08/28/15

Revamping the plan, again!

This year has been rather frustrating when it comes to finding races that stick to what they promise.  I have revamped my schedule over and over again trying to get things to work.  The struggle started after Challenge Family cut the pro prize money for the majority of their North American races.  I was in the middle of a big build for Challenge AC when I got the email about the cancellation of the prize money.  I was really bummed because my improvement from 2014 has been pretty good for the Iron distance racing.  I didn’t want that fitness to go to waste, but at that point, I really didn’t feel like flying out west to do either IMCDA or Ironman Whistler… too much travel expenses.  So I settled on just doing mostly smaller races for the remaining part of the season that fit into my work and on-call schedule that was planned around all the Challenge Family races I was originally going to do.

I found about a full distance triathlon in Grand Rapids, MI that had a small amount of prize money (Titanium man).  Since my parents live fairly close to Grand Rapids, and I knew a few people in that area, I knew the travel expenses would be at a minimum and could most likely win the race.

The race was unfortunately cancelled to a small amount of lightening just shortly before I arrived at T2.  And even with a 14 minute lead at T2, the race company decided not to pay me for the win.  I was mostly likely going to run just under a 3 hour marathon, meaning that the 2nd place guy would need to run a 2:40-2:45 marathon to beat me.  (The prize money was donated to chartiy instead of paying how we finished the race at the cancellation) So I basically threw away a good amount of money for nothing… not to mention the 5500 calories of energy I expended during the bike and swim!

However, with a possible finish time of Michigan Titanium Full distance Triathlon at a 8:20, I now believe I have shot at getting to Kona as professional.  Honestly, when I first started racing as a professional, I never thought I would say that.  So, with the limited number of races available each calendar year to get to Kona as professional, I needed to try to start accumulating points as soon as possible.  So where do I race for the rest of 2015?

Chattanooga.

Chattanooga is the first North American race with KPR for 2016 this year since IM Wisconsin no longer has a pro field.  So, I am again revamping my training schedule to get a full distance triathlon in for the year.  After planning to do Challenge AC and Cedar Point, then changing to Michigan Titanium, and finally set my sights on Chattanooga.

Not only am I gearing up to race Chattanooga… I’ve already set it as a goal to win.  Last year, Matt Hanson (8:12) and Daniel Bretshcer (8:19) were first and second.  They will be in Kona gearing up for 2014 World Championship.  I’m assuming that Trevor Wuretel will be there racing.  Last year he finished in a 8:22.  So, based on those times, I believe that I could be in the mix for a possible win.  My mind is already set on it… and that is a powerful thing!

08/23/15

Michigan Titanium Triathlon – 2015

This weekend I made yet another trip to Michigan.  This time to participate in a race that is more my speciality… a full distance triathlon.  If you want to the short and sweet version, scroll to the bottom and watch the video recap. Otherwise continue reading for a less short synopsis of this race:

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This year marks the 4th year of the Michigan Titanium Triathlon.  There is a full and 70.3 distance to choose from as well as aqua-bike races.  I decided to do the Full distance (2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2 mile run). The race is located in and around the Grand Rapids area.  I was a little nervous about the road conditions (those of you that live or have spent any amount of time in Michigan know what I’m talking about) but it turns out there were slightly better than I expect.  But first things first… the swim.

The swim was a two-looped swim in Verslius Lake.  Water temperature was about 76-77 degrees.  In the past when I’ve swam with a wetsuit at these temperatures, I over heated and ended up struggling the rest of the race.  I anticipated it being just below wetsuit legal temperatures, so leading up to the race I tried swimming open water in my BlueSeventy Core Shorts (MAVMIKE saves 20% on all BlueSeventy orders).  I really liked how it felt and decided I would give it a try on race day… but with having my PZ4TX swim skin on underneath of it.  First time doing this was on race day… and I broke the rule of never doing anything new on race day.  But it seemed to work well for me.  I got on the feet of a former collegiate water polo player (he was part of a full distance relay) and another professional from Hungry.  I pretty much let them do all the work and just drafted off of them.  I tried getting around them a few times but getting out of there draft caused me to work harder and go the same speed, so I took my spot at the back of the group of three for the two loops.  I exited the water just a few seconds behind 1st and 2nd and ran in to T1 with them.

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Once I got to T1, I went into the changing tent only to realize that going in there was optional.  I lost a little bit of time due to this and got out on the bike about 30 seconds behind second place.  I caught him pretty quickly… probably about 2-3 miles into the bike.  He got behind me far enough not to be illegally drafting, but close enough where he was definitely still benefiting from his position.  About 2 or 3 miles later, I caught 1st place (he was part of the full relay team).  The smooth pavement turned into chip and seal road about 10 miles into the bike and stayed that way until the last 8 miles of the loop.  2nd place was about 4 to 5 bike lengths behind me almost the entire loop.  I tried putting in a few surges to drop him (a few efforts at 370-380 watts) but he wasn’t going anywhere.  Finally, I made it back to the smooth road and had about 8 miles to the turn around to start the next loop.  I looked over my shoulder before making the turn and didn’t even see him.  I met him heading back out and was told after the race he was 2:45 behind me… all of which was put on in the last stretch.  I knew he had popped and wouldn’t be coming back up to me.  So I just tried to hold a steady power for the second loop.  However, biking at just under half-iron wattage to try to drop the guy for most of the first lap started to catch up to me with about 25 miles left to go.  Add in the rougher roads than I’m used to in Kentucky and I was starting to feel a little beat up.  I kept my nutrition coming in a little more frequent than the first loop to maintain my power and energy levels.  This race I mixed my custom mix from Infinit and 3 one-ounce servings of the highly caffeinated NAPALM (MAVERICK saves 10% on Infinit orders).  I found this to more simple than having to juggle a bottle of my custom mix and 2-3 flasks of NAPALM in my back pockets/special needs bag.  I had 5 bottles total mixed up this way.  I then supplemented with salt tabs and water from the race course.  Once I got back to the smooth road, I could see the clouds up ahead. The sky looked dark and stormy.  The lead motorcycle slowed down and I rolled up to him.  He said to stop at the next aid station that I got to (which would be 4 miles before T2) and wait there.  He said some really bad storms were rolling through.

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I arrived at the final aid station and waited.  I asked the guys on the motorcycles what was going to happen.  I knew I was about 15 minutes ahead of 2nd place at this time and was worried that my lead I worked so hard to get as big as possible would be erased from the “pause” in the race.  They couldn’t give me a straight answer, but agreed that I was about 15 minutes ahead of him.  I took that time to talk to other athletes and take in some real food.  It started raining a little and before long, a bunch of the athletes were starting to get really cold.  The race was about to restart when another round of thunderstorms started rolling through. At that point they called the race and I just rode back to T2.  When I had stopped at the final aid station, my Garmin read 4 hours and 26 minutes.  I saw the watch of the 2nd place guy while he was waiting and it said 4:39.  I had about 13 minutes on him and with a little more road to go until I would have put on about another 45 seconds on him… so about 14 minute lead.  I also had my best power output for a full distance triathlon by about 10 watts here.  295 watts Normalized Power!

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Based on my training and the cooler temperatures, I’m assuming I could have ran anywhere between a 2:50 and 3:10 marathon depending on how well I held together in the final stretch of the race.  That would have put me around a 8:20-8:40 finishing time… a huge PR for that distance on a similar course to Louisville as far as elevation profile on the bike (2700 ft climbing at Titanium and 2900 ft at IM Louisville). Plus, Louisville’s swim is faster with 2/3 of the swim being down stream and the road quality being better makes the roads faster.

I had plans on using this race as a test run to see what I wanted my goals for next year to be.  Mainly, to try to get to Kona as professional in 2016.  I think with a iron-distance time of 8:20-ish I stand a chance to get there.  I won’t be in the fastest there… far from it… but I would like to make a run for it at least.

Over all, this event was a top notch, world-class event.  Way better experience than any WTC race.  There were more aid stations than needed, the volunteers actually knew what they were doing at the bottle exchanges, and the lead vehical guides made sure to stay far enough ahead to not let me draft off him.  If you are looking for a great place to race a full or half distance triathlon, you should consider this race!

BlueSeventy – save 20% on all orders using MavMike.
BSX Athletics – save $40 on the multisport unit with code MavMike
Infinit Nutrition – used the code “MAVERICK” at checkout to save 10%
Primal Sports mud – Discount code: MAVMIKE15 will give you 20% off from 1/1/15 to 12/31/15.; http://www.primalsportmud.com/buy.html#sthash.5UY88juh.dpbs
Challenge Family Races (USA) – use code CHALLENGEMIKE to save $10 on your entry fee. This shows Challenge Family that pros do matter to help #keepourpros

08/4/15

PTU – My thoughts

About a week ago, a group of some of the best triathletes in the world announced the PTU (Professional Triathlete Union).  Read more about it on their website if you haven’t heard about it.  I’m not going to go into all the details here since most of you probably already know about it if you landed on this blog.

When I first heard about this development, I was very optimistic.  I didn’t realize all the legal stuff that went around being a “union.”  The basics about that is that professional triathletes aren’t employees to anyone (i.e. WTC, Challenge), so we don’t have the rights under the law to form a union and collectively bargin with anyone.  As more and more articles pop up across the internet about the PTU, I am growing less and less optimistic about this doing much of anything for the sport in general.  Here are a few thoughts I’ve had regarding this development with hopes to improve the sport of triathlon

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1. The growth of the sport is self-limiting – The main goal of the PTU is to grow the sport of triathlon.  By doing this, they claim that everything else they are trying to do will naturally fall into place.  But, triathlon is a very expensive sport. Most people find out the hard way… buying a bike that is way more than they expected and then needing to buy the “needed” accessories (i.e. helmet, racing uniform, shoes, water bottles, nutrition, etc.).  Then the race entry fees and traveling to a race present a major expense to hurdle.  Not to mention, if you don’t live in a warm climate with access to a clean/public body of water, you need a gym membership with a pool.  Triathlon is generally, unfortunately, a sport for people in the upper middle class or higher.  Only so many people can afford to do this sport, which means only so many people are going to give money to WTC, Challenge, or another local race company to get the sport bigger. We will eventually a point when the growth of the sport stagnates.

2. TV Spots for long course racing – One of the goals of the PTU is to get non-draft legal racing on television.  This basically means 70.3 and 140.6 distance races that still manage to have a pro prize purse, since WTC merged with Lifetime Fitness and took over their races.  Shortly after that, all short course races they obtained had the pro prize money cut.  This only left a few races shorter than a 70.3, such as Escape from Alcatraz, St. Anthony’s, and New York City Olympic to name some on a short list.  People don’t want to sit down for 4 hours and watch people compete in a 70.3… much less 8+ hours for a full-distance triathlon.  The best that could be done for a TV spot would be condensing them down to about 90-120 minutes.  WTC and Challenge has done this with some of their races, but it doesn’t hit the air waves until months later.  At that point, no one really cares enough to watch it.  It’s old news.  I feel that the race would need to be edited and on the air within 24-48 hours after the race is completed for a week night recap.  If people want live coverage, it would need to be through internet TV… much like what WTC does for Ironman World Championships.  They broadcast every last grueling minute of the race and sell commercial spots to a handful of companies that air every so often throughout the race when not much is going on.  When I watched some of the coverage last year of Kona, I would guess only about 5-6 companies paid money for advertisement during the live broadcast.

3. Insurance for professional triathletes – Another worthy goal of the PTU is to accident insurance for paid members of this organization ($200 for first year pros, $400 for second/third year pros, and $600 for 4+ year pros).  Accident insurance is apparently very expensive… I’ve never looked into it, but the PTU website states premiums up to $4000 a year for this insurance.  Pro triathletes that would want this insurance most likely are full-time athletes and need to buy insurance on their own.  The truth about most professional triathletes is that many of us have other jobs that offer insurance.  Very few triathletes have found enough success in the sport to do this full-time without the support of a family member, such as their husband/wife. For most of the pros to join for this benefit doesn’t give them something they don’t already have either through their own job or significant other’s job.

4. – Challenge plans to make all pros racing with them to join the PTU – I love Challenge and I prefer to race with them vs. WTC races.  I feel they do a better job promoting pros and really care about every athlete experience and growing the sport.  However, if Challenge is going to make being a member of the PTU a requirement to race with them (which I suppose they have every right to do so), I think they will see less pros in USA/Canada race with them.  If the same climate for pro prize money exists next year as it does now for Challenge Family races in the USA and Cananda, pros only have 5 races to choose from.  All of these are on extreme east of west sides of the country.  This means more travel expenses for at least half of these races for all pros.  With 4 of these 5 races paying 5 deep, the chances of regaining the money paid join the PTU, traveling costs, etc, it would be a loosing proposition for everyone that placed outside of the top 2 or 3 (depending on prize purse breakdown) for those races only paying top 5. All this being said, I would much rather give my dues for racing to the PTU that is advocating for professionals than WTC who basically recycles the pro membership money back to professionals in prize purses.

5. – The bottom line – After looking at several articles and thinking about this more and more, I feel that what this “union” is most concerned about is the athlete’s bottom line.  Not just the ones on the board, but the bottom line of each professional athlete.  Saying what I’m about to say is hard for me, since I’m a professional triathlete, but the free market is both a blessing and a curse.  Not everyone should make the same amount of money for different professions.  Society had decided what is important based on how much they are paid (although I would argue that some of the low paying jobs in America are of most value, such as teachers, fire fighters, police officers, etc.)  Professional triathletes are not seen as being super important by race directors.  However, professional triathletes are much more valuable to companies selling a product (i.e. bikes, helmets, clothing, nutrition).  People don’t care what the average triathlete eats, the bike they ride, or what shoes they where.  They look to people like Andy Potts, Lionel Sanders, Matt Hanson, etc on how to train, what socks to wear, what recovery techniques they use and then buy that product.  Professional triathletes don’t hold a lot of value to race directors, but they could potentially sell a ton of product depending on how well they market and use social media.

 

In the end, I do think a singular voice for professional triathletes in non-draft legal racing is a good thing.  I personally would like to see one of two things happen moving forward:

1. Challenge not making it a requirement to be a member of the PTU to race with them.

2. Not as steep of a fee for pros to be members. Next year, I would have to pay $600 if I choose to be a member.  According to the PTU website, that would also require me to put their logo on my uniform.  Additionally, for people that have been pros of 4 years or more wanting to race both WTC and Challenge races, we have to pay $1450 plus a pro license fee to the governing body within the country, which varies from country to country.

08/2/15

Frankenmuth Experience Triathlon – 2015

This weekend I “experienced” Frankenmuth.  The city is famous for a number of things, but here are two that I partook in:

1. Bronner’s – The world’s biggest and most famous Christmas Wonderland store.  If you can dream it up and relate it to Christmas, they have it.  The property is decorated in Nativity Scenes, Santas, lights, etc.  The property is the same size as 5 football fields!

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2. Zehnder’s – The world’s biggest Family restaurant.  And also the home of the “world famous chicken dinner.” They pride themselves in their service (which was really good) and their chicken dinners (which were good… but I was hoping for something better since it is world famous… but then again, KFC is also world famous).

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The triathlon also had world class service and professionally ran by the company (3 Disciplines) that put on my first triathlon ever 11 years ago (The Seahorse Triathlon).  The course was beautiful… but much too short for this long distance specialists.  It took me about 15K on the bike before I started feeling good.  I struggled to push half iron distance watts on the bike for the first 15K.  I finally warmed up and Infinit’s NAPALM started hitting my system.  After that, I averaged 330 watts.  At that point, I started catching a group of 3 ahead of me.  I eventually passed them and hit the run feeling good after biking the 3rd fastest bike split of the day (58:10). The bike course was slower than than what I expected due to about 50% of the course being on rough roads and about 12 or 13 turns on the course with lots of gravel on the road.  The run course was a very flat, 2-looped course.  We ran through Bronner’s and got to experience the Christmas spirit in August! I managed to run a 5:47 and passed 2 more guys on the run to finish 6th on the day.

This race doesn’t get much press, but does have a pretty good prize purse.  Some really fast guys showed up, including Ben Collins, Chris Lutz, Thomas Gerlach, and a few other ITU guys.  Considering I out biked most of these guys is encouraging to me.  After racing this, it confirmed to me that the longer the race, the better I do.  Olympic distances are fun and a good speed day, but I felt like I was getting stronger as the race went on.  I’m looking forward to a 70.3 and 140.6 triathlon later this month!

BlueSeventy – save 20% on all orders using MavMike.
BSX Athleticssave $40 on the multisport unit with code MavMike
Infinit Nutrition – used the code “MAVERICK” at checkout to save 10%
Primal Sports mud – Discount code: MAVMIKE15 will give you 20% off from 1/1/15 to 12/31/15.; http://www.primalsportmud.com/buy.html#sthash.5UY88juh.dpbs
Challenge Family Races (USA)use code MHPRO15 to save $10 on your entry fee at Challenge Americas events. This shows Challenge Family that pros do matter to help #keepourpros