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blog.zgraggen.name

New Blog

March 31st, 2012

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I created a new blog. Follow me on all my racing endeavors on http://zgraggen.name/racing/.

Beach 2 Battleship

November 3rd, 2011

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The racing season of 2011 is coming to an end. But I was going to end it with a Big Bang! My first Ironman. Yes technically it is a Iron-distance race since it is not a branded Ironman, but still the same distance.
After the Ironman70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas I didn’t have time to train as much as I wanted. Moving to Seattle and starting my new Job had a big impact on my training schedule. At least I got two solid weeks with 12h of training in. That was it, after that I was tapering. In the last week before the race I had sleeping problems which is very unusual for me. I assume it was because it is a new distance and I wasn’t prepared as well as I wished. But there was nothing I could do now. I arrived in Wilmington NC on Thursday and started the race preparation. This meant lots of pasta and 9h of solid sleep from Thursday to Friday. I realized that the biggest challenge will be the weather. The expected temperature in the morning was 3C together with rain and up to 30km/h wind.

Swim
It was really cold at the starting line, I couldn’t wait till there was finally enough light that the Coastal Guard allowed the organizers to start the race. (15min late).
At the start I tried to stay calm and not get my heart rate too high. The water felt comfortable thanks to my skull cap and neoprene booties (which I bought for this race). It was pretty crowded at the beginning and a proper stroke was hard. For the first 5-10min I was constantly fighting for space. Even after that there were many people who couldn’t swim a straight line and body contact was unavoidable. I tried to draft of people a couple times, but not with much luck. Swimming is my weakest part and I knew it would be a long swim since I have never swum that far before. It was a point to point swim which made it hard to judge how far along I am. While I was wondering how much of the distance I covered, I didn’t pay much attention and a wave caught me off guard and I swallowed some water (ocean). I wasn’t too happy about that, since I thought I wasn’t even at the halfway point. But to my surprise, I realized a little later that we already passed the halfway point and were at the first turn. Wow, I guess the incoming tide is helping more than I thought. After two more turns, I was at the dock. I couldn’t believe my watch. I swam the 3.8km in roughly 46min. This was about 20min faster than expected.
For all that I was that worried about the cold swim when I was planning this race. It turned out to be the warmest part of the race

T1
This was the longest transition I ever had. The run from the dock to the bike was couple hundred meters long. But it was very nice that they offered two shower tents (one of them even warm) to wash off the salt water. As planned, I put on a bike-jersey, a bike jacket, gloves, and a cap for under the helmet. Being warm trumps being aerodynamic. :-)

Bike
Right away on the bike I was feeling the cold weather. At least the wind wasn’t too strong at the beginning. I quickly settled into my race pace at 30km/h. To my surprise my heart rate (HR) was much lower than expected. In the race preparation I decided to race by HR because the wind would make it hard to maintain a consistent speed. When I realized that my HR was lower, I kept that in mind for later on when I would be riding in the wind. Only 20min later we turned onto the highway and were facing a head wind. For some reason I had a hard time to keep my eyes open and I almost rode into a red cone which was separating the highway lane from the traffic. I tried to be more alert but a little while later it happened again. I was glad when we finally turned of the highway onto other streets where I was able to follow the white line on the curb of the rode.
An interesting thing which I realized was my cadence. My optimal cadence is around 90-95rpm. But due to the cold weather, I couldn’t move my legs that fast and I constantly was below 85rpm. I had to focus hard to keep a higher cadence which normally is very natural for me. I remember checking my watch 2h into the race and thinking about giving up for the first time. I was miserable, I was cold, sometimes the wind would slow me down below 25km/h and that it started raining (even though very light) didn’t help either. But then I remembered what I told Amy and my Parents. I made a commitment that I wouldn’t give up, even if it meant that I would have to walk the whole Marathon at the end. So I was laughing it off thinking how pathetic it would be to give up only 2h into the ride.
I knew that key for this race would be the nutrition especially with the cold weather which doesn’t make thirsty. I had to pee 3 times during the ride, which meant I was drinking enough. After 110km the clouds were clearing up. What a relieve, I started to feel better. Only 10km later we turned into a tail wind. Suddenly I was averaging >40km/h with the same HR. What a great feeling and to top it off a little later the sun started shining. Live was/is good! Unbelievable that I was thinking about giving up a couple hours earlier.
To my surprise I started overtaking people who are doing the half distance. They started about 90min after us, but did only half the distance. I was wondering what they were thinking when we (rider from the full distance) were flying past them?
I was so excited to be done with the bike portion of the race that I started to go faster and my HR rose. So I had to hold myself back not to push too hard toward the end.
I finished the 180km in 5h43min. Even with the cold weather that was still 7min faster then I planned. Interesting fact, I consumed approximately 1800 calories during the bike ride.

T2
Finally in transition I jumped of the bike and noticed right away that my feet were feeling funny. They were numb from the cold and I had barely any feelings in them. So barefoot running was hard and painful. I ran to the changing tent and took of all the biking gear and put on the running shoes.

Run
I was VERY excited to start running. Finally my favorite part and besides my cold feet I was feeling great! I started off with what I considered an easy pace. Checking my HR revealed that I was just below 160 which was very reasonable. I passed the first mile marker at 7:10 which was faster then I planned, so I eased the pace a little. Originally, I had planned to run a 7:40min/mile (4:45min/km) pace, but since my HR was in check I wasn’t too worried and kept a nice pace. Due to the strong wind on the bridges I lost my sun hat which I had been wearing in all my other races. I was sad about that, but since it fell into the swamp there was no way I could retrieve it. Well all the sacrifices I make for racing :-)
There were lots of half-distance people still on the course which were going considerable slower. All these people made it hard to count the competitors ahead of me or find someone to run with.
Early on in the run I decided that I am not going to walk till at least the half marathon point. I also realized that this might be a self fulfilling prophecy, which is why I added at least in there :-)

Run-Beach2Battleship After 3 miles I saw my friends which were cheering for me which made me happier then I already was. I was cruising along and feeling great. In general all the cheering in downtown distracted from all the inner thinking and pain. Then suddenly my ankles started hurting but the pain went slowly away and then a mile or two later the same happened with my feet. That is when I realized that I must be getting my feeling back into my feet. What a weird experience.

I was still focusing on nutrition and was drinking a cup of heed on every aid station (roughly every mile) even though I didn’t like the taste of it.
Then I was at the turnaround point. I did the first 1/4 in a little over 46min. That is when my head went crazy. I could do a Boston qualifying time during an Ironman. How crazy would that be. But then I also knew that I eventually would slow down a little. So I said to myself just keep it going as far as you can and deal with it once it is not going that smooth anymore. The second half of the first lap was uneventful. I was still feeling good and having a consistent pace and HR. I started the second lap after 1h35 minutes. I was so psyched about that. I saw the race clock which said: 8h15 which meant if I would slow down less then 10min (1h45) for the second half I could finish under 10h. What a crazy though! But reality hit me soon after that.

I noticed that my legs were tired and heavy so I walked a couple of steps up the next bridge but started running right after that. Then I was able to run for quite a while again, but I noticed how my legs got more and more tired. To make things worse my adductors started to cramp. I never had this muscle cramp before. Once it started cramping I walked for a bit and then started running again. I also started to take more time at the aid station. I drank some chicken-broth and coke and ate some pretzels. They also had many other things which seemed so delicious. Like Oreo cookies, I thought that wasn’t fair to tease me like that and decided that I would go back and get some cookies after the race. When I was at the turnaround point, the only thing which came clear to me is that I was considerably slower and to my amusement I didn’t even care. All I wanted was to finish this race and eat some pizza and Oreo cookies!
All the additional nutrition didn’t seem to make the cramping better, except that my stomach was now upset now. At least I was still able to run at a decent pace when I was running. That is when I overtook an Asian girl who asked me on which lap I was. I signaled a #2 with my hand and she said: “Wow. I would love to have your legs”. I was smiling and thinking… believe me you don’t :-)
I noticed that I started to walk more frequent and also walked longer. I then attempted to only allow myself to walk if I was cramping which still happened often enough. In addition to that the wind also had picked up again. I couldn’t wait to cross the finish line.
I finished my Marathon in 3h35min and an overall time for the whole Ironman of 10:15:24.

Recovery
I got a hot chocolate in the warming tent, received a massage, and ate 3 slices of Pizza and some Oreo cookies. The world started to look much better after that. I was pretty beat up the next day but was still able to walk more or less normal. The only thing which worried me was my ankles which started to get swollen. But now 4 days later they are almost back to normal size. I also gathered some more blue nails and a bloody blister (which I also never had before).

Reflection
Beach 2 Battleship is a very well organized race. I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to others, especially first timers (assumed it would be nicer weather).
I finished 35 out of about 500 men. After the race I was very happy with my time and that I finished it. But only two days later, I started to think that I could have done it faster if I would have been able to suffer more on the second half of the marathon. In hindsight (also considering the feedback I got from friends) it is funny that I was thinking that only two days after the race. My competitive nature plays some tricks on me sometimes. A week earlier I was worried since it was a new distance and that I didn’t do proper training and then once I did it instead of enjoying my “success” I question myself why I had to walk that often. In either case for future races I might be worthwhile to do more mental training.

Now I will have two whole weeks without a single workout. Well earned RECOVERY TIME :-)

HR - Chart:
HR-Beach2Battleship

Time:
Time-Beach2Battleship

Thanks @Iris,Marcel and Melissa for the cheering. Congratulation to Adam who finished 3rd in our age group!

Ironman 70.3 World Championship

September 19th, 2011

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It is over a week ago when I race at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, but finally I manage to write up this post. This somewhat resembles the last couple weeks. I was very busy with my career change and moving preparation. This was also reflected in the race preparation. I didn’t do a proper preparation as for other races. I didn’t even read the race instructions until the day before the race. This meant that I even missed the practice swim. At least that was a wakeup call to finally do some race preparation. Surprisingly enough I wasn’t nervous. I knew I wouldn’t be in the top ranks and there was no pressure on me except finishing and enjoying the experience. And yes obviously my ego, which has to be satisfied :-)

Swim:
I was in the second wave for my age group which consisted of roughly 60 athletes. So the swim start wasn’t crowded which made me happy. As mentioned in the last post this was a non wetsuit swim which I never have done before in a race. Once the gun went off there was a little chaos and I tried to draft of some of the other swimmers, but I noticed soon that the pace was too high and I started falling back. It seemed like the whole wave was faster than me. I tried to get into my rhythm and focus on proper technique and a couple minutes later I overtook two from my wave. Soon after, I started overtaking a few from the wave in front. But I know that the majority of my age group was ahead of me. Two thirds into the race a stand up paddle board was paddling next to me. First I was confused, but then I realized that this must be for the first swimmer for the next wave and soon after I got overtaken by a couple of women. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last time during the day that some women overtook me. Unbelievable what some of them performed. When I checked my watch coming out of the water I realized that I was almost 5min slower than the last two times. Well, that at least explains why everyone was ahead of me. This also proves that a wetsuit clearly can help a weaker swimmer.
T1:
Coming into T1 I saw that almost all of the bikes of my age group were gone. Talk about motivation, but I knew that swimming was my weakest part.

Bike:
I started the bike part “easy”. This was partially due to the hills right away and also that I want to get ahead of the nutrition game. I knew that it will be a hot day and nutrition could make or break my day. After roughly 30 minutes I started to work harder, at this time the desert was still a comfortable temperature. But this was about to change, after only 1h on the bike course started to get warmer and after 90 minutes it started to get hot. At this point I had consumed the amount of nutrition which normally lasts for 2h. So I had to relay on the nutrition on the course earlier than expected. In addition to that I also used a bottle of water at each station to cool my head and body, but the heat was so dry that all this water evaporated within a couple minutes. This was certainly a new experience for me, I am more used to a humid heat which leaves all the clothes wet.
I was enjoying the ride in the desert very much, this was a new experience for me. But I wondered if the venue change had the desired effect. There was lots of drafting happening. Sometimes in groups up to 15 people. And all I saw during my whole ride was two referees. This was particular annoying since in this race with so many good riders around, I had to be very careful and alert not to violate any rules. For the first half of the race I was constantly over taken (which means I had to fall back 4 bike lengths) and had to overtake people since I entered their drafting zone.
After 2h of riding my back started to hurt and I was ready to be done, also my mind started wondering why I ever signed up for a full Ironman which I would have to cycle twice as long, but I tried to ignore that as much as possible and get this portion of the race over with. I finished the bike portion in 2h 45min which is almost 5 minutes faster than planned.

T2:
Short and painless. Hand off bike to a volunteer run to the tent put on shoes and hat and start running.

Run:
I felt great at the beginning of the run. Finally off the bike and doing my favorite part of the triathlon. The first mile was awesome, it was mostly downhill and it felt easy. But then after the turn around point I had to run up for almost 2miles. What looked as rolling hills on the map is more or less a 3 loop run course which one direction it goes up and the other direction down. Especially the one section on Green Valley Pkwy were you can see the traffic light in the distance but it just doesn’t seem to get closer. This requires a great mind game which wasn’t easy on a course which is getting warmer and warmer. Early on in the race decided that I won’t walk before the last loop and suffer at least through two loops before I would give in. After about 2 miles, my quads started twitching and I noticed I was close to cramping. For the rest of the race I tried to relax and consume more liquids but unfortunately I was already in a dehydrated state. I grabbed two cups on each station one Gatorade perform and one water. I normally drank the whole Gatorade and half the water and poured the rest of the water over my head. My favorite part on the course were the ice water soaked sponges, it felt like waking up every single time I pressed them on my head. After “waking up” I felt like being able to push a little harder for a short time. Even with all this nutrition I was fading and I noticed it and to my dismay the twitching in my quads wouldn’t stop. It seemed like there was nothing I could do. On the third lap I started walking the aid stations. Maybe that was a self-proclaimed prophecy but at least I was able to go back to race pace after a couple of seconds of walking. Normally on the run part I am one of the faster ones. Not at the World Championship, people were running the same pace or even overtaking me all the time. And it was devastating to see how many people overtook me the couple times I walked. This was certainly not a run experience I am used to, and it was time to get it over with. I decided not to walk again after the last hill. But even then people were flying past me. Then finally the turn to the finish line. As a race preparation I told myself that I want to enjoy the finish experience and I tried but I still don’t remember much off it, besides giving Amy a kiss in the finish chute. I finished the run in 1:37:48 which was almost 8min slower then I had planned.
Once I crossed the finish line there were two helpers which helped me to get out of the finish area, receive my medal and then guided me towards the food tent. As far as I could tell every athlete got this treatment. I thought that was very nice of them especially considering how sweaty and exhausted we all were.

Time-LasVegas

Reflection:
Considering the race itself: I really enjoyed it and the only negative comment about this race is the drafting and not having enough referees. Other than that it was very well organized and I would definitely recommend it!

Considering my performance: I knew that I wasn’t prepared properly. I was 3kg heavier then the last two races, didn’t sleep enough in the week leading up to the race, and hurt my back a couple days before the race which forced me to tapper more then I would have… These are not excuses but some realization which I knew going into the race but I didn’t account for them properly. I learned that I have to take even more care of nutrition in such a climate. But even with a proper preparation and nutrition I think I would just have been a couple minutes faster which place wise wouldn’t have made a big difference. There are just that many great athletes out there.
When I first saw the preliminary result I was shocked I was 91st out of 118 (by now 131). I am used to be in the top few percent in other races and now I am not even in the top 50%. I wasn’t happy with that fact until Amy told me a different interpretation of this result. “I am 91st on the world in my age group!” This sounds much better :-)
I have one take away for the coming winter training: I still suck at swimming :-P

Pictures and video of me

HR-LasVegas

What happens in Vegas… will be broadcasted to the world!

September 11th, 2011

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At least that is what they told us at the “Welcome Dinner”. For once the saying “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is not true. There are many ways to follow the race:

Race Coverage
Athlete Tracker
TV broadcasting

There are something over 1700 athletes racing from 54 countries. Switzerland has, with 55 athletes, the fifth highest head count from outside the US. (Behind: Canada, Germany, Australia, UK)

RaceNumberWM70.3

It is very exciting to be here. All the athletes seem in very good shape and the atmosphere is phenomenal. The race director promised a hard race with lots of hills, wind and high temperatures (up to 33C). We shall see how I cope with the dry heat and the no wetsuit swim. I am ready for tomorrow, my bike is in the transition area and my race number is laid out. The expectations are set as well:

LG: I know you like names in this sport, and I mean that literally. So you must have had some fun with 30-34.

JM: Oh, yeah. I pick Jonathan Shearon of Missouri to win it, but he needs to worry about an athlete named Guido Zgraggen (SUI). Firstly, the name “Guido” frightens me. Secondly, in 1998 a guy named Lukas Zgraggen won the amateur World Champs, went on to set an amateur record of 3:49 in the Eagleman 70.3 and turned in an 8:48 in Kona. He’s the best amateur I’ve ever seen, so if Guido comes from the same gene pool…

LG: I don’t think they do. “Zgraggen” is like “Smith” in Switzerland.
JM: Oh. [pause] Never mind.

Full text here.

More to come…

KIC Triathlon in Stamford 2011

June 27th, 2011

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I did this race last year, back then it was only my 3rd Triathlon. By now I have a couple more under my belt and wanted to improve last years time. The main difference from last year’s race is that the start was during high tide, which meant we had to swim the full length! This would make my task to improve my time a little harder. During the packet pickup I talked to Adam Daniels a friend with whom I did a couple rides/runs. We concluded that the two of us are at on a similar level and that it might come to a tight race towards the end. We also decided both on the same race strategy, go hard in the swim, go hard on the bike and see if we can keep it up on the run.

For some reason, I slept horrible the night before the race. I woke up many times and couldn’t sleep. So I ended up eating half of my race breakfast at 2am in the morning during one of these awake phases. It was weird, because this race was more for fun and nothing was at stake here. Except my ego!?

Getting up at 4:30am and race prep as usual. Nothing special.

Swim: We started waist deep in the water and I focused from the beginning on a smooth from with a strong stroke. I was in a lucky spot from the beginning on, without a lot of pushing and searching for free space. I kept a tight line to the buoys and was making good progress. Towards the end I rested my legs a little a couple meters, which to my surprise you can see in the HR-chart. One funny thing during the swim was, that one guy swam into me, head first (from the side). I am still wondering how you can swim that crooked :-)

T1: This wasn’t a smooth transition at all. First I couldn’t get my wetsuit off. It got stuck on the timing chip and I needed 3 attempts to peel the suit off. Then I noticed that someone played around with my bike, because the rubber bands which I installed to keep the shoes in place were gone. This meant that I had to fiddle with the shoes for a couple of seconds before I could jump on the bike. I also noticed that Adam’s bike was missing, which meant he was ahead of me. (I took a time-split here. See chart below #1)

Bike: I was pushing it hard on the bike from the beginning on. From my performance test I knew that my threshold was around a heart rate of 150. But for most of the race I was well above 160. I was wondering if that would influence my running capabilities but then that was part of my race strategy to find out. The bike ride itself was uneventful. At the beginning of the ride I overtook a couple of people. But 20 minutes into the ride I was mainly riding alone. Unfortunately, I also wasn’t able to spot Adam. The last 2.5 miles are along the run course. Last year, the leading man was right there at mile 2, this year nobody was insight. Not until around mile 1 where I saw the police bike with the first runner behind. I started counting and saw 12 other runners up to the transition. Whereas the last one was Adam. He just left transition when I came to transition. So he was about one to two minutes ahead of me. There might have been some additional people between him and me who were in transition and I didn’t see them. Because of all the counting I forgot to get out of my shoes which led to a balancing exercise before the dismount.

T2: Very fast, nothing to mention. (I took a time-split here. See chart below #2)

Run: At the beginning of the run I felt slow and had to push myself to keep going. After a mile, I was wondering if I could keep this pace up, since again my HR was above threshold again. But the few other runners I overtook gave me confidence to keep going. My friends which were finishing the bike ride encourage me to keep it going. After a while I settled in. I felt like doing 6:30min/miles but I didn’t know for sure since I missed the first 3 mile markers. When I turned around for the second loop the course was suddenly crowed there were many people on their first loop now. But no one with my pace who could have helped me to keep it up. I realized that I should be able to finish with the current pace even though my back was tired and sore and I still felt sluggish. On the last two miles I continuously increase my pace and was surprised that I was able to push my HR above 180 for an extended time. Then finally the liberating finish line.

I finished the race in 2:13:43. This is a new Olympic distance PR for me. I improved the Nations Triathlon time by 4min and the last years KIC IT time by over 7 minutes. I am very please with it. During the run, I didn’t think I will PR at all. But apparently I managed to run almost a 6min/mile pace. (Maybe the course was a little short?)

Overall results here

Adam was already waiting for me. This was only his second Triathlon and he beat me by over 3 minutes. Impressive! I thought we would finish closer together, but then as it turns out we placed 2nd and 3rd in our AG. How exciting. It got even more exciting during the awards ceremony when they only called Adam and my name for the M30-34 AG. (I guess this was because the first in our AG was second overall and got a price for that.) The reward for my place was a beer glass, but unfortunately it was empty. I changed that later in the day… :-)

I really enjoyed this race! It is so much fun to do a local race where you meet a lot of people you know.

Congrats to Adam Daniel (2nd M30-34) and Matt Woods (3rd M45-49) and ALL my other friends who finished this race! There are too many to list hem all here :-)

Side Note: I even made it into the news. Stamford Advocate, picture #20

HR-Chart:
KIC IT HR

148 miles for a Harpoon

June 24th, 2011

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Last Saturday I went to Boston for the Brewery to Brewery (b2b) ride. It is organized by the Harpoon brewery and the slogan of the ride is: “148miles for a Harpoon”. My friend Javier convinced me a couple of months ago to sign up for this ride. He thought we could ride it together, since he always wanted to do this ride. Unfortunately, I got in and he didn’t. Since, I have never been to Boston before, I looked forward to this trip especially since the ride was on Saturday which would give me one day for Touristy things.

The longest ride I did prior to this ride was 60miles in about 4h. Therefore I was a little worried and intimidated by the distance. But I knew that I would/could finish it. The question was how fast. I decided to start with the 30km/h group. Which was the perfect decision in hindsight. The riders were started in inverse order according to their estimated speed. The first riders started at 5:15am and as a faster rider I could sleep in a little because our start was after 7am.

Miles 0-16: Our Peloton consisted of 25 riders and we started all together through down town Boston. Because of the parade for the Bruins (which won the Stanley cup) there were 100s of spectator already waiting along the street and cheering us on. The speed was very moderate especially with all the red lights were we had to wait. During that part of the ride I talked to a couple of other riders, but mainly to Steven who is a very nice guy and a strong rider than me. Once we were out of the city the pace picked up a little and shortly after we were at “a rest stop”, or better said “Porta Potty City”. I didn’t have to pee yet, but I decided to wait for my new friend.

Mile 16-48: The field increased the pace. We were riding much faster now. Whereas before it felt like a relaxed Sunday ride, now there was some tension in the field. This tension got even bigger once our Peloton tried to overtake 5 other riders. Instead of latch in on the end, they decided to merge in the middle. This made for a very aggressive feel in the field. People were competing for “good” position within the group, which I didn’t like and though were completely unnecessary. So I stayed at the very back out of all trouble. From time to time I was still chatting with Steven and it seemed that the two of us had similar goals for the day. My hands started to hurt after 2 hours since I was riding on my triathlon bike in a non-aero position. I couldn’t wait to split up the group so that I could ride in an aero position for parts of the race. To my surprise the whole group stayed together until the first rest stop. But I knew the group would split up now since some people seemed exhausted already. Note: I noticed 2 people turning back before the first rest stop.

Mile 48-100: Me and Steven were ready to go after a couple minutes and decided to start alone. After a while some riders caught up with us. Eventually we had a nice group of around 10+ riders. We were rotating and were making very good progress. Even though Steven and I wanted to hang back till mile 100, we ended up pulling the Peloton. This felt great till about mile 97 where there was a long uphill to the next rest. I couldn’t keep up with Steven anymore. I was suffering and was questioning if I could finish it. Or I should say, I knew I could finish it, but this way it wouldn’t be much fun anymore. I started to realize that I screwed up my nutrition and didn’t drink/eat as much as I should have and I was also running out of water. Once I reached the 2nd rest stop I saw Steven waiting for me. How nice of him. I decided to drink a lot (Water, Zico, Coca Cola) my goal was to have to pee which I couldn’t 4h into the ride. All this drinking helped and I started to feel better and before long the two of us were on the road again.

Mile 100-126: Initially it was just the two of us but eventually there were 6 riders and we were rotating and made really good progress. >40km/h on flat parts. I seemed to have some strength back. Except on the uphill I was still missing my power. I also enjoyed all the aero riding I was doing when I was leading the group. About 90min into this section, I was in third position. The person in front of me dropped out of the Peloton. So I thought to myself that he must be tired and can’t lead. A few second later the leading person indicated that I should take the lead. This was only after a 30 second effort on his part. Well I didn’t mind and started pulling again. A couple minutes later when I indicated that the next should take over. Steven came next to me and laughed that we lost half of the group. Well it was up to the 3 of us now to finish the last couple miles of this section. This part was flying by and went over much quicker then I thought. At the 3rd and last stop I drank a Zico and a Coke again. Also I ate a banana, a pickle and some salt pretzels which tasted all delicious :-) I finally achieved my goal and was able to go pee after 6h of riding.

Mile 126-148: Steven and I decided that we didn’t want to wait any longer and so the two of us were on the road again. The wind had picked up and it was harder to ride but after a while we had a small group together again and we made good progress. Except for the hills, where I still had a hard time. About 8miles before the finish a really fast group with some professional rider overtook us and Steven jump on their back. Unfortunately this was on an uphill section on I lost him. But on the top of the hill another fast group overtook me which I latch onto. We were rotating again, even though some people made barely any effort upfront. Luckily we also had some Triathletes which were pulling the Peloton very strongly. One weird experience was a wooden bridge which was covered and there was almost any light in there. I barely could see the ground and was keeping track of the other riders by looking towards the end of the tunnel (silhouette). This and the fact that I was really tired made this a very freaky experience. Unfortunately there was another hill before the finish and I couldn’t keep up with the group. On top of the hill there was a sign which made me unbelievable happy! It read: “All downhill from here”. What a joy, a couple minutes later I crossed the finish line. Amazing I did it!

I did the 239km in 7:40:20 (pure riding time, without rest stop time)

I really enjoyed this ride and will consider doing it again. I definitely recommend this ride to any other riders. But it might be a good idea to do more then 60miles as longest preparation ride. Here is a map of the ride.

Facts of the ride:

Avg Speed 31.0km/h
Top Speed 78.2km/h
Calories burned 5614 kcal
Heart beats 69708
Avg Hr 144 bpm
Min HR 81 bpm
Max HR 177 bpm
Standard deviation 18.3 bpm

HR-Chart
Harpoon B2B-HR

Mooseman Ironman70.3

June 9th, 2011

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I signed up for this race a long time ago, but since I already had a slot for the World Championship I wasn’t necessarily motivated to do this race. Mainly because it included a 5h drive each way. But one week before the race, I decided to do it. In hindsight, it was well worth the 1000km drive! I considered this race a “fun” race and wanted to do a little experiment. I planned to push myself a little harder on the bike and then try to still perform well in the run.

As in Texas I got up at 4am and ate my breakfast. After a 30min drive to the race location I tried to get ready for the race. Since it was only 5C at this time, my main focus was to stay warm. Apparently, I failed miserably at this, since several people made comments about my shattering teeth. It was almost a relief to go into the water (15C) which felt warm at first.
Swim: I was happy when our wave finally was allowed to start. I got used to the cold water within a few minutes, except that I didn’t feel my feet anymore :-)
The swim felt great and I thought I made great progress till I excited the water and noticed that I was exactly the same time as in Texas (down to the second).

Transition 1: This might have been my worst transition so far. I stumbled to my bike and hit my big toe into a root in the process; the good news was that I still had some feeling in the feet :-). As in Texas I tried to put on my compression socks, at the end I had to sit on the ground to put them on. Thanks to the cold feet and hands I felt like a kid who learns to put on socks themselves. I am so glad nobody filmed that part. :-)

Bike: Initially, I was cold on the bike. But fortunately, the sun came out and warmed up everything. Also the hilly course helped a lot to stay warm. It was a two loop course with a steep 5 km long climb. On my first loop I already saw some people pushing their bike up the hill, which I thought was surprising, especially since they were at the very beginning of the hill. As a lightweight, I have an advantage here and I played this card on all the steep parts. No one overtook me uphill… but my heart rate was also through the roof. On the first loop, I thought that the hills weren’t that bad. Well second time around it got much harder which also meant that there were many more athletes pushing their bike uphill.
This race I had a new experience. I got my first penalty. On the first loop a guy overtook me right before the aid station. He then grabbed a water and slowed down a little for that. I didn’t take anything in the aid station. Since he overtook me I was supposed to fall back out of his drafting area, I just stopped pedaling for a few seconds. This wasn’t enough to clear the drafting area since he was slowing down even more. Once he started fiddling with the bottle and slowed even more, I decided to overtake him. That is when a referee gave me an overtaking violation (yellow card). This meant that I had to stop in the next penalty tent to get my # and name taken and all my race numbers marked with a “P”. Unfortunately, with my last name it took me “forever” to spell it to the guy. (Side note: I talked to the head referee after the race. He said that I shouldn’t have gotten this penalty and he will check with the referee who did it… He told me that at aid station safety comes first and there is some leeway in applying the rules because of that)

Transition 2: This time I was very quick, in and out. No problem.

Run: Once again, I felt great at the start of the run. I was concerned about my feet at first since I knew that I had forest soil in my socks and in my shoes, but I didn’t even notice this till after the race. I started out with quick feet and passed the first mile marker at 6:30 which is too fast. I slowed down a little and did the second mile in 6:40 which is still faster then I wanted and so I focused on slowing a little more. At this point I started to feel tired and my back started hurting. For a few second I was wondering if I can finish this race. After all I have a WM slot and this is only a fun race, right? But then: Giving up is not an option for me! Still these thoughts stayed with me for a few more miles since I was wondering if I pushed too hard on the hilly bike course. I decided to keep my running pace and see how far I will get. (Remember this was my goal)
So far the run was flat, but then suddenly there was this hill. I should have known it, after all it is the first part of the bike course but I was still surprised. I was even more surprised by how much my calf hurt going up. Then the downhill was even worse, I never had such a stinging pain in my shine before. In hindsight these first 4-5 miles were the hardest, once I pushed through all these different issues it seemed to become “easier”. This was mainly because the pain level stayed the same and I seemed to get used to it.
I noticed during the 5th mile, I suddenly had completely different problems. My finger were super sticky from the Gatorade I spilled over my fingers. This annoyed me so much, that at the next aid station I used the water to clean my fingers. (I had to repeat the same procedure a couple miles later). I would never have though that non-sticky fingers can make for a much better run experience. But in such a race it is also these little things which drain energy from you.
At the turn point, I noticed that it only took me a little over 44 minutes to do the first loop. Wow, this meant if I keep the pace I could finish the half marathon in under 1:30. So there I had a new goal! This was very helpful since no one around me was running my pace. So from then on I was just running against the clock. At mile 10 I started to feel really tired, but I said to myself: “You haven’t walked yet; there is no reason to start something new!” For the next two miles I had to push myself not to slow down. And then on mile 12 a women closed in on me and overtook me. Finally, I had someone who was running about my pace. We ran together to the finish line, unbelievable how much easier it is to keep the pace if someone else is running at the same pace.

I finished the race in 4:53:26 which placed me 10th in my AG. At the awards ceremony, I was eligible for a slot for the World Championship again. This was a good feeling to know that I qualified here as well. But all that mattered to me was that I ran the hilly half marathon only 7min slower than my flat out half marathon best time.

Things that ROCKED:
=> Post race food: BBQ chicken, Corn on the cob, cookies, ice cream
=> TREK-Speed Concept: I love this bike! (Yes, Amy I love you too =) )
=> Infinit Nutrition: No upset stomach, no cramping and lots of energy!
=> Scenic area with all the trees and the lake: It reminded me a lot of Switzerland

Heart-Rate Chart:       Time splits:
HR-IronmanMooseman       Time-IronmanMooseman

FYI: Link to the official results will follow once they published it!

Half-Marathon PR and NYC Marathon Qualification time

May 18th, 2011

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This is the 3rd time I did the Pittsburgh Marathon. I really enjoy this race; it is in a great city with lots of cheering people and many bridges to cross. The goal for this race was to finally beat my old PR from 2005 (1:23:26). Last fall I came really close with 1:23:30. But this time I would make a new record. I knew it. I wanted it!

Based on the good time in Hartford I qualified to start as a seeded runner. This meant I could start in the first coral together with the Pros. I thought that was pretty exciting until I noticed that the control to this coral unfortunately wasn’t that rigid. There were many people from other Corals even some people from Coral D (>9min/miles). I had a hard time to even get into the Coral after my warm up. Since, I qualified I took out the right to squeeze my way up to the front. 3 minutes before the start I was within the first 10 lines which I thought was good enough. I was ready to go and even the weather was good with 50-60 degrees with a little rain.

As so often I started a little fast but if I would slow down after about half a mile, I wouldn’t know my pace at the first mile marker. So I kept following the female lead group up to miles 1. I read 6:00 min which meant that I was running about 20sec too fast per mile. I tried to ease into my pace, but that is really hard if you are feeling strong and feel like you could draft of every runner who overtakes you. Unfortunately, I missed the second mile marker so I had to wait till mile 3 to see how my pace is. I passed with 18:27, which means that I was 30 seconds ahead of time but only 5 seconds to fast on the last two miles. This sounded reasonable and I tried to keep my pace. Luckily I found some other people who were running the same pace. For the next couple miles I tried to safe as much energy as possible to have a strong finish. This meant not to lead and draft off people, after all we had wind was up to 9miles/h. I passed mile 6 a little under 38min which was exactly as planned. This meant that I was slowing down. With this in mind I tried to increase the speed a little not that I would lose more time. The next 3 miles I was mostly focusing on running around all the walkers (which started an hour earlier). I passed mile 9 on schedule with 57min.
At mile 10 the half-marathon and marathon course splits, so suddenly there were a lot less people on the course. Luckily the guy I had been drafting of the last mile was still in front of me. Even though I knew that the 10 mile marker must have been around there I didn’t see it. I checked my watch and saw that I was something over 1:03:00. This meant that I had a little less than 20min left for the last 5k (3.1 miles). This is definitely doable it is all in my mind! I increase my pace and tried to overtake the guy in front of me, but I gave up on it once I felt the head wind. Since we were running almost at my desired pace, I decided once more to safe energy and draft a little longer. At mile 11 the time had finally come to take it into my hands. I passed him and increased the speed, over the bridge back into the city, there was a really strong head wind which made it harder to run. But I was thinking only one thing: “I am not going to miss the NYC qualifying time again!”.
I pushed myself even harder, I started passing several people and then I was at the 12 mile marker. I was wondering if I could keep up this pace since my body was complaining. But I buried this thought. If I want to qualify that is the way to go. 3 turns later I looked at the last bridge. It looked and felt very steep even though I am sure it was only 40 feet of elevation. All I was thinking don’t give in… I can do it! I can do it! I over took a couple more people and some of them even encourage me by saying “Keep it strong!”. Wow, how nice of them! The funniest was a guy whom I just caught up with on the top of the bridge and a spectator asked who of the two is going to win? And the guy next to me said: “He is!” He must have known how committed I was :-).
There the last turn. I checked my watch something over 1h 20min. I was shocked, the finish seemed so far away, and I had less than 3 minutes to get there. There was nothing left to do then increase my pace again and again. At least there were a couple of other competitive runners out there which gave me a run for my money…. I can do it, I can do it… I did it!
After all the hard training I though this qualification time should have been easy. I was surprised that I had such a hard struggle at the end.

Finisher Time: 1:22:42

Amy also ran the half marathon. Unfortunately she missed her PR by only 50 seconds. Considering her leg injury and the work and school load this spring. This is a great result! Congrats!

Pittsburgh HM2011

Leatherman’s Loop

May 2nd, 2011

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A couple of months ago, Javier, a friend of mine, convinced me to sign up for the race called “Leatherman’s Loop” a 10k on trails with mud and river crossings. I did sign up, and I’m glad I did. Thanks Javier!

Before the race I did some research on the last years finisher time and what those people ran in other competitions. So I knew that the top 3 might not be possible but finishing in the top 20 should be doable. So there I was standing with 1000 other runners on a field and wondering if I really can finish within the first 20? Some of them look really fast!

We received a brief blessing and Tiokasen Ghosthorse who is a member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation started the race. Unfortunately, the procedure wasn’t clear to anyone so the race organizers had to scream 2x “Go” before people started moving. But then, what a mess. Somehow I managed to squeeze myself past some runners and when we did the first turn I was in the first 30. After a short little downhill, we run into the woods, where we hit the first muddy part. I didn’t believe it, but yes some people where slowing down for that. Well, a good time to get dirty and overtake some people. Surprising that a little dirt can make your shoes so much heavier. After that there was a turn, and I was able to count my place. I ranked 15th at this stage, which I thought should be within my capabilities. We came towards the first hill, where the 3 front runners stared to pull away. On this hill Matt Woods (track training partner) overtook me. My ego wouldn’t allow it to let him pass me that easily, after all the hard training sessions we did together. So I stuck with him for a while. What I didn’t realize thought was that he had lost his shoes in the first mud pit. So he was running barefoot! Respect!
The course was surprisingly hilly. Yes, I expected some hills but they were quite steep. Matt and I were making good progress and advanced to 10 and 11 place. A little before the river crossing I overtook Matt on a downhill (He told me later that running downhill barefoot was a very painful thing). He told me with a smile: “Go get em Tiger”. :-)
There the first river… I am sure the water was very cold, but it felt so good and relaxing to wade through the water. Only the heavy shoes made running hard afterward. By now I advanced into the 6th place. It seemed like a few people started to fast so it wasn’t a hassle to overtake them. So there were two people right in front of me, but the first 3 were not to be seen anymore. The speed seemed good and I just wanted to stay put till at least the half-way point. Even though its only a 10k, I didn’t want to blow up. I decided that the 5th place would be awesome. My goal was to stay with them and outrun at least one of them at the finish. At least that was my idea of finishing which gave me motivation to stay with them :-)
Right before the halfway point we had to cross the next river. I also know now why there was a bridge right next to us… I was in the water up to my chest, it seemed to me that it took forever to cross this 5m river. Once, I was out I felt really heavy and a little tired so the two guys were pulling away from me. But only a little, and there was the halfway point.
I grabbed a cup and drunk a sip of water before entered the “Mud Flats”. Yes they are called this way for a reason, many many times you have to run through mud. Your shoes will vanish in a viscous, brownish soup and it almost feels like glue. I didn’t want to lose the two guys in front of me, especially since one seemed to know the course and I didn’t want to get lost. So I pushed myself a little harder. By now the three of us where spread apart over 50m.
Finally, we reached the end of the “Mud Flats” which only meant that we had to climb the Wall. What a steep hill… running was out of question, but at least there was a Mariachi band playing and motivating us. I tried to keep going and not to lose too much ground on the other two. So I never left them out of sight, and then I saw something which made me confident to succeed with my plan. The 5th place had closed in on the 4th and after a while overtook him. I assumed that this meant that this guy was fading. From studying the map and time, I also know that we can’t be farther out than two miles. So I started pushing my pace. Even though, he was ahead over 50m, I eventually closed in. But I failed in my first attempt to overtake him. Well, so back to my first plan, I’ll outrun him at the finish.
Well, there was a chance before that. There was one last hill before that, I tried my luck by running around him on the trail and he didn’t even push it. On top of the hill, a visitor told us that we were 5th and 6th place. Great my basic math skills seem to work during this run :-)
From then on, I almost could see the finish. 200m over a flat field a river and the uphill to the finish. On this flat part, I could constantly hear the steps behind me. I was wondering if he knows that I’m almost done. I couldn’t increase the speed anymore. So I checked and he was about 20m back. What a relief. And then I heard the crowd. They were all there to see us cross the last river. What an atmosphere with all the people screaming and then I could see the finish line. I was trying to keep my pace, but it got harder and harder. A little girl at the side told me there is someone behind you. All I was thinking was I’m done. I might not be able to hold him off… So I checked the distance and it still was 20m. No way, I’m going to give up now and I didn’t. I finished 5th overall.
It was a wonderful race and I would do it again in a heartbeat. My finisher time for these 10k was 43:25.
To top it off: I won my age group 20-29 and got an Apple Walnut Carmel Pie! :-D

Congratulations on all my other friends who finished! Javier, Jeffrey, Matt (I hope your feet recover well!)

Some pictures can be found here.


This is a description of all the key features of the course.

EDIT: There are already some YouTube videos. I’ll post the better ones down here
Last river crossing before the finish

Ironman 70.3 Texas

April 17th, 2011

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As always, my post get longer then I plan. If you are not interested in the gory details, just look at the pictures and the links at the end :-)

My first A race in this season. This means that I did a full tapper and serious preparation. This preparation included lots of sleep, material check, mental preparation, course study, inspecting the course and focus on nutrition. All in all I was ready for this event! But the focus of this post will be the race. So I’ll jump right to it.

I got up at 4am to eat my breakfast to eat 2.5 cups of apple sauce, 1 banana, 1 bottle of sports drink and about 10g of protein and then I went to bed for another 45min. The second time, the alarm clock rang I was already awake and ready to go. Getting dressed, set up transition, watching the start of the Pros and then it was time for me.

Swim: I was in the second wave of the 30-34 age group and started 35 minutes behind the professionals (5min between waves). With my improved swimming skills I positioned myself in the second row at the start line. Since there were only around 150 athletes in this second wave, there was plenty of space and it was a relaxed atmosphere. My goal for the swim was to find a strong swimmer and follow him in his slip stream. Unfortunately, I got caught between two open water newbie’s. Both didn’t know how to swim straight and constantly were swimming into me from left and right. In that process a foot also moved my goggles that I had to clear them out. After that I push myself a little to get out of their way. But once I cleared myself from them, I noticed that there was already a gap between the faster swimmers and me. So much for my strategy… On the first 500-600m I was swimming a perfect line next to the buoys and was making good progress. But after the turn, I underestimated the current/waves. I constantly drifted to right, when I noticed this the first time I was already 50m off course. I tried to correct the course, but it took me half of the second stretch to go back on course. This was also partially due to choppy water and bad sighting on my side. Another challenge I faced was the breathing. With the waves, I had to constantly switch my breathing pattern. I normally breathe bilateral but for big part of it I had to breathe on one side to avoid the waves. Then finally the second turn and a couple 100m to the finish of the swim… I swam the 1.9km in 34min 59sec (1min slower as planned)

Transition 1: As always, I’m a little confused when I get out of the water and my heart is working heavily (180bmp). The nice wetsuit stripper helped me out of the gear and made the changing a lot easier. Once at the bike I went through my 6 step process. (I learned from past confusion) Thanks to this I had a relative quick transition ~3min, even thought putting the CEP socks on wasn’t as smooth as in the training and the HR monitor needed some fiddling too.

Biking: I felt really strong from beginning on, the only concern I had, was that my HR was too high even though I maintained the speed as planned. So I tried to relax as much as I could while keeping the pace. It took me almost 10min to bring my pulse down. IronmanTX-BikeStart Once I was on the street along the shore I faced a strong head wind which came from a 30% angle. So I had to permanently correct my direction. I also settled into a slightly slower pace as planned because of the conditions. On the bright side, this wind helped me to cope with the warm/humid 26C at 8am. Even with the slower speed I was flying past other bikers, which is a great feeling. But this also had the disadvantage that I had to be careful not to get a drafting penalty. Every time I entered someone’s drafting zone (7m) I had to overtake him within 20seconds or risk a 4min penalty. This doesn’t sound bad until you accidentally enter someone’s drafting zone of an equally fast rider and are suddenly forced to overtake him. Since dropping back results in a direct penalty. (this obviously assumes a referee would see you). But I really didn’t want risking a 4min penalty, and tried to be very conscious about the drafting rules. Only after 30min my crotch started hurting, most probably since it is a new bike and I only did a few rides with it. Well there was nothing I could do about this so I tried to ignore it as good as possible. “Relieve” came after about an hour, when my bake started hurting. Unbelievable how one pain can overshadow another pain :-) Once more I tried to ignore this pain as well.
The ride was almost straight out and back I was hoping for tail wind on the way back, since so far I only had head wind. What a relief when I turn around, my speed jumped up to 40m/h by maintaining about the same effort. This gave me a great motivation boost. This boost didn’t last long and my back was still hurting so with about 1hour to go, I decided to give my back a 10 sec break of riding none aero after every 5minutes. Even though these 5min became hard after a while too, it gave me something “short” to focus on. There wasn’t that much else, because I had pretty much overtaken all not so fast cycling and was riding long stretches alone. At least I didn’t have to worry about drafting anymore. Before the transition 2 I saw Amy and Family which just made me smile, I couldn’t help myself I was so happy to be back and see them. Even though just for a few seconds. I did the 90km in 2:33:37 which was 30 seconds faster than planned. (Perfect :-D)

Transition 2: Here again I followed my 6 steps and was out of transition after only 1min.

Run: What an amazing feeling to have strong legs after a good bike split. I started off with a 4:15min/km pace and was feeling good. Obviously my Infinit Nutrition was working for me. Another big motivation was seeing my whole fan club 3 times each lap. IronmanTX-Run1stLap I forced myself to eat a caffeinated GU, to wake up my brain for the rest of the run. After the first mile I was running past a loud speaker and was wondering why the music was so quiet. Then I noticed that I still had my earplugs in from the swim. I then realized what a peaceful and quite bike ride I had thanks to them. But now I needed all the loud and pumping music I could get. I was doing great until after 2 laps, when I allowed myself to walk a couple of steps on an add station. From then on my body demanded a quick stop at every add station. This was bad; since they had 3 station each lap. This slowed my pace to 4:30min/km. Even though I started strong I was ready to be done. I mobilized all my strength on the last mile to catch the guy who was running in front of me for the last two laps and then I was already at the finish line. I did the 21km in 1:33:48, 2min slower as in my optimistic plan. But I was very happy none the less!

After a couple of minutes of putting ice on my muscles and drinking some water. I enjoyed a quick rub down in the massage tent. Only 30min after the finish of the race I felt okay again. I was hungry, very thirsty and able to walk straight without pain. FanClub After a chat with my supportive fan club. THANKS GUYS! I enjoyed 4 slices of awesome pizza (well at this stage all the fast food would have tasted awesome, but don’t tell anybody :-) )

After a shower and some more food, I went to the awards ceremony, where they handed out free beer, which I obviously couldn’t refuse after 6 weeks of abstinence. I knew that there were 4 slots in my age group, I also knew that after the race I was preliminary on the 16 place. I didn’t expect to get a slot for the World Championship. But there out of the blue it happened! The first couple people didn’t want a slot and a few others weren’t present. So the speaker said my name. Wow, I was amazed 1st) I was offered a slot for the World Championship and 2nd) how did he know how to pronounce my name correct. Now I had a dilemma, the World Championship was on the same day as my first Ironman since the changed the date of the World Championship, after I signed up for the Ironman. But who knows if/when I will get my next shot at an Ironman70.3 World Championship and I can always do my first Ironman on another day…. I answered with a loud and excited “YES” and raised my arm. The speaker saw me and asked me again: “Guido: Do you want to go to Las Vegas”. I confirmed again and the crowd was applauding. Las Vegas I’m coming!

Overal Race Results

Heart-Rate Chart:       Time splits:
HR-IronmanTX       Time-IronmanTX

BTW: I am selling a slot for the FullRev in CedarPoint! Apparently, these slots are transferable till August. So please contact me if you want a slot to a reduced price! :-)