This past weekend I raced Syracuse 70.3. Overall the race went decently well. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had been starting to groove my new swim stroke in the days leading into the race, so I was most excited to see how far back from the leaders I would come out of the water.
I swam 26:28. This is over a minute faster than I swam in Raleigh 70.3 just three weeks prior, and is very close to my best swim ever in a 70.3. What’s most interesting is that it was very controlled and relaxed. In fact, towards the end of the swim, I was having such an enjoyable experience that I actually thought to myself, “I wish this swim was longer.” I must thank Miguel Vadillo for this, as this is the first time in my life that I truly enjoyed the swim portion of the race. Things are moving in the right direction with regards to this discipline.
The bike was a very different story. I raced this one without any power. My only goal for the race was to hold a cadence between 90 and 95 RPM whenever possible, for as long as possible. I have been doing this on the CompuTrainer for the last two weeks and it has been going very well. I have found that it is easier to push a constant wattage at this RPM, and that I am able to run faster off the bike at this RPM. In the past, I have been more in the 70-75 RPM range in practice, and have hovered around 80 RPM, naturally, in races. Here are a few examples:
1.) A long ride I did in Tucson Arizona, in an area we refer to as “Death Valley”:
2.) A bike workout I did in Arizona (2×30 minutes @340w):
3.) A 90k time trial I did in Arizona:
4.) Raleigh 70.3 bike data (note power is very inaccurate as the Garmin Vectors I was using were faulty):
The highest average of all of these examples was 80 RPM. I have been advised by many that this is not good for the run legs, and it is difficult to bike well at this low of a cadence. So, I have vowed to change it. Unfortunately, what I found out in Syracuse, is that my perception of effort is not very good at this higher turnover. I biked well in Raleigh without power, but I also biked down in my 80 RPM comfort zone. At kilometer 80 of Syracuse 70.3 I knew I had biked too easy, as I had an unusually low level of fatigue in my legs. Thus, coming into transition, I was mentally prepared to hear a massive deficit to the leader, particularly with the amazing cyclist Andrew Yoder in the field.
I found out that I was in 7th and the deficit was about 12 minutes to the leader. At this point I started thinking that a very good accomplishment under these conditions would be fifth place. At least in this instance I would recuperate my money invested in the trip. So, I set out with the intention of catching fifth place by the end. I was surprised at how challenging the run course was. When I drove it in the car the previous day, the hills did not seem as steep. The whole time I just focused on relaxing my upper body and trying to stay as light on my feet as possible. I was running in the new Saucony Kinvara 5s, and they definitely helped me to feel light on the ups. I caught a glimpse of my competitors as I was approaching the first turnaround. I was taken aback by just how far behind I was! I wasn’t discouraged though, and actually found the challenge kind of fascinating.
The way back to the second turnaround was mainly downhill. I made sure to allow the downs to do the work for me, and just tried to stay out of the way as much as possible. At the second turnaround I caught Paul Ambrose. This was motivating and so I continued to push. At around mile 8 I caught Jordan Rapp. This was a cool experience as I have never seen Jordan in real life, so it was interesting to catch a glimpse of someone in person that I have read so much about. This was also a massive relief as I knew I was in the money now and that I would recuperate my investment. From here onwards the race really just became about seeing how well I could do.
At the base of the largest hill I caught my fellow MSC Ambassador teammate Cody Beals. I was very happy to see that he was having yet another good race. A little further up the road I caught Ben Collins. I knew Ben was a very good runner, and before the race I figured he would be the one to beat. It turns out that I was right about this, as he unfortunately was given a drafting penalty for not dropping back fast enough once being passed. Without this, he would have been the one to beat. At this point I was a bit mind-blown as a podium finish was the furthest thing from my mind when I started the run. At the third turnaround I saw that James Seears wasn’t too far up the road, and I started to believe that maybe a second place finish was possible. Around mile 11 I caught him. I didn’t allow myself to look back until mile 12. The final mile was all downhill, so I made sure to take in the crowd and the course the best I could.
Overall I am pleased with the swim and run. The bike will haunt me for a long time. I do not think I biked near my potential. It made for a good run split, but I am after the best composite bike-run time, and I think that could have been better. Fortunately, Cycle Culture is working closely with me to ensure that I have a power meter for Muncie 70.3, so that I am better able to gauge effort at higher cadence.
This result puts me at 34 in the world 70.3 rankings. There are two more 70.3 races that occur between now and July 6th (the end of the first qualification period). There is definitely a chance that 7 people ranked behind me acquire enough points to bump me out of the top 40 in these races, but there is also a decent chance that I make the top 40. If I am in the top 40 as of July 6th I will be what is known as a “July Auto-Qualifier” for the 70.3 world championship. There are no guarantees, but things are looking decently well. If I do not qualify at this time, there are still 10 more spots awarded to the top athletes who were not “July Auto-Qualifiers” as of their points on July 27th. I have two more races between now and then, and will be looking to do my best there, in the event that I am not a July auto-qualifier.
This result would not have been possible without the support of Cycle Culture, Richard Kniaziew, Louis Garneau, Saucony, Nineteen Wetsuits, CompuTrainer, C3-High Performance, Embrace Open Water Swimming, and eLoad. Additionally, I must give credit where credit is due. John Salt has given me a lot of help over the last couple of years with race entries, sponsorship etc. I am part of his MSC Ambassador Team, which helps young aspiring triathletes get experience in the sport. I will be doing his race the Niagara Falls Barrelman on September 21st, which is a half-iron distance race that passes by Niagara Falls on two occasions. I am excited for this race and I hope that if you are free that weekend you will join me there.
Thanks for reading and following along.