Race Report: A Win at TX 70.3

Photo by Nils Nilsen

I’m really happy to have a win on the board for 2013. It took me a bit by surprise. I’d been struggling a little bit with the training in Boulder. Early in the year it was good, but then we got some rough weather and it’s been hard to get all the training in. I raced San Juan a few weeks ago and it was a bit of a disaster so I came back from that and restructured my training to focus more on my swim.

I wanted to get back for another warm race – I don’t like the cold races so much, so TX 70.3 seemed like a good choice. I was a little nervous though because I did this race the first two years they had it and they were two of my worst races ever. The first year I DNF’ed and the second year someone threw tacs on the road and I got a flat, which made for a bad race in the end. I was hoping maybe I’d get lucky the 3rd time around.

The weeks leading into the race I tried to work on my swim a lot. I knew with Will Clark coming across from the ITU, the swim would be fast. I tried to sit with him on the swim and we got a good lead out on the bike with Allen Gardner, who came out of the water first. He was pushing the pace on the bike the first 10-15 miles. After that I took over the lead. I rode thru half way and at the turn around I realized there were 10-15 guys chasing that were only 1 1/2 minutes behind, so I tried to keep the pace high. About half way back, around mile 35-40, Allen dropped off and I was on my own. I knew there were strong guys like BigSexy and Tim Berkel chasing and I didn’t want to get caught with 5 miles ago after working so hard, so I really pushed it the last few miles.

 I managed to finish the bike with a little bit of a lead. I settled in on the run and for some reason it just clicked and I felt good. I really worked mile 3 and mile 7 to extend the gap a little bit. After around 8 miles, I felt like I had enough of a lead and just focused on maintaining my pace. It felt really great get in a win in TX after a few bad years. I really wanted to get back to running fast again after my race in San Juan, so I was really happy to run a 1:12 in that race. I’ve been working pretty hard on my run over the winter and have been doing some long runs at high altitude, so I’m glad to see it paying off. Congrats to Tim Berkel and BigSexy on 2nd and 3rd. It was great to race with you guys.

Also thanks to my sponsors. I have some incredible sponsors and gear helping me out this year and it’s really made a difference.

Podium Finish at Ironman 70.3 Panama

Getting a podium in the 70.3 Pan American Championships is a great way to start the season. I battled hard through the Boulder winter to prepare for this race. The hard work paid off. Congrats to Oscar and Bevan for first and second. The day was a lot tougher than I expected with the heat and the wind, but it gave me a good chance to test out my new Blue bike and Reynolds wheels, which were fantastic. It was the best I’ve felt on the bike in a long time.


Read More in the Wattie Ink Press Relase: Wattie Ink. Athlete Richie Cunningham Rocks the Podium at Ironman 70.3 Panama


2013 Triathlon Race Calendar

I’ve already been asked about my race plans for 2013, so once again, my lovely wife made me a calendar of all the half and olympic distance triathlons she could find. Feel free to print this out for yourself.

***MOST OF THESE DATES ARE BASED OFF OF LAST YEAR and have not been confirmed, so some may be on the wrong weekends or not be on again in 2013.

Remember, you can get a season pass to all Rev3 races for $1200 (and you can share with a friend). More info here.

Race Report: Rev3 Portland – 1st

After getting home late Sunday night, I was looking forward to a couple easy days. However, my slave-driving wife made me finishing digging the entrance to my basement. So I spent 3 days digging holes and moving bricks. I think this smashed me more than the race did.

But anyways, the race. I was excited to get back to Portland this year. I knew Rev3 had changed the bike course – they added 2,500 ft of climbing and I love hilly courses.

I flew in Thursday night with my wife. Lucky for us we have some house guests who were willing to take care of the dog and chickens while we were both gone. Thanks Terra, Pat and Megan! Friday morning I drove the course with Barny. At first it didn’t seem so bad, but half way through we got into the serious hills. I knew this race was going to hurt, but was excited for the hills. They are a lot like the hills I train in in Boulder. It was definitely going to be one of the hardest bike courses I’ve raced on.

Race morning was a little chilly but not enough for a wetsuit swim. I felt pretty crappy the first half of the swim. I was fighting off the breathing problems I’ve been having, but managed to avoid a full blown attack. I felt better the second half of the swim but came out of the water 40 seconds down on the front pack. Coming out of the water, I tripped on the step and banged my knee. What a gumby move. However this made me super angry and I plowed through transition and started hammering the bike. Tripping probably ended up helping me catch back up to the pack.

Barny, who came out in the front of the swim took off on the bike. He had a good 45 seconds on the group in front of me, which included: Brian Fleischmann, Terenzo, Kyle Leto, Andrew Russell, and O’Grady. I managed to catch the group at the start of the hills. Instead of settling in with the group, I decided to bridge up to Barny. I knew if he was able to open up a big lead he’d be extremely hard to catch.  We then held our lead of about 45 seconds through the hills. At the turnaround, with about 6 miles to go, I saw that Jesse and Jordan – two of the big threats in the race were gaining on us. I hadn’t put nearly as much time into them as I thought. That made me angry again. I really didn’t want to start the run with Jesse as he’s one of the best runners in the sport, so I put my head down and smashed the last 6 miles of the bike. It paid off as I managed to get about a minute into them. I have to thank Kestrel that I was able to pull that off.

Going on to the run, I heard that I had about 1:50 on Jesse and about 1:30 on the rest of the guys. After about 4 miles, my wife told me she thought Jesse was at about 1:30, so I knew he was gaining on me. People kept telling me he was there after that but I never got any splits, so I didn’t know how close.  At the turnaround at about 8 miles, Jesse had pulled back a big chunk of time. With about 4 miles to go, I realized he was getting really close, so I put in a hard mile around mile 10. Then I went back to maintaining my pace. Jesse put up a hell of a fight. It was one of the hardest battles I’ve fought in a while, but I managed to hold on for the win. Congrats to Jesse for a great race. It seems to be every time I race him this year it hurts a little bit more.

I’m super excited to get another win in a Rev3 race. The field of athletes is always amazing and I had to fight hard. I couldn’t have done it without my sponsors – Rev3 of course. RecoveryPump is always a huge factor in my training. Also thanks to Kestrel, TYR, PowerBar, Rudy Project, Pearl iZumi and Shimano Pro DI2 for the support and awesome products. And finally, thanks to the Boulder Track club for all the run sessions.

Race Report: Oceanside 70.3 CA – 2nd

Early this winter, I decided to race Oceanside instead of Galveston 70.3 this year. I competed in Oceanside for years as the kickoff to my season. The harder course suited my fitness for this time of the year and I’ve had bad luck in Galveston the last few years, so I decided to give that race a miss this year.

a little bit chilly

No surprise, it was cold in Oceanside. I’ve frozen my butt off many years in the Oceanside harbor and this year did not disappoint. The swim was really cold. Lucky for me, I had my TYR Freak of Nature wetsuit and I managed to come out of the water in 5th place. At that point Andy Potts had a solid 2 minute lead on us.

I guess in California, “a marine layer” really means rain. Luckily I packed my arm warmers, which came in very handy on the bike. Matt Lieto was making fun of me at the start because I kept complaining about the cold and wet, when really I love the hard conditions.

The ride was hard from the start, with Ambrose setting a hard pace early. Just before the big hills, the second group caught up. As soon as the group caught up, Ambrose and Griffo decided to attack. I made the decision to go with them and we managed to put a big gap in the group for about 20 miles, but Lieto and Jesse were able to bridge the gap and come into transition with us. Never have I been so thankful to have Shimano Di2 in a race. I really would have struggled to change gears with my cold fingers if I had normal levers.

I had a really bad transition. My fingers were so cold I couldn’t undo my helmet strap. With the quality of runners heading out of transition and me still struggling with my helmet I had a little panic attack and left my PowerBar gels and run visor behind.

I managed to close the gap to the front group quickly. We all hit the first mile hard, with Ambrose and Griffo pushing the pace. I think we went through the first mile in around 5:10. The next couple of miles, Leon and I kept pushing the pace. Everyone dropped off, apart from Jesse. I knew it was going to be one of the toughest runs of my life with these two quality runners still hanging in. The first 4-5 miles, I really had trouble with my feet still so cold. We managed to pull back about a minute on Andy in the first couple of miles, but he held the time gap around 1:15 for the rest of the race. Around 6 miles, just as I was starting to hurt, Jesse put the hammer down and opened up a large gap on us. Around this point, I was really regretting leaving my nutrition behind. At 7 miles, I managed to grab a PowerBar gel and some Coke at an aid station. I yo-yo’ed off the back of Griffo for another mile. Half way through the 7th mile, I got a little bit angry and decided to pull my head out of my ass and go after Jesse. The next few miles, I realized that I didn’t feel any worse, so I kept trying to lift the pace. At the turnaround, I managed to close a lot of distance between me and Jesse. Still feeling good, I really worked hard on the small hills to catch him. Just before mile 12 I managed to close up to Jesse. In the back of my mind, I was trying to figure out how to beat him as I knew he was an outstanding runner in college. I love sprint finishes. They have always been one of the best parts of the race for me, so I was looking forward to the battle to the finish line. I decided to go straight past Jesse and just run my own pace. Over the next mile, I slowly kept picking it up. It seemed to work as Jesse faded with a couple hundred meters to go and I was able to hold him off for 2nd.

Congrats to Jesse for putting in a good race. He worked hard on the bike, which I think took a bit out of him on the run. Also congrats to Andy. Leading from start to finish is always impressive. I’m really excited to have such a great finish. I’ve been training really hard this winter, especially on the run and I’m happy to see that it’s starting to pay off. Thanks to my sponsors: Rev3, Recovery Pump, Kestrel, TYR, PowerBar, RudyProject, Pearl iZumi and Shimano for their support.

There’s a cool video recap of this race on YouTube. You can check it out here:

Race Report: 3rd at Panama 70.3

I decided to race Panama 70.3 last December to break up my winter training and keep me focused. I knew it would be a hard race as it was South American Champs and had a really good prize purse. As the race got closer, more and more athletes seemed to sign up. Luckily, Boulder had a great January and I was able to get outside and do some good quality training for this race.

Racing Panama was a new experience. Thankfully, the race really looked after me. However, our hotel was downtown and it was hard to get around or go out and train. The week before the race, I got my new 2012 Kestrel 4000 all built up. Unfortunately, being the dumbass that I am, I forgot to pick it up on Saturday, so the bike shop was closed Sunday and Monday. After I picked up my bike on Tuesday, I was hoping to get out on the road, but the weather was super crappy and I was unable to ride. I flew into Panama on Thursday and thought I’d have time to get out for a ride on Friday, but I missed the bus that was transferring everyone to the race course, where was the only safe place to ride. I still wasn’t stressing that much as I still had Saturday to go for a test ride. After getting all my race commitments done on Saturday, I finally found time to go for a ride. I only managed to ride about 5k before I had a mechanical problem with my back wheel. Luckily we didn’t have to rack our bikes until the next morning, so I was able to take it back to the hotel and work on it. I managed to fix the problem and get it working smoothly.

Race morning was nice and warm. I was looking forward to racing in the heat after living in the cold for the last 2 months. It was nice to be in the sun. The swim was really interesting as it was one direction downstream in the Panama Canal. I was a little nervous about the swim as I hadn’t been swimming that great in training and there was a lot of good swimmers in the race. I tried to position myself next to the guys who I thought would be leading the swim out. Matty Reed took out the swim really hard and set a fast pace. After about half way, a small group managed to get away. I just missed the back of that group as I was sitting on the wrong feet. The current was so strong downstream though, that it was hard for them to get much of a gap and most of us stuck together.

It was a long run to transition from the swim exit. I could see Bevan and Rasmus just in front, so I ran the transition hard to close the gap. The first 5k of the bike was really fast. It’s times like this, I’m really grateful for having such a great bike. I’d only ridden it for 5 minutes before the race but it felt like I’ve been riding it all season. After about 5k, Lance and Chris Lieto came to the front. My game plan was to ride with those guys for as long as possible. Luckily, the bike course was very undulating at the start, which really suited me – I was able to push on the hills. I knew Chris would split the group, which ended up happening around 20 miles. With Chris jamming on the front, I think it was Lance’s game plan to tag Chris. He seemed to follow every move Chris made. Rasmus was also riding really strong and managed to bridge the gap across to Lance and Chris. However, I could start to feel the effects of the hard work I had done on the bike early on. So, they started to pull away. Luckily, I had Bevan and Romaine to ride with. We still rode hard and chased for the rest of the bike.

Coming into transition, Lance and Chris had managed to put 3-4 minutes into us. Leaving transition, I ran out with Bevan. I was feeling kind of crappy for the first few miles and Bevan started to run away from me. I could see Rasmus just down the road after 2-3 miles though and I started to feel good and managed to pull back on him. The more into the run I got, the better I felt. Around 8 miles, I managed to pull back Galindez and Lieto. The last few miles of the run got extremely hot. I was hoping that it was going to have a bigger effect on Lance. Unfortunately he managed to stay strong and hold me off. I was happy to run into 3rd place and get another podium at a championship race. Congrats to Bevan and Lance for great races.

Thanks to my sponsors and especially Kestrel for setting me up with such a great bike.

70.3 Asia-Pacific Champs: 2nd

At the start of the year, Phuket wasn’t really on my radar of races to do this year. I was planning on resting this time of the year. With the setback of my broken hip in August though, I didn’t want to be stuck sitting on the couch for the last 4 months of the year. Now that I think about it though, it would have been kind of sweet. That is a lot of Playstation time that I could have gotten in.

After getting a couple of hit outs with Rev3 SC and Austin 70.3, I realized that I could train hard without doing any further damage to my hip. It was great to have Fraser and Barney visiting in Austin to help me keep motivated for training.

I had a bit of a setback at the end of October with the death of my father. I traveled back to Australia to say goodbye and spent 10 days there without a bike or pool. It gave me a little bit of time to focus on my running though.

Damn, if I knew how long the flight was to Phuket, I might have changed my mind. It’s a bitch to get to from America. Once I got to Phuket, it was good to have Chris Legh there as a training partner for the week. I think we spent more time drinking coffee than we did training though.

As we were checking our bikes in the night before the race we had an awesome rain storm come in. Chris certainly made me aware of how slippery the roads were, referring back to my crash in August. Oh the mind games.

However, race morning was sunny and warm. As we lined up for the swim start, I realized how good the field really was, with a lot of great swimmers. I knew I had to swim my ass off to stay in the front group. Luckily we had a beach start, which is my favorite. Phuket swim is a little different than most. After 1400m, you exit the water and run over a nasty little sand dune and re-enter in a fresh water lagoon. Getting into the freshwater is really hard. It feels like you are swimming in concrete after exiting the salt water. Half way along the lagoon, there was a small gap opened between the front group and my group. I was sitting comfortably on Matty Reed’s feed, but the big man put the hammer down and closed the gap, which left me 15 seconds off the back.

The first 10 miles of the bike was very flat and fast and I knew I had to work hard to catch up. At the 15 mile marker there was a walkway overpass where you dismount and run your bike across. I knew if I could be close enough, I could catch up at this point. Up the first climb, I made my way to the front, so I could take advantage of the no passing zone that was coming up on the descent. It was a yellow flag zone for about a mile. This enabled me to take the corners at my own speed and try to avoid another hip break on a wet road. I think a few of the boys were a little pissed at this tactic, but it worked and hey, no one broke their hip. Around the 40 mile mark, the heavens opened and it rained harder than I’ve ever seen it rain in a race before. With all the rain, it made the next climb nearly impossible as everybody had to sit down. At times like that, the Shimano DI2 really shows it’s advantage. There was about 5 miles of descending after the last climb. Paul Ambrose was really hitting these hard. Once I managed to survive the second round of downhills, we came to a point about 5 miles from the finish line where it rained so hard that there was a lake across the road. It was about a foot and a half deep.

I had a bit of a drama in T2 with my transition bag (oh, how I hate these bags). Why can’t be go back to the old school shoes on the ground system? Transition bags suck. The bag got stuck around the peg and I couldn’t get it off. That set me back about 100m from the leaders, which were Raelert, Paul Matthews, Dave Dellow, and Ambrose.

Luckily, the rain had kept the temperatures really low, so I pushed the first mile really hard and managed to catch everyone except for Raelert, who runs like a freak. I felt in control for the next few miles and settled in for a hard race to hold my position.

Thankfully, I managed to hold on for 2nd, which was a great way to finish the end of the season. Unfortunately I think the awards party hurt more than the actual race, but damn we had a good time. I think Chris Legh is still hungover.

I’d like to say thanks to all my sponsors this year, especially Rev3, Recovery Pump, Kestrel, TYR, First Endurance, Rudy Project, and Shimano. You’ve really made a huge difference in my performances.

Ironman 70.3 Triathlon, Providence, Rhode Island

It was great to actually be able to drive to a race. The triathlon ended up having a really strong field. The swim was a normal swim. Leaving transition, Paul Ambrose put the gas down straight away and rode extremely strong all the way to the front group. With a tailwind, the pace was high. Once Oscar Galindez caught up, the pack split. After 4 weeks of feeling down, it was good to finally feel better on the bike. Coming into transition, I was just over 2 minutes down on Oscar and Paul. I started to chase hard to pull back as much time as I could early. I was feeling pretty good until I hit the hill. Once over the top, I found my rhythm and set off chasing the leaders again. I was feeling pretty good and then another unexpected wall hit me:

This wall included a hood, windscreen, and some asphalt on my ass. I didn’t realize that steeple chase was part of the race course. I tried to jump over the car before it hit me. I avoided getting run over but still ended up ass first into the windscreen.

Once I picked myself up off of the ground I was still able to think clearly and just wanted to get back into the race, but my legs didn’t seem to want to cooperate and were all wobbly. After a few hundred meters, I regained control of them and set off after the leaders again. I managed to fight my way to second place. Crossing the finish line, I went straight to the medical tent to get the rest of the glass plucked off my butt and back. Overall, I enjoyed the race and the tough course, minus the obstacles.