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All posts for the month October, 2012

On Saturday, May 19th, I participated in and Ironman Triathlon in The Woodlands, Texas.  The triathlon consisted of a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run.  This was my 4th Ironman Triathlon, and my goals going into the race were to win my age group and to finish the race in under nine hours.

 

 

Swim 56:49

 

My plan for the swim was to get up in the first row or two, put myself in a good position after half a mile or so, and then find a small group to work with for the remainder of the swim.  With 2200 athletes starting at the same time, you expect to get pushed around a bit.  When the cannon went off, I made it out of the chaos well, with very little contact, but I couldn’t quite find a solid group to work with until I hit the buoy at about a mile into the swim.  Here I was passed by two swimmers who were absolutely rolling.  So I told myself that I would try to stick with them as long as I could comfortably.  It actually turned out perfect for me, as they were moving fast enough where if I lost focus for more than a couple of strokes, I would lose their feet and the subsequent draft they were providing for me.  So several times I had to put out a decent effort to gain back up to them.  By this time there were very few swimmers around us, so I knew I was having a good swim.  When I got out, I was pleasantly surprised to see a big 56 on the clock.  I was thinking a 58 minute non-wetsuit swim would have been great for me.  I was extremely happy that I raced the swim intelligently and made good decisions that led me to a time that was probably a couple of minutes faster than I could have swam on my own.

 

Transition 1

The changing tent was not too busy, so that was definitely a perk.  The volunteers are absolutely fantastic in Ironman races.  After forgetting to put on sunscreen in Kona in 2009, I made sure to spend a little time getting sunscreen before I headed out on my bike.

 

Bike 4:48:43

 

This may shed some light on my ineptness as a bike geek (hey I just like to ride my bike), but I knew that in the morning that when I was getting my bike all set that I couldn’t calibrate my power meter.  There were too many other signals, and my Garmin couldn’t isolate just mine.  So I figured I would calibrate once I headed out on the bike course.  As I mounted my bike and got settled, I tried twice to calibrate the power meter, but both times calibration failed.  So instead of continuing to mess around with it, I decided to just ride old school and forego power feedback.  I felt really smooth on the way out, and with a nice tailwind I was averaging just over 24.5 mph for the first 25 miles of the course.  Fortunately for me, the bike course was eerily similar to riding on two “staple” loops back in Williamsburg.  So I felt right at home, powering away on the small rollers and long, sweeping flatlands.  Around mile 40, I entered Sam Houston National Park, which provided ample shade and some nice forest scenery for about eight miles.  The roads were narrow and twisting, and it was a blast flying through them with that constant tailwind.  I would say that over the first 45 miles there were no real challenges that presented themselves to me.  My nutrition was spot on, I was staying cool, I was keeping a steady cadence, and I was passing those faster swimmers steadily.  It was about at mile 45 that the bike course entered Grimes County.  For the first time, I had to pay attention to the road surface and monitor my efforts on a couple decent climbs.  There was a fair amount of chip seal, which all in all isn’t the worst thing in the world, but the roads were strewn with pothole patches and cracks, and I had to stay mentally alert.  At one point it became clearly evident that I was racing in Texas, as I passed a man standing in the middle of the road creating a barrier between the right side of the lane and a rattlesnake that was chilling out in the middle of the road.

This was also the time where there were fewer and fewer riders up the road to chase down.  I started passing many of the female professionals who had started 10 minutes before me, and even a couple of the male professionals.  At this point, I knew I had to be close to the lead of the amateur race.

I was able to catch up to Robbie Wade, a friend racing in the pro division right around mile 50, and we traded the lead several times over the next 50 miles.  With very few people out on the course, it was very helpful to have someone else of similar ability helping keep the pace honest (especially with no reliable power readings).  We continued to pass other riders up the road every five or six miles, and to my surprise, just about all of them were in my age group.  So even at mile 80 or 90, I was still very unsure about my age group position in the race.

The stretch of road from mile 70 to mile 90 was pretty brutal.  No shade, a decently stiff headwind, and I was still far enough away from the end of the bike that I wasn’t quite getting excited about starting the run yet.  Instead of focusing on negativity during those miles, I tried to focus on those things that I could control.  I kept taking in fluid and stayed right on my nutrition plan.  I got out of the saddle when I could and stretched my legs.  I talked to God.  Once I turned the corner and gained a little cover from the headwind, my legs came around again, and I started feeling much better overall.  Robbie Wade was still within 20 seconds of me, and my average speed hadn’t fallen terribly, so I knew I would be coming off the bike with a new PR assuming I could maintain my effort for the last hour.

The next turning point in the race came around mile 95.  This was the first time I had been passed by a rider all day.  Patrick Schuster, last year’s overall amateur winner at this race, came through and was looking smooth.  Immediately I recognized him, and having done my homework I knew that his strengths were the bike and run.  If I wanted a chance to win the race I needed to stay with him through the end of the bike.  So for the next 10 miles, Wade, Schuster and I traded pacing duties (all legally).  I was able to share a couple of words with him, as he was wondering if there were any other age groupers up ahead as well.  It seemed that both of us were in the dark.

The last part of the course winded through some of the Woodlands neighborhoods, so the crowd support really picked up and helped get the riders through the last five miles.  Schuster and I finished within 10 seconds of one another and entered T2 ready to battle.  My bike time was about 11 minutes faster than my fastest IM bike split, which is a super result that I am very pleased with.  I knew three years ago that I needed to work on my bike, and this showed great progress.

 

Transition 2

Initially my legs felt a bit rough coming off the bike.  My right toe had swollen a little bit in the heat, and had been aggravated by my cycling shoe, so it was a bit tender.  It has happened before in summer training, so I knew I could push through it and run ok.  Other than that, the only other feature I can remember about T2 is that I found out for the first time that we were the first and second amateurs coming in from the bike.  It was on.

 

Run 3:00:29

 

Even though Schuster entered T2 before me, I exited about 10 seconds before he did.  This actually was really crucial for me as it turned out.  I had a tough decision to make.  Do I wait for him to catch up and run with him to help make the first lap or two of the run a bit easier mentally, or do I maintain my own pace and force him to catch up with me?  I decided to find my own pace and go.  If he caught me, then that would be an extra effort he would have to make.  Honestly, the first two miles did not feel good at all.  I was tight from the ride, my right toe was sore, and it was getting hot out.  Very hot.   The run provided a nice mix of shaded trails and open roads, and the open roads were punishing.  The sun was just merciless on those stretches.  So for the first two miles, I tried the sponges and water, but the relief from those cooling sources lasted about five seconds after I passed the aid station.  So starting at mile three, I started pouring ice into my kit and that was much more helpful.  My first mile was 6:38, then 6:49, and 6:46.  I was happy at this pace, and I was staying relaxed and smooth.  The next couple of miles were 6:52, 6:35, 6:42, 6:44.  At the end of each loop there was a nice long out and back, where I was able to get a time gap between me and Schuster.  After the first lap I had 1:10 on him.  So that was comforting that even though I was running smooth and relaxed I was still able to get some breathing room on him.  I stayed pretty consistent through the second lap at 6:50 pace.  I started harboring thoughts that achieving my goals were a realistic possibility at this point.  Even though I didn’t feel stellar, I was receiving positive feedback from people all over the course telling me I looked good and strong.  I guess I have a good poker face!  The second loop was a bit of a blur, I just kept talking to myself between aid stations, and during the aid stations I took as much ice/sponges/Coke/water as I could.  Then I would go back to talking to myself.

At the same turnaround I now had 2:30 on Schuster.

Towards the end of the second loop I started feeling some spasms in my calves.  I wasn’t sure if they were cramp-like spasms, so I started making a better effort of getting in salt.  I dropped off of Coke at the aid stations and focused on getting Perform as much as I could.  I also knew my special needs bag had a flask of EFS drink and a flask of EFS Liquid Shot, which has a massive amount of electrolytes, so I was really looking forward to making it to mile 19 to pick that up.

There’s really no way of getting around it:  the third lap was hell.  I was stuck in my own personal purgatory for about an hour, just praying that the miles would somehow go by faster than they had on the previous two laps.  Running from the front in an Ironman was something I had never experienced before, and it was hard to convince myself that the guys behind me may have been suffering just as much as I was.  The calf twitching was still there from time to time, but the electrolytes seemed to be helping with their frequency.  My overall pace slowed during this lap, but that was mainly due to the fact that I was stopping a bit more at each aid station to make sure that I was keeping cool and hydrated.  I figured at that point, losing an extra 10-15 seconds every mile would be well worth it if I could keep running 6:50-7:00 miles between them.  It seemed much better than blowing up and losing what I had built up.  It was also easier for me mentally to run for a mile and then treat myself to some glorious ice, Coke, and water.  It was like Christmas came six times that lap!

I remember quite a bit from the last mile, primarily because I was re-passed by Caitlin Snow, the 2nd overall female.  I had passed her way back around mile 40 or 45 of the bike ride, and finally she had caught me at mile 25+ on the marathon.  She was absolutely flying.  Having not seen Schuster by the turnaround, I knew I had the amateur title wrapped up.  I also knew I had a sub 9-hour Ironman wrapped up by quite a bit.  So for the last quarter mile, I enjoyed myself, gave a couple high fives to spectators, put a smile on my face, and soaked it in.  I saw my good friend Nick Mathews right at the finish, gave him a huge high five, then crossed the line in a massive 21 minute PR, 8:51:45.  Top amateur, 1st age group 30-34, fastest amateur marathon of the day, and a slot to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.  Couldn’t have been happier.

 

Post-race

I was pretty smashed after this race.  I got a post-race massage and hobbled back to my hotel room. I think I was able to go deeper in this Ironman than in any previously.  Hopefully I’ll be able to take that mental strength and take it to Hawaii in October!

 

Thank you to 3Sports, CORE Fitness, First Endurance, Tori, my family, and all of my friends and training partners for their constant support.

I provide coaching services to triathletes of all skill and experience levels.  If you are interested in my coaching services, email me at adam.otstot@gmail.com

2016 Team Snapple Coach

 

Testimonials:

“With Adam’s help, I have been able to dial in my proper paces and train for great results.  I would have never thought months ago that I would be in this position with my running.  Thank you for all of your help over the past year.  You have really pulled a lot out of me and I truly believe I have some better races ahead of me. ”

–Michael Tooley — First Richmond resident to cross the finish line at the 2013 Richmond Marathon in 2:38:57

 

“I came in to the 2013 Triathlon season a competent age-grouper that could occasionally podium.  By the end of the season I had crushed my Half-Iron PR by 20 minutes, landed on the podium in half my races, and finished my first Iron Man in under 11 hours.  Adam helped me improve my USA Triathlon Score by over 5 points, ranking me 8th in the State of Virginia, 41st in the Mid-Atlantic Region, and 242nd in the nation in the 40-44 Age Group.  Adam’s systematic approach to coaching can make even a seasoned veteran a better athlete.”

— Steve Smith –  2015 Ironman All-World Bronze Medalist

I have been working with Adam for the last two seasons with amazing results.  I sought out a coach to help me with my training plan, reduce some minor injuries that kept cropping up, and to improve my knowledge and overall performance in racing.  After only two months of working together, I achieved one of my goals, placing in my age group in a triathlon.  By the end of that season, I not only met all of my goals, but crushed them.  That trend has continued into this past season as well.

In regards to the training, Adam is open to suggestions and encourages feedback to help modify training when necessary. We meet regularly to review how things are going, discuss lessons learned, and plan on how to best approach the next block of training or coming race.

He has provided me with valuable insight into training and racing as well as is a great sounding board.  Adam has been very helpful in making sure there is balance between family, training and racing.

I truly feel I would not be at the competitive level I have achieved and become an Ironman without Adam.  I have learned one great lesson, trust in Adam’s plan, do the work, ask questions and you will be successful!

— Adam Frager  –  2015 Ironman All-World Bronze Medalist

 

When I met Adam for the first time in August of 2012 I had just returned from my first attempt at a full iron distance at Challenge Roth in Germany. I did not finish! I had a disabling panic attack at the swim start. The first words I said to Adam were, “No more DNF’s for me.”
Over the course of the next 3 years I finished 5th overall woman at PPD Beach to Battleship in 2013, 5th in age group at Ironman Maryland in 2014, and then 2nd in age group and 9th overall woman at Ironman Maryland 2015, where I also secured a spot at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI for 2016.  I also had a 17 min PR for the marathon at Shamrock in Virginia Beach in 2015. (3:35 to 3:18 and 1st in age group!)
There have been several other races and some that I haven’t been as proud of, but I can honestly say that I have learned so much about my body and what it can do thanks to Adam. He creates custom plans for his athletes- if you are willing to commit and do the work it pays off in spades! I would recommend Adam to any athlete looking to improve their performance.

Anna Parker

February 28  Colonial Half Marathon       Williamsburg, VA

March 13      Maritime 8k                              Newport News, VA

March 25    Smithfield Sprint                        Smithfield, VA

April 8         Dismal Swamp Half Marathon      Chesapeake, VA

April 22       Run the DOG 5k                      Williamsburg, VA

May 21         Chattanooga 70.3                   Chattanooga, TN

June 4           Raleigh 70.3                              Raleigh, NC

June  11         Eagleman 70.3                           Cambridge, MD

August 13       Steelhead 70.3                         Benton Harbor, MI

August 19      Luray International              Luray, VA

August 20      Luray Sprint                           Luray, VA

September 10   Ironman 70.3 World Championships        Chattanooga, TN

October 15         Ironman Louisville            Louisville, KY

Awesome swim to start off the day!

Couldn’t get my powermeter to calibrate on race day, but that didn’t stop me from riding a PB 4:48 out on the course.

Fast food

Watching out for rattlesnakes

Through Sam Houston National Forest

Running along the waterway

Sub 9!

For those of you that have followed my season closely, you know that
it hasn’t been the most productive year.  First it was a crash in the
USAT Duathlon Nationals where I sprained my right thumb and had to
wear a hard cast for 2 and a half weeks.  Then it was a severely
sprained right ankle during a pickup basketball game (read: dumb) that
effectively ended anything I had planned for the Summer and early
Fall.  I was to do no swimming, cycling, or running for 4 weeks, and
then even after I could start swimming and cycling on an indoor
trainer, it was another 6 weeks until I could start running again.
So that put me at the beginning of September with 11 weeks til IM AZ
and no running base over the past 2 and a half months.  There were
many days in that time span that I was pretty down on myself, just
laying down all day with my foot propped up, completing Sudoku puzzles
and sleeping, knowing that my fellow competitors were out and about,
building up their base, improving their technique, getting race
experience.

So once my physical therapist gave me the green light to start
running, I made sure that everything I did from waking up til going to
bed helped me to get to the starting line on IM AZ ready to go.  I
normally don’t watch what I eat too much, but over the past 11 weeks,
I cut out refined sugars and ate organic and fresh foods.  I started
getting massage therapy once per week, and I did a much better job of
listening to my body when it needed time to rest.

Somehow I did manage to survive the gauntlet of training from
basically nothing to IM form in 11 weeks.  I traveled with my friends
Brad Smith and Connie Glueck, who were also racing and did all the
normal pre-race check-ins.

Really my only goal for this race was to get a Kona slot.  Pretty much
whatever that took was what I was going to try to accomplish.
Anything else would be icing on the cake.

Swim  55:31

Swim Start

This was my first mass swim start ever, so I didn’t really know what
exactly it was going to be like, but I seeded myself up in the first 3
rows, and when the race started, I got jostled for about 5:00, but
after that I was able to find some space and open up a bit.  I was
hoping to swim right about an hour, and I tried to find fast feet to
hang on to for a majority of the swim.  I found a couple on the way
out, but realized that they were a little too slow and that if I was
going to swim an hour, I needed to move up a bit more.  So I took off
solo for a bit, and at the turnaround, I really lucked out and found 2
swimmers that were absolutely flying.  So I tagged on and they took me
all the way back in.  Coming out of the water and looking at the clock
was a huge confidence booster.  I was 8th in my AG.

Bike  4:59:55
Since I had such a great swim, there weren’t too many people ahead of
me on the bike.  So I set out smooth and relaxed.  The bike course was
pretty much flat, with the exception of a 2 mile incline at the end of
the out and back loop.  The tougher part was the head wind going out,
which wasn’t horrible, but enough to be noticeable.  There were 3
loops on the bike course, and on the second loop, a guy named Chris
Ganter passed me.  I had raced him a couple times before, and I knew
he was a strong cyclist, so I increased my cadence just a bit and
stayed within range of him.  By this time we were passing lapped
riders, so I couldn’t always tell if I was moving up in the overall
standings.  I did know, however, that I was riding just about spot on
to my goal time of 5 hours flat.  The hardest part of the ride was
judging how many electrolytes I needed to take in.  It was so dry out
there that I couldn’t tell how much I was sweating.  My hamstrings
started cramping around mile 85, but once I drank some more Gatorade
and took a shot of EFS liquid those went away fairly quickly.  I came
into transition just under my goal time and 3rd in my AG.

Run 3:11:29
I was very fortunate to have finished within a minute of Ganter on the
bike.  We came out of T2 in virtually the same time, and started the
marathon right there.

Out of T2

 

Since we were acquainted with one another, and
since we were in different age groups (he is 30), we decided to work
together and try to hit 7:15 pace for the first 15 miles and then go
from there.  That didn’t work too well, as we were both running
extremely well.  Effortlessly were rolled through the first 11 miles
in just under 7:00 pace despite really trying to hit 7:10-7:15’s.
Having someone there really helped out.  Eventually those effortless
7:00 miles turned into effort-laden 7:30-7:45 miles, and by mile 20, I
was just trying to hold things together for the last 10k.  We both
know at that point that Kona was a reality.  I was now 2nd in my age
group, and down by 20:00 to the first guy (who had a ridiculously great race),
and Ganter was 3rd in his age group.  At that point, we both decided
that if one of us felt good we could go, otherwise we’d work together
to the end.  At mile 25, we made more or less of a gentleman’s
agreement to finish together since we had basically been racing
together since about mile 50 of the bike, and that’s what we did.

We pulled each other to massive IM PR’s, his was about 30 minutes, mine was 36 minutes.

Overall:  9:12:45
Place:  31st
6th Amateur
2nd Age Group

I took my Kona slot and realized a goal that I’ve had since I saw the
race on NBC back as a teenager.  It has been a long journey in 2008,
and honestly I’m very glad it’s done.  I am really looking forward to
starting fresh, giving my ankle some additional time to heal up this
winter, and starting with a new mental outlook on the season.

This race report would not have been possible without the following:
My family, who cared for me when I was hurt and supported my passions

Ben, Jennifer, Tom and everyone else at 3Sports

Sasha Digges at PEAK Physical Therapy for helping me rehabilitate, get to the starting line in one piece, and for motivating me on those “bad” days.

My roommates for respecting my 9pm bedtime.

Dr. Michael Potter for being honest with me and helping me do what was best in terms of my recovery.

Brad Smith for meeting on those late nights to swim.  Those extra sessions helped out a lot.

I missed a lot of other people, but basically if you know I did the IM, and you’re receiving this email, then you played a big part in
this result.  Thank you.