Friday, September 12, 2008

2008 Ironman Wisconsin


Ironman Wisconsin


53:18 5:32:58 3:30:06 10:04:07 68 18

TOTAL SWIM 2.4 mi. (53:18) 1:24/100m 19 2

TOTAL BIKE 112 mi. (5:32:58) 20.18 mph 94 25

FIRST RUN SEGMENT 13.1 mi. (1:40:58) 7:42/mile
RUN FINISH 13.1 mi. (1:49:08) 8:19/mile
TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi. (3:30:06) 8:01/mile 68 18

T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 2:08

What is possible at your first IM? What do you want to accomplish?

The first question provided me with excitement but the second question kept me grounded. I wanted my first IM race to be a positive experience, to avoid mechanical issues and nutritional problems, or end up physically hurting myself. To that end, I was willing to sacrifice a “Rockstar” first time IM time.

As a result, my race strategy was conservative. My overall “A” goal time was broad on purpose. I wanted to race anywhere between 9:45-10:45. Experience has a lot to do with racing well; I knew that I would make some rookie mistakes on my first try. Therefore, I wanted to keep things light and not put too much pressure on myself. Qualifying for Kona is not a dream of mine rather I seek to reach my potential at any given race. I compete to compete against myself and my enjoyment of racing is from having others helping to push me. Without them, many times I would give up.

I started the swim in the second row behind my training partner Scott Bowe near the starting buoy. The swim out was quick for the first 300 meters and I quickly learned that slowing down would only get you hurt because you have hundreds of people behind you willing to crawl over you. No troubles, I just forged ahead.

Both loops were pretty much the same. I drafted the entire time with the lead pack. I did take a look at my watch at the half-way point and saw 26:xx. Before the final turn, the lead pack started drifting wide so I decided to solo it to the final left turn. It was good move and I cruised nicely into the swim finish for a good time with minimal effort. [HR 165]

I ran slowly up the helix and my plan/trick to watch out for friends and try to acknowledge them worked. I never hit 170 bpm. [HR 164]

I started the bike right behind Craig Lanza, a fellow local triathlete. I rode the first few miles easy and let the heart settle to about 140 bpm. From there things went as expected: I got passed, I got passed some more, and I just continued to get passed. I was not worried about it until Mike Meteyer went flying by me before we hit Verona within the first 15 miles. I expected him to catch me on the second loop after mile 70 somewhere. Well, so be it. I was there to do my own race.

As the race progress, my heart rate was stuck at 145 bpm at the top end of my zone 2. It was a gray place for me. Usually what happens is that after I warm-up, my heart rate settles down and I feel strong at 135-140 bpm range. It never happened. Part of it might be from feeling chilly during the bike. Bike riding in a wet jersey at 8 in the morning would make most people cold, I felt chilly and never broke a sweat until a couple hours in.

I ended up riding the whole ride at 145 bpm and managed to keep it comfortable on the hills, never spiking over 156.

The gels plus water plan worked great. I took a few salt tablets for insurance purposes. The only hiccup was during the second loop, CP to Verona stretch, where I had some stomach trouble. To alleviate the problem, I skipped the next two gel intakes and sipped very little water. Upon reaching Verona, I felt better and was able to catch up on nutrition by the finish. [HR 145]

@40 miles 1:56:45 20.55mph
@83 miles 4:01:34 20.4 mph
83-112 miles 1:29:01 19.54 mph

It went easy. [HR 141]

I left the Monona Terrace Convention Center with plenty of traffic which led to a rookie mistake that I dearly wanted to avoid. For the first two miles, I was running with five other guys, with a few in my age group. Running felt sluggish, but I knew that after 15 minutes I would feel fresh. I kept looking at my watch to make sure I ran that first mile just a hare under 8 minutes, but when I never saw the first mile marker I started getting nervous. The small group that formed around me was not slowing down either. About 20 yards short of the 2-mile marker, my watch read 13:40 (6:50 pace). Not good, so I hit the brakes and trickled across for a time of 14:19. From there I tried my best to run steady in the 7:30 range and my legs finally came around at 18 minutes, two minutes later than I thought. Because I was very concerned about how the first two miles went, I decided to grab a coke at mile 3 and continued to do so at every other aid station. It was fun running through the aid stations and drinking water/coke. It gave me the feeling that I was out there actually doing an IM.

While running those first few miles I was trying to assess the situation. I figured I was in about 150th place starting the run. Mike Meteyer was running really fast way ahead of me, Scott Bowe was next and by the look on their faces and the feeling in my body I knew I was not going to catch them. Furthermore, I knew that I would have to keep the ship together to get a Kona slot. In years past, anything under 10 hours was a guarantee. Last year with perfect conditions, it was the fastest ever qualifying time at 10:04:08. So I forged ahead focused on never stopping and holding an even effort.

In the end, my pace slowed as expected although my effort did not. When I saw that my heart rate was in the mid 130s on loop 2, I conceded mentally and physically to just finishing. I crossed in 10:04:07 happy to finish this epic event.

The truth of my race was handed to me 15 yards after the finish line in the form of a small sticker. It listed my swim, bike, run splits, total time, overall place and finally, age group place. What did not surprise me because I was out there racing, but surely a surprise to my friends and family, was that I took 18th in my age group M30-34. Before the race I knew that I was playing it banker safe much like Ryan Hall and his Olympic Marathon this summer. His game plan was to race safely with consideration for the race field and weather conditions. In the end, he never had a chance. I ended up in the same situation. By playing it safe I met my personal goal of completing the race, but the bonus of receiving a Kona slot would slip through my fingers. I am not bummed in the least. I can find another thirty minutes.

I have never done anything that gave me an enormous sense of personal accomplishment regardless of the outcome. My parents might say otherwise, but I never felt that way when doing well in school or participating in athletics. I suspect that the main reason is that even if I faced insurmountable odds, the process was always fun. Ironman is not fun. After four hours of racing coupled with being passed a lot on the bike, I wanted to quit. I said to myself, “This is not fun. I am not having fun.” I felt that way until I crossed the finish line at 5:04 in the evening. In life I have experienced brief moments of darkness, but with the support of friends and family, my spirits were always lifted. In Ironman I felt hours of grayness and for the first time in my athletic life I had to dig to the bottom of the well to find the fortitude to carry on and finish. The sense of accomplishment I felt a few days after the race made me understand the "meaning" of athletics:

"The most important thing is not to win but to take part!" (the informal Olympic motto)

-- De Coubertin

• Aquaman Kaiman swim goggles; Aquaman Full wetsuit
• PX bike with 50-50 PX wheelset (123 psi); cut water bottle filled with 11 Powergels (sodium added type and caffeine 1x) on seat-tube; short water bottle on downtube; spare tubular with 2 C02 canister taped plus razor blade behind seat; Sunglasses
• Oomph Lava Compression shorts, 2008 TriWi top, Red TriWi visor
• Adidas Supernova 6 (2007 model); Drymax socks (Large)
• Breathe-Right Nasal Strip

• Breakfast: 3 Chocolate Powerbars 3 ¼ hrs before race; 1 Red Bull 8 oz 2 ½ hrs before race
• Bike: 17 PowerGels, Water, Salt Tablets (worked great); Gels every 15; 30; 45 minutes; 2 salt tablets every hr; Water after each gel.
• Run: Alternating water & Gatorade // water & coke; one gel first half marathon and another gel second half marathon; took a few salt tablets for insurance; everything worked great

• Don’t worry about the swim.
• If it’s chilly, bike harder the first hour to break a sweat. Base keep the same, Build change to German style rides (alternating 5 hr hard rides; 3.5 hr hard rides for 6 weeks)
• Remember to not drink anything for the first three miles; however, stop at first two aid stations and dump water over the head to prevent running too fast.

Special Thanks to:
• Adrienne
• Scott Bowe, Michelle Lanoutte
• Planet X & TriWisconsin Triathlon Team
• My family and friends

Matthew Amman 9-12-2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

2008 Camp Stotan

--Scott Bowe on his way to 1st @ SP YMCA Triathlon--

Stevens Point, WI and Cross Plains, WI
7/10-7/13 2008

Matthew J. Amman & Scott Bowe

Originally, Scott Bowe had this idea to put on our own little triathlon training camp in the same style as Gordo’s Epic Camp. Our invite to our friends stated our intentions nicely:

"Mark your calendars, tell your boss, get brave and break the news to your significant other - you're invited to a week of pure triathlon bliss. In the spirit of Gordo's Epic Camp, Matt Amman and Scott Bowe are organizing the first annual Stotan Training Camp.

The camp will take place July 9th, 2008 and end July 13th, 2008 - 5 days of dedicated triathlon training. This week is timed almost perfectly for your largest volume week of training leading up to Ironman Wisconsin. The goal of this week is to simply train and recovery as much as possible away from the distractions of the world."

Well, our idea of swimming 25K, biking 500 miles, and running 60K intimidated everybody and ultimately us too. When the big week finally arrived, we agreed to scale it back. Furthermore, at the last minute, we relocated the camp to the Stevens Point (SP) area because of pristine road conditions and Scott’s nostalgia for SP. Nick Hanson, Scott’s friend and fellow Point swimmer, provided us with accommodations.

Day 1 Wednesday
After heading to SP after work, we managed a short 30-minute run at 7:15 pace. That is it.

Day 2 Thursday

Swam in the morning at the UW-SP pool:
1000 warmup
5 x [75, 125, 150, 200] 300 kick b/w #3 and #4. 15-20 sec rest.

We biked 4 hrs with 1 hr at HIM pace. We both managed to crank with even power at 25 mph; soft-pedaled back home. We ran 30 minutes at 7:30 pace off the bike.

Day 3 Friday
Bike 3.5 hrs with Nick joining us (He is also training for his first IM.) followed by 30 minute run at 7:30 pace.

That night we rendezvoused with Al Boelk, the UW-SP swim coach, at Central Waters brewpub in Amherst, WI. We had a great time. In the midst of conversation, we found out that there was a triathlon in SP the following morning. We were stunned and immediately jumped at the idea of trashing ourselves at the race. Calling it the night, we headed to Starbucks to capture WiFi and look at the race’s website.

Day 4 Saturday - Stevens Point YMCA Lactic Edge Triathlon (500 yd; 18 mile; 5K)
We woke up early to head over to the race and slap down the cash to play. We were going to have fun at this one: no aero helmet, no race wheels, no race running shoes, no race-belt, and no race-top. Heck, we even forgo ‘ed the heart rate monitors.

The swim was in the Wisconsin River. I got the opportunity to wear my new wetsuit. She was tight and a struggle to put on, but performed beautifully. Scott and I screamed out the water 1, 2 a good 25 seconds ahead of the field. Scott had the pleasure of inhaling Harley exhaust and led the bike leg start to finish. It was a tough ride for me. I dropped back a minute from Scott. The run was manageable. I think that both of us where suffering a lot more from general training fatigue than pain the race was attempting to inflicting upon us. At the halfway point, Scott looked strong and I was managing a side-stitch. Meanwhile, two UW-SP runners turned triathletes managed to run me down. Kudos to Scott for hanging on for dear life to win.

1 Scott Bowe 5:39.7 20:11/M 46:34.8 2:29/M 19:16.0 6:13/M 1:11:30.6
2 Christopher Pfaffenroth 6:36.1 23:34/M 48:51.8 2:37/M 16:22.6 5:17/M 1:11:50.7
3 Cory Baumann 8:45.1 31:15/M 46:56.2 2:31/M 16:47.7 5:25/M 1:12:29.1
4 Matt Amman 5:44.3 20:29/M 47:34.4 2:33/M 19:54.5 6:25/M 1:13:13.2

Newspaper Article:
STEVENS POINT JOURNAL July 13, 2008 -- Over 200 athletes braved the windy conditions to compete in the 19th annual Stevens Point Lactic Edge Triathlon at Bukolt Park on Saturday. Participants came from as far as Seattle to go through the grueling combination of a 500 yard swim, 3.1 mile run and 18 mile bike ride, but both the men's and women's winners had ties to Stevens Point. Scott Bowe, a UWSP graduate, finished in one hour, 11 minutes and 30 seconds, while Kimberly Kuphal, a current resident of Stevens Point, completed the race in 1:24:34, to win their respective divisions. Bowe, 28, a Milwaukee resident, has done over 20 triathlons and four Ironman competitions, but never had a first-place finish until Saturday. "A triathlon is more mental than physical," Bowe said. "It's a struggle to keep your body going and keep the intensity up the whole race." Bowe's previous best finish since he started competing in 2003 was 29th in the 2007 Arizona Ironman, which he completed in nine hours and 46 minutes. Kuphal, 38, included swims at the Stevens Point YMCA and biking the Green Circle Trail as parts of her training. Over the last seven years Kuphal has finished around 30 triathlons and she is proudest of her third place finish in the Racine Half Ironman, which she completed in under five hours. "I was battling the wind and waves today," Kuphal said. "The hardest part is finding time to do the training with two children." Kuphal's husband David was the volunteer race director for the Lactic Edge Triathlon. He said that all proceeds from the event will go to the Stevens Point YMCA. Christopher Pfaffenroth, 27, was the second place male finisher with a final time of 1:11:50. Cory Baumann, 22, was third with a time of 1:12:29. The second place female finisher was Kristen Schram, 19, with a time of 1:30:30. Beth Mortenson, 46, placed third with a final time of 1:31:03. Twelve-year-old Thomas Edwards was the youngest competitor this year. The oldest participant was 73-year old John Milbauer who finished in 2:51:16.

After the race, we collected our hardware (imprinted pint glasses) and rode our bikes back to Nick’s house. After hanging out for a while, we packed up the car and drove to Cross Plains to stay with my folks to ride the IM course the next morning. Nick drove down a few hours later to join us.

Day 5 Sunday
We started out at 7 am in Cross Plains. It was a beautiful, sunny morning. Once in Verona on the first loop, we headed to Madison along the stick (the nickname for the section of the IM bike course Madison-Verona). This way we could get the entire 112 miles in. Short of the actually race start, we turned around at Rimrock road to avoid heavy traffic. On the way back to Verona, I started having left leg pain and thought about calling it quits, but at the last minute decided to stick it out. By riding out of the saddle, the muscle-firing pattern was different and disengaged the strained biceps femoris. However, by standing on the pedals, the effort is harder and I ended up surging ahead of Scott and Nick.

The second issue with the ride was the wind. Gusts up to 40 mph tried to break me down, but I refused and slugged my way through for another loop and managed to complete the whole thing. When I got back to the house, Scott and Nick were already there: changed, showered, and ready for brunch. Apparently, they felt tired and only did one loop (plus the stick). Huh! Only the suffering/hurt guy toughs it out.

After brunch with the folks, we headed home to resume our normal lives.

Injury Report:
As of Tuesday, I am officially hurt. The medial strand of my left biceps femoris and left gluteus medius is strained. Prior to the camp, I knew I might be flirting with trouble so I had a massage. It helped a bit. On the car ride to SP, both hamstrings were tight and caused noticeable discomfort. The hard effort on Thursday managed to push me into “hurt something” territory. In refusing to give up during the 1 hr HIM interval, the weak hamstring started to recruit the gluts to pump out the necessary power. Meanwhile, the moderate bilateral hamstring pain progressed to severe pain in the left hamstring and left glut. Somehow, the right hamstring survived. This week is a recovery week. Coupled with another massage today, I expect to be 100% in two weeks.

Final Thoughts:
Camp Stotan was a blast. I could tell Scott was in his element. He really likes the SP area—-many memories for him. I must admit the roads in central Wisconsin are much nicer than any other part of the state that I have ridden. Although we did not post insane S/B/R numbers, I believe what we accomplished was epic for us. Doing a sprint triathlon in the midst of IM training really made the whole thing an adventure.

Matthew Amman

Monday, June 23, 2008

2008 High Cliff Half Ironman

High Cliff Half-Ironman
Sherwood, WI

Matthew J. Amman

Official Time 4:21:39
Swim 25:10
T1 1:05
Bike 2:24:31
T2 1:01
Run 1:29:51

2/431 Overall; 1/36Age Group

Pre Race Thoughts:
This has been a big year for me. I put in a lot of training starting in January. The biggest epic training event was American Triple T race a month ago, but the most recent was a 140-mile bike ride from home to Fond du Lac and back last weekend. Adrienne thought I was nuts for doing it. After that big ride, I knew I needed some recovery and decided to taper heavily (Following the protocol in the book Perfect Distance – days Mon thru Sunday) for High Cliff HIM this weekend. Out of convenience, I had Adrienne taper with me.

Our friends Jim and Erica Gallagher from Cross Plains were doing the race as well so we decided to stay at the same hotel (Country Inn & Suites in Little Chute, WI). The race was Sunday so we drove up mid-day Saturday. Because we registered late, the elite wave was filled-up so they placed me in wave 2. We confirmed our registration and did a light brick workout: 30-minute bike, 15 minute run. Both Adrienne and I felt a little flat during the workout.

My race strategy was different this time around. Based on races in the past, I wanted to avoid the notorious side stitch and decided to heed my friend Kevin Purcell’s advice to race within my fitness level. The game plan was to even-pace the swim and swim very, very comfortably. On the bike, I wanted to ride the first half in zone 3 (155 bpm cap) and depending on I felt, push the second half in zone 4 (160-163 with an absolute cap of 165 bpm). The final three miles of the bike would be easier and spin the legs out, then run the first three miles easy, build into a strong pace and hold it; red-line the last two miles. Finally, I wanted to take in more calories (6 gels on the bike), attempt to get out of my shoes coming into T2, and have good execution.

Friday: Big dinner at Mama Mia’s (pasta primavera)
Saturday: Light breakfast (muffins at Sendik’s)
Lunch at Pot Belly’s (veggie wrap, flavored bottled water)
Dinner at Sport Pub (chicken wrap, diet coke, water)

Race Morning:
I woke up to a beautiful sunny high 50’s Sunday morning at 4:00 am and had my usual 2 Powerbars three hours before the race and 8 oz of Red Bull about 2.5 hours before hand. I got to the race venue shortly before 5:30. Things went smoothly and I warm-up (15-minute bike with pickups, 10-minute run with pickups).

Lake Winnebago was a little wavy, but nowhere as bad as Lake Michigan (at SOR). Wave 1 took off with plenty of fast people in it: Terry Labinski, Craig Lanza, Austin Rameriez, Greg Thompson, among others. Wave 2 took off without a hitch about two minutes later and I led the group out walking/running fast until the water was deep enough to swim. The swim was rather uneventful except that on the final turn, to head back to the beach, it was hard to see. The beach was in the shade making it hard to sight for the swim chute. Relying on the seven or eight people in the wave 1 that were still ahead of me, I managed to finish. I exited the water with Terry Labinski. [HR 168]

I had a quick transition and managed to pass my former Cross Plains Stingrays swimmer and later, assistant swim coach Justin Pernitz on the way out. [HR 171]

The dreaded High Cliff hill was, in my humble opinion, not a big deal in comparison to TTT and mountain bike racing. My heart rate was still high in the 170’s from the quick transition and hill climb, but within a few miles, it was down in low 150s. Terry Labinski slowly passed me around mile four and slowly pulled away. At that point, I rode in 6th place.

After being on the bike 1 hour 15 minutes, I decided to push it and hold the HR steady in the lower 160s. After thirty minutes at that effort, I finally caught a few bikers and at 2 hours, I was within 100 yards of Terry Labinski and eventual race winner Jeff Tarkowski. The last few miles I eased up, something Terry did as well, and spinned back into T2 to loosen the legs up. I rolled into transition in fourth place overall, second if you factor in that I started in wave 2. I rode the last quarter mile out of the shoes—went well.

Nutritionally, I ate my first gel at fifteen minutes and ate another gel every twenty minutes thereafter. I ate six gels total. My fluid intake was approximately 20 oz: 1 bottle of Motortabs (2 tablets), sips of water from the water bottle I picked up at the last aid station. [HR 158]

It was nice to jump off the bike in bare feet and run fast to the bike rack. I put on my Nike Skylons with Drymax socks, put on my visor and race belt, and grabbed two Powergels. I tried to be quick and gain some time on Terry, but he runs without socks so cruised past me while I sitting down putting on my socks. Once I was ready, I hauled ass to exit transition. In doing so, I stumbled a bit on the uneven grassy area and floundered over the exit cones instead of the timing mat. I thought I missed the mat, but I guess I caught it. [HR 156]

Despite the hiccup running out of transition, I managed to be on Terry’s heels (10 yards back). Meanwhile Jeff Tarkowski was on my heels. Scott (Bowe) raced this last year and his insight was helpful. With Terry right in front of me, I was content to see how things would play out and felt comfortable enough to bide my time and out kick him on the last 5K.

After running up the big hill (again not as bad as TTT), the three of us forged ahead through the shady trails of the park. It was a nice run. Short of the first water station, Terry pulled up with a cramp and had to stop. I told him to push through it, but he said he could not. Meanwhile Jeff pulled ahead. Jeff managed to stay 20 yards ahead of me while Greg Thompson was another 20 yards of him. The lead runner was a cyclist who had muscled his way to the front while biking. He cracked before mile 6 on the run. At some point, I had to stop and go to the bathroom (#1). Running and whizzing is something I have not mastered. In stopping, Jeff, who was now running side-by-side with Greg, pulled out of sight. After the pit stop, I tried to bridge the gap but could not. On the long sections, I could see them up ahead and could tell they were pulling away. I managed to dig deep and hold pace. Meanwhile, I ate my first Powergel around 30 minutes and my second shortly before 60 minutes, each time washing them down with H20. In the past, its been hard to keep my heart rate up, but by consuming more calories on the bike, I was able to keep it above 160 for most of it.

With a mile and half to go, I laid it on the line and ran all-out. The final mile is back down the big hill and I gave it everything I had to try to get first or second. In the end, I managed to capture second overall. Jeff Tarkowski at some point pulled away from Greg Thompson to finish with a 4:18. I finished in 4:21, twenty-six seconds ahead of third place. [HR 160]

Post Race:
After crossing the finish line, I broke down. I mean literally broke down. John White along with the race staff was there to help walked me over to a chair to sit down. With a cup of cold water in my hand, I put my head down and began to sob. After four plus hours of intense focus with me smashing my previous personal best, I was physically and emotionally a wreck. It took a while for me to stop, but I felt much better afterwards. After collecting my composure, I chatted with the other finishers, drank some Gatorade and water to finally head over to my race bag and get my jacket. It was time to go find Adrienne who was still out on the course and on her way to incredible HIM time of 5:17 (6th female overall).

Final Thoughts:
Going this fast was a matter of training enough over the last two years and execution based on experience and reading. Those first thirty minutes of the bike are a teaser. Because your legs feel fresh and strong, the natural inclination is to push it. Was a sub 4:25 possible for me, I was not sure. I always thought I could slip under it, but 4:21 really took me by surprise and maybe that is why I was emotional at the end. My performances last year were a hint that something really fast was possible. It is an amazing feeling when “really, fast” actually happens. Zoom. Zoom.

• Brand new Aquaman Kaiman swim goggles; Full wetsuit
• PX bike with 50-50 PX wheelset (123 psi); cut water bottle filled with 6 Powergels (sodium added type) on seat-tube; tall water bottle with 2 tablets of Motortabs on downtube; spare tubular with 1 C02 cannister taped behind seat; Sunglasses
• Oomph Lava Compression shorts, 2008 TriWi top, Red TriWi visor

Things to Remember:
• Training consistently pays dividends
• Bilateral breathing works
• Six gels in a cut-off water bottle worked great, maybe try seven next time

Special Thanks to:
• Adrienne
• Scott Bowe, Michelle Lanoutte
• John White, Gloria West
• Planet X & TriWisconsin Triathlon Team
• My friends who where there (TriWi members, the Gallagher family)

Matthew Amman 6-23-2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

2008 American Triple T

Memorial Day Weekend - American Triple T
Men's Team "The Cheese Stands Alone"
Women's Team "The Mighty Mice"

In the end, after three days and four races totalling an Ironman distance Scott and I ended up fourth in the Team Division just shy of the $. On the flipside, the ladies (Mary and Adrienne) captured first in the Women's Team Division.

Portsmouth, Ohio
5/23-5/25 2008 Memorial Day Weekend

Matthew J. Amman & Scott Bowe – Male Masters Team
Team Name: The Cheese Stands Alone

Official Team Time 12:58:04 4/22 Division
Race 1 47:27 Rank 5/22
Race 2 4:35:45 Rank 4/22
Race 3 2:19:16 Rank 4/22
Race 4 5:15:36 Rank 4/22

Race 1 250 meter swim; 5 mile bike; 1 mile run
Swim 4:50
Bike 11:21 (26.4 mph)
Run 6:09
Total 23:37 18/287 OA

Race 2 1500 meter swim; 40K bike; 10K run
Swim 18:40
Bike 1:13:55 (20.1 mph)
Run 43:23 (6:40 pace)
Total 2:18:06 17/282 OA

Race 3 40K bike (team draft legal); 1500 meter swim; 10K run
Bike 1:09:22 (21.5 mph)
Swim 20:27
Run 46:01 (7:05 pace)
Total 2:19:16 15/275 OA

Race 4 HIM 1.2 mile swim; 56 mile bike (team draft legal); 13.1 run
Swim 28:26
Bike 3:01:14 (18.4 mph)
Run 1:43:07 (7:52 pace)
Total 5:15:36 17/261 OA


Pre Race Thoughts:
Adrienne and I teamed up with Scott and Mary Bowe to compete in the American Triple-T race put on by HFP racing. This was Scott’s third time doing the race and Mary’s second. Adrienne and I were complete newbies. We were looking forward to a weekend of fun and great training. Racing hard was expected, but not the focus.

This is special race because it is a triathlon-touring event with participants competing in four races in three days. For races number three and four, the team divisions can draft on the bike section making it a fun team event. The race venue was Shawnee State Park in Portsmouth near the Ohio River in southeastern Ohio. Scott and I competed in the Male Team division under the name of “The Cheese Stands Alone” while the girls competed in the Women’s Team division with a clever team name of “The Mighty Mice.”

On Friday morning, Adrienne and I got up early at 3:15 AM to head over to the Bowe’s. We finally left Milwaukee shortly before 4 AM. After a couple of stops along the way, we rolled into Shawnee State Park around three in the afternoon. After checking into the lodge, we unloaded our gear and headed over to the race venue… just a short bike ride (down a hill) from the lodge.

Race 1 Super Sprint - Friday Night
After we set up our bikes and put on swim caps and goggles, the overcast skies yielded a light rain. As the crowd tried to stay warm, the race director expelled remarks of caution about the dangerous bike course. With a crazy steep descent and a few nasty turns, wet pavement was going to make things even more dangerous. For the entire weekend, the lake water temperature was 54 degrees. Wetsuits were necessary, or so I thought.

Our race curriculum vitae that we submitted determined our seeding for the weekend. We ended up being numbers 16 and 17. The swim start was time trial style with swimmers leaving every three seconds. I took off first with Scott three seconds behind me. The swim was 250 meters and because it was a short swim, we decided, unlike many others, to forgo wetsuits. The water was chilly but it was the right decision.

The bike course was wet and I biked cautiously. The highlight of the five-mile course was the steep, granny-gear 2.5-mile climb. At the top, we turned around and descended the same hill. At the bottom, we had a sharp right hand turn into transition. Dive-bombing was not the goal, staying upright was. Two people passed me on the bike, but I managed to catch one on the run. I tried to run at top speed but had a right side-stitch for the first quarter mile (a theme for the weekend).

Race 2 Olympic – Saturday morning
Lap one of the swim was good and Scott and I caught the lead people to be in the top five. Lap two we came out top ten. Scott, the faster swimmer, exited the water and transition ahead of me. The swim was a little short. I felt good on the bike and managed to ride the entire course about 1/8 to quarter mile behind Scott. He was moving fast and I felt comfortable sitting behind him within sight. This was a weekend where experience mattered and I figured that it was best to watch and learn. Scott knew what he was doing. The weekend was too long to risk a big mistake (blowing up or missing a hairpin turn).

The bike course had a treacherous downhill known for serious accidents. Last year, Scott’s brother-in-law ended up in the hospital because of the turn. I did a good job being conservative, but on the second little hairpin turn, I turned a bit wide and had to mountain bike it back onto the road….no big deal. Overall, one guy passed me on the bike.

I started the run with another side-stitch for the first two miles. Because I was on Scott’s heels during the bike, he waited for me at the T2 exit, but he took off once I knew the stitch was going to bother me for a while. Scott managed to push ahead while I got the stitch under control and managed to catch back up. Miles 3-6 felt good with sub 7-minute miles. I finished about 30 yards behind Scott and left some in the tank for the PM race.

Mile 1 7:10
2 7:07
3 6:59
4 6:56
5 6:12
6 5:43
.55 3:26

Breakfast three hours before consisting of 2 Powerbars; one hour before Red Bull 6 oz Bike 1 bottle of water and 3 Powergels; Run 1 Powergel and sips of water

Race 3 Team Olympic (Bike-Swim-Run) – Saturday afternoon
This race was awesome! This triathlon started out with a 40K bike race with a time trial start. Immediately out of the chute, we started flying. For the first twenty minutes, I hammered away. It was fun to catch the guys in front of us. Scott was a little worried about the how fast we were roaring down the road. Apparently, his powermeter was telling that we were pushing some big watts. When he acted concerned and implied that we might want to conserve some energy, meaning slow down, I laughed and told him, “No, not until we catch Gordo” Byrn (the Pro and author of Going Long) who was a couple minutes ahead of us. For me I pegged the heart rate at 160-164 bpm (LT zone). After awhile, we found ourselves involved in a show pony race with another team. We passed them; they passed us back and so on. With each pass, the watts/efforts kept going higher and higher. Finally, we decided to stop playing along and settled into a comfortable pace. At the halfway point, we managed to be within a minute of Gordo. I do not know if Scott was happy with me or not, but he seemed excited about our overall placing so far. On the way back, we managed to drop a bunch of riders, including the show pony team, and comfortably cruise back. For me, the hill rides were in the HR zone of 156-159, felt well. This ride was the highlight of the weekend for me.

When we finished the bike, we started the swim. Putting on the wetsuits in T1 proved easier than expected. I used bags for the feet and it worked well. In the water, we passed many people. Again, the swim was a little short.

The swim to run transition was good for me. This was the only time I managed to run fast from the start. Scott started the run a little shaky because of adductor cramps in his legs, but he ended up doing great. I felt good, much better than the AM race.

Mile 1 7:19
2 7:28
3 7:28
4 7:24
5 6:38
6 6:06
.55 3:37

Nutrition: Because lunch was between races, I opted for a liquid lunch forgoing the lunch provided by HFP. Instead, I drank a bottle of Infinit, a couple of cups of HEED. Bike 2 Powergels and water; Run 1 Powergel, sips of HEED and water. Late night dinner at the lodge (pasta primavera).

Race 4 Team HIM
The swim started out good and remained unremarkable. The bike ride was freezing for the first 28 miles (loop 1). Riding in the shade at 8:00 in the morning was tough. I was glad that I put toe-covers on my bike shoes. Unfortunately, I had nutritional problems on the bike. I failed to pack enough Powergels from home and had to rely on Hammer Gels that HFP provided. The big hiccup with Hammer Gels is that they tear poorly when opening. I was unable to open three of them so I ingested only 2 gels on loop one. When we came around to the water/feed station to start loop two, I ended up grabbing two Powergels from somebody else’s stash otherwise I would have been without any gels or food for lap two. In discussing the matter with Scott, he took in over 1000 calories on the bike. On the other hand, I was trying to get by on 500-600. Without “borrowing” the Powergels in transition, things would have gotten ugly with only 250 calories. The second loop went okay, but I could tell I was hungry for most it. Scott felt strong and was nice enough to pull for most of it. I had to sit on his wheel for 85% of that ride. Part of the problem was that my perceived effort was off from fatigue and second, my HRM was not working. With his powermeter, he was able to pace us evenly. Thank goodness.

The run started ugly again because of another terrible side-stitch. Scott seemed worried that I might have to walk a bunch. I was not too worried and figured that after a while it would be gone. The bigger problem was going to be overall fatigue. We pushed hard and I have to thank Scott for his support. In the end, both of us had our moments on the run. Scott managed to get a rock in his shoe that required a stop for Vaseline at an aid station, plus a pit stop.

Mile 1 7:57
2 8:21
3 8:16
4 8:20
5 7:10
6 6:55
7 ?
8 ?
9 8:06
10 8:21
11 8:26
12 7:25
13 7:04


Injury Report:
I showed up at the race with a touch of runner’s knee on the right and a tight right hamstring. Straight-leg-raises over the last five weeks had helped the runner’s knee. For the first three races, I could feel it a bit. On Saturday night before Sunday’s HIM, I noticed the VMO tendon creaking at its insertion point with knee flexion, extension at the runner’s knee location, weird. At dinner, I did my usual 10x10 SLR. Back at the room, I took my coldest ever 20-minute ice bath. Come Sunday, the knee performed great and I had no problems. For the entire weekend, I never had any issues with my notorious left ankle. The hamstring actually loosed up over the weekend. Two days after the event, my muscles felt tired but nothing is tight or hurts.

Final Thoughts:
I walked (slowly) away from the Triple T with mixed emotions. The weekend was a blast up until the run at the HIM on the last day. Digging that deep is reserved for an A race, not a C level race and I was unprepared mentally to do so. It was certainly a learning experience. When looking at the results, I was surprised to see we out split team Bruce Gennari & Craig Evans and team Dan Litwora & Kirk Nelson on the final run. I must admit it made the pain worth it. Recovery from the weekend took a long time for different reasons. Although my body feels tired, it’s not sore or hurt. If anything, my internal chemistry seems off from all the quick food (gels) that I ate.

As for Scott and I as a team, I thought it could not have been any better. We managed to work great together. Although our genetic talents differ a bit, he has better endurance and I have a little more speed, we pushed and pulled each other to a fantastic finish. While we placed fourth and were out of the money (top three got payouts), I think we proved to ourselves again that we are top age-groupers who can push the professionals.

Overall, there are some quick people out there, Gordo Byrn being one of them. In the first two races, Kirk Nelson put on one hell of a show, but he had to ease up for his partner on the last two races. As a competitive age grouper, it was nice to push the big dogs a bit, but the difference in the level of fitness is large. To bridge that gap would require a lucky Wisconsin Lottery ticket granting me early retirement. Until then I am going to keep my day job.

Matthew Amman