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Team Aquaphor - Chicago

Team Aquaphor is comprised of top-age group athletes who primarily compete in the sports of triathlon and running. These athletes were chosen based on their dedication and passion for their sport as well as their knowledge, experience, and love for Aquaphor products.

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Once again, I trained hard until a few days before the race as I was still trying to see how much I could do and still push hard in a race.  I didn't get much sleep the week before, because I was packing up to move from Wisconsin to Montana a couple days after the race.  A little drama at my house in Wisconsin I'm renting out (well pump went out and tenant's didn't have any water) the night before didn't help either.  I didn't get to bed until midnight Friday and the 4 am alarm hurt, but I felt pretty good after I got some coffee in me.  All in all, I was just really happy to get the start line.  With everything going on, I was happy with the opportunity to be able to concentrate on nothing but a race for 4-5 hours.  My wave didn't go off for about two hours after the 1st wave, so I had some time to relax, drink an extra cup of coffee and get a good warm-up in.  My goal for the race was to go under 4:20:00.

 

 

Swim: We had to walk a mile to the start line and when I got there and started warming up, I realized I grabbed the wrong pair of goggles.  The seal over my left eye leaked badly, and it was completely filled with water for the entire swim.  I had a little trouble sighting, but I don't think it really affected my swim time as much as me being a mediocre swimmer did.  In any event, it was a positive swim for me.  I got out of the water in 28:50, which was my first half IM swim under 30 minutes.  I got into transition at 30:30 after the looooong uphill beach run.

 

 

Bike: My goal here was to get to the front of my age group by the end of the bike.  I knew the better swimmers had 6+ minutes on me, so I had my work cut out for me.  The wind was vicious, so I just tucked in and rode hard.  I ended up getting to the front of my wave by about mile 50, had the fastest amatuer bike split of the day by 2+ minutes, and averaged 275 Watts for the ride.  I was happy with this ride because the wind was getting stronger as the day went on.  I was in the second-last wave so I had about the worst of it to deal with, and my legs were still strong near the end.  It's always nice to come into T2 with completely empty racks.

 

 

Run:  I needed to run a 1:29 to hit my overall race goal, which I'm capable of doing.  My legs felt decent at the start.  I did the first four miles in 6:30 - 6:35 pace, but that's when all the training and racing I've been doing really set in.  No matter how hard I pushed after that, I just couldn't run a sub-7 mile.  I got passed a couple times after mile 6 and a guy in my age group from the wave after also got by me on the run.  I held on for a 1:33 run and 4:24 overall.  That was good for 4th in my age group, 9th amatuer, 24th overall, and a spot at the 70.3 World Championship, which I had to pass on.  I'm broke!  I had a great time at the race, though.  I traveled with some new friends from Team Gear Grinder out of the Milwaukee area, and that really made the weekend.

 

 

After the race, I realized a couple things.  I need to rest for a couple weeks and I need to get my swim and run where my bike is, or at least in the same ballpark.  I didn't really take any time off after IM CDA and have done two 70.3s and a sprint since then, but I learned a lot about racing in the last three weeks.  My race season is over for this year.  After I get my legs back under me and get settled in Missoula, it's time for an all-out assault on the swim and run for the next six months.  Good luck to everyone in your races the rest of the season, and remember, make sure to take some time off before you start your second-half training.

 

 

James Fields

 

 

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After some time off after IM CDA, I headed back to Wisconsin for a few weeks and did a couple races.

 

Door County Half IM:

 

I don't feel like I had the best swim or run on this one, but not having a good swim is normal for me. I'm not quite sure if my legs were completely back to 100% after doing an Ironman and the 10 pounds I gained from inactivity and junk food trying to recover didn't help. I got in a battle for 5th overall over the last couple miles of the run and just didn't have the wheels, but not a bad day - 6th/467 men overall and a 4:28:32 on a tough course that's a little long. The best part of the day was enjoying a beautiful Wisconsin afternoon and hanging out after the race with friends.

 

Castle Rock Sprint:

 

 

After my swims lately, I decided it would be a good idea to consult a coach. As luck would have it, my aunt knew one in the area and she was willing to work with me. I noticed the results immediately and it showed on the swim in this race. I was 5th out of the water at the end of the first group. I could see the race leader about 30 seconds down the road in front of me once we were on the bikes and I think being able to see the competition makes a huge difference. I went hard on the bike and had the lead before the mile 2 marker. I kept pushing and got to T2 with about a three minute lead. I had a great bike, 16.5 miles in 37:35, just about 26.5 mph. It was nice to have a cushion heading into the run, because that's been tough for me the last couple weeks and this race has a tough 5k with lots of hills, trails, sand, and steps. I was pretty content to not have to go all out on the hills and held on to win by about 1:15 in a total time of 1:05:32.

 

 

I signed my dad up for this race for his Father's Day present (yeah, I'm a great son). He did this race two years ago, which was his first, and hasn't done one since. He bested his time from last race by more than 12 minutes, so it was a great day for both of us. The feast we made on the grill after was well-deserved.

 

 

Workout the day after the race: 127 mile ride - one hour steady Watts, 20 min half IM Watts, one hour steady, 20 min Olympic Watts, stop for a donut, repeat, six mile run off the bike, collapse on the floor and stare at the ceiling for 15 minutes.

 

-James Fields

 

 

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I put a lot into training and preparing for this race, so I guess that's going to lead me to put a lot (i.e. long-winded) into this race report. Hopefully, though, some people reading this get some pointers for their first Ironman that I learned the hard way. My goal for this race was to get to Kona and this was my first shot at trying to qualify. When I signed up for this race last summer, I thought I would be living in Missoula, MT, but that didn't work out for a few reasons. I found it very difficult to peak for an early season Ironman training through a Wisconsin spring, but I did as much as I could and followed my training plan as closely as possible. I felt confident that my training was sufficient to finish the race in my goal time of 9:45, which would have been a qualifying time in my age for the past three years. After three excruciating weeks of tapering, I was ready to strap up and race.

 

I got to Coeur d'Alene on Thursday morning and the first thing I did was head to the morning swim. It was about 8:30 when I got in the lake and the water was rough; so rough the swim wasn't any fun. The lake is huge and gets extremely rough whenever there's a south wind over 10 mph. A great preview of race day... I got registered on Thursday and got a short bike and run in to get loosened up from the trip. I went to the morning swim again on Friday and Saturday and the water was much nicer both days, and the temperature was just about perfect at 62 degrees.

 

Sunday finally came, although it felt like it never would, and I felt rested and ready to go. I woke up a few hours before the race start and had my usual pre-race breakfast, oatmeal and apple sauce with some coffee. A got to the race site about two hours before the start, had a Powerbar and a banana and got my transition area ready.

 

 

I got my wetsuit on and headed down to the swim start at about 6:40 hoping to get a couple minute warm-up in, but it was so congested on the sidewalk it took almost 15 minutes to get to the beach. I elbowed my way to the front and just barely got wet before the gun went off. I didn't really have time to notice the 3-4 foot waves on the lake because of the 15 mph south wind. Swimming out was awful. I got about 400 meters into the swim and didn't think I could go any further. I wanted to quit. I actually stopped in the water and started swimming towards a kayak with about 2,400 people trying to swim over the top of me. Finally, I just stopped in the water for about a minute and composed myself. I put my head down, got into a good rhythm and pounded out a decent swim from then on. Not getting a warm-up in and getting mentally prepared was my first rookie mistake. My lap times were about 35 and 31 minutes. My 1:06:50 swim put me a little more than 6 minutes off my goal time, but I have never been so happy to get out of the water. That was the most difficult swim I have ever done.

 

 

Both of my transitions were a mess, especially T1. I probably lost about four or five minutes just because of poor transitions, which was another rookie mistake. I didn't really know how the wetsuit stripping worked, what to do with my gear bag once I got it or where I needed to change. I didn't spend enough time in transitions before the race. My wetsuit got stuck because I let one of the strippers start tugging on it instead of just taking it off myself. I opened my gear bag right away and then got yelled (rightfully so) to take everything in the tent to change so I had to pick everything up and stuff it back in my bag, which was ripped. Good times! The transitions were a great learning experience, but I was already at 1:11:00 into the race and even further behind my goal. No worries, though. I always tell myself that I'm going to have the best race I can from this point forward.

 

 

I got onto the bike and got into a good rhythm right away. I had heard many times that this course isn't as difficult as IM Wisconsin, so I thought I was in pretty good shape having ridden the entire IMWI course on a training ride. This course is every bit as difficult as IMWI. There are over 6,000 feet of climbing and several tricky, technical descents. My goal for the bike was to average 215 Watts, which I figured would give me a 5:15 bike split. I was hitting my nutrition and goal power for the first lap and most of the second, but the wheels started to come off at about mile 90. I had nothing left going up hills, which were relentless. I saw my average power drop from 216 to 208 when I checked it at mile 100. I decided not to look at that again. I just rode as steady as I could into T2, which was tough because the entire way back was into the wind. My bike split was a disappointing 5:24:00, and after another comical transition, got out on the run on dead legs with a total time of 6:38:00, about 13 minutes off my goal pace. I checked my power meter after the race and my average power dropped from 216 Watts to 196 Watts in the last 22 miles. Another lesson learned; 100 - 110 mile easy rides with a couple harder efforts don't get it done if you're trying to qualify for Kona. The long rides need to be 120 - 140 miles at mostly goal race pace with some extended half Ironman-pace intensity. I fell apart with a lot of biking to do and I'm not letting that happen again.

 

 

It was cool and cloudy all day, so the weather was nice for the run. My goal for the run was a 3:20 marathon, but I had my doubts after how my legs felt at the end of the bike. I just told myself to go out and hold my goal pace for as long as possible and see what would happen. Goal pace would put me just under 10 hours and I thought that might be good enough for a roll-down slot. I got my legs moving and actually felt good. I was rattling off one 7:20 mile after another and easily cruised up the big climb at mile 7. I hit the halfway point at about 1:39:00 and was feeling pretty good until right around mile 14 when I felt like I was about to bonk. I started to get dizzy and the next aid station was almost a mile away. I kept my pace to it, but I figured I would be doing a lot of walking during the second half of the run. I finally got to the aid station and downed 3 Gatorades, 3 Cokes, 2 orange slices, and a Powerbar. I walked for a few minutes to let my stomach settle and starting running again, but very slowly.

 

 

I started running normally again by mile 15, but thought I was going to be in for a long day. I could only hold about an 8 min/mile pace and my legs hurt like they never have before. I made a deal with myself then, and you have to be pretty crazy to do these in the first place, so that shouldn't be surprising. I told myself that I could walk, but only until I physically was unable to run any longer. Fortunately, or unfortunately, that never happened. I held about an 8 min/mile for the rest of the race and passing all the people that were either walking or stopped was a huge lift. At that point, I knew my spot at Kona would have to wait another year and I hurt badly. I kept going as hard as I could, though, because I asked myself, "What's going to replace your pain after this race?" That was enough motivation. My 8-minute miles felt like track intervals, but coming down that finish chute was an unbelievable feeling. I could see and hear my family yell for me as I finished and I got to ham it up on the jumbo-tron with some Hulkamania poses (yeah, I'm a dork) since there was no one else finishing around me. My run ended up being 3:32, which I was pretty happy with considering I had to stop for 3-4 minutes and felt like I was on the verge of passing out. My overall time was 10:10:32 and I missed the last Hawaii spot for my age group by a little less than 27 minutes. After a lot of lessons learned the hard way, I know I can come up with 27 minutes by next year.

 

 

Now that I'm not heading to Kona, my plan for the rest of the season has changed. I'm going to focus on the 70.3 distance and work to build bike endurance when I'm not racing. Here's my revised schedule, which includes four races in four weeks starting next weekend:

 

 

  • Spring Meadow Olympic (Helena, MT)

  • Spirit of Racine or Door County Half IM

  • Castle Rock Sprint (Friendship, WI)

  • Steelhead 70.3

  • Garden City Olympic (Missoula, MT)

  • Grand Columbian Half IM (Coulee, WA)

  • Silverman Half IM or 70.3 World Championship

 

I really appreciate everyone that has helped me over the last few years in my pursuit of becoming an elite triathlete. The support I've gotten from my family, Redline Triathlon Club, the Sheboygan Masters Swim Group, friends, and co-workers has been amazing. I've gone from no endurance background and not even knowing how to swim, even one lap, to barely missing qualifying for the Ironman World Championship in just a few years. Thank you all.

 

Keep crankin!

 

 

James Fields

 

 

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My taper for Ironman Coeur d'Alene has been going well and I got to the race site early this week after staying with friends in Montana for a couple days.  The curry chicken alone my last night there was worth the trip, but I decided to skip the pale ale.  I'll save that for Sunday night.  I'm ready to get going after an epic 30 hours in the truck to get here, but I need to chill out and let my legs rest until Sunday.  After 40+ hours of work and 20-30 hours of training most every week for the last three months, this rest and no work thing is a little hard for me to handle. 

 

 

I drove the bike course this morning, and I'll definitely need all my legs can crank out on Sunday.  I heard this course wasn't as difficult as IM WI, but I'm not sure who decided that was the case after seeing all of it.  I think my mountain biking experience, no matter how bad I am at it, is going to help a ton.  There are a lot of twisty, technical sections with a lot quick uphills and downhills on the second half of the course, which works in my favor.  The weather for race day is supposed to be cloudy, in the 50s and scattered showers.  Perfect... just like Sheboygan.  Normal weather here for this time of year is low 80s and a lot of sun.  I don't think I could handle weather that nice anyway. 

 

 

It's going to be a great race... 43 hours to go.

 

 

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Yesterday, I competed in the Green Bay "long sprint" triathlon.  It was an 800 meter swim, 29 mile bike and 10k run.  It was 48 degrees with a 20 mph NE wind at the race start.  Gotta love Wisconsin!

 

 

The gun caught us a little off guard, but I got a good start to the swim and caught on at the end of the first group.  We broke up and I fell to the second group at the first turn buoy, but that's a pretty good place for me to be.  I got out of the water 5th and was about 30 seconds back from the leader and in 3rd place after T1.  I decided to make my move on the bike right away, and I took the lead a little over five miles into the bike.  I pushed it hard for most of the bike and had a four minute lead heading into T2 and I had a nearly five minute lead by the halfway point of the run.  From that point, I got to cruise into the finish and enjoy my first overall win and finally let my hands thaw out holding a cup of hot coffee and a couple pancakes with squeeze peanut butter.  My overall time was 2:02:54 and this was a great confidence builder for Ironman Couer d'Alene in two weeks. 

 

 

Later-

 

 

James Fields

 

 

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