Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stacey and I are getting married in June...

...but our ceremony will have no resemblance to this:

Iron Man Wedding from Cinematique Films on Vimeo.

Note some of the details, specifically the bride's bouquet, the "ring" exchange, and probably some others I missed. To each his own, I guess.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

FTP + MAF + ride pictures

First up, after making some of the stroke tweaks discussed in my previous few posting, I set a new 100 y time of 1:13 last night. That equates to about 1:22 per 100m, which is 3 seconds or so faster than I've ever gone before. In addition, that effort came 3,000 y into my workout and after a 1:40 run earlier in the day. Not bad!

I can tell that my stroke is still inconsistent -- sometimes I feel like I get a good pull and other times I do not get that feeling -- so there's still a lot to work on. I will also try to talk Stacey into taping me in the pool again this evening to ensure that the changes I feel like I'm making are actually the changes I am making.

CV had me do an FTP test this weekend. The goal was an hour all out on the Lefthand Canyon climb from Boulder to Ward. I took off pushing 300+ W, thinking I was crushing the test. 10 minutes in, I realized that the test was in fact crushing me. Uh oh, time to switch from an hour test to a 20 minute test. I held on for the last 10 minutes and finished the test at an elevation of 7,500 feet or so thinking my heart was going to jump out of my chest. Result: 297 W at averages of 165 bpm (max 179 bpm) and 80 rpm. Thus, FTP = 280-285 W.

Next time I will start conservatively, circa 275 W. Also, one tough thing about testing on this particular climb is that as the gradient of the climb varies I frequently need to shift between my small and big chainrings. Sometimes I instead opted to pedal in a less than ideal gear knowing that I'd have to shift right back a few hundred feet up the road. My power output is not as consistent as it could be.

In summary, I did the test with a target HR of 150 bpm but went a bit hard and typically averaged 151-153 bpm. My initial pace was 6:51/mile and I fell to 7:12/mile (when looking at the chart below, look at the actual time and not the pace because the track is likely more accurate than my GPS).

Oh, and for my future reference: the conditions were excellent, 50 degrees or so, little wind, dirt track at South High, quick pee break in the middle with an extra lap to get HR back up before resuming test (note pace improvement post-peeing). PE was pretty low, around 7.

What to take from the test? First, I'll pay attention to my running pace during subsequent tests over the next several weeks as I focus more on swimming and cycling to ensure that I'm not losing too much run speed. I'll do this by comparing my initial speed and average pace throughout the test with future tests. Second, I lost about 20 seconds/mile over the course of the test. I think this is an indication of my base fitness being pretty good but not great, and I want to compare that gap over time to try to minimize it. For shorter than IM distance races, I'm not quite as concerned with the drop off, but for IM it's good to have as little loss as possible (at least that's how I interpret things).

Here are a few earlier test results: Jan. 2010, July 2009, and June 2009. My recent test was better than my only other one at altitude, the Jan. 2010 test. My July 2009 test was pretty awesome -- 7:00/mile or so at 145 bpm -- but that was back in Michigan at a few hundred feet elevation and on what I'd guess is a faster track (being not dirt). In that July test, however, I slowed a bit less throughout the test.

Finally, I recently did a nice 5 hour ride right from my door out to Deer Creek Canyon for some climbing and then back home.

The ride is kind of crappy heading south from Denver, as the bike path travels through an industrial area. After that, however, the scenery gets a bit better:

Continuing south, approaching the Chatfield reservoir:

Just about to enter the mountains via the pass in the distance:

This photo isn't a great example, but the area just south of Chatfield State Park is cool because there are a ton of rocks protruding at about a 45 degree angle from the ground, and many of the homes are built into the rocks:

Much nicer views than my old rides in Michigan offered:

A nice curvy mountain road:

45 minutes or so into the climb there are some nice views:

Here's a shot zoomed in on one of the houses way off in the distance in the photo above:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Swim Form Critique

Swimming is all about form, which is why 12 year old girls with twigs for arms and beer-bellied 55 year old guys with good technique can crush me in the water. This post is about some specific things I can improve.

I reviewed a few videos Stacey recently shot while we were swimming and compared my form to the immodestly christened Mr. Smooth.

Let's look at my arm extension first, as I think this is the origin of a few issues with my stroke:

(Sorry for the poor image quality; these photos are stills from video.)

Note that these two photos are in sequence with the top photo being the earlier picture, even though it looks like I'm beginning the catch in the top photo while I still haven't started the catch in the bottom photo. The red lines are an estimate of the height of my hand relative to the surface of the water.

My arm and hand position looks good in the top photo. My arm is extended, my hand is aligned with or slightly lower than my shoulder, and my hand is flexed ready to begin the catch. However, in the second photo I raise my hand closer to the surface of the water, as the red line in the bottom photo is shorter than in the top photo.

Here is a picture at a point slightly later in my stroke than the bottom photo above that better shows the positions of my hand and elbow:

My hand is now above my elbow and my forearm is angled upward! Applying leverage from this position is not easy and causes additional problems explained below.

Compare my hand position to Mr. Smooth's:

Mr. Smooth has his leading hand lower than his elbow. As his stroke progresses, his hand goes slightly forward and then down and is always at least slightly below his elbow.

The takeaway is that I need to avoid raising my hand. I should commence my catch with my hand in the position shown in the top photo of the two-photo sequence above. Keep that hand down!!!

Like I mentioned above, my hand being too high causes a few problems with my stroke. Here is another photo of my too high hand with the red arrows showing torques that I create (please avoid looking directly at my apparently massive butt):

I need to somehow generate torque to rotate my forearm into a vertical position, with this torque being shown by the clockwise red arrow near my hand. Normally a swimmer uses his shoulder and lat to apply this torque, I think. However, my hand is in a position that makes applying torque with my right shoulder and lat difficult. Instead, I end up pushing my torso out and down to create the necessary torque. The counter-clockwise red arrow is intended to illustrate this torso-produced torque.

In other words, in order to get my hand into a vertical position I end up sticking my whole torso out and creating a bunch of drag:

(My torso rotation being linked to rotating my forearm is more apparent in the video than in an single frame that I could find.)

If I kept my hand lower in the water I could more easily generate torque properly, meaning using my shoulder and lat. Then I wouldn't need to stick my torso way out and I'd look more like Mr. Smooth.

Having my chest rotated so far forward greatly increases my frontal area, which is the last thing a swimmer wants. Generating torque differently will likely improve my slipperiness in the aqua.

There are a few other things I can try that will probably help streamline my body. Raising my head a bit, pushing my sternum down a bit, and using my abs to keep my lower torso in line with my upper torso should all improve my streamlining ability.

However, I still think the main culprit is the whole torque issue caused by my hand being too high as explained above. I think this is the case because I'm nicely aligned at other points in my stroke as shown here:

"Hey," you might be thinking, "your arm looks nice and vertical in that picture!" However, looking at my pull from another angle reveals that my arm is in fact in a pretty poor position:

The videos I have show this a bit more clearly, but my forearm never gets vertical (despite my high elbow!). If I were to post the video, you'd see that my elbow is rearward of my hand the entire stroke -- my hand never catches up.

Instead of pushing backwards, I'm pushing back and down, while also likely allowing water to slip off my forearm. I start my pull before my forearm is in the correct position. This is potentially still caused by my too high of a hand, as the too high hand prevents me from getting my forearm properly aligned in time for the pull (i.e., it takes too long to move my forearm from angled upward to angled vertically -- my hand actually rotates a similar amount as Mr. Smooth's, but since my starting point is too high my finishing point isn't vertical enough).

Mr. Smooth, however, gets his forearm vertical by the time his forearm is inline with his head, and then his hand continues slightly rearward of his elbow as shown below:

Mr. Smooth's arm position allows him to apply more force in the rearward direction, and thus to generate more forward propulsion. The idea is to maximize the amount of force that is applied in the rearward direction; force in the vertical direction is wasted!

Finally, a note on the phrase "high elbow": It seems to me that swim coaches are after a vertical forearm. Coaches likely noticed that whenever a swimmer's forearm is vertical, the swimmer's elbow is above an imaginary line extending from the swimmer's shoulder to hand, or "high". However, a swimmer can have a high elbow without a vertical forearm, as I demonstrate in the photo of me above. A high elbow in and of itself is not important. After all, it's the vertical forearm that provides propulsion. The high elbow is just the result of a vertical forearm. But since a high elbow can also result without a vertical forearm, the emphasis should not be on the elbow position.

Check out Mr. Smooth's elbow position in these two images generated at the same point in his stroke:

His elbow isn't high relative to the surface of the water but his forearm is vertical.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Acheiving a Goal Pt. II

I ended my last post discussing my plan for improving my swim in order to swim 58 minutes or less at Louisville this year. One thing CV pointed out after my last post was that my open water swim times are a bit worse than expected based on my pool swim times. The obvious conclusion is that I need to work on my open water swim skills, e.g., sighting and swimming a straight line without the aid of a black stripe to guide me. I will do more open water swimming this year than in the past, and I'm even signing up for a few open water races (specifically the Aquaman open water series).

(4) Total commitment
Unfortunately I do not have unlimited time to train. Swimming more will require a trade-off in that I'll have less time to bike and run. I need to allot extra time to my swim until it approaches the level of my bike and run, even if that means allowing my bike and run to stagnate or, gasp, decline. Maybe my bike and run splits won't be as good this season, but the in the long run I will be a better athlete. I'm aiming for 25k yards per week on average and will probably put in quite a few weeks of > 30k yards.

(5) Perform periodic assessments
Every couple of weeks I will perform a 1000 long course meter time trial to assess my progress. This test is fairly specific to IM swimming without being too mentally draining (though I don't doubt that Chuckie will have me perform longer continuous sets as well). I last did this test at the end of January in 17:20 for a pace of 1:44/100 lcm. Looks like I'm past due for another go at it. I'll likely give it a shot this weekend.

In addition to performing a time trial every 2-4 weeks, I can more frequently assess myself by noting my times for various distances. For short course yards, I'm around 1:22/100, 2:50/200, and 3:12/225 (though those times may be off by a second or two). By continually noting my times I can get more frequent assessments.

The entire point of assessment is to make sure that my plan is working. Therefore, if I am not making progress I need to reconsider my plan. Perhaps I'll need to pay a visit to Swim Labs. Perhaps I'll need to work harder and/or increase my yardage. Perhaps I'll need to consider altering my stroke. As another cliche favored by my high school tennis coach goes, "If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting." If I keep swimming poorly, I need to change things up!

(6) Taking action
In the 10 days since my first post on improving my swimming, I've started taking action. Reading has allowed me to increase my knowledge of swimming. Stacey taped me and I'm reviewing the footage. I swam close to 30k yards in one week (though I went out of town for a few days and didn't get in any swimming during that time). Two of Chuckie's other athletes, Sonja and Michelle, invited me for a swim and gave me some very helpful tips (in addition to crushing me during a set of 10 x 225 y, or in Michelle's case 10 x 250 y). I've got a lot to work on, but that actually makes swimming more enjoyable because there's a sense that I can improve.

So, I'm on track. Hard work, if performed intelligently, will pay off.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Acheiving a Goal

A few days ago I was doing some reading completely unrelated to triathlon. One passage I read dealt with establishing and achieving goals. As I read the passage, I immediately realized that I need to take a more methodical approach to improving my swimming.

As is likely apparent to anyone that is familiar with my race results or that reads this blog on even an occasional basis, my slow swimming is holding me back from being the best triathlete that I can be. While I've sought to address my weakness in the water in the past by doing things like upping my yardage a bit and joining a masters team, I have not done everything in my power to improve. The time for making minor changes to my training and hoping for major improvement is over.

There are all kinds of methods for achieving goals. My method is as follows: (1) set a bold yet achievable goal, (2) acquire the knowledge necessary to achieve the goal, (3) establish a plan for achieving the goal, (4) totally commit to achieving the goal, (5) perform periodic assessments to gauge progress and modify the plan as necessary, and (6) take action. I'll address these steps in order. (Oh, and this is the first time I have ever so systematically and explicitly set about achieving a goal; I'm not always this weird!)

(1) My goal: swim sub-58 minutes at Ironman Louisville
While this is a somewhat arbitrary goal, a sub-58 minute swim would position me nicely to win my age group at Ironman Louisville. Additionally, achieving a sub-58 minute swim this year would also nicely position me to race as a professional in 2011 because I would only need to improve by a few minutes to have a competitive pro swim. This goal is bold enough to inspire and motivate me without being so bold that I believe deep-down that the goal is unattainable.

(2) Acquire the knowledge necessary to swim sub-58 minutes
While one can be a fast swimmer without knowing a great deal about the technical aspects of swimming, and while one can be a slow swimmer despite having a depth of swimming knowledge, I believe improving my knowledge of swimming will help me achieve my goal. My ability to learn is one of my strongest skills, and I should do everything I can to use this skill to my advantage. Further, prior experience tells me that I am perform best in a certain area when I have a great deal of knowledge about that area.

How am I going to acquire swimming knowledge? First, I have began reading everything I can about swimming. I've gone through Gordo's swimming achieves and I've started reading everything at and Additionally, I am making my way through Breakthrough Swimming, albeit slowly because it is not exactly a captivating read, and I'll move onto other swimming books once I finish that one.

In order to manage all the information I'll be coming across, I am compiling a list of swim tips. My list is arranged by motions (e.g., reach, catch, and kick) and body parts (e.g., hips and head), and all the tips are very concise (e.g., a catch tip is to initiate the catch by flexing the wrist downward). While I expect to come across contrary recommendations -- for example whether my thumb should enter the water first during recovery or whether all fingers should enter simultaneously -- the point is simply to know as much as possible about swimming so I can figure out the stroke that is optimal for me.

In addition to obtaining knowledge about "the perfect stroke", I need to know everything I can about my own stroke. To this end I will have Stacey shoot more video of my stroke, and I'll pester my masters coaches to let me know what I can do to improve. Additionally, once Chuckie sets up shop in Colorado this summer I'll have yet another set of eyes to advise me. All the knowledge in the world about "the perfect stroke" is useless if I don't know the areas of my own stroke that require correction.

(3) Establish a plan for achieving the goal
My plan is multifaceted. One component is to always swim purposefully, and by that I mean not just for the purpose of gaining fitness. It's so easy to mentally zone out and think about something other than my stroke while swimming. Mindlessly cranking out a set is laziness. Since the "acquiring knowledge" step will presumably provide me with a list of stroke tweaks that I should make, I need to have at least one of these tweaks in mind at all times while swimming. One method I'm going to use to ensure that I constantly focus on technique is to pick one or two items from my "perfect stroke" list and put those items at the top of my workout printout so that each time I refer to my workout I'm reminded that I need to focus on technique.

A certain sports cliche is applicable here. Coaches used to say, "practice makes perfect." However, that cliche has become passe as coaches have encountered athletes like myself that fail to improve despite practice. Such coaches have modified their saying to "perfect practice makes perfect." That is a cliche I should embrace by mustering all the focus I can so that I approach "perfect practice".

Next, I will continue to focus on the pace clock. As Chuckie says, use the pace clock as a power meter. Sometimes during masters I don't pay attention to my pace, like when I know that a set's interval won't be too tough to achieve. I need to push myself out of my comfort zone, and the pace clock is a great tool for doing so. I need to start doing my fast 100s below around 1:27 for meters and 1:20 for yards, which I'm capable of when I work hard and get 10-20 seconds rest between.

The last part of my plan is to swim more. A little anecdote: every time Stacey and I swim masters the lanes next to us are occupied by the Hilltoppers youth swim team. This team is one of the best in the nation and produced a handfull of D1 swimmers this year. I think these kids practice from 6-8 pm most evenings, and they also swim weekends and some mornings. Not only do they do a good amount of volume for kids as young as 13, but they crush their workouts. A few days ago I witnessed a young girl, maybe 15 years old, cranking out dips on a bench. She probably did 15 dips in 15 seconds! That was impressive enough, but then her coach blew a whistle and the girl went over to the starting block, strapped a belt around her waist, dove in the water, and began sprinting -- sprinting!! -- down the lane. A rope attached to the belt looped over a pulley and was tied to a barrel slidable along a vertical track. As the girl sprinted toward the far end of the pool, she had to lift the barrel off the ground. I could last about 15 minutes in one of their workouts before being blown to pieces.

The point of this anecdote is that hard work pays off. I'm not going to match these kids in terms of swimming volume, but the closer I can get the greater my time will improve. From everything I've been told by coaches and from what I know about stroke mechanics, my stroke is actually not horrible. Thus, my plan is to swim a minimum of 20,000 yards per week with a target of 25,000 y.

This post is rapidly becoming too long. I'll tackle the rest of my plan later.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Food + TV

I really like the TED channel on TED -- an acronym for technology, entertainment, and design -- hosts a yearly (?) conference featuring experts in a wide range of fields that each give a 20 minute lecture on their area of expertise. The audience for each lecture is comprised of laymen, so the lectures aren't too technical. I've heard that one can attend a TED conference for something like $500, but TED is considerate enough to put all the lectures online for free.

Here's an interesting one I watched recently:

When Stacey and I sat down on our couch for dinner last night (our apartment is tiny; there is no room for a proper dinner table), we flipped on the idiot box expecting to be disappointed as usual by the drivel on the air. Instead, we happened to catch nearly an entire episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.

Yes, it's yet another reality show. While the show isn't entirely free from histrionics or archetypes, it's not nearly as contrived as, say, The Bachelor (with which I am far too familiar given Stacey's viewing habits). Still, I enjoyed the show because it does a good job promoting real food and of showing the damage done by crap processed food substitutes. Mr. Oliver isn't afraid to be frank and honest:

It's sad that our schools serve elementary and high school kids pizza and french fries on a near daily basis. It's even more sad that these foods somehow meet gov't mandates for fruit and vegetable servings. The saddest of all, however, is that when Mr. Oliver overhauls a cafeteria's menu to provide nutritious meal, he is forced to add crap to the meal in order for it to meet the gov't mandates. In one episode he has to add a hamburger bun to an otherwise healthy meal in order to provide two servings of grain. After all, if there's on thing most Americans need it's more grains. In another episode, Mr. Oliver is told that his meal doesn't include enough vegetables, and that he could meet gov't mandates by adding FRENCH FRIES!!!

I recommend checking it out. You can watch every episode on Hulu for free. Just click on over to here.

Also on the topic of food, Mark's Daily Apple is well-known among the endurance sports crowd. I recently prepared a pulled pork recipe featured on the site and, man, was it tasty. Next time I'd cut back a bit on the salt, but otherwise it's a great easy to prepare meal.

(Yes, I "borrowed" Mark's better check out his site to make up for my faux pas.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oceanside Bike and Run Data

Before starting my bike (over) analysis, I noticed that I had the 108th fastest bike time overall and the 5th fastest in my AG. Kinda crappy, I think. Normally my bike ranking is quite a bit higher in the overall, although that's for full-IMs where I feel my strength lies. Oh well, plenty of room for improvement.

Anyhow, I forgot to press "Stop" on my Garmin upon entering T2, so instead of recording 2:30 of power data the CPU ended up recording for 4:30 with zero power for the last two hours. In order to view proper averages, I needed to modify the power file (as Garmin's pathetic software doesn't allow one to recalculate averages for portions of a ride, and also because Saris' much more robust Power Agent has an error reading the file). After downloading the file in Garmin's software, exporting the file as a .tcx file, importing that .tcx file into Golden Cheetah, exporting the file as a .csv file, opening the .csv file with Excel, manually deleting the last two hours of the ride to create a modified .csv file, and importing the modified .csv file back into Golden Cheetah, I finally got some usable data.

Without further ado, here's the data:
Duration: 2:30
Average power: 240 W (zeros included)
Average HR: 144 bpm (more on this below)
xPower: 250 W (this is essentially the same as normalized power in WKO+)
Variability index: 1.04 (i.e., xPower/average power, more on this below)
Average cadence: 83 rpm (zeros included, I typically rode at 85 rpm with a variation of around 5 rpm)

Power line graph:

This graph has smoothing set to 20 seconds so the graph is a bit easier to read.

Notice here that for almost the first 120 minutes that my power was either slightly above 250 W or far below 250 W. Since most power below 250 W is far below that value, it appears that these recordings took place while I was coasting or soft pedaling(downhill, grabbing a bottle at an aid station, dropping back after being passed, etc.). Also, like I mentioned in my race report I didn't push myself at the end of the ride. That power drop is apparent as my power after 120 minutes is primarily below 250 W.

What can I take from the graph? That when pedaling I should aim for 250 to 260 W for a HIM. Since I ran well, I can be confident that this is a sustainable power for me during a half. Oh, and I am also adjusting my FTP based on this ride to be right around 300 W (this estimation being based on my power, 240 to 250 W, divided by 0.80 to 0.85, the typical portion of FTP at which one can ride a HIM).

As any power user knows, average power is far from the most relevant piece of info. xPower, Raceday & Golden Cheetah's substitute for WKO+'s proprietary normalized power, is basically the average power that I rode at when not surging or soft pedaling. That's a simplification, but I think it's the most useful way to consider xPower because the implication is that xPower is the power I should actually target during my ride.

My 250 W xPower supports riding at 250-260 W as discussed above, but xPower is further useful because it tells me after the fact how good of a job I did at holding a constant effort. WKO+ refers to the ratio of xPower (Pnorm, as they call it) to average power as variability index (VI). A VI of 1.00 indicates a perfectly steady output (good), while something like 1.10 would indicate widely varying power outputs (bad). A high VI is bad because it is likely that a high VI rider spends a lot of time way above his intended power output, and this is likely to take its toll on the run.

For a hilly course like CA 70.3, a VI of 1.03-1.04 is pretty good (from what I've heard, anyhow). My VI is 250/240, or 1.04. While that seems pretty good, I think with a bit more discipline I could ride even steadier. (I'm also happy with this value because it gives me a bit of authority to rant about the way most AGers ride, which I will do in a future post.)

Power bar graph:

Zone Description Low (W) High (W) Time
Z1 Active Recovery 0 165 14:48
Z2 Endurance 165 225 33:17
Z3 Tempo 225 270 52:53
Z4 Threshold 270 315 33:32
Z5 VO2Max 315 360 11:49
Z6 Anaerobic 360 450 3:39
Z7 Neuromuscular 450 MAX 00:20

I'm sure my astute readers will immediately notice a problem with the bar graph -- the total time adds up to 3.0 hours, not the 2.5 hours that my ride actually lasted. This appears to be a yet another quirk of my Garmin. Regardless, I'd guess the distribution is properly proportioned and just scaled incorrectly.

What to take from this info? I did a good job minimizing very high power output (>360 W). I bet most of the nearly 4 minutes spend above 360 W came from accelerating (out of turns, after soft pedaling, etc.). Looking at the 315 to 360 W interval, I think a good portion of that came during the climb near 30 miles. I remember my power hovering around 315 W for most of that climb. If I'm going to put out a high power, the best place to do it is when my speed is low because this gives the most bang for the buck. Ideally, though, I'd spend no time above 315 W. Another possible area of improvement is reducing the amount of time spent not pedaling. Even putting out 150 W on a downhill is better than coasting.

Heart Rate Graph

This is about the oddest HR graph I've seen. My power was pretty constant with a slight decrease at the end, yet my HR steadily increases throughout the ride. My aerobic decoupling was an astounding 22%!!! (Aerobic decoupling is basically a ratio of two other ratios, a first power/HR ratio for the first half of the ride and a second power/HR ratio for the second half of the ride. Power/HR is expected to stay nearly constant throughout a ride, and aerobic decoupling measures how much the ratio changes throughout the ride. See here and here for more info.)

Is my 22% decoupling a sign of dehydration? That'd be odd for a 2.5 hour ride on a 55 to 70 degree day. Is my aerobic fitness in the crapper right now? That, too, would be surprising given my ~20 hours per week training volume. Or, was I just not strong enough muscularly to maintain 250 W? That's my best guess. It's also possible that my HR monitor was simply wrong. However, I do not suspect this is the case because typically a bad HR monitor produces lots of jumps in HR, whereas I only have one clearly wrong piece of data when my HR jumps to nearly 200 at 80 minutes or so (rest assured that my heart never actually beat that fast). I'll keep looking at this metric for future rides to try to learn what's going on.

Bike conclusion: Overall, a well paced and even ride. I don't think I'd change anything on race day except maybe push a bit harder at the end of the ride. Pushing a bit harder may have saved a minute or two on the bike, which potentially could have moved me up in the standings. On the other hand, would that have cost my run?

Run graph:

Run data:
5:58/mile average
171 bpm average, 177 bpm max

I didn't start my watch until 3 minutes into the run, so the first segment is missing. I ran the fastest during those first few minutes, but after that my pacing is dead on. I slowed just a few seconds/mile (based on the dashed line representing my average pace) over the course of the run. At the end, I started getting some slight side cramps. I could have picked up the pace for the last mile or two, but doing so would have risked the cramps getting worse. During the race I weighed the potential time savings from picking up the pace against the risk of having to slow greatly if my cramping got worse, and then decided to go the quickest pace that kept my cramping at bay instead of the fastest pace I could muster.

Anyhow, not much to comment on here other than that this is probably my best paced triathlon run ever. Oh, and the fastest amateur run split and 10th fastest overall, just 4 seconds/mile behind race winner and 70.3 world champ Michael Realert (though he put a tad bit of time into me on the bike...).

Bet you didn't see this one coming! But look at my transitions: T1 = 3:44; T2 = 1:18. A good T1 would have been <2:30. I took my time putting on arm warmers and didn't hurry getting my other gear on, either. On the positive side, I got my wetsuit off faster than ever. This was my first swim in a new Zoot Zenith 2.0, and it must have larger ankle openings because I have never had an easier time getting a suit off. Usually this is a problem for me with my size 11 feet and extremely inflexible angles.

I guess it's time to start practicing transitions. I should also think about my strategy a bit more. For example, in the future I'll keep my arm warmers on my base bar's ends in transition, then put the warmers on once I start riding. I'll also probably wait to put my sunglasses on until I'm moving, too. Why work so hard to cut a minute or two off my swim and then just give that time right back with a sloppy transition?