IM LP Initial Thoughts

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

I’m again very, very impressed with QT2 athlete performance this past weekend at IM LP. From 1st time performances from our iron rookies to coach Cait winning the professional race and Coach Tim’s top 10 overall, I am literally flabbergasted at the level of achievement our athletes have achieved and how well they have adapted to executing a plan.

More on coach Cait’s performance and my own to come later….


Mooseman Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Let me start off by saying that Mooseman is a great, great race…fantastic staff and great venue. I looked forward to this race for about 5 weeks following Devilman. This was my third half of the season believe it or not (and its only June!).  It was also a great weekend to hang out and chat with our athletes who were all race ready and very inspirational overall.

Saturday was the Olympic race where we had a whole bunch of QT2 athletes racing. Almost everyone had PRs even after adjusting for the short swim, which was great and started the weekend off with a good tone. This included my wife Chrissie who placed 19th overall in her first Olympic! My only complaint is that I spent about 6 hours on my feet that day….not great for a half the next day….definitely need to bring a fold out chair next year.

Sunday started with a weather forecast that I actually love…hot and humid (I hate the cold). It was absolutely perfect conditions on race morning with calm clear skies. The swim started with an unbelievably fast pace that put me in shock for about 5 minutes. Once the dust settled I was able to get into a grove and hook up with Coach Pat Wheeler for the remainder of the swim. Every single race we do together ends up like this regardless of how the race starts….Pat and I side by side. Very strange. Anyhow, Pat and I had a smooth swim with very little contact following the start.

Onto the bike, I had set a fast early pace with the goal to catch a few of the faster swimmers early on. This worked well as I was into 10th place by the 10 mile mark averaging about 22.8 mph. One thing I did notice on the bike immediately was that it was very very hot. Based on this, I got ahead on fluids early and maintained that fluids pace throughout the bike leg, which was more than my fueling plan calls for. I felt strong through the first loop and rode pretty much alone for the entire ride. Toward the last 10 miles of the second loop, I tried to pick it up a bit in an effort to even split the loops, which I believe I was pretty close on. I came off the bike in 10th place.

Onto the run, my goal was to head out at 5:53 pace. It was immediately evident that given the heat, this would not be possible so I dialed it into 6:03 pace with the goal of slipping no further than 6:33 pace for an average of 6:18 pace. It was a VERY hot run reminiscent of Kona last year. I rode the edge of being sick, and or cracking the whole run but was able to hold on. The run course was a mess with people cracking left and right. It was one of those days where if you didn’t have your race fueling down to the letter, you were in trouble.  Through the run I managed to pass a few people (averaged 6:21 pace) and ended in 7th place over all in 4:18:XX versus my goal of 4:13. Given the conditions that day though, I think the 5 minutes was easily given up by the heat. Looking forward to next year’s race already!

In other news, Coach Cait won the half iron by over 10 minutes and hit all of the goals we had set going into the race.  It was so nice to see her hard work and dedication over the past 5 weeks pay off.  It also gives credence to the effectiveness of setting hard, quantitative goals and executing a plan to the letter.

Next Up: Ironman Lake Placid where my goal will be a Kona slot and a 25+ minute PR over my 2006 race at that venue. I believe I’m on pace for this given my current performance indicators and using a 2.23 factor on my Mooseman time (4:19 x 2.23 = 9:38). Historically, the correlation between Moose and Placid is about 2.22-2.25 depending on the durability of the athlete (this is obviously a rough check).

Sudbury Race Report and Thoughts

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts, Race Reports

Well, Sunday was the Sudbury Spring Sprint Triathlon. I enjoy doing this race since it’s a great check on triathlon specific speed potential from year to year. This was my 8th time doing the race. Here are my finish times over those attempts:

2000 – 42:53 (35th OA)
2001 – 40:06
2002 – 39:51
2003 – 38:31
2004 – 37:48
2005 – 36:53
2007 – 35:40
2008 – 35:16 (3rd OA)

I have PR’d it at every attempt. As you can see, I was not born fast nor did I start this sport fast (also note that I had been racing triathlon for 3 years prior to this). But, slowly and surly, I became faster through solid training protocols, sacrifice, and consistency. I think these results illustrate how consistent training from year to year can really result in consistent improvement. During this period, I never had an injury or sickness that sidelined me for more than a day or two and I only took off 3 weeks each year to recover at the end of the season. I just kept passing oxygen through my system for 8 years while slowly building weekly training volume from 8 hours per week to 25 hours. Gradual build-up and proper training intensity was the key to not being sidelined with injury. Most people think they can go from 8 hours to 25 hours much quicker than this but then realize that they were wrong while sitting on the couch sidelined with an injury. It takes patience. The QT2 training protocol is based on two major components: speed potential, and durability. My Sudbury results illustrate speed potential improvement from consistency. Durability on the other hand comes with volume and years of experience. Although these results show an 18% improvement over 8 years, you would see that my half iron times over this same period improved much more. Why? Because of the additional durability gained through volume and experience over that same period. At Sudbury, durability doesn’t factor in at all….that’s why I like it. It’s an objective look at speed potential. At the half iron distance, durability does become a factor and therefore over this period those results show a much larger percentage of improvement (due to training volume getting much closer to critical volume).

How’d the race go? Great! I PR’d by 24 seconds. This race is quite a shock to the system when you haven’t yet done any speed work other than a few races. It goes something like this: push off the wall in the pool, then cross the finish line and wonder what happened in between.

Next Up: Mooseman Half where I’ve struggled in the past to have a good day. My most recent performance indicators point me to a 4:12-4:14 goal, which would be a 14+ minute PR on that course. We’ll see in 3.5 weeks! It should be a great weekend either way with a whole bunch of QT2 athletes racing and getting to see the results of their sacrifices over the winter.

Devilman Half Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

This past weekend was the Devilman Half Iron Triathlon. Unfortunately, I probably had one of the worst race weeks I can ever remember. After a solid 3-week build up going into race week that I was confident about, I had a business trip to Portland OR on Monday morning with a 7:00am flight. 4 hours of sleep Sunday night for that trip does not mix well with a tough training weekend and of course I ended up getting sick on Monday while in Portland. My body is very sensitive to sleep and I typically get sick when my trailing three day average sleep falls below 7 hours…like clock work (and yes, I actually track that). That sickness, combined with jet lag and a busy work schedule resulted in me getting light sleep and no workouts in AT ALL on Tuesday and Wednesday. I started to feel a bit better on Thursday but of course had a red eye out of town that night….another 4 hour sleep night going into Friday. Friday we began our drive down to NJ with a stay-over in NY Friday night. This finally worked out well and I was able to get 9.5 hours of sleep that night. Saturday I felt decent with the cold almost gone and a good night sleep coming into it. We got down to NJ, registered and was then off to the hotel to get some sleep. After a pretty good night sleep on race night, it was race morning and I was not confident at all on how I would perform given the week I had had. I was particularly concerned about getting NO time in on my bike for a full week going into the race.

The gun went off and the havoc in the mud began. For anyone who has not done this race, it’s the filthiest water of any triathlon I am aware of….by factors. Despite the mud and three loop ciaos, my swim went pretty well.

The bike course at this race is exactly the type I like…mostly flat with some slight rollers. I had planned to go out pretty hard and really have a solid bike split. The first of the two-loop course was tough for me to get into a grove. This was exactly what I had worried about: not having ridden my bike all week. With too little volume close to race day you are rested, but lack the sport specificity to be ready to fire. This is why long distance events require less volume on race week than short events. For short events you want to be ready to fire. The possibility of some residual fatigue from the last workouts close to race day won’t affect the race. For longer events, it’s more important to be 100% rested than to be ready to fire. A topic for another coaching tip post I guess. The second loop, I began to find a grove and actually rode faster than the first. Came off the bike in 7th or 8th place I think.

Onto the run, my plan was to average 6:10 pace on my Garmin (5 seconds per mile faster the Oceanside) with the first mile at 5:55. It did not feel good at all, but I stuck to the plan and went out at 5:55. I was able to hold this for about 7 miles before the drift began. With the drift, I crossed the finish line with a 6:11 average and new half iron PR….4:10:XX I can’t complain given the week I had going into the race.

More importantly, we had 12 QT2 athletes race that day which produced 12 PRs. Included in that group was my wife Chrissie who pulled off her first half iron in 5:21!! And yes, this is 44 minutes faster than my first Half Iron. What a great start to the season! The only negative to the day was Tim’s flat on the bike which cost him the win for sure. It would have been nice to see a 4:02 out of him down there…serious stuff!

Next Up…My old favorite for tracking progress: The Sudbury Spring Sprint!

California 70.3 Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Well, race day came and went like a dream. It’s like it never happened…I was in CA for less than 48 hours. In on Thursday night and red eye back following the race on Saturday. I must have done it though, my name is on the results list!

WHAT A RACE. This race is one of the nicest half’s I’ve seen given the fact that the weather cooperated. Having said that, the swim is rough and very cold and the bike is very tough.

It was great to get the triathlon season kicked off this early in the season and I didn’t fully except the fact that I was actually racing until we were rolling into transition in the pitch dark to the sound of Greg Welch commentating the early morning race run down. It was time to race!

The swim was rough and not too good for me. Never really found any feet to follow and my left hand was so cold I couldn’t make a clean paddle to swim with. Instead, I had a snarled claw that I was trying to use as a paddle. With that, I ended up coming out about 1 minute slower than I would have liked.

The first 24 miles of this bike course was very fast. My cycling computer kept resetting so ended up having to ride blind with nothing more than cadence all day. I thought I had averaged about 23.5 through those first 24 miles which was good. Following that, we made the turn east into camp Pendleton and with that hit the first of many tough climbs. I had no clue it would be this hilly of a course. Some very steep and moderately long climbs combined with a head wind made it one of the toughest half iron bike courses I have ever ridden. Overall, I felt great and don’t think I could have ridden much faster. After looking at the results, it appears most people were about 6-8 minutes slower this year compared to last which makes me feel a bit better about it.

This was a great, fast run course along the beach. My run goal going into this race was to average 6:15 starting with the first mile at 6:00 pace. Using the garmin I was able to pace the first loop of the run at 6:07 which was dead on target….if I could just hold things together for the second loop. The second loop was tough and I had to dig deep but was able to manage 6:14 average for the whole run which turned out to be the 3rd fastest amateur run time of the day. I was happy with that. There were so many people out on the course though that I had no idea of where I was place wise. 5th AG is where I ended up in 4:31:XX. As I had suspected, it was tight up front with 2nd through 5th coming in within 3.5 minutes of one another. 1st was another 5 minutes up so I never really had a shot at Kona. I’m fine with that since I didn’t expect one here anyhow. That slot is all on Lake Placid for me now.

Tim and Cait also had great days against a very tough field which made my day.

Next up: Devilman Half with a flat, fast course! Can’t wait!


Hyannis Half Marathon Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Did the Hyannis half marathon yesterday, which turned out to be a great day. The goal going into the race was to average 5:47-5:48 on my Garmin through the whole day. This goal was based on my previous 10k result 3 weeks ago and backing things out using the run calculator. The first 7 miles went according to plan averaging 5:47. Following that, things did slip a bit to 5:50 with a bunch of up hills from sea level back up to the finish line. In retrospect, since this course does go down hill for the first 3 or so miles, it would have made sense to split maybe 5:42 for those first 3-4 miles in preparation for the climb back out from sea level. Overall though, it was a very successful day as I felt good and had no major aches or pains. The typical nutrition plan went off without a hitch, which of course is the key to consistent solid race performances. I think the whole field may have been about 40-50 second slower this year compared to last year due to whatever reason which makes things a bit sweeter. Either way, it was another PR, which is always the goal. Also, and more importantly, ALL QT2 athletes/coaches that I work with (7 total at this race) PR’d the day. This included Caitlin Shea-Kenney the overall winner and QT2 coach who had a 5 min+ PR over last year. We must be doing something right.  Seriously though, nothing makes me more pleased with a day than to see the athletes we/I work with do well and PR.

Next up: Oceanside 70.3 where coaches Tim, Cait, and I will battle an extremely competitive early season triathlon field. My goal out there will be sub 4:26 based on my most recent performance indicators.

Indoor TT and a 10K Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

Well, my first big race weekend is over and went very well. I had estimated my 15k time for the team psycho course would be about 23:10 @ about 320 watts based on my latest zone 1 power output. I ended up with 10th overall in 23:06, and 325 watts. I’m very happy with this since I beat my own estimate and the indoor TT tends to bring out some pretty solid cyclists. I felt strong the whole ride and just stared at my power output trying to stay as constant as possible throughout (bit more on the hills and a bit less on the down hills). This was an exciting event with 50+ people packed into Fastsplits for the big heats. My power works out to about 309 “real” watts for a 20 min equivalent, which puts me already where I was last year for IMAZ. In addition, I’m down to about 161 pounds, which will set me up for a solid 20 min power/weight ratio for both Oceanside and Lake Placid as I lose about 4-5 more pounds and push the 20 min power up with some higher intensity work.

Day 2 of this weekend was the Boston Runner 10k. I had estimated my 10k time would be about 35:00, 5:39 pace based on my latest zone 1 pace. I ended up with 5th overall in 33:20 however; my Garmin had the course at about 6 miles so actually works out to about a 34:27 10k @ 5:33 pace when corrected. This was a flat fast course and let me run a bit faster than I had thought was possible giving me a PR. That’s right, a PR without ever running above my aerobic zone 1 pace in training since last season, and with 12 weeks of strength work. This illustrates the power of aerobic development and consistency. I almost even split the race perfectly by using the Garmin’s average pace function and trying not to let it budge after the first mile. This was a great race with free beer and clam chowder that will probably turn into a popular event. Based on my 6-miler performance (5:33 pace), I used the run calculator to back into my 5k equivalent assuming the 10k was considered “flat”. This resulted in a 16:32 5K equivalent on an average course and a half marathon goal for Hyannis of 1:16:54. Assuming I lose another 2 pounds before then I get: 1:16:54*(1-0.0062 X 2 pounds) = ~1:16:00 for a final Hyannis Half goal and a 5:48 pacing strategy using the Garmin right out of the gate. If it does go down this way, I’ll no doubt be in for another PR and on track for my 2008 season goals……

IM Kona Race Report

Written by Jesse. Posted in Race Reports

With all the hype surrounding this race I really wanted to do well and get through the day strongly by racing conservatively. Race week went well as I executed my typical nutrition plan leading into race day and a few light workouts on the Big Island. Race morning came and I was up at 3:30 to eat what seemed like 3 gallons of unsweetened apple sauce among other things.

Swim:I lined up about 5 rows back from the front figuring at least 400 people (5 rows back times 80 across is about 400) would out swim me at the world championships. After 15 minutes of treading water without a wetsuit, the cannon went off and all hell broke loose. This swim was as crowded if not worse than the other IMs I have done. However, the visibility was unbelievable complete with tropical fish, corral, etc… My thoughts of about 400+ folks ahead of me proved to be true as I exited the water in 1:06:35, 595 place.

Bike:After a carefully executed transition (even waited on line to get sunscreen), I was off on the bike duking it out with at least 500+ other athletes on the Queen K. Early on I held back considerably and as usual had racer after racer pass me. As the ride continued up to Hawi, I began reeling people in slowly as I increased my perceived effort. The climb up to the turn around was brutal with a heavy head wind and scorching heat. Throughout the ride I was drinking more than I normally do but without the normal peeing. Based on this, I knew it must be ridiculously hot and figured most people would not drink enough and then fall apart later in the day…this proved to be true. The ride back from the turn around had a head wind the whole stretch through the lava fields and made it difficult to make up much time. After averaging 20.2 up to the turn around, I arrived at T2 in 5:26:10, 503rd bike split, and 536th overall which was about 20 minutes slower than I would have liked, but given the conditions was probably the best I could muster and still run a solid marathon.

Run:Ate a banana and a gel right out of transition and was off running. First few miles came through at 7:15 which was where I wanted to be at that point in the run. Solid IM runs are typically executed with a drift in pace no more than 40-50 second per mile from the start to finish. Therefore, based on my first mile, I would try to run no miles slower than 7:55 all day. The run was tough with hot sun and zero shade. The fact that most people hadn’t drank enough, and paced too hard on the bike began to show with more and more walkers as the run went on. This was surprising to me as you would think that the best in the world would have paced and nutritioned correctly throughout the day….not true. After the turn around in the energy lab, I was struggling to hold my 7:55 pace but managed to do so and passed a couple of hundred walkers along the way. The last 10K I really tried to pick it up but probably only succeeded in the last 1/2 mile as the crowds picked up and I made the turn onto Alii Drive! No other feeling like that in triathlon racing. Total run time was 3:22:52, 248th run split, and 346th overall.

All in all, I was happy how the race came together and how I executed it without a glitch. I’m looking forward to giving it a shot again next year (hopefully) and being a little more aggressive. What an amazing opportunity!!

Thanks to everyone who sent me emails before and after the race. Also, thanks to all of those who have to deal with me on a daily basis in order to provide me this opportunity. Especially my wife Chrissie…without her help and understanding, it would be impossible.