You need to take the time to read the first part of my LOTOJA 2013 Race Report here before you start on this one. I always love to see what an athlete does to prepare for a race. Most athletes sacrifice so much for longer distance races, and you can always see that in the preparation. If you really love to read these, read my LOTOJA Race Report 2011. You can see all the rookie mistakes I made in that one.
Before I get too far into this, I want to give a big high five to the athletes who just race Ironman Lake Tahoe last weekend. Weather in the mountains is unpredictable and this race site got pounded with a little snow for good measure the night before the race. The air temperature at the start was a whopping 29° while the reported water temperature was 60°. In my experience in triathlons, the water temps are always exaggerated to get the athletes into the water. I am sure the water was closer to 56°, which makes for a very cold start of the day. The problem with cold temps is your body uses calories to keep warm that it would otherwise be using to propel you forward. You guys are tough and I am super impressed. I am thinking Ironman North America will have trouble filling up that race in 2014.
Just so you know, I ride a Cervelo R5. I absolutely love this frame — it is stiff in all the right places. I wouldn’t call it comfortable, but the fit on this frame is dialed in so it is as comfortable as it can be. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I use Infinit nutrition on the bike and I supplement my calories with boiled potatoes and lunchmeat. You read that right, I eat entire packages of lunchmeat on long rides like this. I really crave protein and they obviously meet that requirement. At one of the last supported rest stops I take on two bottles that are half Red Bull and half water. I did take Enduralytes from Hammer Nutrition on this race to help prevent cramping. I followed my nutrition plan pretty closely. If you fall behind on your calories or water on a day like this, you will not finish strong.
The wave start at LOTOJA is amazing. Since there are so many Cat 5 racers who are in this race, they had five waves of Cat 5 racers. I was in the third wave, which meant I had two waves in front of me and two waves behind. Technically, you are only supposed to work with racers in your wave, but unless you are in the lead group, the race officials tend to ignore this rule. We started in Logan Utah at 7:21 a.m. To make this report a little more logical, I am going to divide it up into the most commonly measured sections. I will use the distances and elevation from my Garmin 510 in all cases. While they may not match the Strava files exactly, they are close enough for me. I used my Training Peaks file for all the data I will report here, and with overlaps and other errors on my part, the times may not add up to my final chip time, but I know you guys forgive me for that.
Logan to Preston (30 mi., 365 ft. climbing) — This is really the warm-up for the rest of the race. Every group is different, but in our group we had about twelve guys out of 50+ who were willing to work to make sure we covered the ground we needed to in the amount of time allotted. It was interesting as I would finish my turn on the front I would drop off and make my way back and about 12 – 15 riders back, a rider would always slow down to let me in. I get it — people want to conserve their energy for the rest of the race, but you have to be willing to take a turn on the front if you are willing to suck a wheel on the back. If you can’t hold the speed of the group while you are taking a pull, I get that. It happens to everyone. But for the first 30 miles of a race, that is pretty weak. Get on the front and take a pull. My pulls were 90 seconds long and I averaged about 350 watts for that time. I guess I started to get upset at the freeloaders so I tried to pick up the pace so we could drop some. My logic was to let them do their own pulling. It took us 1:20 to go the 30 miles, which worked out to a 22.6 mph pace. I averaged 155 watts for this section. Our group was a little slower than some of the others, but I think that was because there was such a small group of us who wanted to pull. Overall, I was 12:00 faster in 2013 compared to 2013, but part of that was because they cut about three miles of the course this year. For my nutrition, I carried two bottles of Infinite for about 280-300 calories each and one extra bottle to toss with just water. To Preston I made myself drink the water and then tossed the bottle in the provided Drop Zone.
Preston to Strawberry Feedzone (28 mi., 3,207 ft. climbing) — During this section is typically where the racing begins. After a short downhill outside of the town of Preston Idaho, you start to climb up Strawberry Pass. The Pass itself really isn’t that steep, but it is just long. The racers who wanted to win the C Flight started to amp up the pressure as we started the climb. My goal was to stay with the leaders until the top of the third pass. One of the riders from Infinite Racing, McKay Robinson, rode up beside me and I introduced myself. He said he was riding for a sub 9:30, which according to previous results may have put him on the podium. But the rider who I thought was going to win — Derrick Warlaumont — was the rider I was following. I literally rode his wheel up Strawberry. Since my goal was to stay with him until about the halfway point of the race and then reevaluate, there was no reason for me to let him go. By this point our group was down to about 20 racers. We had shed 30+ racers, and I knew the first selection was about to occur. Sure enough, about two miles from the top, someone put in a surge and the group started to break up. I don’t know why, but I lost my mental edge. Looking at the power file from my Garmin, I wasn’t pushing too much power, but I justified taking the foot off the gas and a group of riders just rode off. I did keep my attitude positive through this section, which was nice. Because of our late start, there were plenty of riders who I was passing as I tried to keep a decent pace. For the rest of the day I would only pass one rider from my group that I saw, but there were plenty of other riders to catch and drop. This section took me 1:42, which was 14:00 faster than 2012 and I averaged 15.2 mph and 204 watts. I really should have stayed with the lead group. There was no reason why I let them go. For my nutrition I drank both of the Infinite bottles because I knew coming down Strawberry I would be going fast enough that I wouldn’t want to take my hands off the bars and drink.
Strawberry Feedzone to Montpilier (17 miles, mostly downhill) — At the Strawberry Feedzone, I took a water handup from a volunteer, guzzled the entire bottle, and then climbed the remaining mile and change to the top of the pass. I didn’t stop at this neutral feedzone — my plan was to take handups only and not stop at any of the neutral spots. This strategy really paid off in the end. It allowed me to pass a ton of my competitors in the C Flight. My race plan required that once at the summit, I pedal downhill until my gears spun out. I did find a good group coming over the summit. One of the riders, Todd Handy,a Cat 5 D Flight racer, caught me and we started working together. He and I were real close in fitness levels. I did climb a touch faster than he did, but he descended so much faster than I did. I blame it on by compact crankset I had on the bike for this race (yeah, that’s it). There would be many other racers we would see throughout the day, but Todd and I ended up staying together for most of the day. We did get into a group that held a good pace. I wish we would have been a little faster, but it was fast enough that I didn’t want to go off the front. Because this section is mostly downhill, it only took 41:00 to get to the supported feedzone in Montpilier, which averages out to 26.2 mph and 6:00 faster than 2012. I did average 141 watts, mostly because I did spend time in a decent paceline. For my nutrition, I only drank the bottle of water at the Strawberry Feedzone. I let my body absorb all the calories I had consumed to this point.
Montpilier to Summit of Salt River Pass (30 miles, 2,165 ft. of climbing) — Once you arrive in Montpilier, there is a supported feedzone where you see your SAG crew for the first time. Once you hit the feedzone you are only 75 miles into this race, so I think the change they made this year to have the racer SAG crews to meet their rider for the first time in Montpilier was smart. I had my business partner Bruce running SAG for me this year, just like he has all three years I have done this race. My strategy for the supported feedzones was to stop my bike, drop my bottles and replace them. Bruce would stuff my jersey pockets with the food I had prepared — the boiled potatoes, the lunchmeat, and Honey Stinger waffles. My goal was to use the least amount of time possible at the supported feedzones, leave quickly, then soft pedal and eat for about a mile. The thought was time moving gets me to the finish line more quickly than any time spent with my feet on the ground. I am happy to say my strategy worked really, really well. The supported feedzones is where I passed a ton of guys in my group.
There are two climbs in this section, one just outside of Montpilier that isn’t that steep and then another where you go up and over Salt River Pass. On both climbs I ended up dropping the groups I was with. I was riding with some strong people, but I think they just didn’t want to go as hard on the climbs as I did. In 2012 I trained to bust a move on Salt River Pass and ended up posting the fastest time in the non-racer division of which I was really proud. I was 3:00 slower on the climb in 2013, for this segment I was 7:00 faster in 2013. Part of that was in 2012 I was riding with a friend through this section and he had a mechanical, so we stopped to change his tire. In 2013, I was riding without any friends except for those I met on the course, so I didn’t need to stop if someone in our paceline flatted. Todd Handy and I did ride together until the climb up to Salt River Pass, but you know he caught me on the descent. I thought I was a fast downhiller, but he kills those descents. Because of the two climbs, I took 1:45, which worked out for a 17.1 mph average while pushing 178 watts.
Thanks for coming this far with me — the rest of my report is going to be published over the next couple of days. It ended up being 5,000+ words, which is way too long for one post. The next post is going to cover from the top of Salt River Pass to the finish line, where there were some hijinx by a couple of teams who weren’t even in a race category. It really is funny how ticked off people can get when nothing is on the line.