Triathlon Bikes

Sunrise

REV3 Finale: Venice Beach

0

REV3 Finale: Venice Beach

I made my third quick trip of the month to a REV3 event, this time to Sarasota, Florida for the final installment in the 2013 REV3 Triathlon Series. This was a big race with a large prize purse and double points on the line to decide the final standings in the REV3 Pro Series. It drew a strong field with an interesting mixture of athletes which made for an unpredictable and exciting day. Added to that were the unusually high winds from Hurricane Sandy’s steady march northeast, presenting a good challenge on what might otherwise have been a more mundane course. In fact, the winds were so bad that riptide warnings were issued and the Coast Guard informed REV3 that they absolutely could not stage a swim. It’s a good thing the staff are so nimble on their toes and readily adapt to the challenges that are thrown their way. The solution was to cancel the swim for everyone and do a run/bike/run for the pros and a time-trial started bike/run for the age groupers. This was the third race I’ve done within the past 12 months that was altered due to weather-related issues so I wasn’t really fazed and simply reorganized my Pearl Izumi running shoes and my Fezzari T5 triathlon bike to fit what the day called for.

Sunrise and wind. Photo by Eric Wynn.

It was really fun starting off with a quick little run first—with the exception of short-course ITU racing you don’t often find yourself in that large of a pack on the run in a triathlon. It felt like a real horse-race! I think the purpose of doing a 1.5 mile run first for the pros was to attempt to break up the field somewhat but most of the ladies ended up coming into T1 together anyway. It was a bit frantic with everyone trying to kick off their shoes and grab their bikes at the same time, not to mention that it was a really narrow space to begin with, but I had a good spot and was able to get through without any issues.

The 1.5 mile horse-race. Photo by Eric Wynn.

My strategy on the bike was to ride conservatively for the first half and let the tailwind do a lot of the work for me before pushing the pace and trying to make a move once we made the turn into the wind. Alicia Kaye and Becky Lavelle took it out REALLY hard and established a gap right away, but I hung back in a group that included Nicole Kelleher and Lauren Goss. I felt that I could afford to let Alicia go because she was not competing for the overall series, and while Becky was in the running for the series it was a tighter battle points-wise going into the race between Nicole, Lauren, and myself so I wanted to mark them for a while instead of risking a major blow-up by pushing too hard too early. This plan unfolded exactly the way I envisioned and I was able to bridge up to the leaders while building a gap on Nicole and Lauren in the second half of the ride. There was a short out-and-back section with about 10 miles to go where you could get a good look at everyone—and I liked what I saw! Rolling into T2 in 2nd place just steps behind Becky, I knew I was positioned about as perfectly as I could hope for going into the half-marathon.

Changing shoes…yet again. Photo by Elaine Kratz.

I made quick work of T2 and actually got out onto the run course in first place. My lead was short-lived, however, as Becky came storming by within the first half-mile. I didn’t panic because I had done the math and knew that I still had some wiggle room in the overall series in relation to Becky. I’ve been guilty of taking the run out too fast on more than one occasion this season and my plan was to start off more conservatively and then build the pace. However, when I tried to tighten the screws down a bit there was nothing there. My legs felt really heavy, I could tell my form was not pretty and no matter how I tried I could not seem to get my feet to turn over any faster. Nicole passed me somewhere late in the first lap, then I began a steady slide backwards through the field. The second lap of the run was something of a death march and I’m pretty sure that Mile 9 was the longest mile of my life. By the time I crossed the finish line I had slipped to 8th place, which was exactly where I did NOT want to be: in a position that did absolutely nothing to improve my overall series score and would in fact drop me down to 5th place in the final series standings.

Who looks better in this picture? Photo by Eric Wynn.
To say I am bummed is a major understatement. I was in a perfect position going into the run and I let it slip away from me. I’m not really sure what the root of the implosion was—nutrition, hydration, over-exertion on the bike, or if it was simply all in my head. Whatever the case, it provides me with some good food for thought in the off-season and a project to work on so that I will come back stronger next year. I can’t really dwell on it now though because I’ve got an Ironman coming up in less than three weeks and a reunion with my fan club in Arizona to look forward to!

Post-race with Trish, my high school swim coach’s wife. She’s a stud! Photo by Matt Rydson.

I’d like to express my gratitude to the following for their support over the weekend: to Ray & Lynn for theirincredible hospitality; to Brittany for the good company and introducing me to Ray & Lynn in the first place; to Chris Jarc for the much-need post-race piggyback ride; to Charlie, Eric, Sean, Stu, Ashley, Alex…oh gosh, there are too many to name! To the entire REV3 staff for being the most wonderful, friendly, fun, supportive, and professional event staff around; to the media crew for the great work (can’t wait to see the TV coverage!); to the city of Venice Beach for the venue and to all the volunteers who donated their time to make this event a success; and of course to my sponsors who help make it possible for me to get to the starting line in the first place (REV3, Recovery Pump, Powerbar, Pearl Izumi, Rudy Project, Blueseventy, Fezzari, Maxxis, and The Bike Shoppe).

Special congratulations to Brittany Banker for capping off a stellar season and celebrating 8 years of kicking cancer in the butt, to Trish Rydson on her age group win (great to see you Trish & Matt!), to Becky Lavelle & Jesse Thomas on their impressive victories, to Nicole Kelleher and Richie Cunningham for their spectacular seasons and the well-deserved series titles, and to my teammate Jessica Meyers for a great performance and clawing her way up to third place on the day. One day I will be tough as nails like that!

 

Any excuse to play dress-up! Any guesses as to what I am? Photo by Ray Pecharich.

Malaika-2012 REV3 Knoxville Bike

Fezzari Triathlete Malaika Homo

2

Meet Fezzari Triathlete Malaika Homo

 

Where are you from originally?  What brought you to Utah?

I grew up in a little town in northern Indiana called Elkhart, which is 25 miles east of another little but more famous town called South Bend.  Northern Indiana is not exactly an outdoor recreation mecca, so I moved away from there to Utah in 2005 to help feed my appetite for playing in the great outdoors.

 

What got you into biking and triathlon?

I guess I had always been training for triathlon from a young age but didn’t know it at the time.  I grew up swimming and was exposed to running literally before I was born because my dad was a track and cross-country coach.  My brother and sister and I were always messing around on bikes as kids.  I first heard of triathlon when my brother did a few races in the summertime when he was in college to stay in shape for his swimming and running seasons.  Several years later it was my turn; I was dating a guy who was in the Purdue Tri Club and he encouraged me to come to one of the club meetings, and somehow I found myself going on a spring break training trip to Florida and South Carolina to do my first duathlon & triathlon.  I won the duathlon and placed 4th in the triathlon and was hooked!  My first couple of seasons I rode my brother’s old bike: a way-too-big-for-me red Raleigh road bike with flat pedals and shifters on the top tube behind the stem.  Every time I stood up to climb (which luckily isn’t too often in Indiana) my knees would clip the shifters and the bike would unexpectedly shift mid-stroke.  I made a lot of what seemed to me at the time to be big improvements to that bike, including putting aerobars and spd pedals on it and replacing the old black foam covering on the handlebars with red, white, and blue bar tape.  I believe that bike is now sitting on a trainer in my brother’s basement, so I guess we’ve come full circle.

What has been the highlight of your triathlon career so far?

Winning the REV3 Cedar Point Full on September 11, 2011 has definitely been the highlight of my triathlon career so far.  It was only my second full-distance triathlon and I knocked 48 minutes off my previous time; having that huge of a breakthrough at a race only a couple of hours away from where I grew up, with my family and friends on hand to witness it, was truly an incredible experience.

 

How many miles did you ride last week?

160-ish

 

What is your favorite race?

Escape From Alcatraz for it’s unique-ness, REV3 Quassy for the challenge.

 

When did you start biking?

I have a picture somewhere of me as a little kid sitting on a bike in the driveway with the kickstand down; right after that picture was taken I actually rode the bike unassisted for the first time.  I’d have to ask my mom for sure, but I don’t think I was more than 3 or 4 years old.  The bike was a red Schwinn with a banana seat and coaster brakes that was a hand-me-down from my brother and sister (sound familiar?).  We all learned to ride on it and none of us ever used training wheels.  I always had a bike growing up, but I first started “biking for real” when I began dabbling in triathlons at the tail end of my college days at Purdue.

 

What was your first bike?

My bikes (in chronological order) from when I was a kid have been: red Schwinn, peach Schwinn, purple Schwinn 10-speed, cheap black mountain bike, ancient red Raleigh road bike, Cannondale “Purple People Eater” (can’t recall what model it was), Trek 5200 road bike, Orbea Orca, Marin mtb, Fezzari T5.

 

What bike setup do you ride now?

My new speed machine is a Fezzari T5 with Shimano Dura Ace components and FSA Vision carbon bars and crankset.  It is RIDICULOUS, and I’m so excited to break it out this weekend at REV3 Knoxville!

Why do you bike?

I love the freedom and the feeling of really GOING somewhere under your own power.  Biking is a great way to see the countryside; some of my fondest memories of places I’ve been are from the bike rides I’ve taken there.  On a more practical level, biking is my preferred mode of transportation.  I live in Ogden but work 5 days a week as a personal trainer in Salt Lake, and I commute to work via a combination of biking and the Frontrunner train.  I usually ride between 20-40 miles per day on my commute, depending on the time of year, the weather, and where I am in my training.  It’s a great way to rack up a lot of base miles.

 

What is your favorite ride or route?

I love riding in Ogden Valley and then going up and over Trappers Loop, over through Morgan to East Canyon and back.  Emigration Canyon was always one of my favorite training rides when I lived in Salt Lake, and I still like to ride it whenever I get the chance.

 

What is your favorite time of day to ride?

I like early morning starts just for the feeling of accomplishment later in the day when you’re done, but I think I honestly prefer the angle of the sunlight later in the day.  The world just seems to glow more in the afternoons.

 

What is your biggest goal with cycling, triathlon, and running?

Oh boy!  I like this question.  The general answer is that I’m trying to be the best, most well-balanced triathlete that I can be.  The specific answer is that I’m aiming to break 9 hours in a full ironman distance triathlon, to qualify for Kona as a professional next year and place in the top-10, and to someday run in the US Olympic Marathon Trials.

 

What does an average training week look like for you? Training hours? Type? Where?

Training hours/type change drastically depending on the time of year and what I’m training for, but a current sample week would consist of 4-5 swims, 5-6 bikes, 4-5 runs, 2 strength workouts, plus foam rolling and quality time in the Recovery Pump boots every day.  Total hours might range from 10-25 hours (not counting recovery work).  I swim at Ben Lomond High School, at 24 Hour Fitness in Sugarhouse, and sometimes in Pineview or Causey Reservoirs.  I get most of my weekday bike miles commuting sections between Salt Lake and Ogden, then do longer weekend rides either in Ogden Valley or in the direction of the Great Salt Lake.  Most of my running is done in North Ogden and on the Shoreline Trail, with occasional forays into the Ogden Valley.

What do you do for training during the winter?

I ride my mountain bike to work and cross-country ski.  This is also when I focus on strength training and corrective exercises.

 

What do you do for nutrition on long rides?

I use Power Gels and PowerBar Gel Blasts, and until recently I used PowerBar Energy Bites—I’m so sad that those are being discontinued!  I also like to eat boiled potatoes.  I typically drink water and PowerBar Perform.

 

What races do you have planned for this year?

Feb.    Striders Winter Running Circuit 5K

Striders Winter Running Circuit 10K

Mar.    Striders Winter Running Circuit 10 Miler

REV3 Costa Rica Olympic Triathlon

Apr.     Striders Winter Running Circuit Half Marathon

Salt Lake Half Marathon

Striders Winter Running Circuit 30K

May.    REV3 Knoxville Olympic Triathlon

Jun.     REV3 Quassy Half Rev Triathlon

Dino Tri Olympic Triathlon

Jul.      REV3 Portland Half Rev Triathlon

Scofield Escape Triathlon

Aug.    REV3 Wisconsin Half Rev Triathlon

Sep.    REV3 Cedar Point Full Rev Triathlon

Oct.     REV3 South Carolina Half Rev Triathlon

REV3 Florida Half Rev Triathlon

Nov.    Ironman Arizona

 

What are your goals for 2012?

∙ Win the overall 2012 REV3 Pro Series

Defend my REV3 Cedar Point Full Rev title

Break 9 hours in a full iron-distance triathlon

Run a sub-1:25 half marathon

Break 3 hours in a marathon

Qualify for the 2013 Ironman World Championship

Top-10 finish at the Ironman World Championship

What’s on your ipod?

I am soooooo uncool, I don’t even own an ipod.  But I do like music!  I’m sort of a throw-back, I really like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, folk music in general, ’80s music (how could I not, I grew up in that decade!), classic rock…and yes, I am a big classical music fan too.  Like Mozart and Beethoven and Bach, those guys.

 

What’s your favorite recovery meal?

Chocolate milk first, then a nice big fat juicy steak with grilled veggies and yams.

 

Do you have a pre-race routine? If so, what?

I like to be organized, so I make sure I have all my gear laid out the night before.  On race day I eat breakfast 3 hours before the start, and I like to arrive in transition to set up my gear about 90 minutes before the gun goes off.  After setting up my transition spot I like to go off by myself to warm-up—usually a little jog and a swim.  I always “christen” the water during my warm-up swim (I think any triathlete who says they have never done this is a liar!).

 

 

Shaving legs

The “Science” of Shaven Legs

4

The “Science” of Shaven Legs

What semi-honest story do you tell when you are asked why you shave your legs for triathlons or cycling? Do you really believe what you are saying, or deep inside do you feel it is a lie?

I set out to review the literature on why you should shave your legs so you can now give a whole-heartedly honest answer to your non-triathlete/cyclist friends.
Most of us have heard of at least one theory about why you should shave your legs. This tends to be the ever-important theory we stick to when rationalizing to our friends. Here are four of the most widely heard:
1. It makes wound care easier when you fall. What more manly reason could you possibly think of? This was my story for a while. I would tell my friends, “I ride very aggressive so I’m bound to end up taking a flight over the handlebars occasionally. Having shaven legs makes it easier to clean the would and less likely to get infected”. The truth…not really.
2. It makes recovery massages easier. This rationale is said by some to be the reason European cyclists originally started shaving their legs. Yes, it may make recovery massages ever-so-slightly easier, but how many non-pro athletes are getting regular recovery massages? Lame excuse.
3. It helps keep me cool on hot days. Yes, there is some merit here. A smooth surface allows for faster convective cooling. For those living in hot, humid climates. This excuse is legitimate. The effect is not big, but there is truth in this statement.
4. Shaven legs are more aerodynamic. Ummmmm, yes, but really? Although I could not find any wind tunnel data on shaven legs. Having reviewed wind tunnel data in the past, I would guess shaving your legs would maybe buy you a second in a 100 mile race, max. Poor excuse.
The Real Reason You SHOULD Shave Your Legs

Yep, you read that correctly. Although the science is not directly linked to shaving legs, there is plenty of sports psychology science that shows benefits in performance when you believe you belong. If you show up to a race hairy and see a bunch of shaven legs, your mind immediately begins to doubt. You feel like you don’t belong, or that everyone else is the “real deal” and you are not. Your confidence wavers.
There is a link between confidence, or believing in yourself, and athletic performance. For those that have played sports like baseball, basketball, and golf, you likely know this all too well. A slump is rarely a mechanical problem, it is most often a mental problem. You spend countless hours training your body to perform an act instinctively, such as identify ball coming into the strike zone. A single failure can lead to doubt. Too much doubt and your mind begins to take over, literally. The frontal cortex of the brain now takes over the role of identifying the strike zone, rather than leaving it to your highly trained instinctive responses. The frontal cortex is not trained. The result…a slump.
This same concept holds true with all sports. Your running stride can change. You can overthink your swimming stroke. You may hold back too much on the bike.
So, a simple doubtful thought about your abilities prior to a race can slow you down. And…it could all start with hairy legs.
Next time someone asks why you shave your legs, just tell them it makes you faster, because it does (unless you are a stubbornly strong minded person. In this case, you can keep the hair on your legs…and your back too.)
part of Mccain Loop by Gates Pass

GPP Endurance Tri Camp, Tucson AZ

2

part of Mccain Loop by Gates Pass

This past week I got the opportunity to help out and train with the GPP Endurance Tri Camp in Tucson, AZ. It was 3 days of intense triathlon training ranging from Olympic distance to full Ironman athletes. I did most of the workouts with the group but also helped map out routes for our workouts. For the past few years, I have been coming down to Tucson to get out of the harsh Utah winters. Tucson is a great place for endurance athletes with weekly group rides and nice pools to swim in.

After 1000 yard time trial

The first day of camp consisted of a 75 min swim workout with a 1000 yard time trial(fun!) mixed in, a 3 hour bike with 6×20 min tempo efforts  and a 1 hour progressive run. I was pretty cracked after the first day but knew that my body would eventually adapt.

Coming back from the Biosphere(one of the many wonders of Tucson)

The second day kicked off with a 90 min swim workout followed by a double duathlon brick.(90 min ride up and over Gates Pass and a 30 min trail run x2) Once again my body felt like it was being hit by a truck and i couldnt even imagine how the other athletes were feeling.

giving directions for bike/run workout

The third day was the most epic day of camp with a 25 mile, 7,000 vertical feet climb up the infamous Mt. Lemmon. It takes anywhere from 2-4 hours to climb to the top from the base. I’ve done it a ton on my road bike, but never on my TT setup  so i was unsure of how my body would respond to that much climbing. To my surprise, my Fezzari T-5 got me all the way to the top without any discomfort. A group of us got to the summit around the same time and rested up for the long descent at the Cookie Cabin where they serve Cookies as big as your head!

on top of Mt. Lemmon at the Cookie Cabin

Everyone at camp had great attitudes and were super motivated durring each workout. Each athlete made it to the summit of Mt.Lemmon with huge smiles on their faces and nothing but positive things to say about the ride up. I love surrounding myself with people like this because it can really push you to a higher level.

Hanging out before ride

GPP Endurance will be  hosting a few more camps this year.
March 16-19 in St. George, Utah
April 13-16 in Henderson, Nevada
You can sign up on www.Active.com.
Also be sure to ‘like’ GPP Endurance on facebook where you can get current news and updates for each of these camps.

Riding my Fezzari T-5!

Doing some run drills before progression run

Dr. Tom Fletcher giving a seminar about injury prevention

bike black_white

Fezzari Triathlete Kelsey Withrow

1

Fezzari Triathlete Kesley Withrow

Kelsey is a pro triathlete from Park City, Utah who races heavily in the Olympic distance triathlons. She spent 5 years training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado as a part of the National Team aiming for a spot in the Olympics.   She also comes from a college swimming background and has had numberless wins in her young career.  She was even named the Junior Duathlete of the Year by USA Triathlon.

In 2011 Kelsey set an age group national swimming record for the 6,000-yd. freestyle.  In 2012 she is planning to focus on the Half Ironman distance in triathlon.   Kelsey is also an avid cyclist where she competes in road and mountain bike races.  In the off-season, Kelsey enjoys going on week-long backpacking excursions and taking trips to the south for good country music and honky-tonks!

 

 

We were able to sit down with Kelsey and learn more about what makes her tick.

Where are you from originally?  What brought you to Utah?

I grew up in Seattle, Washington.  After a 5 year stint at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, I moved to Utah for a change in scenery.

What got you into biking and triathlon?

When I was 17, I had a  life guarding job at a local country club north of Seattle.  Sara Graham, a triathlon coach and spinning instructor saw me running on a treadmill on my lunch break, and  asked me if i had ever tried triathlon.  I kept her in the back of my mind until I did a half marathon a few months later.  I was not  untrained and was wearing shoes two sizes too small. I ended up winning my age division and getting a top 10 overall. I called Sara and she helped me discover the wonderful sport of triathlon.

What has been the highlight of your triathlon career so far?

I had a lot of success early on in my career, winning a junior triathlon national championship and being named Junior Duathlete of the year in 2001.  I was fortunate enough to get picked to live and train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs as a part of the  National team from 2002-2007.  On the second day of training there i broke my hip in a bike crash and was sidelined for several months.  From that day on it has been a path of perseverance and struggle to get my body healthy and injury free. The highlight of my career was taking 2nd place  at Canadian Nationals.  I shared the podium with several Olympians including Simon Whitfield(Olympic gold medalist) and Sharon Donalley.  It was a surreal moment and I proved to myself that I could compete at the worlds highest levels.

How many miles did you ride last week?

225 miles.

 

 

What is your favorite race?

My favorite local races are the Dinoland Tri in Vernal, UT and Battle of Midway Triathlon in Midway, UT. On the world scale, I loved the course from the 2003 worlds in Queenstown, New Zealand.

When did you start biking?

I started biking in 2001 as soon as i got into triathlons.

What was your first bike?

My first bike was a Wal-Mart bought Norco that my coach Sara Graham loaned to me.

What bike setup do you ride now?

I ride the Fezzari T5 TT bike with a Dura-Ace groupset. Only the best!

 

 

Why do you bike?

Besides the obvious fact that cycling is the second leg of every triathlon, I love the feeling of freedom cycling gives me and exploring new place on my bike!

What is your favorite ride or route?

In Salt Lake City I love the Emigration and Big Cottonwood canyons.  In St. George, I  love the Gunlock Loop (part of the Ironman St. George Course).

What is your favorite time of day to ride?

I am not much of a morning person so I prefer to ride in the afternoon when the sun is out and warm!

What is your biggest goal with cycling and triathlon?

From the first day i entered the sport of triathlon my goal was to make the Olympic Team.  In 2008 I came close but got injured and had to sit out of an important part of the season.  Since the 2012 Olympics spots are all but accounted for, I am taking a break from Olympic distance, draft legal triathlon in 2012 to try my hand at non-drafting Olympic and half ironman distance racing.

What does an average training wee look like for you? Training hours? Type? Where?

An average week is anywhere from 18-24 hours. This winter my coach has me aiming towards quality vs quantity so I am not putting in the huge hours like i have in the past. I have immediately noticed that with this approach, I am never sick, rarely injured, and my motivation stays high so that I can attack every workout.  I’m doing 3-4 swims per week, riding 4 times per week, and running 4 times per week. I am also spending time in the weight room, doing yoga, and focusing on rest, nutrition, hydration, and all of the little things that make the big differences!

What do you do for training during the winter?

I typically spend the winter in Tucson, AZ. It’s an ideal training location because of the stable, warm weather, infinite training options, and amazing training partners! This winter has been very mild in Utah and I have been doing most of my training here, but I did get in 3 weeks of training on Maui (where I got to train with members of the Canadian National Triathlon Team) and have a Tucson trip planned for later in February.

What do you do for nutrition on long rides?

I’ll use anything from energy bars to drink mix, but my preferred ride fuel is fresh dates. I can pack a lot of calories into a ziplock bag with dates, and they provide excellent carbohydrate source that is packed with nutrients!

What races do you have planned for this year?

I have a big list of races planned this year.  I am planning the RAGE Tri series, as well as the REV3 series in Tennessee, Connecticut, Portland, and Wisconsin.  I’ll compete in a bunch of local Olympic distance races as well as do some local road stage races and crits with a TT and endurance mountain bike races mixed in there too.

What’s on your iPod?

I’ve got a bit of everything.  For intervals, i really like electronic and euro pop music:) For easy rides and runs I’m usually rocking the country music!

What’s your favorite recovery meal?

After workouts I usually make a smoothie with 6-10 bananas, soy milk and ice.

Do you have a pre-race routine? If so, what?

The night before my race i listen to chill music on my ipod and visualize myself on the podium!

The Hustle

18 Reasons We Can’t Wait Until Summer

0

We can’t wait for summer. Triathlons. Swimming. Mountain Biking. Tour de France. Road bike rides with friends. Sunsets. The whole gamut.

Images Courtesy of jolisoleil,foleymo,kwinkslag, Allie_Caulfield, smudge9000, Zach DischnerDavid Barker, AndyC

Heath St. George Tri

Spotlight: Fezzari Triathlete Heath Thurston

0

Heath Thurston grew up a swimmer, but like many, gained some extra weight after getting married (50 pounds to be exact). In 2001 he started competing in triathlons as a way to get back into shape and has since won the St. George Triathlon five times as well as competed in seven Ironman events as well as numerous ultra-distance marathons. His personal Ironman record is 9:26. As he preps for one of his last contests of the 2011 season, the Austin Ironman 70.3, we thought this would be a perfect time to learn how he trains, especially during the off season.

1) What have been some highlights of your biking career so far?
Biking a 4:45 Ironman bike split in Ironman Florida in 2008. Being the first biker back to Sundance two years in a row at the RANATAD 165-mile bike ride. Biking around the South Island of New Zealand. Training for triathlons with Ironman World Champion Scott Molina.

2) How many miles did you ride last week?
Probably somewhere around 520-550 miles

Heath Thurston in the St. George, Utah Ironman

Heath Thurston in the St. George, Utah Ironman

3) What is your favorite race?
It’s probably a tie between St George Triathlon the Scofield Triathlon. (Heath is a 5-time winner of St. George Triathlon).

4) When did you start biking?
I started biking in 2001

5) What was your first bike?
First road bike was a super-sweet Schwinn Paramount with Scott aerobars (clipons).

6) What bike setup do you ride now?
I ride mostly Time Trial/traiathlon specific and some road bikes.

7) Why do you bike?
I am a pro triathlete and coach, and I love riding smooth and fast.

8 ) What is your favorite ride or route?
Southfork up Provo Canyon, and The Alpine Loop also up Provo canyon

9) What is your favorite time of day to ride?
Midday or afternoon, except for warm summer morning, I love getting out in the perfect cool morning air when not many people are out and the roads are clear.

10) What is your biggest goal with cycling?
To be able to come off the bike with some of the best triathletes in the world so I am in the mix for the win of the race.

11) What does an average training week look like for you?
3-4 hours a week of swimming, 10-15 hours of biking 100-200 miles and 5-10 hours of running 30-60 miles.

12) What do you do for training during the winter?
A lot of indoor and outdoor training, mostly on bike trainer rides.

13) What do you do for nutrition on long rides?
I do anywhere from 300-400 calories an hour in mostly liquid nutrition

14) What races did you do or have planned for 2011?
March-Buffalo 50 miler run 7th overall in 7:23, May- Ironman St George-finish time 10:09, May-Timp trail marathon 5:09, June-Salem Sprint Triathlon 1st overall 58:10, June-Boise 70.3 16th overall 4:15, July-Scofield Escape Triathlon, August-Lake Stevens 70.3,  October-Austin 70.3

Heath Runs in Scofield Triathlon

More Like the Spudman Swim

Spudman Triathlon: A First-Time Triathlete’s Perspective

4

In July I completed my first triathlon, The Spudman, in Burley, Idaho. My goal here is to not only share with you some tips I learned during six months of fair-weather triathlon training, but also to give rookie race-day tips and Spudman insights alike.

Training for Your First Triathlon

I’m convinced that the best way to get yourself to start training for a triathlon is to just go ahead and register for one and then start telling everyone that you did. In fact, here’s what I want you to do right now:

  1. Stop reading, and go to the registration site of that triathlon you’ve been thinking about.
  2. Register now. Just do it. Don’t go registering for some Ironman that’s in 6 weeks. Be realistic.
  3. Tell everyone that you registered. Put it on Facebook, Twitter, etc… You need to tell people.
  4. Train. You’ll figure it out. There are plenty of free resources online to help you out.

The net effect is you’ve spent the money, and now everyone is going to ask you how the training is going. You’ve made a commitment to yourself and invited a slew of people to hold you accountable. This is exactly what I did, and hardly two days went by that I didn’t get asked “How’s your training going?” Do you really want to let these people down, let alone yourself? Go. Register. Now!

I registered for Spudman seven months before the race.

What On Earth is Spudman?

Spudman is an Olympic-distance triathlon (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run) that takes place in the small farming town of Burley in Southern Idaho and is organized by the Burley Lion’s Club.

One of the race officials mentioned there were more than 2200 participants in this year’s race, so to put it lightly, Spudman is a big deal for this little potato town. Between racers and their families, as well as other spectators and area volunteers, the city population probably increases 30 percent on race weekend. That’s a big race in terms of participants.

Pre-Race Setup/Race Prep

A list of things to know.

1) We setup our bikes around 6 p.m. the night before. Approximately 20 percent of the racers had done so before us, and by 8:30 p.m. there was little left in terms of picking your spot, but there was still room for everyone. I was there to finish, not win. Race spots really don’t matter for beginners as much as it does to the Elites (pros) in these races because they can win or lose by seconds. Enjoy yourself.

2) You aren’t allowed in T1 without your race number or timing chip, so you need to pick up your race packet first because it has your race number and timing chip. They had plenty of people at packet pickup, so it went quick. T2 was not as strict about who went in and out, and there was plenty of room there because it’s only stacked with running shoes and not full bike setups.

3) They feed you a spaghetti dinner the night before. It was extremely delicious, and included green beans, a roll and of course an Idaho Russet, but the tomatoes actually gave me acid reflux and made my run leg extremely difficult. If you haven’t learned this already, don’t eat things you aren’t used to eating the day before a race, and especially not on race day.

4) If you forget something small (hat, number holder, etc…) there were a few booths where you can purchase these items.

5) Something will go wrong. It may be small, big, or just a side note, but I’ll give a few examples below.

Vendor Booths.

Vendor Booths Swim Start is Off to the Right.

Spudman Lodging?

I remembered I needed to get a hotel room at least 3-4 months before the July 30 race, and when I tried booking a place everything in Burley was already sold out, so book early. We ended up renting a room in Twin Falls, Idaho, which was a 40-minute drive. Personally, I’m glad I did this because I was able to get a couple hours of really solid sleep as well as enjoy a gorgeous early morning drive through farm fields and over the Twin Falls Gorge on our way to the race. A lot of people just camped right near the course starting line and on the local golf course, which was turned into a small city of cars, motorhomes and tents. It was like it’s own little Spudville.

Spudman Swim Course

I’d mentioned to a few people that the swim course took place in the Snake River, and they appear to imagine something like the photo on the left:

Not the Spudman Swim.

More Like the Spudman Swim.

The truth is, you get a nice current to swim in, but it’s a lot like a miniature Mississippi. The Snake River is extremely gentle with smooth water pretty much like a calm pool with a nice current and no chlorine. The water temperature on race day was mild enough that a number of racers used no wetsuit, but they do provide buoyancy. If you don’t have a wetsuit, you can rent them at most local running or cycling stores. You can also buy them from Fezzari Bicycles.

The swim is extremely gorgeous, and although .93 miles long, it isn’t terribly difficult for those like me who can swim, but not “swim” with excellent technique per se’. Some of the top swim times this year were within 12 minutes, which is two minutes faster than the 1500 meter world record.

Does the Triathlon Swim Frighten You?

At one point the night before I noticed a man consoling his presumable girlfriend/spouse/sister as she looked in horror at the swim distance and began to cry. I understood her concern. Swimming was my weakness here, and I didn’t know what to expect, but I learned a few things that calmed my nerves quickly.

1) Wetsuits are slightly buoyant. As soon as you hop in the water you’ll notice it. It’s not a life preserver, but it does help you “float.”

2) If you were to get in trouble, there’s hundreds of other people around to help.

3) All swimmers had to wear hunter orange swim caps, so they’re easy to spot in the water.

4) You can literally lay on your back and float the entire Spudman swim in under 30 minutes.

The swim was honestly much easier than I thought it would be, and this was also my first time in a wetsuit. When I got tired, I turned on my back and just pushed myself down river. When I got my breath back, I’d swim for 100-200 yards and then go to my back again.

Spudman T1: Swim to Bike Transition

There were easily a few million dollars worth of road bikes sitting in T1. (See video below). The transition area was well organized with each bike rack listed by letter, so you could easily spot your bike when coming out of the water. Since T2 and the finish line were about one mile from T1, the race crew provided a plastic garbage bag with your number on it so you could drop your wetsuit, goggles and cap in the bag, which you then dropped on the ground as you left T1. Race officials then hauled your wet gear to the finish area, so it was waiting for you at the finish under protection of race volunteers.

Video Of Spudman Bike Transition


Vendor Booths. Swim Start is Off to the Right.

Spudman Bike Course

The Spudman bike course has a few rolling spots during the first 3-4 miles, but it’s basically flat the rest of the ride. I actually felt there was a slight incline during the first long section away from T1 and the starting line because I could only keep about a 19-22 mph pace during that leg, but I could keep a 22-25 mph pace coming back. Maybe I had a new burst of energy, but I don’t think I would have been able to tell a real difference unless I had a bike computer I was watching.

A Warning to First-Time Spudman Bikers!

I’m not a professional, but I’ve ridden in groups quite a bit, and it was clear on this bike course that there were many people who hadn’t ridden in groups much. There’s a tendency to want to ride close behind other riders, which is a common thing to do in road biking because it allows you to rest behind another rider’s slip stream, but it’s almost always against the rules in triathlon. Spudman officials didn’t seem to have anyone enforcing the rule, and there were plenty of riders taking advantage of it.

The problem is, there’s almost always a crash with riders who are new to drafting, and I watched numerous times as the competitive spirit took over and someone would cut another rider off just to get ahead a few meters. It was complete stupidity. I was personally involved in one very ugly wreck caused by the rider next to me drafting another rider. He wasn’t paying attention, rammed into the back of the girl in front of him, and they both went down on pavement at about 20 mph. They then took out additional riders while I luckily swerved and missed it, but ended up in the farm field at a dead stop. I saw one of the participants during the run, and the entire tip of his finger looked like hamburger from the crash. Just be aware that competition mixed with fatigue can bring out some poor decision making. There were two other wrecks on that same stretch of road involving more than one biker.

Spudman Run Course and T2

T2 is quick. You hang up your bike helmet and cycling shoes and pull on the running shoes and number belt then head off on the grass. There was a hydration station at this point.

A Few Spudman Run Course Suggestions

I brought the following items for my run, and I’m glad I did.

  • A thin running hat. I was able to soak it wet, and it kept me cool.
  • Chewing gum. It keeps your mouth and throat moist between hydration stops.
  • A number belt. They cost $8-$12, and then you don’t have to put holes in your running clothes.
  • Sunglasses. Enough said.
  • One energy gel. Your body needs fuel.

The more you can focus on running the better. Do what you can to make yourself comfortable.
The Spudman run course heads up a steep hill for about 500 yards before heading off into farm fields. The cool thing about this is the step hill is goes through an old cowboys back yard.  He was sitting on his back porch waving at all the racers and they ran through his yard.  I thought this initial hill was the toughest part of the entire race because your legs are still in bike mode, you’re getting tired because you’re on the last leg of the race, and hills are just tough to run. I don’t have many photos of the run course, but there was about a 1.5-mile stretch down a dirt road that followed an irrigation canal. Surprisingly, there was little dust, and I suspect race organizers drove a water truck down it before the run started because there was one sitting on a stretch of the road spraying water you could run through to cool off.

One of my favorite things about the run course is the many locals who drag their hose to the street and turn on a sprinkler, so you can run through it to cool down. The hospitality of the Burley people during Spudman was incredible.

Spudman in Summary

Spudman is well organized, and the entire community seems to volunteer with smiles on their faces. One of first things I noticed was how kind and welcoming the people were to all of the racers, and the volunteer staff included young and old as well as community sports teams and local law enforcement. The officer directing traffic near the bike drop off was the first I’d ever seen wearing a uniform and Wrangler jeans, but it was all part of the small-town atmosphere.

My goal was to finish, and that’s what I did. By the time I had completed the race I felt like I never wanted to do it again, but I couldn’t quit thinking about it the next day, but this first-time triathlete can’t wait for Spudman 2012.

My Spudman Finish Time:

Swim Bike Run Total
00:22:07.966 01:11:39.751 00:59:57.992 02:35:52.4

Spudman 2012 Goals

Swim Bike Run Total
00:20:00.000 01:07:00.00 00:53:00.000 02:20:00.0

What are Your Triathlon Goals? What about cycling goals or running goals?

Go to Top