Friday, July 16, 2010

Griskus Olympic: 2010 NE Championship

This was my first real race of the season. I was excited to finally get things going. I knew that I was a bit rusty as I usually start my racing season in late March. My training had been going pretty well going into the race. My swim and run training were the best ever. However, my bike was off quite a bit. I knew that the majority of this lower fitness was due to the lack of racing. So I was eager to get out and get things started.
I was slotted in the 2nd wave of the day. I knew there would be a few really fast younger guys that I would need to chase all day, ouch. My swim wave went off and I got right out to the front of my wave. At least I thought I did. About 200 yards into the swim, I looked over to the right and saw one body pulling away about 20 meters over. I tried to bridge across to him, but I just could not close the gap. I ended up swimming the remainder of the course by myself. I felt fine and the swim was pretty uneventful.
I was quickly through T1 and out onto the bike. I knew I had some ground to make up on the younger, faster swimmers. I tried to put in a solid effort for the first 10 miles. I felt pretty good and I got the legs rolling. Once we hit the hills, my lack of racing and lower power became very evident. I was trying to mash a bigger gear, big mistake. I spent the rest of the ride trying to find a rythm.
I was really looking forward to getting out onto the run. As I rolled into T2, I heard that the lead person had a little over 3 minutes on me. This meant that the net difference was less then a minute as the first wave had gone off 3 minutes before my wave. I found out that I had managed to catch the other racers. However, with a wave start, you never know where you stand until you cross the finish line. So, you just go as hard as you can.
I got onto the run course and found my stride right away. I had two people on my shoulder, which helped to push the pace up a bit. I was able to gain a bit of space just before the 1 mile marker. Then I just tried to focus on the runner in front of me. I kept a good cadence throughout the run and I was the 2nd body across the finish line and first overall.

70.3 Rhode Island

One fact of racing triathlons is that each race is different. This was my 3rd year participating at 70.3 Rhode Island. I really enjoy the race. The point to point format makes the race unique. It is a bit challenging from a logistical standpoint, but the course is very fair. The swim is in the ocean off of Narragansette, RI. Then the bike rolls from the beach to downtown Providence, RI. The run is a two loop, hilly, course through downtown Providence.
The swim: 29:35
Paul Regensberg (, my coach, asked me to try to really hit the swim hard. I had qualified for the Hawaii IM at 70.3 Buffalo Springs and Paul wanted me to use this race to start my preparation for Kona. My wave was the 9th of the day. As soon as we started I jumped out to the front and tried to find the right feet to follow. I found feet and I swam with a high effort, but I don't think this was exactly what was prescribed. I came out of the water quite a bit slower then I was hoping for. However, that's racing. So I quickly made my way through T1 and out onto my Orbea Ordu.
The bike: 2:21:38
The gameplan for the bike was to take it out hard. This was a different strategy for me on this discipline. Usually I take the first part of the bike a little easier and build into the effort. However, the strategy this day was to go hard and see what I could do on the bike. However, I just couldn't do it. I was having a hard time keeping my heart rate in my racing zone. I felt muscularly limited. I felt like I was riding pretty well, but I just couldn't take it up a notch. So I just focused on what I could control, my caloric intake and maintaining a steady effort. As I said at the beginning: each race is different. In 2009, we had a tailwind on the bike section. However, in 2010, we had a headwind. It wasn't too severe, but it was enough to slow my time by 7 minutes even though I had the exact same normalized power as 2009. I rolled into T2 feeling like I had kept my sodium intake (about 800mg/hr) at the right level. However, I had backed up a bit on my liquid calories. I tried to play catch up a little bit towards the end of the bike as I realized I hadn't taken that much down. The result of this caloric tardiness was a bloated stomach as I headed out on the run.
The run: 1:18:39
I felt very awkward heading out on the run. So I just focused on shortening my stride and trying to maintain a quick cadence. A few of the pro men were starting their second loop as I was starting my first. So I tried to que off of them to find my pace. This strategy worked pretty well. I was able to hold a decent pace, although I did not feel fluid at all. I went with a slightly different fueling strategy for this run. Usually I hit the cola very early on the run to get the simple sugars. The cola is great to give me a lift, but it plays havic on my GI system. So I had decided to run with a flask of carbopro for the first 9 miles, then switch over to cola for the last 5k. Finally at about the 7 mile mark, I started to feel decent and find a rythm. While I had spent most of the run feeling off, my energy level had stayed very constant. In fact, this was the first race in a long time that I felt stronger at the end of the run. Every race is different.
I crossed the line and looked at my watch: 4:12:39. I was shocked. It was 10+ minutes slower then last year. As I started to talk to other participants I quickly realized that it was completely different race conditions then 2009. I found out later that I was the top amateur overall.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

70.3 Buffalo Springs

I started my trip to Lubbock, Tx with a little snag. I was flying out of Laguardia airport in NYC and I had a very quick connection in Houston, Tx scheduled which would have been great if all went smoothly. However, a mechanical issue delayed my first leg of the trip, which meant that I would be staying the night in Houston, Tx. This little delay actually worked out well as I was able to get a good nights rest in Houston before jumping on a puddle-jumper to Lubbock on Saturday morning. These things happen and its much easier to just roll with it, then get all upset with the little stuff.
Once I arrived in Lubbock, I started putting my bike together and soon realized that I had left my rear cassette at home. Fortunately, my friend Mike Zinn had a spare cassette and I was able to quickly get my bike set-up. I was really looking forward to this race. This was my first half 1/2 IM of the year and second race of the season(1st race report to follow). I had purposely scheduled a later start to the race season this year as I needed to really focus on my new businesses: Personal Training Professionals of Southport ( and Lifesport Coaching (
My fitness levels felt pretty good, but I was anxious to see how it would come together in a serious race with tough conditions. My coach, Paul Regensberg, laid out the game plan for race day. I needed to swim smart and try to find good feet to follow in the swim. Then start the bike out a bit conservatively in low Z3 heart rate and try to build the second half's effort. The run was to be a similar approach since it was my first long race of the season and the temps were going to be in the mid to high 90s.
Pre-race was fantastic as I was able to hang out with 7 fellow Timex Athletes: Andrew, Alex, Cindi, Dennis, Laura, Tim, and Barry. I also got to catch up with former teammate Curt Chasney. The amateurs were greeted with the news that the swim would be wetsuit legal. I squeezed into my Aquasphere suit and headed down to the murky water to start the first leg. My wave was the 5th of the morning and as we started out, I was surprised how congested things were for the first 400 meters. I tried to find my own space and get into a rhythm. About half way through the swim I had a guy in my wave slide past me. I knew this was my opportunity to hang onto some good feet and I worked hard to get behind him. The rest of the swim was pretty uneventful with the occasional swimming over (sorry Dennis!) and getting swam over. I quickly headed out onto the bike and tried to stick to the plan. I was triangulating (not sure if this is a word) my effort by using my Timex Global Trainer to monitor my heart rate, speed, and power. I kept my stats under control and kept my new Orbea Ordu rolling along. I had my high points and low points during the bike. Everyone has different tactics that they use to get through the tough times. I always think of my three boys to help me get through the low points while racing. I had to draw on their thoughts a lot during this race. I would say that this was one of the hardest 1/2 IM's I've done in a long time. The combination of a very deep, talented field with a very challenging course and the heat rising well into the 90's all played into a tough day. The bike course has several out and back sections and at the 30 mile mark, we had a pretty good tail wind that felt great to ride with. However this same tail wind turned into a head wind on the return trip from mile 46 into the finish. It was pretty brutal, but everyone had to deal with it. I was very eager to get off the bike and start the run. My legs were feeling the effort of trying to push into the wind and I was a bit nervous to see how I would run off the bike. I felt pretty fatigued coming off the bike. Fortunately, I had dialed in my nutrition on the bike and I was able to take in all 800 calories in addition to about 800mg of sodium an hour.
I hopped off the bike and out onto the run with a guy from the 30-34 age group (their wave had gone off right in front of ours). He had a good pace going and I asked what he usually runs. He replied, "sub 1:20". I was running in upper Z2 heart rate at the time and I thought this would be a good pace to hold for the start of the run. So I jumped on his shoulder and tried to settle in. We clipped along for 2 miles until all of a sudden he started running off to the left. I had no idea where he was going until I saw a porta potty ahead, that's racing. Now I was alone and I had raised my heart rate into low Z3. This is right where Paul had asked me to run for the first half, so I kept the effort right there and just made sure my pace was about right using my Global Trainer GPS function. I had to start the cola at mile 2 of the run as I was feeling the bike effort. The run is a out a back course. This allowed the opportunity to see the whole pro race unfold as well as provide an opportunity to see all of my teammates on the course. Its such a huge lift to be able to race with so many teammates, especially out on desolate roads in Texas.
I made it to the turnaround point and attempted to pick up my pace and effort. It felt good to push harder for a couple of miles. Then at mile 10, things started to unravel a bit. I was experiencing some severe GI distress and my energy levels were dipping low. I took my first gel of the day and just tried to focus on maintaining a decent cadence. My form was falling apart and I was just focused on getting to the finish line in one piece. Finally I saw Magali Tisseyre up ahead as she was approaching the finish line. I got across the line in: 4:08:19. My splits were: 24:47(short swim)/2:19:27/1:21:33. I found out later that this placed me as the top overall amateur and I got my slot to Kona! So I'm heading back to the big island for the first time since 2005.