Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Voraciously Vrooming Valiantly and Vivaciously at the Velodrome

Have you ever been to Rock Hill? Yes, Rock Hill, that small town off 77 about 10 miles after you hit the SC state line. If not, get there fast - it’s home to the Giordana Velodrome. I know, in Rock Hill!  First, let’s start with the obvious question - what’s a velodrome? Before I moved to the area and took up cycling, I would have guessed-it was something like the Thunderdome in Madmax? You know, two men enter, one man leaves…or something like that.

Well, my ignorant pre-cyclist self was not that far off. The Rock Hill Velodrome is a 250m concrete track designed for amateur and olympic caliber track cyclist. The Velodrome  essentially looks like your normal high school track but instead of flat, this oval features 42-degree angled banks on each turn; similar to X-Games half-pipes.
Thanks to Jenny Leiser for the photo!

Take a moment - look at the picture. Ready to hop on and ride? Yes, that’s what we all thought when we exited the tunnel leading us to the center of the infield for a group lesson on how to ride track bikes with some other Ice members.  Ohh did I forget to mention, when riding around the 250m track with steep embankments you’re riding a fix’ie! Yea fun.  There are no brakes and no shifting because there is only one gear, yes, that means no coasting. It also means the pedals will always be turning whether our legs want them to or not. The day started with some quick lessons about the lines on the track, rules for passing, yada yada yada. Then we were off to practice - getting on and off our bikes, stopping, slowing. Well come to find out it’s hard as s*** to start and stop a fixed gear bike and doing that when your peddles in a low position, forget’a’bout’it.  It’s a good thing we had the flat infield lap to practice on.

After some tooling around on our bikes our instructor had us venture out onto the main track. He shouting some fleeting words of advice to us “if you drop below 13MPH your bike will slip out from under you in the steep turns….  however riding rented track bikes that are not equipped with speedometers. I have zero idea if I’m on the verge of breaking the track record  or hovering right above the magical 13 miles per hour…. You had best believe I was peddling faster and harder than I ever had… entering every turn…..

Thanks to Jenny Leiser again!

To give you a better idea what cycling is like in the velodrome:  Think about you and your best bud riding side by side like a great 80s montage.  At the velodrome that 80s montage of you and your bud side by side would have your head at the same level as best bud wheel. Riding below or above a person in space is a really a strange feeling but then you get to swoop down from the highest point to the lowest point yelling “Rail” to indicate your intentions to other riders…..   It's instantly addictive and I want to sweep down the high wall again and again yelling RRRRAAAIIIIILLLLL.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September Swim Update

Time for our September Swim Talk!  I have heard a handful of triathletes talk about the importance of upper body strength, and how useless the kick is for them...ewwww

The kick may not provide the propulsion that the rest of the body does,  but it plays a crucial role in how the body moves in the water. I believe there are 3 factors that contribute to a efficient kick:

*Kick should be low effort/be low drag
*Timing of the kick should aid in body rotation
*Velocity generates from the hips, not knees

One of the biggest improvements I see each and every "non competitive'' swimmer has, is their ankle flexibility.  As a triathlete, you spend SOOO much time on the road in a dorsi flex state. This creates a position, flexing your toes back to your shin, makes life hard. The toes act in breaking the water and takes away any potential velocity with your feet. 

Think of your kick, like a whip. All of the velocity generated in the kicking motion ends up at the end, or the feet. The more flexible the ankle, the faster the water moves, the faster you go forward. But how do you create more velocity?...Swing the whip harder.  By igniting the kick with your hips, not your knees, you allow your leg to be used as a longer lever.  This longer lever will allow for access to the potential water to be moved.  

At the very end of the whip, the motion is over and time to pull back. As soon as your ankle snaps down and pushes the water behind you is the opportune time to rotate your body the opposite direction. When done correctly, the snap of the ankles will create force going forward and a extension of the leg. This extension will allow the body to naturally roll to the opposite side, to be done all over again.

No knees
Everyone is different, someone may be able to kick non stop while others just a couple kicks per stroke. Play around with these ideas and apply them to your own needs. 

Until next time, stay wet!

(Want to learn more? Contact Jeremy Gregory

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Sometimes a race has too many angles for one person to cover.

I love spectating at a triathlon. It does not matter what race a go to, big or small, I end up walking away in awe. I compete in this sport?? I do this? When I realized by volunteering to work with Jones Racing Company at the Stumpy Creek Triathlon I would have the opportunity to watch and cheer on several of my friends and training partners, I jumped. In hindsight I should dragged my feet a bit . . . 4AM I have to get up and be out the door by 4AM?? WTH? I made my wake up call, rolled out of bed, brewed a strong cup of coffee and rolled into Mooresville around 5AM. Get this . . . I wasn't even the first volunteer there. The parking crew was already set up to guide me into a parking spot and I was greeted with a warm smile and another cup of coffee from Justin Andrew's mom who was the volunteer coordinator. I shuffled back down the hill with coffee and snacks in hand to man my post at chip pick up.

While a 5 person crew managed packet pick up Ashley Ackerman and I handled chip pick up. With ninja-like moves and infallible precision we succeeded in handing each athlete the correct chip. Pheeeeeee-eeeeeeeew! The mixture of emotional states of the athletes at this point covered a broad range from got-out-of-bed-for-this? to gimme-my-damn-chip-this-ain't-my-first-rodeo. Of course it was all fun and games until one of the creeper participants, smiling sheepishly, asked me to behind down to put his chip around his ankle "because he could not reach." Gross. I highly suggest you don't do this. 

Creepers come in all shapes and sizes

As chip pick up slowed to a trickle, I could see everyone putting on the finishing touch to their transition areas before heading down to the water. Ashley and I packed and made our way down to catch the swim start. I rarely get to see the triathlon from this perspective so it was fun to watch James, Derek, and Scott battle it out while I wondered where I would be in the mix. I decided I would be well ahead of all of them and James would be crying big salty crocodile tears because he couldn't keep up. Yep, sounds good to me.

As the first wave headed out of the water I made my way over to the bike mount line. I am not going to lie, people come to the mount line a hot mess. Rain and bike cleats are not a good combination and after seeing a couple of people hit the pavement I wasn't sure I had the nerves to continue standing there. I toughed it out because my main concern was the dismount line that came at the end of long downhill. Since the sprint race started just after the international race I did not have to wait long for the first racers to come careening down the hill. The lead sprint athletes came in fast and all fishtailed slightly coming into the line. I convinced myself at this point all the newbies were going to lose control and end up in a big pile at the entrance into transition. I teamed up with another volunteer and headed up the hill. I reminded people to slow down coming down the hill while the other volunteer monitored the dismount line. I am happy to report there was only one crash and a few uh-oh moments but everyone who came down the hill headed out on the run. I stayed at the dismount line until the last participant came in. While most everyone I knew was done and frolicking on the soccer fields I wanted to make sure EVERYONE received the full race experience. 

Saving lives, bikes, and kits (and Ross from a penalty)

Despite the rain I could tell everyone had a blast. No one was super jacked about the rain for the bike but it was welcome change for the run. In years past athletes were punished on the hilly, hot, humid, and shade-less course. This year it seemed like we were all given a reprieve and I am happy with the role I planned in everyone's race experience.
-- Jenny Leiser

Blame It On The Rain
Ahhh the rain.  It was such a soothing sound as I slumbered the night before Stumpy Creek.  Even more soothing was my belief that I would wake up to a race day that was slightly cooler and sunny.  However, as I woke up and heard the familiar sound coming down on the roof, I knew the day would not live up to my expectations.  (If it’s not readily apparent I don’t check the weather that much.  I just roll with it.)  With my stuff in the car, I left for my cross border trek up to Stumpy Creek in the pouring rain. When I arrived at the race site the rain had ratcheted down to just the occasional tiny droplet but I knew it was on its way.

Crushing dreams one pedal at a time

Racing in the rain offers a person a unique set of benefits and hazards which are presented in an almost infinite number of combinations depending on your background and personal skill set (both mental and physical).  Personally, swim conditions don’t matter (except lightning); rain, wind, waves, current, etc. they’re just there.  You swim through them just like you would swim through the best of conditions.  That outlook is probably a combination of me being a decent swimmer (obviously not as fast as James or Woody or that dude in wave 2 as all of them beat me out of the water), but also the countless hours I’ve spent surfing and whitewater kayaking.  Someone who started swimming later in life or hasn’t had the same exposure to water mind find any one of those conditions terrifying.

All of my bravado on swim conditions gets turned on its head when I ride my bike in the rain.  Images pop in my head of guys in the grand tours falling and sliding what seems like 10s of meters on the pavement, voices of friends telling me I can’t corner are buzzing in my ears, or was that the scream of Tim going around the left hand turn in Lake Norman State Park.  Anyway, you get it, riding my bike in the rain is not my favorite thing in the world.  While the only positive I can see in a rainy bike ride is usually somewhat cooler temps, Rossome and Tim probably see the rain as a positive.  Both cranked out great rides passing me at 9-ish and 13-ish miles respectively into the bike.  Rolling back into T2 the rain had pretty much stopped leaving that heavy, thick, humid air to surround us on the run.

Who needs socks?  I do. I do. 

Running in the rain is great…with socks…but socks for an Olympic distance race are stupid…so says the guy with 7 different blistery type marks on both his feet.  Socks notwithstanding, running in the rain is usually pretty awesome I think; cooler temps, no direct sun, people can’t tell if you peed your pants or not.  The list is pretty endless.  Too bad we weren't running in the rain, rather we were running through thick, humid it just stopped raining air.  It was just the kind of atmosphere that allowed me to keep a pace I’m not too bummed about but also did not allow me the feeling that I could surge to catch Tim who was dangling a mere 20-30 seconds in front of me.   Ultimately, the combination of benefits and hazards the rain threw at me landed me in 6th bringing up the rear of the ICE Racing train that rolled into the finish line.
-- Andrew Fletcher

If you ain’t first, you’re….second
One of the more interesting things about triathlon (and endurance sports in general) is the ability to objectively track improvement over time.  So from one week to the next or month to the next or year after year you can look at yourself, assess your abilities and your accomplishments and compare them to yourself (your ultimate competitor) and your peers.

I have been racing triathlons since the spring of 2009. That first year I did two half distance races and one full distance and couldn't figure out how to run without walking (didn't really figure that one out until 2011 in all honesty).  It wasn't until 2010, however, where I first competed against Derek Kidwell. The first year of Stumpy Creek International (different bike course back then) left me about 6 minutes ahead of Derek. Since that point in time Derek and I have competed against each other at least 10 times in various local and regional races. We have both improved fairly dramatically in that same period.  

The podium without the podium

The even better part was that Derek has never beaten me in any of those races! Until this past weekend, however.  It was really only a matter of time. I remember last year at Stumpy Creek when I FINALLY beat Matt Wisthoff for the first time it felt like a real vindication of the efforts I had put in over time.  Derek was similarly high in the rankings that year, beating everybody except for myself and Matt.  This year, however, things were different. I stuck on his feet the whole swim except for the last 200-300 meters when I passed just to try and make him worry a little bit. I was hoping to bike together (since I knew, if anything, he certainly wouldn't let ME ride away from him) but unfortunately Derek had other designs on the race. I emerged onto the run a hearty 3 minutes down, a fact that made me realize (while also realizing I had gotten smacked around a little more than I'd dreamed I would be on the bike) how great it is to have someone to compete against and push yourself. That's WHY we do this sport to begin with, anyway. To make friends, discover and push our own limits all while redefining what we dreamed we were even capable of.

I have said it before and I will say it again . . . THIS IS WHAT WE DO!

Stay thirsty.
-- James Haycraft

This Ain’t Denzel Washington’s Training Day
Racing while training for an Ironman can help break up the monotony of the day after day, week after week training. I'd just completed my first 100 mile ride the Sunday prior and was scheduled for a time trial at the speedway on Wednesday, so the week consisted of rest/race/rest/race.  Racing while training for an Ironman can also add a little extra stress to what would otherwise be just a normal week of consistent training. I was not super excited about racing the week of Stumpy Creek, but the majority of my ICE teammates were racing or volunteering so I knew it would be a lot fun.  My plan was no pressure, to go have fun and to make it a good training day.

Waking up race morning to a steady rain over the lake did not help my excitement level.  Somehow this was my first triathlon in the rain. Pretty impressive I've made it this many years rain free on race day. I was optimistic it would stop, but the rain steadily grew during pre-race and into the swim start. Through the swim I tried to swim on a few feet, but was not feeling very motivated to push hard.  As I got to T1 I noticed everything was soaked and the rain was really coming down. Although I unfortunately seem to ride my bike in the rain rather frequently, I absolutely despise riding in the rain.  My excitement and motivation was growing less and less.  The most exciting moment so far was the screams from Ashley and Jenny who were volunteering.  I tried to play it safe on the bike as there were people riding very unsafely around me.  I found out later that a very good friend crashed pretty hard on the bike on the slick roads.  I am not disappointed in my slow-ish bike because it was far more important for me to be extra cautious and finish on two wheels and not sliding across the pavement.  

Pretty in pink

Once off the bike I'd planned to have a nice steady run. At the 2 mile mark I realized my pace was close to a new 10k PR.  Damn.  Guess that means I have to push it. Honestly, once I started to push on the run is when I started to have fun.  I loved seeing everyone on the course, loved al of the cheers and finished with yet another 10k PR (4th in a row) and my first sub 50 min 10k.  Very soon it is going to be hard to keep this streak alive!  This effort was good enough for 3rd AG.  The two ladies ahead of me crushed the bike, but I was right with them on the swim and run which is pretty consistent with my abilities.

No sun? Guns anyway.

After the race, Monday morning was quickly back to my regularly scheduled program of consistent training in preparation for IMCHOO.  Less than 2 months to go!
-- Lori Ackerman

Don’t Call It A Comeback
The last 2.5 years has been quite a rollercoaster not only career wise, but also triathlon-wise. After having some very fortunate races in 2011, concluding with the experience of a lifetime in Kona, I had to deal with a lingering back issue and make a couple decisions career wise that forced me to put a pause on my triathlon hobby. I was working and traveling a lot while working out of New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Missouri, which didn’t leave much time to focus on training and competing. 2013 came around and I really started to question whether it was really just going to be a pause to my triathlon-ing or was it actually going to have to come to a stop? My desire and motivation to get back to triathlons wasn’t wavering, but I was afraid that I’d never have the time or be able to get back to where I was.

Bringing sexy back . . .again

Thankfully in December 2013, I got the opportunity to come back to Charlotte and I made it a point to finally deal with my back issues and also re-immerse myself into triathlons. While I was away, ICE Racing had blossomed into an unbelievable group of friends/training partners/dining partners/etc. that made the jump back into training easy. Not only that, but with the support of the best sports chiropractor in the business at Greenapple Sports and Wellness, race production extraordinaire Jones Racing Company, and the crew at Inside Out Sports, I couldn't wait for what 2014 was going to bring with it.

After taking a couple months to get into decent shape I eyed Stumpy Creek International as my first local race. The race course is tough, but fair, and always brings out some great local talent. I love racing locally as everything is just more relaxed with your friends and training partners there to lighten the mood, while also pushing you to race as hard as you can. Local racing is fun and anyone who thinks differently is a fool and I pity that fool.


Stumpy Creek is not only a great venue, but JRC does an world class job of putting on races. From the registration process, to packet and chip pickup, to the low-key, yet extremely organized race morning set-up, everything is top notch! As expected, this race did not disappoint.
-- Scott Woodbury

Local triathlons are awesome. They are cheaper, easy to get to, and if you run with Melissa Bell after the race you may or may not meet the 1239101981234098 people that she knows. You can’t beat that. They provide a great, laid-back atmosphere with local bike shops providing support and great race companies providing fantastic experiences.

Dream team

You also can’t beat local racing that provides an insane amount of talented athletes. We here in Charlotte are spoiled. Really spoiled. Regardless of age group/category, racers are in for an all-out battle when they toe the line. This area provides a hot bed of knowledge, training, and racing that forces everyone to raise their level of performance. Whether it is sprints, Olympics, or even 70.3, there are races in and around the Charlotte area that contain top-notch, grind-you-into-a-pulp talent. And no one likes being a pulp, so it forces you to get better.

The race at Stumpy Creek was no exception. This tough, hilly, and fair course brought out professionals, soon-to-be professionals, and top-end age groupers. The top 10 finishers overall each broke 2:25 in the international race that featured a 45k bike. And, we haven’t begun to discuss the talented men and women who weren’t able to race. It was an impressive showing.

There are some that believe in order to find proper competition you need to travel. I believe that myth has been thoroughly busted.
-- Tim Ferguson

Thank you and good night . . .


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Cervelo P3 6800 - by Ashley Ackerman

When I started riding a bike many years ago, a Cervelo P3 was always my dream bike. At the time, I was riding a used Trek Postal team edition road bike and with different version of clip-on aerobars for triathlons.  The thought of sinking several thousands of dollars into a bicycle when I was in my early 20’s seemed unreasonable but that didn’t deter my dream of flying down the road on a P3 like Fabian Cancellara during his CSC days.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to be like Spartacus right?!   After a few years of improving my skills, Lori talked me into just buying it and get going with my dreams so I did.  I went to see Bob and Melissa at Inside Out Sports and they took care of me.  Bob took care of my fit and Melissa took care of the purchase details.   It was an awesome experience and I’m sure they could see the excitement in my eyes. 

Fast forward 6-7 years and the P3 was awesomely fast but I decided I wanted to try something newer and fancier with all the bells and whistles of today’s more modern bikes.  So I went back to Inside Out Sports and picked up a Felt DA4 that had an integrated rear brake, bayonet style fork, and funky bar end shifters that looked like tiny brake levers.  After some tweaking and adjusting, I finally got it dialed in as much as possible but in the back of my mind, it never seemd to be quite right (as compared my previous P3).  The rear brake was integrated into the chainstays behind the crank and it seemed they never return to center.  I always felt like they were rubbing my wheel which is probably one of a cyclist worst fears.  Secondly, the integrated fork made the bike more difficult to adjust the front end.  The bike came with 3 different length stems but changing them proved to be much harder than it appeard.  Lastly, after few saddle changes, I ended up switching to a split nose Adamo saddle which helped tremendously with training and racing 2 ironman races last year.  After 2 years of riding and tweaking the bike, I felt like it was a good as it was going to get as far as fit and comfort.  The downside is that it was difficult to work on with my non-professional mechanic skills. 

While all of this was going on for 2 years, Cervelo came out with a new P3 model that mimmicked some of the frame shapes used in their top-end P5 Super bike.  The best part was that the brakes were in their standard positions, the fork was traditional, and the stack and reach was optimized to offer easy adjustability.  So, like any good faithful customer of a local bike shop, I unloaded the Felt and contacted Melissa and James at Inside Out and ordered up a new P3 with Ultegra 6800 11 speed  so I could get back to my roots.  James used my stack and reach measurements from the Felt and transferred them over to the P3.  Out of the box, the bike almost fit me like a glove.  We ended up swapping the stem for one with a negative drop and James ordered a different bottom bracket that would be compatible with my Quarq power meter.  So with minimal changes and quick turnaround, James and G-reg (local guru mechanic) had me going down the road at warp speed.  

Now that I’ve had the bike for a few months, I can honestly say the bike is better than any I’ve ridden. It’s stiff, responsive and super comfortable at all the contact points.  The bike came stock with an Adamo saddle which allows for a greater hip rotation without numbness from a regular saddle, the 3T aerobars and pads are just enough padding, and the ski-tip aerobar extensions fit perfectly into my hands without torking my wrists.  As for mechanic work, it’s much easier than my previous bike.  The brakes are outside the front fork and rear seat stay so they’re easily adjustable on the fly during  a race if needed.  Also, removing the crank power meter so I can swap it between my road and TT bike is extremely easy.  I haven’t been able to race it too many times this year but did ride it at the Carolina International Triathlon by Jones Racing Co in May and Eagleman Half Ironman in June.  I had great bike splits at both races and not necessarily b/c of my fitness but because my position on this bike is so much better.  Since I’m comfortable now, I can stay in the aerobars longer which always results in faster bike splits.  The better position decreased bike fatigue also resulting in better run splits. 

So in summary, don’t buy a bike solely on price and looks.  That’s probably the last 2 reasons to base your decisions.  You might get the best deal in the world but if you’re unable to get comfortable, it’s not going to be as fast and enjoyable as one that fits.  Also, if you are slightly mechanically inclined and like to do some bike work yourself, standard technology will be much easier to adjust and less frustrating.  Laslty, go see James, Melissa and Greg at Inside Out Sports.  They spend every day learning about bikes and the latest technology.  Use their expertise to your advantage and make a wiser bike purchase with them in your corner instead of going at it alone on the ole interweb.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Go long . . . no go short . . . no, really.

Greetings friends!

I would like to take a moment and talk about everyone's favorite part about the triathlons, SWIM! Ha, not really for most but I'd like to touch on a point I think is overlooked and commonly mis-coached on.

Baby hippos should not be ignored
A lot of the time when the public goes to the pool, they focus on being extremely smooth and long in the water. I would like to challenge those reading this quick blurb, to not worry about being so "long" in the water.  The hand should finish its cycle at the hip, not the thigh.  Try and lead the finish of the stroke with the elbow and not the hand.  Focus on keeping the forearm and palm pushing the water backwards. To most, it will feel like you're releasing too early or shortening the stroke too much. 

Concentrate on the hand position not the size of those warlocks (seriously, who draws these things?)

"Flicking" the hand out at the end of the stroke is easy to do, but can lead to an over-rotation of the body.  Over rotating the body can lead to a incorrect body line and compromise the catch (Where all of the velocity is generated ).  With the body out of line like so, shoulder injuries are much more common. 

If this cow can do it so can you!
Keep it short and sweet! Good luck and happy training!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Product Review: Specialized RBX Sport Womens Cycling Shorts

Many of you have heard of Specialized. The reputation for their bicycles is unparalleled. They are a dominate force in both road cycling and triathlon. Few of you know, however, Specialized rolled out a line of cycling clothing in 2013 to prove they can create quality apparel at an exceptional price point.

The other evening I showed up at Inside Out for the infamous Tuesday Night Ride. I showed up with everything . . . but my shorts. Unfortunately this is how I acquire 95% of my gear. Thanks to forgetting stuff I have had to purchase water bottles, socks, shorts, sports bras . . . the list goes on. It's what happens when you live life on the fly! Anyway, I forgot my cycling shorts and really did not want to purchase another pair. I don't know if you know this but a good quality pair of shorts is expensive . . . worth every penny . . . but still expensive. I decided to take a peek at the rack anyway and found a pair of Specialized RBX Sport Cycling Shorts at only $49.99. At that price I was happy to take a risk on the shorts. I figured if Specialized can make a good bike I bet they can make a good short too!

And I was right (as usual).

There are a few things I noticed right away:
  • A loose and incredibly comfortable waistband.
Initially thought the shorts were too big but the waistband is wide (like your favorite pair of yoga shorts) and generous. Standing straight up and admiring myself in the mirror it seemed awkward but sitting on a bike the band is perfect. It comes up to almost the belly button but does not dig into you like most waistbands do. I know several women are hesitant to try bib shorts, which are incredibly comfortable; these shorts are a close second.

  • The longer inseam and silicone grippers create a smooth fit.
The fact of the matter is longer shorts are more aero. Textiles used to create cycling apparel are usually more aero than skin but let’s ignore the textile/aero discussion for the time being. If you are a lady blessed with strong shapely legs the last thing you want is a pair of shorts that divides your shapely legs into two distinct ecosystems. I have purchase shorts with legs holes so tight my muscular legs end up looking like two marshmallows I licked and stuck together. These shorts don’t do that. The band at the leg begins just above the knee where the leg is most narrow and the silicone grippers are subtle but effective. While the shorts are long I would argue they are most flattering

Silicone grippers
  •  The padded chamois is generous. 
I do not like to feel like I am wearing a diaper right before I hit the road. These shorts will make you waddle a little bit but if you are constantly complaining about your butt hurting when you ride these are definitely the shorts for you! There is not a lot of padding towards the front of the chamois so if you are going for a long ride on the tri-bike I might save these for a long day on the road bike as most of the padding is concentrated towards the back. I have worn these for rides lasting longer than 4 hours and have been grateful for a little extra padding.

No rolls here
The RBX line of Specialized apparel was designed specifically for hours in the saddle. Despite the fact that these shorts are considered “entry-level” they are not only comfortable they have a UV protection of 50+ and are made with VarpoRize moisture transfer knit fabrics:

So, um, the wicking works
These shorts are comfortable but they stand out as a quality product at an extraordinary price. They are well constructed with non-chaffing seams and will do you right on those long rides. Still not sure if they are worth it? Well compare them against this $52 completely ridiculous and non-functional "next-to-nothing" tank top. Point proven. Find you a pair at Inside Out today!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ironman Raleigh 70.3: Tim "The Ferg" Ferguson and Red

Editor’s Note: This long overdue race report was finally constructed through a long conversation over far too much wine. The following is a transcription of that conversation.

Tim: So, Raleigh 70.3.

Red: Raleigh 70.3.

Tim: Man, where do we start? Do you remember? Did you have fun? Why did it take us so long to sit down and do this?

Red: You’re never on time to anything.

Tim: I’m going to need to have another drink.

Red: Of course I had fun! It was my first half-ironman in a town that is close to my family. Having them there for support with all the other emails and texts and gifts.  It was awesome.

Tim: Who knew gifts came with triathlon racing?

Red: Who knew? (Thank you for my gift Timmy).  I also had fun on our dinner date on Friday night.

Tim: Cowfish is pretty awesome.  So we’re supposed to recap the race and the weekend. Where do you want to start?  We need to pick a starting point or it’ll take as long as it did for you to choose a race kit.

Red: Whatever. 

Tim: Why Raleigh? Why a 70.3? Why? Why? Why?

Red: I’ve been to A LOT of races as a spectator.  It was nice to not feel like a lazy chump on race day and to be in the mix.  It was just something I thought I wanted to do after watching you race a lot.  People told me I should go to somewhere more exciting…. so why Raleigh?  It was awesome having my family watching me and racing with people I knew.  Hanging out with my brother, sister-in-law, nieces and cousins before the race was a good distraction to calm the nerves.  I even did a little yard work with my brother!

Tim: Secret pre-race workout huh?

Red: It’s a good heart-rate stabilizer.

Tim: We got up to Raleigh on Friday, checked in at the expo, shoved our faces with Cowfish, and my parents rolled into town. On Saturday morning we got up and did a quick workout in the AM with The Champ.

Red: Yeah, let’s talk about that workout.

Tim: What?

Red: Do you remember what you said to me? For the bike?

Tim: Oh, you’re still mad about that?

Red: YES!!!!!

Tim: I told you that after you made it out of the 5k stretch from T1, you would hang a right onto 64 and it would be a super fast stretch of the course.  And you’re mad at me because Mother Nature decided to blow her hot air in our faces on that stretch. That about right?

Red: YES!!!!!

Tim: Well, sorry? After that workout we met my parents for breakfast.  Then you went on to your brother’s place and I took a nap because I wasn’t feeling too great.

Red: Yep. Then the TriKitten showed up and we eventually made it to our pre-game dinner spot – MellowMushroom – and had dinner with your parents, Jenny’s mom, and my cousin Erin.

Tim: That place is a must.  I’m hungry. You want to order some pizza?

Red: Focus. Let’s finish this first.

Tim: Alright. I guess I’m drinking my dinner.  Let’s talk about the race itself.  Talk about the swim – I mean, this is the longest swim…and, well, race….that you’ve done.

Red: It was rather warm. I really, really doubt it was wetsuit legal by the time my wave went off at 8:15 and I was standing in the sun baking.  It started off well as I was only in the washing machine mix for a minute or so before I found some space and a girl to draft off of for a little while.  Once she dropped me, I felt like I was going SO SLOW and there were so many yellow caps in front of me.  I had a tinge of anxiety as the water got a little rougher the further we got, but just tried to stay calm.  When I looked at my watch as I got out, it said 36 something – I was pleasantly surprised.  My official time was around 37 something.

Tim: What happened?

Red: Ha. Well, I accidentally followed someone to the medical tent instead of the wet suit strippers.  Then I had some trouble with the strippers.

Tim: Um, yeah…….nevermind.

Red: Leave it alone.  It just took a while!

Tim: It was pretty warm. I have done the race both years and each year it is “magically” under the WTC limit. It’s incredible.  This year, fortunately, I brought my wetsuit down to the start.  I had a good start to my swim but ultimately my goggles fogged up really badly. Time for new ones I guess.  I was just watching outlines of caps and splashes, and almost blew by the first turn buoy.  I got caught up in some prior swim waves and was trying to make my way around them. I found some clean water and started navigating towards what I thought was an orange buoy.  Soon enough, I almost ran into a kayak! The lady said, “Hey, you’re off course.”  I took a moment to clear my goggles and holy crap, I near the middle of the triangle.  I took the straightest route to get back on course towards the final turn buoy, but it took a little out of me.

Red: Well your time seemed pretty good.

Tim: Thanks. It was around 30-ish something. Even though it was unbelievably hot, I’m thankful for that wetsuit.  How was your bike?

Red: Well, we already went over your devastating lie about how fast 64 would be.

Tim: Yes. The point was made and noted.

Red: The thing that turned out to actually be true, was Jenny’s point that “It will pay to be conservative on the first half of the course.” This was definitely the case since the 2nd half was all large rollers and lots of wind.  I was able to prep myself mentally to not be too disappointed when my speed started slipping.  Overall it was fine. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it.  The rollers are nice to keep you stimulated and engaged versus a flat course. Of course I got a little sore towards the end of the ride and it made me wish I had gotten a new bike.

Tim: N+1.

Red: Huh?

Tim: Nevermind.  And yes, I will admit the biggest different between this year and last was the wind on the bike. We had a slight tailwind the year prior and this year a heavy headwind.  I got gobbled up by the second half of the course. I just felt absolutely terrible.  The wind and the hills ate me up.  Sylvain came rolling by me like I was standing still.  I couldn’t wait to get off of the bike. I mean, I usually feel like that in long-course races. But I really couldn’t want to get off the bike.

 Red: The most annoying thing of the whole race happened on the bike for me.  My water bottle fell halfway out and was getting knocked around by my pedal stroke. I had to stop and adjust it because I just couldn’t get it situated right.  That, and the fact that towards the end of the bike there was a really bad smell of cow poo. 

Tim: That sucks.  We’ll have to get you new water bottle cages to go with your new bike!!

Red: Yeah.  Especially when I was checking my bike in the night before the race and a guy says to his wife, “See honey, you aren’t the only one with a road bike.”

Tim: Triathletes….

Red: So what about the run? The first loop for me was awesome.  My watch was all over the map the first mile, so I unknowingly went out a little stronger than I should have.  But, I settled in and had a great first half, slightly ahead of my planned pace. I was smiling and having fun.  I saw you at the end of the first loop and you were trying to give me advice like “You’ll have to dig deep on the 2nd loop” and “stay consistent on the ups and downhills.”  I thought – come on, I’m a pro at this now. I don’t need your advice, not after that 64/wind debacle, I am cruising!  A half mile later, right after I saw my family (and my ridiculous mom who was in a red Ariel wig), the pain started to set in.  I did have to dig deep and your words did help me keep pace.  It felt like it took twice as long but I was almost to the finish.

 Tim: Well, you’re welcome.  It always is tough – the second loop. Even though they changed the course from last year, there was still enough elevation change that you had to stay focused.  I was really proud of you for staying strong and continuing to run even as other competitors started to walk because of the heat.

Red: I know! I think that actually surprised me was how many people were walking around me.  It was eye opening being in the last wave/non-“elite” group at how many people were walking, primarily the second lap.

Tim: That was actually my favorite part of the race – watching you run.  My run was pretty good considering how I was feeling, but it was made even better by watching you run while others walked.  There isn’t a whole lot better than capping off a race like this being able to give everything on the run and being able to run strong down the finishing chute.   It was cool for me to be able to do the race and then have something, well, someone to look forward to continuing their race.

Red: Yeah, I actually expected to be more anxious about the race in general.  I think I ended up being more relaxed for my race than when I am going to watch you.  I knew the plan you helped me with would get me ready.

Tim: So you’ll do this again?

Red: Ha. No. I don’t think so. Maybe. I don’t know.

Tim: Sounds like you’re trying to figure out your race kit again.

Red: Priorities.

Tim:  Any other parting thoughts before this gets posted to the magic that is the ICE Racing blog?

Red: I guess that being out on the race course as an athlete made me realize how awesome it is to have people out there cheering for you. Seeing the faces of loved ones can really help give you that extra boost to keep going.

Tim: Well, I am proud of you.  Now it’ll make me more proud if you get a new bike!

Red: We will see, Tim. We will See.