotto squad which would have to chase him down. And in doing so, Lotto (and Evans) would blow themselves up dragging Lance (and Astana) up to the attack. Subsequently, Lance would have countered (very common move) and put further time into them. But since Lotto did not have the firepower, Contador went on unattested and gained some time. That just shows you how strong Astana is. They can't even execute the entire plan before the rest of the field says "mercy."

Here are some pics form the stage:

Contador on the attack

Contador looking like a guppie...oxygen please

Cadel Evans put into a spot of bother

Is the winner of the Tour also the leader? Or is the leader of the team always the leader?

The unified team crossing the finish
Sponsors will love this shot...what team does he ride for?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


As I follow the Tour this year (and Jessi thinks that I may follow it too much) I am on the fence as to whether there is a rivalry between Contador and Lance, or if this is something that is being created by the media to stimulate interest. Regardless, it makes it fun to watch.

Say what you want to about Lance...he has brought life back to cycling and the Tour. Any company associated with the Tour, or cycling, would be an idiot to say that Lance has been bad for the sport. That also including his comeback.

I am an American, therefore I like it when Americans do well. Especially when we tend to be the blame for all the world's problems, and then asked to help fix the ones we are not connected to. That's a completely different rant.

A few points:
  • If it wasn't for Lance, Contador would not have the amazing powerhouse team he has now. Many of those riders came on because of Lance. The only one missing is Chris Horner (TOTAL political move, the team would be stronger with Horner)
  • Lance is not taking any money from the Team for his racing.
  • Lance, in all that he says, supports Contador, but does not ever say that he (Lance) is not worthy of being the leader.
  • Lance recently posted this regarding Contador, "And they might need to repair the pavement on the sections where Alberto was pulling. All in all, great day." - Lance Armstrong
The bigger question is does Contador support Lance in the same way? There is no doubt that Lance is a classier athlete both in the peloton as well as the media.

After TTT awards, it was Lance that stayed after and shook the hands of all the high officials on the podium. It was Lance that congratulated each and every member on the TTT squad after the TTT...except Contador since Contador went somewhere else after finishing.

Lance is a week younger than me...that gives me hope that just because I am 37, I can still accomplish great things.

The following pics from today's TTT. I think a lot of them tell a little story.

No matter how good you are, 2 pieces of toilet paper stuffed up your nose before a race is not a good look.

Still the center

We have seen this determined look before...I think it was around 1999-2005. I could be wrong.

A look of contentment and what's to come
Is this a picture of Lance or Contador :)

Who is the center, and who is holding the "prize?"

Ben Stiller...do you realy think that he was there to hand Fabian the yellow jersey? I think the thought was there would be someone else receiving it. Not to mention he is wearing a Livestrong bracelet.

As comfortable as they come