Sunday, December 23, 2012

2013 Race Schedule

I've spent some time planning out my 2013 race schedule, and it is coming together nicely. After my experience trying to race after Ironman Louisville last year, I have opted to end my season with the long race this year and build on other races throughout the year. Here is what I have planned at the moment:

April
Flower City Duathlon
Flower City Half Marathon

May
Rochester Spring Classic Duathlon

June
Keuka Lake Olympic
Ironman 70.3 Syracuse

July
New York City Olympic

August
Ironman 70.3 Boulder
Rochester Triathlon (Olympic)

September
Hy-vee Olympic (if I qualify out of NYC)

November
Ironman Florida

The bold races are the races I have already committed to and signed up for. The other ones are tentative. If I can manage to qualify for 70.3 World Championships I will race that as well. I'm hopeful to pull a spot down in Syracuse, but we'll see. I have debated throwing another half in, but I'm not sure where. I could go to Florida in May and race that 70.3 or I have considered doing Timberman. That is a race I've wanted to do for a couple years now. I am trying to be careful not to over race myself though, so I have to strike a balance somewhere.

Hopefully others out there are putting their schedules together based on their goals and ambitions for next year. Whether it is to achieve a PR, race a new distance, or travel to a new destination I hope everyone is looking forward to a great season. Let your goals help you grind through the winter months when you are running in the cold, or on the treadmill, or pounding away on the pedals on the trainer in the basement like me. Winter training can be monotonous, but the benefits of being ready to go in the spring are worth it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Learning From My Year

As I sit here and snack on some Pirate Booty and drink a Spaten Oktoberfest, I can't help but reflect on my season. (I wrapped up this year of racing at Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains this past weekend.) It is important for triathletes to look at what they did and learn from it. We can never be complacent or think that what we did last year was enough and we will continue to improve without looking at where we came from and what we did.

I ended my season with slight disappointment. I went to 70.3 Poconos with the hope of qualifying for next year's 70.3 World Championship in Vegas and I missed out. On top of that, I finished just off the podium in 4th for my age group (25-29). It was a late decision to race (I signed up on Monday for the race on Sunday), but I still had high expectations for myself. Not meeting either of my goals stung. Now, I have never placed on a podium at an Ironman event, but I believed I could and I went into the race thinking that. If you don't believe in yourself, you'll never be able to accomplish your goals. From my disappointment though, comes momentum and motivation for next year. The desire to earn a slot to Vegas is building inside me already and I will use that to prepare myself through the winter months after I take some needed rest for the next few weeks.

Each year of racing provides us an opportunity to learn about ourselves as people and as triathletes. I learned that I can fight through anything and I won't ever quit when faced with difficulty. I spent the last 18 miles of Ironman Louisville in agony. I threw up three times and couldn't keep anything in. My gas tank was completely tapped but I gutted it out and finished in 10 hours and 51 minutes. I was severely dehydrated but I wouldn't let that keep me from finishing what I set out to do. From all that I learned more about electrolyte use and my need for extra sodium. I know I need to reevaluate my nutrition plan for long races, especially in intense heat. If I overlooked that stuff, I would never improve for my next time. And continuous improvement should always be the goal. Never be complacent.

Despite my disappointment at 70.3 Poconos, I still set a PR for that distance, finishing in 4:29:22. That beat my previous PR by 12 seconds. I swam the best I ever have and I smashed the bike course before suffering on the run. From all of this I learned about planning a race season. It had been a month and four days since I raced Ironman Louisville. Running out of T2 I knew I was in for it. I hadn't given myself enough time to fully recover from Louisville before this race. Looking forward, I will seriously look at time between races next year and make sure that I am able to fully recover and get proper training blocks in throughout the season. This year I signed up for races because I wanted to do them; they looked fun. Next year I will be more selective and purposeful with my decisions.

Lastly, I will look at my training (volume, intensity, blocks, power building, lactate threshold, etc...) and see what changes I need to make next year. I know I still have a severe swimming deficiency and my running is not where it needs to be yet. I will continue to look for ways to work on these areas to become a more well rounded triathlete so I don't have to rely so heavily on hammering a top bike time every race.

What did you learn from this season? Take the time to reflect on how you did and what you want to be better at next year. Ask questions. Read. Find out as much as you can and piece together what works for you. So much of this sport is trial and error because our bodies are all different. What works for me might not work for you. But it also might work great. Now is the time to try something new, something different. I already can't wait for next season and I am going to push myself over the winter to come out strong right from the start.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My List

While driving to my friend Patrick's wedding a couple of weeks ago, I began listening to Chris McCormack's audiobook, I'm Here to Win. The book is filled with insights and advice for triathletes of almost every level. One of the things he talked about was this list he had created with a friend when they were young of all the triathlons they wanted to do over the course of their lives. This got me thinking and prompted me to want to create a list of my own. The list is comprised of races of every distance. I took into consideration a multitude of different factors when composing it. Some races were selected because of their prestige, others for their destination, some for their difficulty, and some because of the history they have. Below is the list of triathlons that I would like to complete over the course of my lifetime:

Ironman Lake Placid
Ironman World Championship (Kona)
Challenge Roth (Germany)

Ironman 70.3 Kansas
Ironman 70.3 Timberman
Ironman 70.3 World Championship (Las Vegas)
Wildflower Trithlon (California, USA)
Savageman Half-Iron (Maryland, USA)

New York City Triathlon
Escape from Alcatraz
Los Angles Triathlon
The Nations Tri (Washington D.C.)
Age Group Nationals (Burlington, VT)
Shoreline Triathlon (Hamlin Beach, NY)

The American Triple-T Festival Weekend (Ohio, USA)

One reason for competing in triathlons is to push yourself to become the best you can be and to challenge yourself each and every day in training and racing. But it should be fun as well. If you aren't enjoying it, you really need to re-examine if it is worth it. This list will help make sure I continue to have fun as I race. It gives me a different goal to work toward besides decreasing my time and trying to go faster. Maybe I can even talk some friends into doing some of these races with me. That would really make it fun.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Things I Have Learned

I wanted my first real post outside of the "getting to know you" post to be something useful and beneficial for newer racers. This is a list of some of the important things I have learned or come to realize over my short multi-sport racing career. Use what is helpful for you and discard what is not. One thing everyone needs to know about triathlon is that there is no "right way" or one size fits all program. So much is learned through trial and error. Hopefully some things here help you to a happier and more successful race day.


Pre-race

1.     Pack your bag the night before. Make a checklist that you use before every race to make sure you have everything you’ll need.

2.     Check your bike over a week before your race. That way if something needs adjusting or a tune up, you have time to get it in to your mechanic. (If something happens last minute, I have learned that mechanics love beer. If you have an emergency, thank them with a six pack.)

3.     Get to transition early. It is better to have extra time to sit around before the race than to feel rushed and forget something. Giving yourself time will let you calm your nerves.

4.     Use the minimalist approach in transition. Don’t feel the need to bring every piece of tri gear you own into transition. Clutter will slow you down during transition and takes up valuable space for others. Practicing your transitions will allow you to narrow down to the items you absolutely need.

5.     Wait a bit before applying sunscreen after getting body marked. Give the ink time to dry.

Swim

6.     Bring an extra set of goggles. Just in case…

7.     If you are wearing a wetsuit, be generous when applying body lube. No one likes to chafe.

8.     Seed yourself in the swim start. If you are a fast swimmer, don’t be afraid to get in the front. If you aren’t a strong swimmer, stay to the back or the side to avoid getting swam over.

9.     Sight. Don’t assume you are going in the right direction. Getting off course can add a lot of distance (thus adding time) to your swim. Also, before the race see if there are landmarks (i.e. tree/buildings) that can help you with sighting. They might be easier to see than the buoys.

10.  Draft if possible. If you can get on somebody’s feet you will greatly reduce drag. Try not to keep hitting their feet/legs though. They will most likely get mad and start kicking to get you off of them.

11.  When you have almost finished the swim (100-200 meters left) start kicking more than normal to get the blood into your legs. It will help you when you go to stand up, especially after longer swims.

12.  When you exit the water, make sure you are on solid ground before starting to remove your wetsuit/goggles/swim cap. Remove the top half of your wetsuit as you run to transition. Remove it the rest of the way when you get to your area. (If there are wetsuit strippers, use them. It is quick.)

Transition

13.  Helmet first. No one wants a DQ for not remembering to put it on or buckle it.

14.  Practice a routine for the order in which you will put things on.

15.  If it is an Ironman, take the time to put sunscreen on again (usually there are volunteers who will apply it for you.) A minute or two here can save you tons of time later in the race when you aren’t fried and overheated. You’ll thank me around 3pm.

16.  If you are starting with your shoes clipped in, make sure you’ve practiced this many times.

Bike

17.  Follow all traffic laws. Roads are open to traffic for most races. Don’t assume people will stop for you. An extra ten seconds on your bike split is a better result than being someone’s hood ornament.

18.  Ride with your head up. Tucking your head might make you more aerodynamic, but you won’t be able to see other riders, cars, or obstacles in the road.

19.  No drafting. Plain and simple. Know the rules and distances.

20.  Stay to the right. It is safer and you’ll avoid a blocking penalty.

21.  Ride within yourself. Don’t go out too hard and blow up early in the race. Try to negative split your effort (ride the first half easier/more comfortably than the second half).

22.  Don’t litter on the course. If there are aid stations, drop your garbage there. If there aren’t stick it in a pocket until you get back to transition. We are guests in these communities and we want them to invite us back.

23.  Know the course. If you can ride it ahead of time, do so. If you can’t ride it but can drive it, do so. If you can’t do either, at least study it online.

24.  Know how much nutrition/hydration you’ll need. You don’t need to carry all your hydration if there are aid stations. I’ve seen people carrying four bottles. That is a ton of extra weight to carry. If you don’t like what they have on the course, take two bottles of your beverage of choice and after you finish one, swap out the empty bottle for water.

25.  Along the same lines, don’t experiment with new nutrition/hydration during a race. That can lead to GI issues and a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Transition

26.  Practice undoing your shoes and taking your feet out before dismounting. It saves taking them off later and it is easier to run without shoes than to run with cleats on your bike shoes.

27.  Lock laces save significant time here.

28.  If it is an iron distance race, reapplying sunscreen might not be a bad idea if you think you’ll be running for a while.

Run

29.  Hold back in the first 1-2 miles of the run. You will likely be running much faster than you think you are. Going out too hard at the start can make for a long day with a lot of walking.

30.  Continue to take in calories on the run. Again, figure out what your stomach can handle during training sessions ahead of time. What tastes good ten miles into the bike may not taste so good eight miles into a run.

31.  Serious about a podium finish? Learn to pee your pants. In a long race it can save minutes if you have to go two or three times during the run.

32.  A hat or visor is a great way to keep the sun off your face and the sweat from dripping in your eyes. A visor will let heat escape more easily.

33.  In longer distance races, Coke/Pepsi is the most amazing thing you will ever consume. Once you start though, be prepared to drink more at every aid station. The effects are short lasting and your body will start to crash.

34.  Pacing is important again here, just as it was on the bike. Don’t go too hard too early and have to walk later. It is better to run 10-15 seconds slower per mile and run the whole time than to push hard and end up giving all your time back and more by walking.

35.  Zip up your top, try to pull yourself together, and smile big for the cameras at the finish line. You made it. Congratulations!

Post race

36.  It’s ok to cry.

37.  If there is food available, eat. You have totally depleted yourself and replenishing your glycogen stores immediately will pay dividends over the next few days.

38.  Rehydrate (water first, then beer).

39.  Bring a change of clothes so you can get out of that sweaty race outfit. A towel is also nice to have.

Miscellaneous

40.  Thank the volunteers. Without them these races couldn’t happen.

41.  Thank your family/friends who came to support you or supported you through your training. They played a significant role in your success.

42.  I know I’ve said this once, but know the rules. There is no accepting outside assistance from family or friends during the race. There are no music/headphones during the race. Don’t get disqualified for a silly reason!

Introduction

I am Scott Bradley and I am a triathlete. I began my triathlon career in early 2010 and completed my first race in July of that year. It was a local half iron distance race - Musselman Triathlon, in Geneva, NY. Since then I have learned a lot about the sport, the training involved, how nutrition impacts your health and performance, and how to prepared and execute a good race. This blog will share some of my stories, insights, and give some occasional advice to help you get to the finish line faster and happier.

Since 2010 I have competed in numerous triathlons at a variety of distances. My crowning moments thus far are my two Ironman finishes. However, the race I take the most pride in is my second attempt at the Musselman Triathlon in 2012. My first race I was a complete novice and knew little about what to expect and how to be successful. I finished the race in just over 7 hours. Two years later I went back to try the course again and went sub 4:30. Clearly I had learned a thing or two.

I hope that the advice and thoughts I share here are useful and help you reach your goals in multi-sport racing. Below are my PR's at each distance, which hopefully validates some of my abilities as an amateur racer.

Olympic Distance: 2:00:55 (NYC Triathlon)
Half Ironman: 4:16:21 (Ironman 70.3 Timberman)
Ironman: 9:31:02 (Ironman Florida)


My first Ironman finish in November 2011.