Posted on March 20th, 2013 2 comments
Sunday I raced the SUPERSEAL VI triathlon in Coronado. This was a small race, with no official pro field, but with a small prize purse making it worth my time to make the 40 minute travel down to the event. It turned out to be a very well run event, with lots of volunteers, very well marked, and a completely closed bike course. Glad I made the short trip, regardless of the result!
Even though it was a local event, I decided to stay in a hotel with my parents, who made the three hour road trip down to see me race. We had a delicious dinner at a nice Italian restaurant called Primavera (where I ate way more than a typical pre-race meal… surf & turf!) and had a great night catching up. The hotel was just a few minutes from the course, saving me an hour or two in the morning.
After racing a lot of ITU events last year and a couple bigger non-draft races like Escape from Alcatraz, it was nice being at a smaller race venue, with a few hundred people. I squeezed into a spot on the bike rack, set up transition, and casually made it over to the swim start with my parents.
I found a couple familiar faces as I got down to the water — Nate Dressel and Frank Smith from Flagstaff. I met both of them when I began swimming at NAU a few years ago, and Frank now coaches the Masters swim program there. Nate and Frank recently opened a Computrainer shop in Flagstaff. If you are in Flag, check them out. We had a little chat about the swim course before I dove in for a little warm up. The water temperature was really nice, probably just above 60 degrees, which meant I would be wearing just one swim cap!
2nd in 18:15 (:06 behind the fastest)
I had a good start and a nice dive into the water. Pretty quickly it was just me and one other guy out in front heading toward the first buoy a couple hundred meters out. It’s amazing how nice it is to be out in front, with clean water and not being smacked around. Around the first buoy I pulled behind the leader, who turned out to be Tommy Brown, and tried to draft. He started to get a bit of a gap, when I felt my fingers scrape some sand. Apparently there was a sandbar a few hundred meters off shore. I stood up, took a couple dolphin dives, and got back on his feet. The pace felt pretty comfortable, so I started to go around him and actually got just ahead of him at about halfway through. I had brief thoughts of, “I’M GOING TO LEAD OUT A SWIM!” Right about that time is when I began having problems sighting the next buoy, and Tommy got away from me a bit. I took a good final line into the swim exit and came out just a few seconds behind. My coach Paulo Sousa was there at the swim exit, yelling “RUN FASTER!” I promptly caught Tommy, and went around him before getting to transition.
3rd in 57:49 (1:27 behind the fastest)
The bike course here is about as flat as it gets, and is simply out and back a couple of times down a highway. Roads were very smooth and fast, making for a comfortable ride. At each 180 degree turn, I checked my progress to the guys behind me. I was opening up time on 2nd place, but apparently there were a couple guys a little further back that were putting some time into me, hence only having the 3rd best split. Being out front on such a flat course it can be tough to keep the effort real high without the aid of a powermeter (as of now, no powermeter on my race setup!). Still, I’m happy with the ride and it was enough to put me into T2 with a comfortable lead.
2nd in 34:25 (:16 behind the fastest)
Out on the run I felt pretty comfortable. I was a little unsure exactly where the course went, so I was very happy to see an official on a bike as a rabbit. The previous week I had to take a couple easy running days due to a little niggle in my lower left hamstring/back of my knee so I kept the pace fairly conservative. There was only one chance to see where the rest of the guys were, at about 5k, and I saw I had more than a couple minutes lead. I continued on until about 5 miles when I saw Paulo and he told me I could relax and cruise in. Those are great words to hear in a race!
1st in 1:52:34
After the race Paulo was nice to inform me that I had the “day off” before jetting off back to Poway for a track workout with the rest of The Triathlon Squad. Very nice of him. My parents and I stayed around for the awards, and I’m glad I did, as the prizes were really top notch. The founder of the race, Philip “Moki” Martin, presented me with a sweet trophy in the shape of a paddle, and my first big check (offering $000.00)! Race sponsor Luminox presented me with a sweet watch as well.
I got a chance to chat with the guys that finished 2nd and 3rd, Jose Jeuland and Keith Butsko. Both are local guys. Hopefully we cross paths soon either in training or racing. (read Keith’s Superseal race report with a comedic flair)
Thanks to “Moki” and all the other organizers and volunteers for putting on a great race! If you are looking for a smaller, less intimidating triathlon that’s run professionally, check out Superseal next year. I also want to thank ENVE, Hypster.com, and of course my parents! (In addition to all the great photos my dad took, he took a lot of video as well and
should have a little movie from the race up shortlyyou can watch it below!)
Posted on March 6th, 2013 3 comments
For my season debut I chose to return to San Francisco for the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. Last year I finished 7th in one of my best races of my career, so I was eager to improve on that. This year’s event presented a new challenge, with a March race date instead of the usual June date, water temperature was 51F degrees and air temperatures were in the low 50′s. I knew the race was going to be cold well in advance, and prepared for it accordingly, buying a neoprene swim cap a few weeks out and planning to wear it in between a silicone cap (underneath) and the laytex race cap (outside). However, there was considerably more wind than last year, which added yet another level of complexity to the swim.
In last year’s race report, I wrote about the unique pre-race routine this event offers, and it was much the same this year, which was both comforting and means I can spare you the same, boring details.
14th in 29:19 (1:58 behind the fastest)
Different from last year’s event was there was no countdown from “10-9-8…” before the horn went off. The start had been delayed a few minutes because a cruise ship unexpectedly came into the bay a few hours before scheduled and went right across the swim course, so maybe they were in a rush to get things going? Anyway, the start horn caught me off guard and I hit the water a good body length behind 80% of the pros. (This newspaper got a good picture of the pro start, showing the mixed reaction times.)
The water was cold, but in a race setting, I didn’t really notice it too much. The bigger issue with this swim was the chop! The winds coming from the west made the water very rough and it was probably the most physical swim I have ever done. I focused on keeping a fast tempo and trying to find some sort of rhythm with the waves. I was able to see the lead boat with a big, bright pink buoy hanging off the back of it the whole way so I did not have to resort to sighting landmarks like last year. The image above shows my “breadcrumb trail” from the swim — looks like I swam a pretty straight line. Check out this video a support kayaker took showing the chop.
This swim gets really spread out, so it is hard to tell where you are placed in the race. When I came out of the water there were a few other pros around (a couple of them women). Looking at the results now, I think swimming just ten seconds faster, putting me up with Jesse Thomas, would have made a huge difference. Jesse is a very solid rider (and even better on the run), and getting out on the bike next to him would have been great for pacing. At 4:00 into the video below you can see Jesse exiting the water, and then I come out with a group of a few other athletes about 10 seconds back.
After exiting the water, I kept my wetsuit zipped up as I ran the half mile or so that it takes to get to T1. This got me nice and warm by the time I grabbed my bike and I was comfortable jumping on the bike without putting any gloves or clothing on.
7th in 49:14 (2:02 behind the fastest)
Once out on the bike I started passing people right away. I passed Sara McLarty and Sarah Groff on the first climb, and soon worked my way up the male pro field. By the time I got to the Legion of Honor I had passed Matty Reed and shortly after I moved passed James Seear. Heading down the Great Highway and into Golden Gate Park I could see Kyle Leto up ahead. Over the next few miles I was able to bring him in a bit and finally make the pass near the Cliff House. At this point I couldn’t see anyone else ahead, and I knew I had passed a number of guys, so I figured I was in a pretty good position. I rode smoothly up most of the climbs, limiting my efforts out of the saddle, and just tried to stay in a good aero position. Towards the end of the ride I caught up to Paul Matthews and was able to move by him in T2.
My time was virtually identical to last year’s split, which is a little disappointing because I know I am riding a lot better in practice. After looking at the ride on Strava, it looks like I was slower on every segment on the way out, and slower on many of the hills throughout the ride. This makes sense considering the headwind from the west and my apprehension to really go for it up the climbs. The easiest way to ride faster is to swim faster, putting me up closer to the faster guys. Until I can do that, however, I need to be able to push myself better on my own and make sure I am getting the most out of my bike leg.
EDIT: There is a lot of talk regarding which type of bike to ride for this race. Last year I was on a road bike, this year I was on a TT. Similar times, but I was further up in the field this year (assuming this is because of tougher conditions). I think for any pro, a TT bike is most likely going to be faster, assuming you can handle your bike through rough roads and on some sharp corners. Braking is very important on this course (think 90 degree turns out of a half mile descent), so whatever bike you do choose needs to be able to stop well (Pick your wheer setup accordingly as well. My ENVE SES wheels have a fantastic braking surface). Most of the climbs are very sharp and don’t vary much, so there isn’t a need to be constantly shifting when you are out of aero position. For age groupers, I think your decision should be based on what kind of swimmer are you? If you are a slower swimmer, you are going to be on a very crowded course and will likely not have many opportunities to get into an aero position. However, if you are a stronger swimmer (let’s say 36:00 on this course, putting you in the top ~150 of the whole field), I think you can get a real benefit out of a TT bike.
5th in 45:57 (1:04 behind the fastest)
Heading out on the run the headwind was brutal. My first couple miles on Crissy Fields were very slow considering how flat they are. There was a lanky figure about a minute ahead that I was chasing, but couldn’t tell who it was. I pushed the hills the best I could and tried to really roll down the steep descents. Once I got to the out-and-back on the beach I was finally able to get an idea of what place I was in. I counted that I was in 7th place, which was pretty good! Just ahead of me was John Dahlz, and ahead of him was Pete Jacobs — the lanky dude I had been chasing. Pete Jacobs is known for rolling fast marathon splits at the end of Ironman races (plus his 2012 World Title…) so I knew if I kept chasing him I would be in good shape. I got by John Dahlz before the infamous sand ladder, where I just ran an even tempo and didn’t go for the best split.
At this point I was pretty pumped knowing that I was chasing a guy like Pete Jacobs. I didn’t end up catching him, but in the chase I did pull in Spanish athlete Francesc Godoy. It was actually pretty cool… a couple miles to go, the age groupers heading the other direction and spectators were saying, “Good job. Nice pace.” That turned into, “He’s right up there.” And, “You’re catching him!” The cheers got louder and more positive with each step I took. Finally I rolled out onto Marina Blvd, saw him maybe 30m ahead, and I started growling! It was 600m to go, and what else do you do at 600m to go in a race but growl? (watch this video of Gabe Jennings and the growl) He kept looking back, which is like a shark smelling blood to a runner. Finally, just before we got onto the grass for the finishing stretch, I got around Francesc to finish in 5th place.
5th in 2:09:32 (5:05 behind the fastest)
In the finish chute I looked around and saw Javier Gomez, Graham O’Grady, Jesse Thomas, Pete Jacobs… and that’s it! Holy moley! I had just competed in the deepest triathlon of my career, and came out just behind some serious studs. After the race I was pretty quickly overcome with congratulations, beginning with my girlfriend Mo’s parents Peg and Chris who came to watch me race, and then from friends and family via texts, Twitter, phone calls and email. Racing well is fun and so rewarding when it comes after you’ve been working really hard. This race was a good affirmation that I am headed down the right path with The Triathlon Squad and Coach Paulo Sousa and will also serve as a great motivator as I go back to work to knock off those last five minutes separating me from the top of the sport.
Back to Powadise (Poway, CA) and back to work. I will be racing the SUPERSEAL race in Coronado on March 16, which will be fun to get in a local race. I hear this is a great event and I am looking forward to a fast course. If you are in the area, come down to race or to just watch and enjoy Coronado Island.
After piling onto a boat with 2,000 others and jumping into those frigid waters, a kindred bond develops that transcends the professional and age group ranks. It is part of the reason I fell in love with this event last year and why I will likely return every year I have the chance. Sadly, this fraternity of Alcatraz “convicts” lost one of its own on Sunday. Condolences to the family that had to say goodbye to a father and husband before he boarded the San Francisco Belle, and never got the chance to congratulate him on his “escape.” I can’t even imagine.
Posted on February 25th, 2013 No comments
8:23 am Yesterday started with a swim in the Pacific. My first race is Escape from Alcatraz, exactly one week away, and the water will be cold. This was just a little preview of what’s to come in San Francisco.
10:43 am We met Coach Paulo at Lake Miramar for a run workout. Upon arrival, we were told 30 minutes warm up, 10 km tempo, and 10 minutes cool down. We ended up with a sub 33:00 10k.
2:36 pm Lunch and lots of snacks ate up the couple of hours we had before heading out on a 2 hour cruise around Poway. Nothing crazy, just getting the work done.
5:21 pm Snack, change, and out the door to Rancho Penasquitos. 40 minute cruise run for me and Joe. Eric joined on his mountain bike for some active-recovering and GoPRO action. We often see the sunset from the trails (last night’s was the fifth day in a row), so it seems fitting that we now have a video documenting it.
I don’t often blog about my training days, because they are all pretty much the same thing. We swim; we bike; we run. Everyday is hard work, and each session is an opportunity to improve. Coach Paulo stresses being completely engaged in every interval, session, and the entire process. We all have big dreams in this sport, and it is with these dreams in mind that we face each challenge.
The Triathlon Squad is launching a fundraising drive this week. If you support the work we do everyday, and our commitments to fulfilling life long dreams, you should consider making a donation. Every little bit helps (e.g. $10 covers the costs for one swim lane for one hour). Please go to The Triathlon Squad’s website for further details.
Posted on February 12th, 2013 No comments
Wrestling, one of the earliest and most elemental Olympic sports, was dropped from the Summer Games on Tuesday in a stunning and widely criticized decision by the International Olympic Committee. (The New York Times)
I am a fan of The Olympic Games; I love everything about the Games, and everything that they stand for. They are the pinnacle of competition, perhaps the most ethnically diverse event in the world, and they only occur once every four years — which amounts to perhaps just one or two opportunities for each generation to compete. Being an Olympic Champion is rare; being an Olympian is rare; the Games themselves are rare. Is there any wonder why anyone might dedicate their entire lives to the dream?
I have. I am doing it now. I have moved away from home, away from a great relationship, put off higher education, distanced myself from a successful career in Engineering, and asked family to fund it all. I’m not the first person to do this — I’m confident that every Olympian has had to make similar, and often more drastic, sacrifices. For me and my fellow dreamers, these sacrifices are easy to make knowing that we will someday have our chance to become Olympians. Carpe diem. If I don’t make it, it won’t be for lack of effort or commitment, but for lack of ability. If that is my Olympic fate, that is something I can live with. I just didn’t have what it takes. The Olympics are for the very best only.
Now imagine if the Olympics were gone. My daily motivations and sacrifices would all be in vain. All for nothing. I can’t imagine how devastating that would be. Sadly, this is what wrestlers around the world were faced with this morning. Kids that have already begun to devote themselves to their task, being the best wrestler the world has ever seen, are now looking at a future without their dream. Perhaps I am being dramatic, but to me, this news is just devastating.
I’m not going to get into the merits of wrestling as an Olympic sport, and whether another sport should be on the chopping block instead. For any sport that has been apart of The Games for a number of Olympic quadrennials to be dropped is sad. The Olympics are about tradition, and with the exclusion of wrestling from The Games, part of that tradition is dying.
But I realize the IOC has reasons to limit the number of events included. With every sport that is added, The Games become more and more diluted. Amazing stories, great performances, and whole sports get lost in the Olympic frenzy. But I can’t complain, my dream wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the IOC’s vision to keep The Games modern and evolving with the rest of the world.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that The Olympic Games are special and shouldn’t be taken for granted. I am thankful that I still have a chance to pursue my Olympic dream, and today was a great reminder of just how precious that is. You often hear people talk about the journey being just as rewarding as the end result. Well here’s to taking a moment to realize I am on that journey, now, and how fortunate I am to still be on a path that leads to The Olympics.
Posted on January 23rd, 2013 No comments
Every week, twice a week, for the last four weeks we have gone to a climb called “Bandy Canyon” for some 5 minute intervals on the bike. The consensus among the Squad is that this workout sucks. What makes it so loathsome is that we have to keep our cadence below 60 rpm’s. At that cadence, it feels more like doing squats than riding a bike. This begs the question why don’t we just go to a gym for a “weight session” and do some squats? And the answer to that question is we are professional triathletes — we get paid to ride our bikes fast, not for having toned quads.
Since Coach Paulo had already made a couple videos of the other pieces to the money maker puzzle (i.e. swimming and running), it was time for a bike video. Below is a video from today’s Bandy Canyon hill repeats, where we work (play) hard.
Posted on January 10th, 2013 1 comment
Check out the newest video Coach Paulo Sousa made from today’s swim with Eric “The Swede” Lagerstrom, Joe “The King of Pop” Maloy, and myself, Jason “The Dane” Pedersen.
Posted on January 4th, 2013 No comments
Back in Poway and back to work with the Triathlon Squad! Here is a quick video Coach Paulo made from our hill repeats session today. The workout was 15 minute warm up, 12 x 30 seconds hill with a 1 minute jog down recovery, and 15 minute cool down. Lots of fun!
Posted on December 31st, 2012 1 comment
If you know me personally, you know I like data. I have always been a diligent workout-logger (not to be confused with a workout-slogger). I earned the nickname “Point 1″ my freshman year at NAU for telling coach my long run of the summer had been 13 point 1 miles. My teammates would later go on to call me “Gadget,” as I was an early adopter of running with Garmins. I like looking at numbers, making graphs, and seeing how it all adds up to the big picture. With that in mind, I thought I’d throw out a lot of numbers from this past year, from training to racing to…
- 1 — Professional podium.
- 6 – Countries stamped into my passport.
- 7 – Days completely off (generally due to travel).
- 12 – I raced 12 times in 2012, 10 of which were multisport races, 1 bike race and 1 road race. (compare that with 14 in 2011, 5 of which were multisport and 9 were on the track)
- 22 — Strava KOM’s. Note: I’m only counting ones that I earned, and still hold, in 2012. Also, run “CR’s” don’t count. They’re too easy.
- 493 – Twitter followers at the end of the year.
- 879 – Total entries in my training log for 2012. (a couple workouts got split into two or three entries, so I would estimate there were 850 unique workouts in there, making an average of 2.32 workouts a day)
- 915 – total hours logged (2.5 hours/day). On my way to 10,000 hours!
- 1,896 – miles run. Well below my 3,655 mile total from a couple years ago.
- 2,550 – Dollars won. *before taxes
- 4,961 — I rode my bike 4,961 miles this year. (276 hours)
- 6,319 – TrainingPeaks estimate of the most calories burned in one day (this is likely way off… I’m not aware of how TrainingPeaks calculates calories burned). This was on Pi day and consisted of two 90 minute swims and a 3.5 hour ride.
- 7,000 — Longest swim of the year was 7,000 yards. Main set was 15×200.
- 1.37 million – yards swum.
Looking forward to more of the same, but faster, in 2013!
Posted on December 22nd, 2012 No comments
One year ago I wrote a post titled “Overcoming my barrier to success.” I wrote about my experience at my first ITU race in Myrtle Beach, how I was well off the back on the swim, and how that would motivate my training in the winter months. As I had planned, I swam a lot in those snowy months, and made some real progress. My race results improved, slightly, but were inconsistent and more often than not, unsatisfactory. I often came out of the water too far back to have a meaningful impact on the race at the front, and it is clear that swimming still is my biggest barrier to success.
As this season wound down, I thought about what I will do different than last year. Swim more. Well that’s one option. Put in more hard yards by myself staring at a black line. Trials of miles; miles of trials. Sort of a brute force option. I believe in the value of all those high mileage weeks I put in as a runner, perhaps I just need more of that in swimming?
I then considered what the best in the world are doing. How have they become the best triathletes in the world? Next to hard work, the next most consistent attribute appeared to be a daily training environment that demanded excellence. Much like Alberto Salazar and his group with Galen Rupp and Mo Farah in the running world, the best triathletes in the world are training together and under the scrutiny of talented coaches. Does this exist in triathlon in the US? I looked around and found a couple groups with foreign coaches that occasionally train in the US, like Darren Smith’s and Joel Filliol’s squads. There was also Paulo Sousa and his group, called The Triathlon Squad, whom train out of the San Diego area. I looked into it more, and even sat down to meet and speak with Paulo, and I like what I heard.
The mission of the Squad is to develop elite triathletes capable of competing successfully at an international level. Triathlon is a sport where athletes don’t reach their full potential and race their best until several years after starting to race at the professional level. Therefore, the purpose of this program is to provide a comprehensive, positive and supportive environment that prepares emerging elite triathletes for their highest performance ability in the coming years. Toward that end, the program provides an optimal training environment as well as the guidance necessary to develop the skills required for world-class performances in triathlon.
How am I going to become a better swimmer and triathlete? I decided to really go for it and begin working with ‘The Squad.’ About three and a half weeks ago I packed up my mini van in Tucson, and headed west for the first Squad camp of 2013. As you may expect, we did lots of training, eating, sleeping, and thinking about training. There was a great mix of athletes to train with, former swimmers, short-course, long-course, new pro’s and seasoned vets. Each of these athletes can push me in swim/bike/run in some capacity, and there is always much to be learnt when you get a group of highly motivated individuals together.
So there’s that. Training in a competitive group environment will surely help me progress. Equally important to my development, however, especially at this stage of my triathlon career, is the technical and mental aspects Paulo enforces. In addition to getting the work in, Paulo puts a large emphasis on “focus” and “engagement” on each session, something that I need to work on. I am great at putting my head down and hammering, which works well for fitness and can be a good skill to have in endurance racing, but can make things difficult when trying to make changes to technique.
Camp ended on Thursday and I am now back in Simi Valley to spend the holidays with my family. After New Year’s I plan to drive back down to San Diego and get back to work with The Squad for at least a few more months until the racing season begins. Lots of work to do before then!
Posted on December 5th, 2012 No comments
I posted these videos to my Facebook a couple of years ago after I first saw it at Flagstaff’s Orpheum Theatre as part of the Real Rock Tour. Since then, I have kind of rediscovered the man, the myth, the legend Ueli Steck a number of times, including tonight while perusing Youtube with Eric Lagerstrom.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Swiss Machine, check out these two videos. After watching these, you will be convinced that “more and more train” is the solution to all your problems.
That’s not the limit. I am just faster than the others, but that’s exactly not the point. I can do it much better.
Note the badass musical choice in this second film. Loyal RunPD followers will recognize it from here.