IMTX 2014

Ironman Texas has become the primary focus of my early season since it started in 2011. Each year has been a unique experience and this one was no different. In the spirit of "a picture is worth a thousand words" and all that jazz, let's go through the day.

Last year, while preparing for IMTX in Boulder, I was served up with endless amounts of this:

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In 2013, every week from the end of March to the beginning of May saw a snowstorm.

Then when we all showed up to race in the Woodlands, we were greeted with this:

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This year was an entirely different story. While we still had plenty of cooler weather, and some snow, in Boulder, it was a much more reasonable spring. Additionally, the weather in Texas stayed away from the extremes. Instead of racing on the surface of the sun, we were greeted with reasonably warm temperatures in the mid 80s and a lake that was even cool enough for wetsuits. Night and day from 2013 and closer to what we experienced in the first couple years.

Every year, Voler Apparel and I design a custom racing kit to use for IMTX. This year I paid tribute to my hometown of Houston by having the city's skyline on my back:

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And my gear:

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I seem to be lacking any photos from the swim, but it was mostly uneventful. I came out with a fairly large group around the 52-minute mark.

On to the bike:

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(Photo Credit: Sherry Daerr)

I spent the first half of the bike with a few other athletes, but shortly after the halfway point things started to break up and the back half was mostly solo. The wind direction at IMTX is typically favorable on the way out and a headwind on the way back. This year was no different, and while not too crazy, the constant breeze in my face was a bit tiring.

I'm not sure of the order, but some shots from the bike:

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(Photo credit: Corey Oliver)

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(Photo credit: Sherry Daerr)

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(Photo Credit: Lars Finanger)

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(Photo Credit: Sherry Daerr)

I started the run in 7th place and did not make any position changes until the beginning of the second lap when I moved into 6th. I held this position until somewhere around mile 16 when I moved into 5th and by the end of lap two I was running in 4th. At this time, I was not sure if any more positions could be gained, but in the first three years of the race the following has happened:

2011: Moved from 8th to 7th in the final 10K

2012: Moved from 4th to 3rd inside the final 10K, and from 3rd to 2nd in the final mile.

2013: Went the other direction. Went from 2nd to 3rd in last 10K, and from 3rd to 4th in last 3 miles.

This year was no different. In the final mile of the race I made the move into 3rd and finished just inside the podium. I was very happy to get back on the podium after finishing one spot off of it last year.

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(Photo Credit: Corey Oliver)

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Small detail of the next photo: I never run with a backwards hat, but we had some gusty winds on the run course that kept blowing it off my head.

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(Photo Credit: Corey Oliver)

The following photo was snapped with my wife, Brooke, just as I crossed the finish line.

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(Photo Credit: Sherry Daerr)

Last year, Brooke and I began a campaign to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. My father was severely wounded in Vietnam in 1967 and this charity and it's cause mean a lot to me. Last year we raised more than $5000 by the time I raced IMTX. This year we set a goal of raising $7500 by race day. We managed to surpass that goal and made a new goal of $10,000 which we also passed by the time I toed the line. Thank you to everyone who donated and for supporting our wounded veterans and their families.

My father in 1967, at the age of 23:

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Our fundraising goal of $10,000 and the final amount:

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See you all there next year,

Justin

Photo Credits:

Sherry Daerr www.petportraitsbysherryd.com

Corey Oliver www.brittanilouise.com

Lars Finanger www.valhallasportsgroup.com

Wildflower

I made a trip out to California last weekend to race the legendary Wildflower triathlon. When I first started the sport I always wanted to do this race, but for whatever reason I never made it out west in May. I was a bit concerned that the drought would turn this race into a duathlon (or bike/run TT), but Tri-Cal did a nice job of finding a way to make the event work, even with a lake sitting at 4% capacity.

They turned the event into a swim/run/bike/run event in order to access the one area of the lake that still has water in it. It also included a pretty epic T1(A) to get to the start of the first run (Pic below). We then ran a challenging couple miles along the sandy lake bed before making our way up another steep boat ramp into T1(B). From there we rode the normal bike course and another 11 miles of the standard run course (a modification near the end took out "the pit.")

T1

The swim and first run went relatively well. I swam with a good group, ran up the steep hill, then ran what felt like a controlled tempo through the first run. The sand and terrain made it fairly challenging, but I like run courses that don't particularly favor even pacing.

The bike course is a mixed bag: It is hilly to start (good climb at mile 3 of the course), then it eventually makes its way across a fairly flat, to rolling, valley, before sending you through a series of climbs in the final 15 miles. I rode through the first climbs fairly well, lost a bit of time on the flats, then rode a little better again when we hit the final climbs.

The final run of the day was ~11 miles and incorporated most of the run course, while excluding "the pit." I had heard that this course was tough and it was/is. After a couple rolling miles you make your way onto the trails and for several miles it seems like you only run uphill. The climb during, what would normally be, mile 7 of the run course is particularly challenging; it has the type of gradient that makes you debate whether walking (or sitting down) would make more sense.

Without having done this race before, I couldn't really get a sense of whether I was running ok or not and I spent the majority of the run in no man's land, not seeing anyone in front of me or behind me. Ultimately, I didn't change position after the first couple miles and I finished the run in 5th place; I actually believed I was several more positions back so it was a welcomed surprise.

The first race of the season can always be a bit of a shock so I was glad that things turned out well on the day.

I also got to check out Jeffrey's in San Mateo the next day...

Until next time WF...

See you in Texas in two weeks,

Justin

Wounded Warrior Project

LT Richard Daerr in Sept 1967

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On May 26th, 1967 my father, 2nd Lt. Richard Daerr, was severely injured in Vietnam following the detonation of a mine. Following the explosion, Richard had lost sight in both of his eyes (one permanent, one temporary) and had to feel around to find a radio to call in for support.

After being transported out of the hot zone, he was eventually sent to a hospital ship and then on to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. What had originally been planned as a short layover turned into a longer one as he had several surgeries following numerous complications.

Finally, after a few weeks, we was able to be transported back to the U.S. and was sent to a hospital at Carswell AFB in Ft, Worth Texas. He was treated at the Carswell Hospital from June 1967 until March 1968 when he was transferred to the Naval Hospital at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The picture that accompanies this post shows Richard posing with a nurse from the United Way in September 1967, less than one month after his 23rd birthday.

In June of 1967, Richard's Company Commander, Captain Troy T. Shirley, wrote to Richard's sister, my Aunt Missy, with the following transcript:

"I am thankful that (Richard) is still alive. From the initial blast of the claymore I had my doubts. It was a real blow to all of us when it occurred… …(Richard) did an excellent to outstanding job for me and was my best platoon leader. I placed him in the hot spots because I knew that he would 'carry the ball.' He always did his very best. You should be proud of him. His men and brother officers are."

I had never seen the written transcript above until a few days ago when my mother sent it to me. It was an emotional moment for me to say the least.

Many great men and women sacrifice so much for us in the service of our country. This is the second year I have joined efforts with the Wounded Warrior Project to help raise money for our wounded veterans.

You can help by making a donation through the following link:

https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/individual-fundraising/imtxjdaerr

Thank you for your continued support,

Justin

March Recap

The past month has come and gone and has been (positively) uneventful. The first two months of the year included a triathlon clinic and camp which took up a fair amount of my time and focus. Since the completion of the Tucson camp I've been able to string together a nice month of consistent training. I hit a few valleys as I adjusted to the bigger loads, but generally speaking I was pleased with the week-to-week progression. Last week I entered Wildflower and will be racing there on the first weekend of May prior to Ironman Texas. I had been a bit concerned that the race might turn into a duathlon because of the extreme California drought, but it looks as though they have been able to string together a modified course of a 1.2 mile swim/2 mile run/56 mile bike/11 mile run. While this will be a variation of the traditional course, I'm still looking forward to attending a race I've wanted to enter since I started racing. Should be fun.

Additionally, I'll be racing the Platte River Half Marathon this weekend (in Denver) to get my racing legs going again.

Outside of that, there aren't too many new announcements. My Wounded Warrior Project fundraising has reached over $3000.00 and we are almost halfway to our goal of $7500.00 by May 17. If you would like to donate, please click HERE.

-j

My Dad, the MS150 and the Wounded Warrior Project

ms150 My father, Richard, sustained a variety of severe injuries in Vietnam, the worst of which resulted in one of his ankles becoming fused in a fixed position. He is essentially walking on his tippy toes at all times, making the basic functions of standing and walking very painful and the medium of running nearly impossible.

However, riding a bike, with some adjustments (no cleats, for example), could be done and when I was in high school he began to take on riding as a daily activity. His enjoyment of cycling was contagious and I eventually started riding (sporadically) as well. Some time during my senior year I asked him if he wanted to do a two-day charity ride from Houston to Austin: the annual MS150.

He was up for the challenge and we both developed separate training plans. His involved things like workouts and long rides, while mine primarily involved nonchalance and overconfidence. He would do these 70-80 mile rides on the Braes Bayou bike path in Houston which seems amazing boring in hindsight.

Eventually the moment of truth came and we set off on one oddly cold April morning for Austin. I found myself repeatedly getting dropped by father; didn't seem to matter that he wore baggy shorts and tennis shoes. When you can ride, you can ride.

However, he would always look back and let me catch up at the appropriate times. He even sat patiently about 5 miles from the finish line as I pounded cookies while learning about bonking the hard way.

I always look back on that weekend with a smile. My dad taught me a lot of lessons without any intentions of even doing so.

This year I am honoring my Dad by helping to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project in conjunction with Ironman Texas in May. Please consider donating (link below) to this great cause that helps many wounded veterans in their new chapter in life.

https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/individual-fundraising/imtxjdaerr

Thank you,

J

January Recap

The first month of the year has rolled by rather quickly. After taking the majority of December off, I started to train a bit and have slowly worked my way into a bit of a rhythm. Since I chose to forego any early season racing, I've been able to build up very slowly which has been conducive to the real winter we've been experiencing this year. Boulder has had a few warm stretches in Dec+Jan, but it's currently snowing and 15 degrees so it has also been experiencing the other end of the spectrum. As such, I've placed a little more emphasis of running, swimming and strength training; cycling has been used in a short bouts while having to be done exclusively indoors. Hopefully, we'll come into some slightly better riding weather when March roles around.

The last weekend in January saw a trip down to the DFW area (north Plano) to work with the DFW Tri Club and Tri Shop. Endurance Corner and DFWTri combined their efforts to put together a 1.5 day long triathlon clinic covering a wide variety of topics. Even though I was there to present, I also learned a lot from all the presenting coaches and from Trent Nix (owner of Tri Shop). If you are in the DFW area, I would highly recommend checking out both of the aforementioned club and shop.

In just over two weeks, I'll be traveling down to Tucson for the 7th annual EC Tucson Camp. If you are as tired of winter as I am (in Feb), then come join us for some warm weather and outdoor riding:

Endurance Corner Tucson Camp

One final note: Just prior to leaving for Texas, I hosted a webinar with Alan Couzens about Season Benchmarking. It was an unadvertised webinar, but we made a podcast recording and posted the PowerPoint presentation on the EC site for people to view. Check it out:

Alan Couzens: Season Benchmarking

All for now; I'll check back in a couple weeks.

-j

Year End Update

Four weeks have passed since IM Cozumel and it's finally time to start looking toward 2014. This month involved three weeks off and about an hour of exercise/day for the past week. I don't always take that many days entirely off, but it felt like a real necessity after this season, particularly with the stacked IMs at the end the year. It took until the third week to feel really tired which makes me glad I opted to take this month off for the most part. This past season I opted to race very early with Panama and Puerto Rico, neither of which went well, though it was for entirely different reasons (Panama = out of shape, PR = sick with a cold). This next year I will approach the early season a bit differently and won't do any short races before IM Texas until I feel like my race prep requires it (I do like to race before I RACE, if possible). Ideally, that time frame will fall around Galveston or Puerto Rico, but I'll wait to see how it all plays out first.

The first couple months of the year will include a couple non-racing events with Endurance Corner.

The first will include the Texas Triathlon Clinic in Plano, Texas. We have put together a series of presentations (and instructional/moving sessions) from David Bertrand (Ex Phys Dude, coach, etc), Ron Tribendis (EC Coach, Chiro), Harold Wilson (PT, Strength and conditioning coach, tri coach), Lyndsi Bieging (tri coach), and me. If you are in the DFW area, I would really encourage you to come out and attend this event. Registration is only $189 through Dec 31 ($199 after that) and there will be a ton of valuable information from all of these folks.

Dates: Jan 24-26 (core of the clinic on Saturday and Sunday, the 25th+26th)

Location: Tri Shop in Plano, Texas

REGISTER HERE

GET MORE INFO HERE

The second event I'll be taking part in is the Endurance Corner Tucson Camp. This a week-long all inclusive training camp in Tucson that I have been involved in since 2008. This is a high volume, cycling emphasized, training camp that falls at just the right time of year. It's far enough from the new year for you to start getting moving again (myself included) and far enough into the season that it can be specific to your raining and training needs for 2014. This camp has great riding, great weather, and most importantly, great people. Come join us this spring:

Dates: February 23rd to March 2nd

Location: Tucson, Arizona

REGISTER HERE

GET MORE INFO HERE

Happy New Year!

-J

Ironman Cozumel

The last time I raced Ironman Cozumel (2010), things did not end well. I ate or drank something that (I guess) I shouldn't have and ended up so sick I could not finish the marathon. Not pretty.

Fast forward to 2013 and I had a new set of challenges.

A few weeks prior to racing Cozumel, I raced Ironman Florida. It was going to be a quick 29-day turnaround between Ironman events, which was the quickest turnaround I have ever done. I wasn't sure what to expect and a couple weeks after the first event I wasn't so sure about my decision. But in the third week post-FL I started to feel better and my training improved considerably. On Monday before the race I even told my coach that I honestly felt better than I had felt going into Florida. I thought I might have just pulled off the right balance of training and rest between the two events.

Then, that night came. Apparently I jinxed the crap out of myself as I spent the entire night coughing non-stop.

Not good.

Nevertheless, I knew I still had almost a week to improve so I still had some faith.

Well,I didn't improve much at all by the time I had to fly out on Thursday, but I still hoped to feel better. My first morning in Mexico (Friday), I felt even worse than I felt all week. And it was at this point that I honestly felt there was no way I was going to make the start line. When I made the walk from the hotel to the ferry (about a mile), I had to sit down and rest as I felt I was on the verge of passing out.

Not good.

I woke up the day before the race and I was still feeling incredibly lousy. Brooke and I sat around our hotel room as I debated whether it was even worth it to go check in my bike. My primary concern was how I was going to get my bike out of T1 in the morning instead of actually thinking about the race the next day.

Finally around noon, I made the decision to spin over (massive tailwind from the hotel to T1) which was the only ride I had done all week.

I went to bed that night fully expecting to be up all night with a cold, but suddenly my cough seemed to stop and by 4:00 a.m. I seemed to actually have most of the cold out of my system. I felt very tired and wiped out, but I no longer felt sick. Kind of amazing really. At the very least, I was now going to do the swim and ride one loop (of three) of the bike and see how I felt.

All week long Cozumel had been experiencing crazy winds and storms, making the ocean too rough to swim in and the currents very strong. As a result they changed the swim from 3.8 to 3.1K and made it down current. Cozumel has my favorite kind of swim conditions: clear, salt water and non-wetsuit. However, after not swimming all week I wasn't too sure how it would go.

After the gun went off I figured I would be dropped quickly, but I just kept trucking along and eventually I realized I had just made the tail end of the front group (aside from two dudes off the front). I wouldn't say the swim was easy, but it did feel manageable, but as the end of it neared (only 34 minutes with this course), I could tell I was pretty gassed from the effort. I stood up to run to transition and I felt WORKED.

I got on the bike and while there was about to be a huge group forming, I decided the best decision would be to do the bike well within myself if I wanted a chance to finish the race. The guys disappeared in a heart beat and aside from a couple other pros (including Weiss) passing me, I spent most the ride riding along by myself. The east side of the island was very windy and that section required me to ride with more focus, but the rest of the way I tried to keep things very moderate.

I came off the bike way, way down. Maybe 20 minutes off the lead? It's hard to know because I lost my timing chip in the swim and I didn't use a Garmin or computer on the bike. However, I started the run in the 11th so I thought maybe I could sneak my way into one of the last money spots (paid to 8th) if I just kept plugging away.

I moved into 9th place fairly early into the first loop (of 3) of the run (maybe within 4 miles), but from there I had quite a distance to 8th. As I came back into town Brooke told me I was 5 minutes out of 8th which seemed really, really (really) far. I kept things ticking over to the halfway point, but then I really started to tire out and I figured my day was probably over.

But as I made my way back into town at the end of the second loop, the gap to 8th had gone down to 45 seconds and at the mile 18 marker I moved into 8th. I got a huge second wind as I finally felt like I had something to run for again. Just finishing this race was going to be a huge victory for me, but finishing it with some money in my pocket was a much, much bigger motivator at that point.

I made it to the turnaround and as I moved back into town and into the final mile I could see 7th place and with less than half a mile I caught and passed him. I was super excited to get that final pass and as I came into the finish chute I was given more good news as I was apparently in 6th place, and not 7th, as I unknowingly passed someone else in that final lap.

Given the fact that 5th place was another 7 minutes ahead of me, I can safely say that I got everything out of my body that was possible that day. While there have been much faster days in my past, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing I did everything I could from start to finish on Sunday.

That's it for this season. A lot of new experiences came out of 2013 and I look forward to getting back into action next year.

The first stop in 2014 will be at the Texas Triathlon Clinic on January 24-26 in Plano, Texas. Please come join me if you can.

-j

Ironman Florida

Ironman Florida. There is no other Ironman, or race, that I have done more than this one. Over the last ten years, I have taken part in seven of them. In 2003 and 2005 I raced as an age grouper; then I raced there professionally in PCB in 2006,07,09,11,13.

My results from the years have included:

2003: 9:20 (first in M18-24)

2005: 8:57 (first in M18-24) and 8th overall

2006: Can't quite remember; 9:05 maybe? and just inside top 20.

2007: 8:40; 10th Overall

2009: 8:48?; again can't quite remember; inside top 15; blew up hard in the middle of the run. I remember that.

2011: 8:18:02; 3rd Overall

2013: 8:13:35; 9th Overall

The last two races I've done have incorporated the new bike course; it still includes much of the original course; though it has some differences. The overall road conditions have also improved over the years.

The run course has remained largely the same with minor differences in turnarounds over the years.

The swim has always remained the same and the only variance has been the calmness (or lack thereof) of the ocean.

This year's race wasn't part of my overall plan for the season. I ended up toeing the line as a result of my DNF in Tahoe six weeks beforehand. This year's race had a combination of fast conditions and deep field producing the fastest Ironman in North American history. All three podium finishers broke 8 hours and the fastest bike split was 4:02:xx and the fastest marathon was 2:37:xx.

That's really fast. Even in really fast conditions, that is really fast.

8:13:35 is a new personal best IM finish for me, but I didn't feel as though it was a personal best performance primarily because I faded pretty heavily in the last ~8 miles of the run. I came off the bike in 12th, spent most of the run in 8th (short stint in 7th), and ultimately finished in 9th. I did my best to try and move up on the run, but couldn't close it out like I had hoped.

At any rate, I always tell people to never be disappointed in improvement, and so I'll happily walk away with a new PR and get ready to race again another day.

-j

Ironman Lake Tahoe

If you followed the race online or if you follow me on twitter, you know that I didn't finish the race on Sunday. I was able to start the ride on Sunday, but I was having mechanical issues from the very beginning. It's crazy to think anything was wrong as I didn't have any problems in the pre-race rides on Friday and Saturday. I made it around 35-40 miles into the first loop before having to call it a day. I have never had to drop out of a race because of a mechanical, regardless of distance. I have had several flat tires over the years, but nothing else that wasn't fixable on the side of the road.

It's never fun to have to drop out of race, particularly because I don't race with high frequency. I like to focus on a few events and put in a lot of specific work for them. In July I spent a week in Lake Tahoe training on the course and really got excited about racing this event. I felt it would definitely be a race where the strongest athletes would prevail.

However, I will have to give it a shot another year.

I do hope the race continues to exist as it is, because it is a fantastic course and venue. I could see the race moving forward a week or two in hopes of slightly warmer weather, but I hope that everything else can remain the same. I'd like to be able to return to take on this challenge one more time.

-j

Coming Up For Air

The rain has rolled into Boulder at just the right time. Yesterday finished off my last long block of training prior to Tahoe (though I think my body decided it had had enough the day prior). This final build has gone pretty well and I was able to get through the majority of my training without issue. Each time I was given an easy day (or two) I was quite tired, so it seems as if we timed the loading/unloading appropriately. Now I'm moving into my taper before the race and backing off some of the overall volume and intensity. Cliff and I have done 7 IMs together and we seem to have found a pretty good balance of work to do in the final couple weeks. While I like to to switch up certain aspects of training prior to a race, I like to keep the final week or two consistent from event to event (if I can).

A couple weeks ago the Rim Fire in California was causing some major air quality issues in the Lake Tahoe region. Even though the fire was pretty far to the south, the size (250K+ acres) and the wind (southerly) was causing the air to be really bad. During the Four Mile Fire in Boulder in 2010, we had similar issues. On some mornings, you could barely see more than a few 100 meters and layers of ash would form outside on our balcony. It seems as tough the Lake Tahoe area was experiencing the same thing.

Fortunately, it looks as though the firefighters in California have been able to get the fire close to 100% containment and the air quality has improved considerably. I think the race could have been in jeopardy if it was taking place a couple weekends ago, but (fingers crossed) it seems as though that threat has diminished to almost zero.

I'll check back in again before the race. Be sure to watch Texas A&M vs. Alabama this weekend!

-j

Tahoe Prep Update

Following Boulder 70.3, and a lighter regroup week, I've started to focus in on IM Tahoe on September 22nd. Prior to Boulder 70.3, I traveled out to Lake Tahoe to do some training and course recon. One of the nice things about traveling out to a race venue to train is that you actually have some time to enjoy the location. Even though I had some solid training sessions, I was still able to stop and have a look around from time to time. I had never been to the Lake Tahoe area before and I mostly knew it as a ski/snowboard destination. Back in my winter sports days, I would dream about going west and riding in Squaw, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Northstar and all the other resorts peppered throughout the Sierras. I had similar dreams about Queenstown, NZ and the surrounding resorts.

And yet, I've found myself in both locations in the summer and for entirely different reasons. Maybe one day I can return for other reasons, but for now, it's for racing.

Anyway...

Since starting the recent training block, Cliff and I have been incorporating plenty of climbing on the bike and some high altitude running. If you look on my homepage, you can find my strava account which has some of the sessions I have been doing. It doesn't have all of them, particularly with running, since I do most runs without a Garmin, but you can still have a look at some of the work I have been doing.

One day/week, I have been heading out on my road bike to do some steeper climbing with a lot of dirt roads. It often makes me think about the sessions Brad Kearns would do out of Auburn, Ca in the 1990s. I remember reading his book "Can you make a living doing that?" in college where he talked about his weekly 'death ride' as being a core part of his training. It was a Tuesday (I think( workout where they rode around 200K (I think) and got in 20,000 feet of climbing (I think). I don't approach those numbers on my Tuesday rides, but I like the sentiment of putting together challenging routes that only require showing up to gain the benefit from them.

Another session I've done a couple times this year is running an out-and-back on a dirt road from Rollinsville, Co that dead ends next to a railroad tunnel (built in the 1920s). The elevation starts around 8500 feet and gradually climbs over 8 miles to 9250 feet or so (about 16 miles in total distance). I like to call this route the "New Magnolia" as it seems to be the new high altitude running hot spot on the weekends, replacing Magnolia Road or 'Mags." I suspect that the appeal of the Rollinsvillle run is that the terrain is much easier than Mags, which may or may not be a good thing when running up there. Regardless of which route has a superior benefit, they are both really nice places to run, particularly when it's warming up in the valley below. However, I could do without the headwinds I have been getting up there...

I'm closing in the final couple weeks of training, and while no build is ever perfect, the workouts and fitness have been trending in the right direction. This weekend I'll get a chance to race a 2.4 mile open water swim in the Boulder Reservoir and I might race a short sprint tri the following weekend to get me in the racing spirit.

-j