End of training vacation

Happy Birthday Hortense!

Your first 10 days being 26 promise to be epic!

The first day of our vacation in Cabo coincides with the beginning of the training season. Thus, one vacation is ending (training) while one begins (late honeymoon). Our honeymoon will double as an early season training camp! Sounds crazy, I know. But training in Cabo San Lucas will hardly be rough, I’m looking forward to hour long swims (water temp is in the 80’s) in the ocean, mixed in with lots of surfing and some long runs exploring the never-ending beaches. Being active is the best way to explore and discover and its what Hortense and I love to do. Plus, I am more than ready to get back into some training, the 4 weeks off have revitalized my body and rejuvenated my mind while replenishing my motivation.

The best thing for me while not training was having extra time. Having time to leisurely enjoy this opportunity with friends and family was a real treat. Today marks the 25th day of no structured training. I was still active, playing water polo once, riding my mtn.bike to work almost everyday, yoga, and doing weights (first time in 2 years). Having the start of the training season coincide with a vacation will make the transition even more enjoyable, I’m very eager to treasure some hot weather and have all day to train. By ‘all day’ I mean any time during the day, I don’t plan on doing any more that 2 hours of actual training. That leaves 22 hours to do all kinds of fun things. .

Simple Drills to Improve Run Economy

Simple Drills to Improve Run Economy
By Matt Russ

Run economy is an often overlooked aspect of a proper training program, mainly due to lack of technical knowledge. Along with VO2 max and lactate threshold, economy is one of the three pillars of running. Utilizing your energy in the most efficient manner possible is the key part of speed progression. Simply put; the more fluid and graceful you are, the less oxygen you will be using as you run.

As fitness improves and speed increases an inefficient run stride will become a major limiter. You may reach a point where progress plateaus until your form issues are addressed. Economy is not something that can be perfected in a single work out. It takes time and thousands of proper strides before the form will become automatic and subconscious. You should work on your running form every time you run, or at least check it to make sure you are not going back to old (bad) habits. If you are a novice runner the sooner you work on your form the better. It is much more difficult to change form that has been reinforced by years of bad habit.

Having good form does not just improve speed, it can help prevent injury. When you run you land with a force three times your body weight. By reducing vertical oscillation and braking forces you lesson the stress and impact forces on your body.

Stride Rate

Improving stride rate is a good place to start your economy work. If you have a low stride rate you are likely producing more vertical oscillation. This means you are projecting energy and motion upwards instead of forward, and producing greater impact forces. Running should be akin to flying with your feet briefly touching the ground. An elite runner’s feet touch the ground for as little as one tenth of a second per stride. The more time your feet spend on the ground, the more energy you are wasting. You want to aspire to a stride rate of 180-190 strides per minute. If you are a beginner in all likelihood your stride rate is closer to 170 strides per minute, or lower. Don’t worry about your stride length; your stride will naturally lengthen as your stride rate increases. Count your left or right foot strides for 20 seconds. You should be in the 30-32 stride per minute range. Increasing stride rate will initially feel awkward, and may seem like you are taking “baby steps” while running, but this is a good sign. Plan on taking several months and a lot of practice before increasing your stride rate. Be patient.

Stride Rate Drills

Turn Overs: Turn overs train your neuromuscular system to move your legs faster than they are used to. You will use a short stride and fast stride rate. This may feel a bit awkward initially. Visualize a Sandpiper running on the beach and move your legs as quickly as you can while keeping a short stride. Be sure to lengthen your stride at the end of the drill and do not stop abruptly as it will be hard on your body. You can do 4-6 turn over of 50 meters after your run strides.

Walk / Run Progression: Start by walking with a fast turn over and proceed to your walk / run threshold. Move your feet as fast as you can while maintaining a walk. Now slowly and seamlessly progress into a slow run with a fast turn over. Your stride rate should be about the same. You will find that your stride is smooth and that there is little vertical movement.

Metronome Running: A metronome is a timing device used by musicians. It can be purchased at your local music store for around $25. Be sure to get a small, portable, battery operated unit. Dial in 180 beats per minute on your metronome and match your footfalls to the beat. Once you get your rhythm down get on a treadmill and practice maintaining 180 s.p.m. at a variety of speeds and grades. You can also download a digital metronome and save it to your MP3 or CD player. Go to http://www.milsoftware.com/crystalmetronome/ for details.

Foot Strike

Your foot should strike forcefully directly under your center of gravity or hip. Visualize a line from your belly button to the ball of your foot. If your foot lands before or after this point there are braking forces that will decelerate you. I recommend a mid foot strike just aft of the ball of the foot. A mid foot strike limits the amount of time your foot spends “rolling” along the ground when compared to a heal strike. The less contact time your foot has with the ground the better. Use a quick contraction of the muscles in your lower legs during push off, or a “pawing” motion.

Foot Strike drills

Barefoot Running: Running in thickly padded shoes on even surfaces does not make the muscles of the foot and lower leg work very hard. You also transfer more of your energy to your shoes and less to the ground. When you run in bare feet you naturally use a forefoot strike and strengthen the foot and lower leg muscles. Not only does this give you a better foot strike feel, it helps prevent injury. Start by spending as much time as possible walking in bare feet. Add barefoot running very gradually into your training starting with just one session per week. Make sure the surface you are running on is well tended and clean of debris, such as a golf course or athletic field.
o Marching: Begin by walking slowly forward on the balls of your feet, making sure your heels do not touch the ground. Use small steps about 12 inches in length. Next raise your right knee to hip level (so that your thigh is parallel to the ground) on each stride. Draw your heel along your inseam as you raise your leg. Your right ankle should be directly under or slightly behind your right knee, and your right foot should be ‘cocked’ (toes pointing upwards). This will form a “Z” formation with your foot, lower leg, and thigh. Rise on the toes of the left foot as you bring your right knee to hip level. Hold your chin and trunk upright. As you get acclimated to the leg mechanics start swinging your arms slowly in rhythm with the marching stride. Use proper arm motion (see below), and do not lean backwards.
o Repeat this action with the opposite leg, raising the knee to hip level and moving through a normal walking stride for 50 meters.


When running, picture yourself as a puppet controlled by marionette with a string attached to your head. The string holds your posture vertical and perpendicular to the ground. Keep your chest out, eyes on a point about 30 feet in front of you, and head fixed. A slumped posture restricts your breathing. Hips should be tall and back strait. Keep all your motion projected into the forward plane and avoid any lateral or vertical motion.

It is hard to correct your form if you can not see it. To get some visual feedback position a mirror at various positions around your treadmill, or better yet, use a video camera equipped with slow motion to video yourself running.

Hips Tall Position: Stand with feet at comfortable distance apart and slowly rise, supporting body high on balls of feet- Squeeze abdominals

Arm Motion

Your arm motion acts as a counterbalance to the hips. If you have a very stiff upper body while running, your shoulders will rotate causing an opposing movement of the hips; again wasted energy. Try keeping your shoulders loose and your arms swinging like pendulums from your shoulders. Your arms should work in the same rhythm as your legs. Keep your hands relaxed and thumbs up.

A longer lever arm takes more energy to move. Keep your lever arm short by maintaining a fixed 90 degree angle at the elbow and making sure your arms do not drop below the level of your waist. There should be no movement at the elbow when running. Your arms should work freely forward to back and should not cross the midline of your body; remember all energy forward. Keep your hands loose, thumbs up, and don’t clench your fists.

Arm Motion Drills

Side Brush: Gently brush the side of your ribcage with the palms of your hands as your run. If you have a fixed angle at the elbow you can not “reach” with your hands.

Pendulum: Concentrate on relaxing your shoulders, especially the trapezius muscles, by performing a few shoulder shrugs. Now swing your arms loosely front to back, keeping a fixed 90 degree angle at the elbow. Make sure you are not rotating your shoulders. Slowly speed up the movement while maintaining a relaxed swing. Are you shoulders relaxed?


Simply put, strides are running with perfect form. I recommend you perform strides at the beginning of your work out before you are fatigued. Work on your key limiter. Start off slowly running 100 meters concentrating on your form. Walk back to your starting point and gradually increase speed and distance as you maintain perfect running form. Strides are a great warm up activity and should be an integral part of weekly training.

As you can see there is a lot more to running than just moving your body faster. If you are reinforcing bad form you are working against yourself. A lot of economy problems are just bad habit, but some are caused by an injury, biomechanical problem, or flexibility issue. The best course of action is to get some professional eyes on you and identify your individual issues. I video my runners on a treadmill and play different shots of their stride back in slow motion. This gives very precise visual feedback on what they are doing right and wrong. Don’t try to change everything at once, or overnight. Your pace may actually slow slightly as you adapt to new form- be patient. Work on the most glaring problem with your economy and perfect it, then move on to the next. I never attempt to work on more than 1-2 parts of the run stride per session. Work on flat terrain as it is easier to focus on form. Finally, realize that even if you are an experienced runner with great form it is still a good idea to check your economy regularly. Old habits do die hard. .

Aerobic Base Training- Going Slower to Get Faster

Aerobic Base Training- Going Slower to Get Faster
By Matt Russ

One of the hardest concepts for an athlete to understand and implement is base training. It is counterintuitive to run or bike slowly in order to gain performance later in the season. It is also very difficult to take a step back from the intense training you were doing a few weeks ago, and bring the speed and pace way down. But if you have the discipline to train aerobically for a period of time, when everyone else is still hammering away, it will pay you dividends down the road.

First and foremost you need a break. I prescribe a 3-4 week transition phase at the end of each season and immediately follow it with base training. Transition is a time to rest and recover both physically and mentally. We do not take total time off because the fitness loss takes too long to make up. Instead I give my athletes maximum flexibility with their training, plenty of rest, and let them leave the heart rate monitor at home. This gives them a few weeks to refocus before we begin structured base training. You can not train hard year round without taking regular periods of reduced volume and intensity. If you attempt to you will in all likelihood find yourself burned out, over trained, and perhaps injured. You will also find your performance degrading rather than improving. Most athletes build base in the fall and winter when there are not a lot of races. If one of my athletes wants to race during base we call it a “C” fun / training race and do not set any performance goals.

Physiology of base training

There are two basic energy systems you use when training; anaerobic and aerobic. Unfortunately, you can not build both your aerobic and anaerobic systems at the same time very well. The idea behind base training is to train your aerobic energy system specifically and solely. Why is this important? The more work you perform aerobically, or in the presence of oxygen, the more efficient you are. Prolonged aerobic training produces muscular adaptations that improves oxygen transport to the muscles, reduces the rate of lactate formation, improves the rate of lactate removal, and increases energy production and utilization. These adaptations occur slowly over time.

Fat is a primary fuel source for the aerobic energy system. Over the course of a base period your body learns to more readily break down and utilize fat as an energy source. As an added bonus this adaptation helps post exercise fat metabolism as well. This is an important factor, especially for long distance athletes. The fat we have in our bodies could provide enough energy to perform many distance events back to back, whereas muscle glycogen depletion can occur in as little as one hour. The less muscle glycogen you utilize, the more efficient you are. Contrary to the aerobic system, the anaerobic system consumes carbohydrate rapidly and the byproduct is lactic acid.

Other adaptations of aerobic training include increased stroke volume of the heart, capillary density, and mitochondrial density. Stroke volume increase simply means that your heart pumps more blood per beat. Mitochondria are structures within muscle cells that produce energy from fat and carbohydrate oxidation. Think of them as tiny batteries for muscle contractions. Regular endurance training can double these structures (1). By increasing capillary density we can effectively transport more blood to the working muscles. The process of building capillaries occurs gradually. Because high stress training breaks down capillaries, base training is best for allowing the slow growth of capillaries.

Base progression

There should be progression during base season as with any other training period. I normally prescribe 12-16 weeks of base training. This will vary with athlete’s fitness level, and the type of event they will be peaking for. Over the course of base I progress from the low end of the aerobic energy system and gradually proceed in steps to the high end. The heart rate zones I use fall into the 71-90% range of lactate threshold or 61-80% of max heart rate. I also incorporate specific strength training at an aerobic level. This entails different types of low cadence cycling and slow hill running or even walking. These work outs also increase in volume throughout base. Base training is an excellent time to work on form and economy as well. As intensities increase later in the season it is harder for the athlete to concentrate on form. By establishing good economy habits early in the season the athlete will carry them forth. It also important to keep the athlete’s mind moving with drills and technique work when they are training at low intensity to keep boredom at bay. Base training does not mean you will never move fast. Run strides, foot speed drills, and fast pedal work can all be integrated. Towards the end of base I start power work but use brief durations and full recovery between efforts.

How does this transfer into performance gain?

Let me give you a hypothetical example. Suppose athlete Sam runs a 7 min. mile at lactate threshold. His fastest aerobic pace, or aerobic threshold, is an 8 min. mile. We start off Sam’s base training at the low end aerobic zones at which he runs a 9 min. mile and he begrudgingly complies. Over the course of his 12 week base program the above mentioned adaptations occur. At the end of his base season he now runs a 7:30 min. mile- aerobically. This is the “base” for Sam to build on for the rest of his season. Improving on the previous season is now more obtainable with proper training. If Sam’s race is an Iron Man in which the aerobic energy system is used predominantly this improvement in aerobic speed is crucial.

Now the hard part…

The hard part of base training is having the discipline to train at these low intensities. It may mean running very slowly or even walking. It may mean separating from your training group in order to pursue your individual goals. It also means avoiding the contest of egos that group training often turns into. If you can find a training partner with similar goals and fitness level you may be able to train with them, but more often than not what I see is a base work gone awry. Even spending short amounts of time above your aerobic zone degrades the work out.

The area between the top of the aerobic threshold and anaerobic threshold is somewhat of a no mans land of fitness. It is a mix of aerobic and anaerobic states. For the amount of effort the athlete puts forth, not a whole lot of fitness is produced. It does not train the aerobic or anaerobic energy system to a high degree. This area does have its place in training; it is just not in base season. Unfortunately this area is where I find a lot of athletes spending the majority of their seasons, which retards aerobic development. The athletes heart rate shoots up to this zone with little power or speed being produced when it gets there.

Another issue is having accurate zones. I regularly performance test my athletes in order to ensure their zones are correct and to confirm their training. After performing many of these tests, and comparing them to race data, I get a very clear estimate of lactate threshold. I use a percentage of LTHR to determine individual zones. I also recommend validation through clinical testing. I have witnessed athletes using zones that are several years old. Assuming fitness has improved over this time their zones would no longer be accurate and they may have spent an entire base season training the wrong energy system.

You have to let your anaerobic system atrophy during base. This means you will loose some of your anaerobic endurance and the ability to sustain speed near lactate threshold. Expect to loose some top end coming out of base, but this is what you are going to spend the rest of your season working on. It often takes several seasons to see the result of sound base training if you are a novice athlete. Be patient, it is a process that is slow and can not be rushed, but the sooner you get started the faster you will be..

The 6 Most Common Athlete Misconceptions

The 6 Most Common Athlete Misconceptions
By Matt Russ

In my experience, I believe there are a few common misconceptions many athletes have.

1. Miles = Speed. Going farther does not necessarily mean getting faster. If you put in a lot of weekly miles, but lack any specific training, you are really only (over) training your endurance. If you want to run, bike, or swim fast, you must run, bike, or swim fast. This means interval training for strength, power, aerobic capacity, and lactate threshold training. I tend to be conservative with my athletes’ training miles. I don’t want an athlete doing one more mile than he or she needs to. If your goal is to build endurance, it is not necessary to go more than 10-15% over race distance. Only a portion of your training should be dedicated to building and maintaining endurance. The rest should be shorter, more specific workouts that address your specific limiters.

2. A month off is good for you. Take a month off and you will spend the next 8+ weeks getting back to your previous fitness level. This means spending a large portion of the season training to rebuild fitness instead of building. Fitness falls off very quickly. A transition or maintenance phase is far preferable to time off. You can reduce training volume by as much as 80% and still maintain a level of fitness as long as you are training at the right intensity. Transition phases last 4-6 weeks and are an informal training period. It is a great time to cross train or do other activities. The main focus is rest and recovery while seeking to maintain a level of fitness. More than one total week off is not a good thing unless required.

3. I made it through my workout; therefore I ate and drank enough. There is a big difference between what is optimal and what you can get by on. I often see athletes gravitate towards the latter. Dehydration raises heart rate and lowers endurance. Glycogen depletion leaves you with little energy for high intensity work. Not eating or drinking enough degrades your performance. You may be able to complete the work out, but you could have pushed harder, gone faster, and accomplished more if you had followed a good fueling and hydration plan. The longer your training session, the more important this becomes.

4. I swear this made me faster. Some dietary supplements do work; most do not. Just because a pro endorses a particular product does not mean it will work for you. Don’t forget, pros get paid to promote these products and, therefore, they may have little objectivity. Supplements are an easy sell and have little regulation. All a manufacturer needs is a claim, a good marketing campaign, and an endorsement and they will sell just about anything. The supplements that do work usually have some sort of blind clinical studies behind them. Look for objective sources of information and be careful what you put in your body. Remember, there are no free lunches.

5. (Insert name here) does it, therefore I should do it. If you were to scrutinize 5 top athletes, they would in all likelihood find 5 different ways they got there. Training is a mixture of art and science. A good training plan addresses the athlete specifically and no two athletes are alike. Of course there are principles that should be a part of every training plan, but you should not try to copy another (successful) athlete’s training plan. It is like trying to run in their shoes. Recovery, limiters, fitness levels, goals and objectives, and experience are all individual factors that should be addressed in your plan. If we all tried to train like Lance, most of us would be dead.

6. Close enough is good enough. Training requires precision. For example, the difference between a good aerobic capacity workout and a non-productive one can be a few heartbeats and seconds. In order for adaptation to occur, the body has to have a new stress level placed on it. This means breaking new ground. If you apply the same level of stress, or less, you will not get faster. The nearer you are to your goal race, and as work out intensity goes up, the more important this becomes. Athletes are often surprised when I tell them their workout did not accomplish much because they were slightly below or even above where they should have been. They may have worked hard and were very fatigued, but did not have that last little push that to take them to the next level.

So there you have it. Put these misconceptions behind you and you will be well on your way to training more efficiently and effectively. .

ITU Triathlon World Cup in New Plymouth, New Zealand has amazing finish

World Cup finish in New Zealand (click image for video of amazing finish)

Photo gallery link

Full results

Bevan Is Back-Kemper Wins Overall Title (November 12, 2005 )

Despite a squall that swept through during the bike course, the unsettled weather could not dampen the spirit of the most dramatic finish to a World Cup Triathlon ever.

ITU Tiszaujvaros and Hamburg World Cup events earlier this year claimed the right to “most dramatic finish ever!”, but that title was stolen from them today in New Plymouth. Within a few hundred metres of the finish the final result was anyone’s call as the world’s best triathletes charged head to head to the finish.

As Kiwi team-mates Kris Gemmell and Bevan Docherty (2004 World Champion and 2004 Olympic Games Silver Medalist) charged to the finish, Rasmus Henning of Denmark (multiple World Cup Champion), Hunter Kemper of the USA (the 2005 World Cup overall leader) and Aussie team-mates Brad Kahlefeldt and Courtney Atkinson shadowed their every move.

This showdown in the dying minutes of the 10km run segment of the World Cup Triathlon was preceded by a challenging 1.5km swim and a 40km bike.

Courtney Atkinson of Australia and USA team-mates Andy Potts and Matt Reed led through the opening 2 lap swim section and then almost escaped the major players in the field onto the 40km bike segment. USA’s Hunter Kemper was wise to their tactics and organized a group around him to make sure the trio did not escape off the front.

Meanwhile the chase pack was desperately trying to make up lost ground and with the likes of Paul Amy leading the charge they moved to within 40 seconds of the leaders by the final 10km of the bike.

Several brave souls attempted to break from the bike group at the front, but most failed until Marko Albert of Estonia got away and took Aussie team-mates Chris Hill and Greg Bennett with him as well as Andy Potts of the USA.

By the time the breakaway group hit the bike to run transition they had 44 seconds on the 24 athletes in the chase pack. Bennett was the first to emerge from the transition and for the first 2km it looked as if an Aussie might claim a World Cup title in Kiwi-land.

Sadly for the many “Team Bennett” fans this was not to be as charging Kiwi mates, Kris Gemmell and Bevan Docherty soaked up the adulation of their country-mates that lined the course.

By the 5km mark it looked as though the two New Zealanders would demolish the field, until Rasmus Henning of Denmark, Hunter Kemper, and Aussie team-mates Brad Kahlefeldt and Courtney Atkinson started to reel them in.

The final 300 metres was the most dramatic the sport has ever seen. Kris Gemmell began his sprint early, and although everyone responded it looked as if he would take the top honours.

However, just the way he did at the 2004 ITU Madeira Triathlon World Championships, Bevan Docherty responded and charged past Gemmell in the finish straight to take his first World Cup win of the year. At the same time he recaptured the hearts of the New Zealand nation the way he did in 2004 with his silver medal victory at the Athens Olympic Games.

Kris Gemmell, the undisputed favourite of many in planet Triathlon was second by a hair, and Rasmus Henning was 3rd. Hunter Kemper won the overall World Cup title by placing 4th as Brad Kahlefeldt rounded out the top 5.

Kemper, Tim Don (GBR) and Kahlefeldt won the top 3 places on the overall World Cup and took home their share of the $100,000us bonus pool

For the 90,000 spectators who were watching the event live on www.triathlon.org the event was as real as if they were sitting in the stadium.

High resolution ITU Media photos (Photographer Delly Carr’s photos) are available – please contact Adrienne@triathlon.org

Please visit www.triathlon.org for complete results and photos.

The ITU World Cup Series is a 16 race series contested by the leading Olympic distance triathletes in the world. All events are contested over the Olympic distance of 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run. For more information about ITU Events please contact: ituhdq@triathlon.org


Return of the Mountain Man: Treasure Island

Return of the Mountain Man: Treasure Island
By Kelly Guest

November 8, 2005 –Last weekend I raced the Tri California Series Championships at Treasure Island, San Francisco. It was an interesting weekend — racing and otherwise.

First of all, I can’t say enough about the Tri California crew. They put on great events. It has been so much fun doing the Tri-Cal series. This is partly due to the amazing crewmembers whom I have had the chance to get to know. They really treat you like a friend. For example, I had to have a set of bars cut down, so I asked some of the crew if they had any tools I could borrow. They did better than that – one of the fellows, Chad, found a hacksaw and cut the bars for me, just like that. Then he asked if I was hungry, and the second I’d uttered my usual response to the question — “Uhm, yeah” — boom, I was sitting down to a bowl of homemade soup in the old airplane hanger the crew uses to hold their gear.

When I go to races now, I usually car camp. By that I mean that I drop the back seats of my rental car down so I can sleep back there, and I put my bike across the front seats. The biggest advantage of car camping is that I am right at the race when I wake up in the morning – yes, it’s a little rustic, but it works, and it helps keep the travel expenses down. Generally, if I have a late start, like I did in the Treasure Island race, I will find a little nook to park the car in so I’m just far enough away from it all to not be disturbed by the earlier wave starts. I was pleased to discover that at Treasure Island, which is an old military base, there are plenty of nooks to choose from.

I found what I thought would be a great spot to park. So there I was, the night before the race, sound asleep in the back of my rental car, when I was awakened by a voice over a loud speaker. It said, “Step out of the vehicle with your hands up! Step out of the vehicle, with your hands up!” Then, when I stepped out of the vehicle with my hands up, the voice told me to, “Step away from the vehicle! Keep your hands up and walk slowly toward my voice!”

The person behind the voice was hidden by an amazing amount of really bright lights that were blinding me. I thought to myself, “I hope these people are the police.” I figured if it was the police, then I could explain what I was doing. I also figured if it wasn’t the police, I was in big trouble.

Luckily, it was the police. I stood in my pajamas with my hands up against the wall as one of the officers watched me and the other searched my truck. Upon finding nothing except my bike stuffed in the front seat and a pile of lycra clothing, one of the officers asked me what I was doing there. I explained I was in the triathlon the next day and I was simply trying to get some sleep. As soon as they heard that, both of them started laughing. They shook my hand, wished me good luck in the race and started chit-chatting with me. I wanted to say, “This is fun and all but it is 10 minutes to one in the morning — and I need a change of pajamas.” But, in the end, I decided against it.

After that experience, the race was pretty uneventful. As usual, Tri California put on a real top-shelf event. My race didn’t go nearly as well as I had hoped for. I am not sure what happened in the swim, but I seemed to go backwards and with great skill and speed.

Exiting the water, I heard the announcer say that the group that I was in was a minute and a half down on the leading group. This was a deficit I did not recovered on the bike. In fact, it grew. By the end of the bike, I heard people saying that I was over two and a half minutes down.

I headed out on the run and squeezed everything I could out of my tired body to run my way back into the race. The cool part of this event (at least for me) was the race within the race. This was the Tri California point series championship — a series that I went into the event leading. I had figured I needed to finish within two places of Brian Lavelle to maintain the series lead. Unfortunately, he came off the bike in the lead group two and a half minutes ahead of me. In the last kilometer I managed to run into ninth place. Brian was in seventh place. Mission accomplished.

So in the end I managed to hang on to the Tri California series title, and I have a great story to tell. Really, isn’t that what our sport is all about — great people, challenging courses and lots of good stories?

Until, next time this is the Mountain Man saying, “Keep an open mind to every situation and it may well turn out to be your next great story!” .

Treasure Island Triathlon

Racing with the ‘Fast Guys’

Getting ready to warm upRace MonringEarly race morning; looks like a perfect day!The first waves of the triathlon have gone and the race is in progress behind those boats

I’ve had one prevailing thought in my head since 12:20 (shortly after my first professional transition). And I’m hoping that writing this will somehow therapeutically free my thoughts. First of all, I had a fantastic time in my debut as a professional triathlete. The entire race was exhilarating; I had a smile on my face for much of it and loved finally being in the thick of it. The swim couldn’t have been better, Paul Tichelaar went out fast at the beginning and I managed to get on his 6-beat kick, feet. It remained like that for most of the first lap and into the second lap. There were some other swimmers right next to me (Brian Fleischmann and Matt Reed) and we were fighting for the same draft so I went to the third position to alleviate this. And I stayed on those feet for the rest of the swim.

The refreshing water3rd place out of the water. just in front of Matt Reed

The drafting was awesome; it was much easier than I anticipated. I had enough in me to go for the fastest swim but felt my position was perfect for getting in the leading draft pack and conserving energy for the rest of the race. So I finished at a moderate pace just holding my position right behind the leader.

I was out of the water in a flash in 3rd position and running to my bike, I reached behind to grab the string and unzip my wetsuit. No string; reached again, no string; I circumnavigated my entire back with out finding it. I focused on finding that string for what seemed like eternity, still no string. I was now starting to lose precious seconds on my competitors. If only I could have seen the debacle taking place behind me I probably would have laughed as the string danced around my grasping fingers. I slowed down hoping to at least let the string fall straight and true. At last, I had the elusive string in my hand. I pulled, but it did not want to unzip, by now I had reached T1 and swimmers I was with and ahead were on there way out. For a micro-second I thought I might not be able to race, I couldn’t continue in my wetsuit!? I was angry; that’s when I gave a forceful tug on the string, half wanting the suit to rip apart. Ahhhhhh, it came undone. But the damage had been done. Those precious 20 seconds were more than enough for the first draft pack to form and surge ahead.

In hind sight, part of my problem is picking total strangers at every race to zip me up. They all do it differently. This guy put my string under the pull over Velcro. And it’s my fault for not checking it until I was under the pressure of a race situation. My pull over Velcro is torn so I thought I had un-done it, when it was actually the torn flap. This made it all the more difficult for me to find the darn thing. When I was angry enough to tear off the suit into a thousand pieces, my forceful tug undid the Velcro and my race resumed in earnest.

Luckily there were 3 other good swimmers who were just off the pace of the lead group. These were to be my team-mates for the remainder of the 6 lap bike course. Through-out the first two laps we were agonizing close to the lead group. After the second lap someone shouted out that we were only 18 seconds back. Alas, the gap was not to be bridged. The 4 of us could not catch the leading group of 8 riders. I knew that if I had made that first pack my ride would have been easier and faster, leaving me with more energy for the run. I was thinking about this way too much during the race, (and ever since), and had to scold myself to forget about it!

The other three riders I was with were Branden Rikita, Nenad Rodic, and Todd Menzel. Branden, Nenad and I did most of the pulling. Being in the draft was always a quick recovery before trying to take a pull. We worked OK as a team; I think my lack of experience in a pack contributed to our lack of efficiency. But I tried and learned much from the experience. There was never a worry about getting dropped, even after sprinting a few times in an attempt to catch the lead group.

Near the end of the final lap TJ Tollakson and Andrew Starykowicz bridged from the 3rd chase pack up to us. At the end of the bike I went near the front of our group but wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been to be the first one into the transition. TJ was right in front of me with Andrew in front of him and Branden in the lead. The first lap felt pretty good and I stayed close to Andrew while the other two were getting further ahead. Manny Huerta came flying by around mile 1. He zipped by like I was standing still, I was amazed at his speed. He went on to run a 2nd best 30:28 for the 10K!

T2 off the bikeFinish / 13th

By the start of the second lap, I slowed considerably. Much of the next lap felt like a painfully slow training run. I think a GU and more fluids on the bike would have helped me to a stronger finish, especially because the swim and bike did not max me out.

Out of the 27 pros that started I finished in 13th. I learned a ton and look forward to less unknowns in my next race, allowing for more strategizing. At least I have one pro race under my belt, now, I have 5 months to improve and ready myself for the next race.

Treasure Island Triathlon 2005 Results

Kevin & Andrew chating about the race


Matt Reed successfully defends at Treasure Island

Inside Triathlon

San Francisco, Calif. – Matt Reed of the United States set a race record and successfully defended his 2004 title, and Great Britain’s Leanda Cave broke away from Californian Becky Lavelle on the run to take the wins at the Treasure Island olympic-distance triathlon Saturday, Nov. 5 in San Francisco.

Back in the early-season form that led him as high as second in the ITU World Cup rankings, Reed blew away from an eight-man pack after the bike with a race-best run to top a strong field at Treasure Island, TriCalifornia’s finale to the 2005 season.

Reed’s record 1:51:20 finish on the olympic-distance course was 36 seconds in front of runner-up Paul Tichelaar of Canada and 1:30 ahead of third place Brian Fleischman of the United States.

Reed blazed through the early ITU World Cup season with a 5th at Honolulu, a 2nd at Mazatlan, a 6th at Ishigaki, and a 3rd at Edmonton, then took a 3rd at U.S. Nationals in Bellingham. On Treasure Island, the venue that was part of San Francisco’s bid for the 2012 Olympics, Reed emerged from the water sixth with a 19:56 swim. He rode just under an hour in a group with Ticherlaar, Fleischmann, Timothy O’Donnell, James Loaring, and Brian Lavelle, then blazed out of transition and never looked back on the just-shorter-than 10k run.

Reed’s 30:10 run left all chasers in his dust and marked him as a favorite going into the final ITU World Cup of the season in New Plymouth, New Zealand, next weekend. Reed stands 7th in World Cup standings, just ahead of fellow American Victor Plata and well behind series leader Hunter Kemper.

Cave, who has gradually returned to the form that brought her an upset win at the 2002 ITU World Championship, emerged from the water even with Becky Lavelle in 20:45. The two then excused themselves from the rest of an excellent field on the bike. Their 65-minute ride was 98 seconds faster than the closest pursuers, Samantha McGlone and Carolyn Murray of Canada, and nearly three and a half minutes faster than a chase pack that included Canadians Carol Montgomery, Lauren Groves, and up-and-coming U.S. competitor Sarah Groff.

Cave then put the hammer down with a 34:19 run that put 44 seconds on runner-up Lavelle, enough to hold off the race-best 33:41 run of third place McGlone and the second-best 33:48 run of fourth place Murray. Veteran star Carol Montgomery ran 34:03 to advance to fifth place at the line.

Treasure Island Triathlon. San Francisco, California. November 6, 2005.
S 1.5km/B 40km/R 10km

Overall Results, Women:

  • 1. Leanda Cave (Gbr) 2:01:39
  • 2. Becky Lavelle (USA) 2:02:23
  • 3. Samantha McGlone (Can) 2:04:04
  • 4. Carolyn Murray (Can) 2:04:14
  • 5. Carol Montgomery (Can) 2:06:21
  • 6. Lauren Groves (Can) 2:07:05
  • 7. Sarah Groff (USA) 2:07:59
  • 8. Margaret Shapiro (USA) 2:08:45
  • 9. Katja Schumacher (Ger) 2:10:21
  • 10. Alexis Waddell (USA) 2:10:55
  • Overall Results, Men:

  • 1. Matt Reed (USA) 1:51:20
  • 2. Paul Tichelaar (Can) 1:51:56
  • 3. Brian Fleischmann (USA) 1:52:50
  • 4. Timothy O’Donnell (USA) 1:53:04
  • 5. James Loaring (Can) 1:53:18
  • 6. Manny Huerta (USA) 1:54:22
  • 7. Brian Lavelle (USA) 1:55:28
  • 8. Branden Rakita (USA) 1:56:00
  • 9. Kelly Guest (Can) 1:56:01
  • 10. TJ Tollakson (USA) 1:56:21
  • 13. Kevin Everett (USA) 1:59:08
  • .

    Treasure Island Triathlon Preparation

    Friday Preparation

    I woke up early to go for a 15 minute run. The day promised to be a busy one, as we had a lot of prep work to do in order to be ready come race day. I just ran out at a leisure pace for about 8 minutes down Embarcadero before turning around and going a bit harder. I tried out my new size 10 shoes ( I have always ran in 10.5 of the same brand) and found myself liking the fit better.

    After some stretching, leg shaving, and a shower the hunger pangs were growing. Greg recommended Mamma’s as a great breakfast spot, but warned that the wait could be endless. We figured that Friday might not be too bad, so we headed over to Washington Square and were delighted to only have a 20 minute wait. Had we been there a couple minutes later the wait would have been much longer as a large group of people from England showed up right after us.

    Breakfast at Mama's

    The Farmers Omelet (leeks, goat cheese, bacon, onions) I ordered, was delicious and the place had a superb atmosphere.

    Upon returning to the Lombard apartment Hortense and I dedicated our efforts to getting our bikes put together and in racing order. While we we working on the bikes the Wild Parrots of Telegraph hill flew by. 10 to 15 flew by squawking like three to four-hundred. They are talkative, colorful birds. We could hear their distinct squawking often the rest of our time in the apartment; it created a tropical island feel for me. I tried several times after that to get a good photo of them but my camera did not have the zoom abilities needed. The Wild Parrots of San Francisco were quite a site but it’s the sound that left an imprint on me that I hope to hear again.

    Putting bikes together high up on the 9th floor balcony

    After getting our bikes ready I had time for a short nap before we headed to Treasure Island to scout the course and pick up our packets as well as attend the mandatory Pro meeting at 5:00. We arrived around 3 o’clock which is a good thing because any later and the traffic would have been horrendous. Hortense and I did two and a half laps of the tricky bike course. The road was rough and there were many turns. Some of the pot holes would seem to cause severe damage if they were not avoided. The eyes would have to be alert come race day. We ended up riding about 10 miles and I only did one hard effort for about 30 seconds. Just enough to get the blood flowing.

    The meeting took quite a while and I was freezing the whole time. The hanger was chilly and I was still sweaty and only wearing shorts, no socks, and my bike jacket. By the time it was over it was dark and I was getting tired. On our way off the island we had to take a shot of San Francisco with the Moon sliver hovering above. The scene was epic and my rushed photo didn’t do it justice.

    Moon over San Francisco

    Alas, the night was still young. Guillaume arrived a short while after we returned to the apartment. Hortie and I loaded up our gear into manageable bags and talked about where and what to eat for dinner. We ended up on the south side of town near 18th street, I think, and ate at an Italian place. I had some broccoli fettuccini with way to many olives in it. Apart from that, it was OK. They messed up my wife’s order so I was done by the time hers arrived. They did order us some free dessert to compensate. The crème bole was delicious.

    The dinner was long and it was late by the time we were back at the apartment. We were both sound asleep within minutes of getting back.

    Thursday Travel day (Treasure Island Triathlon)

    Thursday Travel day (Treasure Island Triathlon)

    Bay Bridge

    It has been non stop rushing since packing for the trip last night. Work has been crazy due to my responsibility for changing a division’s Price Maintenance run times. Usually, I love doing this work that is detailed and important, but today I am distracted and have little time to make the changes. The plane leaves at 2:25, so I’m making these changes and leaving town…not the best situation for work. My head is firing off too many signals, multi-tasking all day and flustering from one thought to the next. There are so many unknowns for the weekend, coupled with excitement and this constant rush to get this done and that done.

    We rush to the airport and encounter Sally the un-friendly ticket handler. She was of the mindset that customers were the enemy. Although we had little time to make the plane, Hortense and I were friendly and in a good mood, we were on our way to San Francisco for the weekend! This lady did everything in her power to de-rail us. She was appalled, I think, that we would trouble her by taking our bikes with us. She was determined to make this as difficult as possible, letting us know of her disapproval many times. Her persistence was mind numbing but neither I, nor Hortie, stooped to her level. We simply wanted to check our bike box in like we had done numerous times before. The bike box weighted 70.0 lbs (which we later found out is the correct weight limit) but Sally said it was not to be over 50 lbs. and charged us and extra $25 dollars. We were almost happy to pay this in hopes that her prosecution would end.

    We hurried to the plane to board, the last ones, and crossed our fingers that our luggage would make the trip with us. And moments before we taxied, our cargo was loaded.

    AHHHHHH! At last, some tranquility.

    Lets go to San Francisco!

    One of the unknowns I referred to earlier was if Rob’s car could fit Hortense, me, the double bike box, Hortense’s suit case, my suit case, and both of our carry ons?? His two door Acura Integra certainly was going to be a tight fit. Luckily Rob had a bungee cord to hold down the partially opened 5th door. Hortense and I then snuggled in the front seat, it was a very tight fit, but we thank Rob for picking us up and making it work.

    We arrived at our destination on 101 Lombard. We were excited to see this awesome apartment that was to be our place for the next 4 days. Hortense and I can not thank Greg and Shannon enough for allowing us to stay in their apartment. It was such a relief to have this calm and spacious place to prepare for our race on Saturday (Our last race in Pacific Grove, was spent sleeping and living out of the car for 3 days.). The peace of mind, the money saved, and scenic view went a long way to making this an outstanding weekend. What a great location! And it couldn’t have been any better for our triathlon as the view was directly towards Treasure Island. Thanks Greg and Shannon, your generosity worked out for some fast times in both of our triathlons, not to mention a fantastic weekend in town.

    The view from atop Lombard