Power Systems Proudly Sponsors Professional Triathlete:

Power Systems Proudly Sponsors Professional Triathlete Andy Drobeck

Who Is Andy?

Andy Drobeck and his wifes cats!

Andy (Andrew Drobeck) lives in Missoula, MT and works for the Missoula Fire Department. He is married to Trisha Drobeck and together they have 4 cats, which he claims are all hers… we believe this photo states otherwise

Andy says, “I never thought I’d marry a crazy cat lady, but you’ll never find one as good looking as her!”

Beginning his career in 2009, Andy Drobeck has swum, biked, and run his way into professional status for the past 2 years. Andy commits himself to excellence and we expect nothing less as a Power Systems Sponsored Athlete. He encompasses our belief that every great performance starts with a strong foundation. But don’t just take it from us… listen to Andy in his own words describe what motivates him to be his best in the competitive world.

Andy's Training

Functional Strength Training Routine for Running

Strength training is a critical part of running healthy and strong. Runners of all levels can benefit from a strength routine, although it becomes particularly important as mileage, speed, or the culmination of both are added. This generally happens as the athlete is preparing for an event, which is the worst time to get injured. Although strength training takes time, it is equally important to running and a runner is often better off substituting a strength routine for a few extra miles.

The purpose of these exercises is to strengthen the muscles used in running, recruit a variety of muscle groups, and put an athlete is the proper position so good form can be mentally cued up during a run. The goal is to prevent injury, improve form, decrease recovery time, and provide an overall speed and fitness improvement.

The single leg squat can be used as a simple test of where one is at. A single leg squat should be relatively easy. If it's hard and form is out of whack, then a routine like this one is a definite must.

Disclaimer: I am not a physical therapist. I’ve developed this routine from exercises PT’s have given to me over the years. I’ve found this works for me. Everybody is different though. It is advisable to seek out a PT (or trainer) initially in order to learn proper technique and customize a routine. Do a combination of this routine daily for a beginner and a few times a week once strength is realized.

Train Like a Pro

Want to train like a Pro Athlete?
Andy has put together a workout just for you, that you can do with all of your Power Systems products.


Glute Bridge and Curl / Sliding Leg Curls

Glute Bridge and Curl / Sliding Leg Curls

Purpose: Improve strength in the core and glutes while eccentrically training the hamstrings.

3 sets of 10 reps.

Variations: Feet can be on stability ball, towels, sliders (as in picture), or in the TRX cradle.

  1. Begin supine on the ground with legs shoulder width apart.
  2. Push through the heels and Use glutes to press up into a bridge position.
  3. Pull your heels toward your hips as far as you can. Then slide your heels back until just before the starting position.
  4. Keep abs tight and you slide heels toward you and don’t allow hips to drop. Keep hips off the ground and glutes engaged as you slide heels away from you.

Clam with Versa Loop

Clam with Versa Loop

Purpose: Strengthen abductors.

25 reps on each side.
  1. Place a versa loop slightly above the knee.
  2. While lying on your side and keeping feet stacked together, open one knee to the ceiling.
  3. Return to starting position.

Unilateral Squat and Cable Row

Unilateral Squat and Cable Row

Purpose: Similar to the single leg squat however, with weight loaded in front it is easier to balance thus allowing focus on driving from the glutes.

3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.
  1. Find a cable pulley machine and set the handle low on the machine. Find a weight that is challenging but not too much as to force improper form.
  2. Face forward with feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent. Grab handle with one hand.
  3. Stand on the leg that is opposite the hand holding on to the cable.
  4. Sink into a one legged squat until your thigh is parallel with the floor.
  5. Drive up while performing a row.

Supported Back Lunge

Supported Back Lunge

Purpose: Strengthen the muscles associated with a back lunge. Supported from the front of your body allows you to focus on proper form and to really sink deep into the lunge.

2 sets of 15 on each leg.
  1. Use a TRX or Jungle Gym system and extend straps until about mid-thigh.
  2. Grip handles and face forward.
  3. Starting on right foot, step backward with left leg until toe lightly touches the ground.
  4. Bend the right knee and be aware to keep knee behind toes.
  5. Keep spine in neutral position with arms extended out in front.

Low Lateral Band Squat/Walk/and Monster

Low lateral Band Squat/Walk/and Monster

Purpose: Strengthen abductors.

3 rounds (1 Round is 10 squats, 10 lateral left, 10 lateral right, 15 monster forward, 15 Monster back).
  1. Use versa loop and place around ankles or just below knees. Choose resistance that is challenge but not so much as to cause improper form.
  2. Clasp hands in front, or hold light dumbbells (5lbs)
  3. With legs should width apart, squat the same as BOSU squat. Do 10 squats
  4. On the last squat, stop in the low position and step to the left 10 times in a controlled movement and without lifting the hip. Then take 10 steps back to the right.
  5. Now while staying low near the squat position take 15 short steps forward focusing on hip abduction. Reverse the steps walking backwards.

Single Leg Squat on BOSU ball

Single Leg Squat on BOSU Ball

Purpose: Test for weakness in the legs. Work on strength and balance.

3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Alternative: BOSU is an advanced movement, beginners should do this on flat ground.

  1. Start in a single leg stance with arms out in front (dumbbells can be added for strength).
  2. Maintain a neutral spine and level hips.
  3. Squat down with hips moving back and allowing the chest to naturally come forward with a neutral spine. Keep the knee in line with the foot and watch for it caving to the inside. Keep knee from extending out in front of the toes. Torso should face front and not rotated.
  4. Return to the starting position.

BOSU ball Squat

Step Ups

Rotisserie Chicken

Sling Lunges

2016 Race Schedule

Is Andy racing near you? Come cheer him on!

Race Distance Location Date Results
Wildflower Triathlon Half Iron Distance Lake San Antonio, CA April 30, 2016 11th Place – 4:21:36
The Peak Triathlon Sprint Distance Missoula, MT May 21, 2016 1st Place - 0:54:27
Garden City Triathlon Olympic Distance Missoula, MT June 4, 2016 1st Place – 1:55:59
Triathlon X Full Iron Distance Ambleside, UK June 25, 2016 1st Place – 12:38:39
Lake Como Tri Off Road (.9, 12.6, 7.7) Hamilton, MT July 23, 2016 2nd Place – 2:05:08
MI Titanium Full Iron Distance Grand Rapids, MI August 21, 2016 1st Place – 8:50:10
Savageman Half Iron Distance Deep Creek Lake, MD September 18, 2016
Lake Padden Half Marathon Half Marathon Trail Bellingham, WA October 15, 2016
Moab Trail Marathon Marathon Trail Moab, UT November 11, 2016

Race Updates

Wildflower Triathlon
Post-Race - Get in the mind of a Pro Athlete. Andy recaps his win at the 2016 Wildflower Triathlon.

Another Wildflower in the books!

Last weekend I had the pleasure of racing Wildflower Triathlon half for the third time. I’ve always had great experiences at Wildflower and the course plays more to my strength than it does my weaknesses.  I went into the race hoping to place top 10 and beating my previous best time at the race. I’m 34 now and setting new personal records at previously done races is important. It’s those small victories that give me the confidence to know I’m starving off the inevitable decline with age. Long course triathlon is an old man’s sport though. At Wildflower, the top 10 pros in age were: 36, 31, 30, 28, 33, 30, 29, 38, 36, 33. That’s an average of 32, compared to say the NFL with an average age of 26. So it’s okay to be old…ish. Over 40 though, can get a bit tough.

I was one spot away from the top 10 and just missed my fastest time by 30 seconds. So no checks on that goal sheet, but I can’t complain too much. I had solid race and continue to be consistent, even if not being able to take a top 3 in a large field of heavy hitters.

The three disciplines came together as a well balance on race day. 35 pro men began and I was 35th out of the water. I made sure to smile while I was swimming though; it’s supposed to be fun right. With a 6 minute deficit to overcome from the swim I started the bike knowing it would be a day of chipping away, not just racing to the front.


On the bike the first 20 miles of the race were pretty hard. Grinding into a near 20mph headwind I was averaging… let’s just say “slow”. I started doing the math and was thinking “my God, this ride is going to take forever”.  But after the first turn and the wind moving more towards the back, things began getting fast, and at times a bit scary as well, as I was getting blown around on the road. Scary means fun though and fun is usually how the Wildflower bike course is described. So it was twice the fun. I rode well within my limits and cruised into T2 at 20th-ish place.


I’ve had some experiences on the run at Wildflower that describing as difficult would be an understatement. So as I headed out on the run, there was a tinge of anxiety because I knew I had to hit it hard to move up in position; but hitting it hard could be like the slow noise of a tea kettle leading to boiling over. It was a risk I needed to take though and headed out on an aggressive pace. I’ve been trail running a lot in preparation for this crazy hard Ironman I’m doing in the UK next month (which I’ll write about at another time) and the strength I’ve developed from that (as well as gym work)  played well into the run at Wildflower, being as it’s half on trails. I moved up to 11th with a few miles left but never did see any more competitors up the road. That was disappointing as I was feeling strong and ready to race, but that’s why it’s always better to race at the front and fade off the front then race from the back like I do. Pesky swimming.

All in all, finishing always feels like a true accomplishment.  The first race of the year is a dust off.  I feel fit and strong to continue building to what I hope is a successful race season.

Wildflower Triathlon
Pre-Race - Get in the mind of a Pro Athlete. Andy recaps his win at the 2016 Wildflower Triathlon.

Wildflower Triathlon, It begins!

This Saturday, April 30th, my triathlon race season will kick off in Central California at the Wildflower Triathlon.  The sport of triathlon was in its birth state in the early 1980s and Wildflower was one of the first triathlons, over the years creating a strong reputation of excellence it holds to this day.  Many of the best triathletes in the world have raced and still race at Wildflower. The event was rooted as a Bluegrass festival (with triathlon as the side note) and after a few years the focus shifted to the triathlon, however, the festival aspect of the event is still very apparent.  There is very limited lodging in the area and almost all the competitors camp.  This means nearly all the athletes are in one spot for the entire weekend.  That is an atmosphere that you won’t find at most triathlons.  It’s also a laid back scene where racers feel more connected as people sharing a race experience rather than eyeballing the competition.

There are multiple events at Wildflower; I’ll be participating in the Half Distance.  However, due to the drought in California the reservoir where the swim takes place has been at less than 10% capacity over the last 3 years.  Because of this, the swim start had to be moved and the races actually consist of a 1.2 mile swim, 2.1 mile run, 56 mile ride, 11 mile run).  The race is known for being very difficult.  The bike leg includes one nasty climb (actually called “the Nasty grade”) and advertises a total elevation gain of 3829’.  The run is 60% on trail and the rest on road.  The terrain and footing vary greatly and the run logs 803’ of elevation gain.  The heat can be a butt kicker, too.  This year they’re calling for a high of near 90 degrees which can be a challenge, particularly for those of us from the north who don’t even have the snow tires off our cars yet.

This will be my third time racing Wildflower - once as an amateur and once as a pro.  Both times I’ve been impressed by the brutality of the race.  However, I’ve always fared well as hilly courses provide me to utilize more of my strengths.  The pro field is very competitive and I’d be happy with a top 10 finish here.  Ultimately my goal is to race strong and enjoy the day.

Scott Firefighter Stairclimb
Get in the mind of a Pro Athlete. Andy recaps his win at the 2016 Scott Firefighter Stairclimb.

The Scott Firefighter Stairclimb Report

The Scott Firefighter Stairclimb was last month on Saturday, March 6th, in Seattle. The event pits roughly 200 fire departments and 1,500 firefighters from across the US and world (although primarily the Northwest) in a race to the top of the Columbia center in a match at who can get their communities together and raise the most money. Bringing in over $2 Million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the fundraising aspect of the event is clearly important to the firefighters who partake. However, bragging rights of who individually and which department (team) can go the fastest is also on everybody’s mind.

Firefighters are required to climb the 69 story building wearing full structural firefighting turnout gear and breathing apparatus while on air the entire time. The climb is grueling and can take anywhere from 10 and a half minutes to over an hour to complete. Some firefighters are there to support people they know who are personally affected by blood cancers, some are there to push themselves physically, some are there as a way to provide motivation to stay fit. Everybody has a different reason for participating.

This is the eighth time I’ve climbed the Columbia Center as part of the Stairclimb. I’ve always been motivated to put my best foot forward and get up the stairs as quickly as possible. But I’ve also continuously made it a goal to raise a significant amount of money for this great charity and receive much support from community, family, and friends. The first year I placed 5th; the second year I was 2nd; the third year I was 2nd by mere seconds; and years 4-8 I’ve been able to take 1st place each time. Missoula Fire Department has also been the fastest team to the top for the last 5 years and I’m proud to represent a Fire Department that regards fitness as being of equal importance to other firefighting duties.

It hasn’t been easy to stay at the top of the page. Year after year some of the same guys and some new faces are on my heels trying to take the crown. There’s been little margin for error. Thankfully I’ve been fortunate to have had smooth runs, consistently hard training prior, and have been healthy. Those three things are sometimes difficult to put together year after year. There is added outside pressure as people almost expect a win. I constantly hear “are you gonna win again” or “record time again this year”. I don’t mind high expectations; I have them for myself as well. But with high expectations comes inevitable failure of which I’d like to delay for as many years as possible.

Each year the event surprises me with its brevity yet ruthlessness. It gets over quick (this year being 10:43 which is just 4 seconds off the fastest time) but it’s the highest intensity 10 minutes of exercise I do all year. It’s simply everything the body can give to get up fast. The first 1/3 of the way up I generally feel gooey and sluggish as the body is warming up and the nerves are wearing off. The middle third is where I really find a groove. It’s a rhythm of 1, 2, 3, 4 landing 1, 2, 3, 4 landing and so on. At a rate of about 82 steps per minute skipping one each time. As the top floors approach things start splitting at the seams. I begin to bargain with myself about why I’m doing this, the heat is overbearing as it can’t escape the bunker gear, a strange taste fills the throat, and the mind ceases to compute anything other than the 1, 2, 3, 4, landing. It’s really a struggle. But then, with 4 floors left the jackpot affect takes over and the ability to work beyond what thought capable happens. From there it’s full on the gas to the finish where I nearly collapse from exhaustion.

The reward is great though. There is no better feeling than finishing a challenge that you’ve laid it on the line for to complete.

Pass Mountain
Get in the mind of a Pro Athlete. Andy recaps his win at the 2015 Pass Mountain 50k Ultra Marathon.


Let's just clear up right away any confusion with that pesky metric system. 50K is just over 31 miles.

Okay. A month ago I raced Beach to Battleship Iron Distance Race and next up was supposed to be Ironman Arizona, which was this last weekend. Days after Beach to Battleship I was mentally and physically toast. I could have toughed out a few more weeks of Ironman training and likely would have finished the race, but it would not have been an enjoyable experience or a very good performance. It's hard to explain how a season of Ironman training can leave the body feeling, but I was at a point where I felt as if each training session left me in a deeper hole and even easy days weren't doing much to turn me around.

I didn't want to waste all of that hard earned fitness and just end the season. I already had plane tickets to Phoenix, so I started looking for longer running races in that area. I came across Pass Mountain Trail 50K and decided it looked fun, challenging, and a nice change from the swim, bike, and run thing.

Getting ready for a 50K really didn't take a whole lot more preparation from where I was already at. The biggest thing I needed to do was get some downhill running in. If you're body isn't used to that it just destroys the legs. I did a bit of hiking and one long run, but focused more on recovery and resting. Even with a month of easier workouts, the day before Pass Mountain I was feeling lingering fatigue in my legs. Luckily I wasn't placing a lot of pressure on myself and wasn't stressing too much about that like I normally would.

My goal for the race was to win. Looking at the competition before, I didn't see anybody quite at the level I thought I was going to race at. The event draws more locals than anybody and tends to not attract the Elite racers. That didn't mean somebody really good wouldn't show, but I prepared myself on how to handle a large lead without slacking off. Therefore, I set of goal of breaking 4 hours.

I've run in the desert before and was well aware the trails can vary a lot. They can be almost as easy as the road, and then the next minute steep, rocky, and slow. Online I could see the elevation for this course wasn't anything crazy for a trail run (3000' total), but wasn't sure about the footing and therefore unsure of how fast I was going to be able to run. I decided to focus on effort rather than pace and planned to run a bit easier than how I would tackle a road marathon. The first third of the run was fast. It was easy singletrack trail and I was running 6:40 pace without too much difficulty. As the course worked its way towards the mountain it gradually got rockier, steeper, and harder. I clocked some 8 to 10 minute miles and the terrain was beating me up a bit. The course wound its way around the backside of the mountain and I was expecting to have a fast easy downhill, but it remained rocky and the footing difficult. Eventually it did smooth out again and I was able to make up some time lost in the slow sections. I came through the halfway point at 1:56, which was right where I needed to be.

As I started the second loop I noticed I was slowing down a bit. I was trying to keep track of my pace because and knew I could go 8 minutes slower on the second loop and still go under 4 hours. That equated to giving up no more time than about 30 seconds per mile. Things were harder the second time around, but I was still feeling fairly well and Ironman racing had conditioned me to savoring that level of fatigue. Coming down the backside of the mountain I knew breaking four hours was going to be tight and I was scrambling to get to the finish under that mark. I crossed at 3:59:12 in first place, which bested the old course record of 4:21 set a few years ago.

The organization that puts on the 50K also hosts a night 5K, 10K, and 30K. So that evening I went back to experience racing in the desert at night. I was a little stiff, but actually had a decent 10K and managed to still come across 1st.

Trail running is an enjoyable experience. Anybody who dislikes running on the road should get out and see how they feel on the trails. I look forward to my next trail experience and would love to tackle the 50K distance again in the future.

Beach 2 Battleship
Get in the mind of a Pro Athlete. Andy recaps his win at the 2015 Beach 2 Battleship Full Distance Triathlon.


Last weekend I was privileged to race Beach 2 Battleship Iron distance race in Wilmington, NC. A 2.4 mile ocean inlet swim, 112 mile urban and county flat bike ride, and a 26.2 mile marathon on road and paved trail. The race also hosts a half Iron on the same day.

It's October and my body is starting to feel the effects of consistent hard training and racing that has been in motion since March. By race week I just wasn't feeling as refreshed as I had hoped. Race morning things were sore still, and I was having a little self-doubt. I decided to stick to the game plan with hope that the body would respond well once put into action.

The race started with a mass beach start just as the sun was coming up over the horizon off Wrightsville Beach. The swim heads down a channel that leads to a network of docks, marinas, and inlets. Race directors time the race with the incoming tide so participants get pushed in, rather than sucked out. They promise a fast swim here and the swim course actually holds the record for the fastest swim in an Iron Distance race (33 minutes set last year). The tide is different each year so looking at past times isn't a very good indicator of predicting the current years times. I was thinking I'd do around 52 minutes. The swim began with a fair amount of jockeying for personal space but things spread out within 10 minutes or so. North wind at about 15 blowing against the tide created some relatively rough conditions. The chop combined with not much to sight off really made me feel like I was having a bad swim. I tried to remind myself it was a long day and to just take the swim one stroke at a time. About 2/3 of the way in, as we neared the docks, the wind was sheltered and the current was obvious at that point. We were flying then and it was fun. As I exited the water I checked my watch and saw I had swam 48 minutes, which is crazy fast for me. It didn't mean much though because I felt as though I hadn't had a very good swim and guessed there would be a fair gap yet to overcome. It set me up mentally though for thinking about a PR for the day.

T1 was really long with plenty of time to regroup. Getting out on the bike I was happy to have good temps and the sun shining. Based on the forecast, I guessed the ride would be 50 miles into a headwind and then some crosswind and about 40 miles of tailwind. So the plan was to go steady effort hoping to gain time on everybody during the headwind and then cruise back in and try to be off the bike within striking distance of first place. The bike course is flat, fast, and smooth. I passed people steadily over the first 60 miles and then came upon what looked to be the lead group about a mile ahead. I wasn't 100% sure it was the leaders; and to be honest, I didn't think I'd even catch them until the very end. But the way they were riding as a pack made me inclined to think it was everybody. With the wind at our backs now it took me the next 25 miles to catch them (closing a gap with a tailwind takes time) and I wasn't in a rush. I suspected that the less energy I could expend getting to the finish of the bike would mean the more I could deploy on the run, and being likely one of the better runners in that group I believed if I could come off the bike with them, then I could stay first throughout the marathon. For 15 miles I biked off the back off the pack well below what I felt like I wanted to go. My urge to hammer it and go around was equal to the urge to drink, but I retrained myself with the goal of smart racing. At mile 100, two riders succumbed to their own urges and took out off the front. Not letting them get away to a solid effort over the next 12 miles. Those two other riders and I came into T2 within a minute of each other.

T2 was a cluster. We had caught those doing the half and the people we had caught were in NO hurry. I was in a hurry as transition time is race time. The other guys were bogged down too though, and somehow I made it out of there in first place and unscathed. Coming out on the run I noticed the congestion wasn't going to let up. About half the run was on sidewalk or paved trail and the bobbing and weaving and break in stride to not crash into anybody was a legitimate challenge. The legs over the first few miles were about what I generally expect, but things started to go south quickly.  Normally at mile four I'm just getting my stride, but here I was losing it. At mile eight I felt like I was at 22 and I just kept wondering when I was going to get that good spot. Feelings of good and bad ebb and flow during an Ironman, but here they just seemed to ebb and ebb. At 14 my legs were still heavy and at that point of the race there was a short out and back section that gave me a glimpse of the progress (or lack thereof) I'd made on the field. It showed me I made no progress. I had maintained and that was it. That was tough to see. I was fading early and I felt like I needed a cushion. Doubt that I could stay 1st reared up. But I also am aware that where you suffer they suffer and figured I'd do what I could do and if I got caught we'd really suffer together. The next 10 miles were some of the harder ones I've had racing and it was a constant struggle to not settle into a very slow pace. Some of it was tactical. I was saving a little so I could surge if I got caught. And I was erring on the side of not over doing it and being forced to walk. The goal was to win, not just bury myself until I cracked. The miles slugged by, but by mile 24 it was mine to lose. As I closed out the last mile, I found the gear I was waiting for and finished looking how I didn't feel....good.

It was a PR (but also the fastest course I've every raced) and just a few minutes shy of the course record. I also posted the fastest bike and run splits of the day. It wasn't quite the high caliber day that I keep waiting for. I've been consistently consistent all season and that in itself is a huge win, even without that epic day.

What's next? My race schedule says IM Arizona. I spent the entire flight and next day trying to figure out if that was the right decision. My fitness is good and I want to race more, but my body is tired and mentally the stresses of balancing work, training, recovering, and racing have worn on me. With four weeks only until IM AZ, I just don't think I have the ability to recover, train, recover again, and then race. I'd likely get through the race okay, but it probably wouldn't be much fun and if there isn't fun involved, then what's the point? I do have the desire to do some hard racing still and there happens to be a 50K trail race down in Phoenix the same weekend that I have my travel plans. So I'm gonna head down and race my first 50K and then get out and cheer the Ironman racers on. I'm also developing next season and planning how to improve through the off season.


This coming Saturday, October 17th, I’m out on a solo mission to Wilmington, North Carolina for Beach 2 Battleship Full iron distance triathlon. The race is in its eighth year now and is one that I looked at back in 2008 when I was just getting into tri’s. I’ve shied away from the race in the past because the threat of Hurricane season always looms in my mind and a frequent nightmare of all Ironman athletes is to have a race cancelled that they’ve expended so much energy getting ready for. It just happened at Ironman Maryland from Hurricane Joaquin and last year Ironman Tahoe was cancelled because of smoke. But I put in on the calendar this year and threw in Ironman Arizona 4 weeks later to give me some peace of mind if freak weather forces race cancellation. Things are looking sunny for now, but hey…it is weather.

The swim is a mass start and takes place in an inlet off the Atlantic. Although it’s 2.4 miles by the book, the race generally syncs with the incoming tide and provides a nice current for the athletes, which effectively shortens the swim. The claim is that if a participant couldn’t swim, they could actually float their way to the finish in under the 2hr 20min cut off time. I’ve heard legends of triathletes in the past choosing shallow Ironman’s and actually walking their way through the swim because they lacked the ability to get in the water, but I’m yet to hear of anybody floating their way through one. For you non-swimmers out there, this is a reason to not fear the swim. There are swim friendly venues.

The bike course is pancake flat. Over the 112 miles of riding it has less than 200’ of climbing. That is about as flat as it gets. It makes for fast bike splits, but I’m actually not a huge fan of course with no changes in elevation. They can get a little boring because there is nothing to break up your speed (unless the wind is kicking which is really no fun). It also can fatigue the body because it’s so consistent. Muscles work better with some variety. I’ve never done an Ironman with such a flat profile, so I’m planning on mixing in some higher cadence stuff and varying efforts. It’s an experiment though, so I’m not sure really how it’ll play out. I’ve also been having issues while riding with my back being super tight and nearly seizing up. I’ll be honest and say that I’m not looking forward to dealing with it on the bike, but after doing about everything I can do to loosen it up; at this point I just have to do as the doctor said and “man up”.

The run is a two loop course that takes runners through some of downtown and then out on some paved trail around a lake. It’s flat too and I’m hoping to run a personal best. With my swim and bike in a bit of a plateau, I’ve been focusing on speed and trying to break that 2:50:00 barrier in the marathon portion of the race. It’s going to be hard and I’m hoping competition forces me to push towards that mark.

10 pro men are signed up to race and my homework tells me it should be a fun and challenging one. I think I have potential to come off the bike around 3rd and if the run goes as planned it should be enough to move me into first. But it’s an 8 to 9 hour day and tons can happen.

The course in its entirety is one of the fastest in the county and I’m hoping to set a personal record (and get done before halftime of the Michigan game).  Weather can be a major factor in overall time though, and if rain and wind are in the forecast, that can really put a damper on a speedy race. I don’t think I need flawless execution (which of course it never is) to meet my goals, but I definitely need lady luck on my side and with my bib being number 7 I’m hoping that is a sign.

Niagara Falls Barrelman
Get in the mind of a Pro Athlete. Andy recaps his win at the 2015 Niagara Falls Barrelman Half Distance Triathlon.


Nearly two weeks later and I'm finally getting to recapping Barrelman. It's been a busy couple of weeks after jumping right back into Ironman training upon returning home from the race.

As I wrote before, Barrelman took place in Niagara Falls, ON and is a half Iron distance tri (2K swim, 90K bike, 21K run). I haven't been to the falls since the mid 90's and it was interesting to get back and see it. Stuff you see when you're younger is always so much different to see as an adult. It’s definitely a cool area and worth a visit. Hotels are pretty cheap with the USD being strong right now and being in September a good portion of the tourists are gone. The race course and race experience is one of kind. Anybody with aspirations of doing a half iron distance triathlon should surely be looking at Barrelman.

The travel went good and I was expecting to have issues at the border with my giant bike case, but I must look the part of a triathlete because both ways border patrol was super chill. My Dad and Stepmom drove over from the Ann Arbor area. Having family and/or friends around really makes for a more relaxed and fun time. It takes the hassle out of logistics, takes the mind off the race, and is nice to see familiar faces out on the race course.

Race morning delivered a dose of great weather, which is something I've been pretty lucky with so far this year (fingers crossed). The swim start was about 20 minutes west of Niagara Falls in Welland, ON. They have a really nice flatwater rowing facility where they hosted the Pan Am games this year. The narrow canal and sighting buoys made for a very friendly swim. Much of the way you could see the string tying the buoys together, so spotting wasn't an issue. It was calm and the temp perfect so it made for a really enjoyable time in the water. I did my homework before the race and knew the competition would be challenging. With this knowledge I thought I needed to have a good swim (for me anyway) to have a shot at winning. I figured I could make up a 5 min gap out of the water, but giving up more than that would really mean having to throw down a flawless bike and run to take the victory. I decided I couldn't slack off swimming and really needed to put in a strong effort. I went out hard but still didn't have a shot at making it anywhere near the lead pack. For the first half I was rolling solo and had nobody to work with. Eventually I was caught by the second wave that started a minute behind. From there I was able to get some feet and catch a little draft. Drafting is always beneficial but the best part of a group is just getting to swim around people. Swimming open water solo is just a lonely experience that I'm not a huge fan of. Coming out of the water I checked the clock and saw I was just under 32 minutes which I figured put me about 5 min back. That gap was doable and being within reach helped motivate me for the tough bike to come.

Getting on the bike I found myself going pretty fast. Like too fast for the effort I was expending. It was a sign of a nice tailwind which is a blessing and a curse. I knew the wind was forecast for 6 mph and would be at our back for the first third of the ride. I'm the type that likes to pay it forward in life and that carries over when I ride a bike. During training, I always ride headwind first and tailwind second. It’s just mentally easier for me. If I have a huge tailwind the entire time out I'm thinking about how awful it’s going to be when I have to turn around and grind back. No choice here though, it was gonna be a fun fast ride and then a less fun, not so fast ride. Somewhere around a third of way through the ride the course turned into the wind. My speed went from like 27 or 28 to 24-ish and it was that way for the rest of the ride. Definitely not as fun, but I think it turned out to be to my benefit. Weaker riders lose less time with a tailwind. Any cyclist knows it is soooo hard to close a gap when the wind is at your back. Therefore, I was happy to have the wind blowing in my face because it meant I could work hard and close more of the gap. I slowly gained on the field and around 60K I was told I had moved into second. I didn’t know who was ahead though, and I knew there were some good runners in the field. I really thought I needed to come off the bike in first. I   continued to grind it out (even though I was having some back issues) but came into T2 about 2 min short of being in the lead.

As I headed out on the run course I was met by race director John Salt who was cruising around on a bike enjoying his creation. He said the reported favorite to win had crashed his bike and dropped out and that the leader was a Canadian pro from the area with pretty good credentials, including a 4th place finish at 70.3 Muskoka earlier in the year. John was unaware of the leaders running prowess and that left a big question mark. I generally can run a pretty good split and close a decent gap, but sometimes guys are good runners too and the gap doesn't close or even opens up a bit. Near the 5K mark there was a quick out and back and I could see I was still 2 min back. Not good I'm thinking, but I just decided to stay steady and hope he faded. At the 8K mark somebody stated I was 90 seconds back and my splits were staying even. I did the math and knew I could stay steady and it would be close. At 10.5 we did an out and back starting the second loop and now I was 60 seconds back. Then at 15K I was just 10 seconds back. All this time I was just being patient and trying to run even splits. As I moved into first just after 15K I was happy to be there but I always need to remind myself that first only matters when you finish the race first. So I tried not to take it for granted and kept pushing the pace. The rest of the run was just robotic go-mode for me and I was able to take the win with a few minutes to spare.

Although this wasn't as deep a field as 70.3's tend to draw, it still was a tough field and walking away with the win took a good solid race. Traveling to a race isn't always the easiest thing, but I was glad to have chosen Barrelman and will be glad to go back in the future.


Well, it has been a like a month now since my last triathlon and seven weeks since my last major race back when I did Vineman. Those weeks have cruised by fast and a lot of the hard work is done and gone. Here in Montana it is starting to feel like fall now. The cool air, pumpkin spice lattes, and football make it a bit hard to stay focused on triathlon. But with a half next weekend and two more Ironman's, I can rest assures it is still triathlon season.

The training over the last couple months has gone fairly well. For two weeks the valley was blanketed with smoke and that made it a bit less enjoyable at times. But with no crashes or injuries to speak, I call that a victory. I did however get bit by a dog last week and had to go on antibiotics which kind of threw me out of whack, but it wasn't as bad as what I thought it was going be. It is amazing how quick you can heal up when the body is in good shape. I'm used to getting chased by dogs, but this one caught me snacking and by the time I realized what was going on, he was biting into my calf… just all the more reason why people should have cats.

Sometimes people ask me how long it takes to recover from an Ironman. It is hard to say what qualifies as recovered. But I would say after Vineman, it was around a month before the excessive fatigue and soreness was gone. I finally feel more normalized though and similar to early season. Late in the year can leave a racer broken down and not in good form. So my major goal of the last 7 weeks was to be fit but not broken. I did a half marathon today to “practice” Ironman pace. Even though I ran relatively slow I did feel pretty good. It is a bit of an experiment as generally I wouldn't do something so hard only a week out from a half Ironman. But I'm trying to get my body ready to throw down a fast Ironman in 5 weeks and minimizing that taper could really help get some key workouts in. It might leave me a little fatigued or this weekend’s race, but the ultimate goal is setting a PR in 5 weeks at Beach to Battleship.

So this week I take it easy and rest up to race Barrelman Triathlon in Niagara Falls, ON next Sunday. Other than being a little burned out on taking apart my bike and putting it together I'm pretty excited to go do the race. It looks super fun. It is only the second year of Barrelman and with time, I think it'll be known as one of the premier races in the region. The course is a beginner triathletes dream but still challenging (as all races are) for the Elites. The swim is in a canal at a flat water center so is about as swim friendly as it gets. The bike is completely flat. Then the run is a two loop course along the falls. The mid-September date also eliminates of likelihood of soul crushing heat. Definitely a race any triathlete or triathlete-to-be should look into. The race also has attracted a pretty good field of athletes this year. With a handful of pro's racing it should be tight throughout and jockying of position could be the theme of the day. I've scoped out my competition a bit and have a plan for the race, but it is impossible to know how it'll all shake out.

You can learn more about the competition here https://niagarafallstriathlon.com/news/ Keep your fingers crossed for good weather and clean roads.

Polson Triathlon
Get in the mind of a Pro Athlete. Andy recaps the highs and lows of the 2015 Polson Triathlon Olympic Distance.


A couple weeks ago I jumped back into the local triathlon scene by racing Polson triathlon. Polson tri is an Olympic distance race (1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run) and has been around for 4 years now. It’s a great race in a nice little tourist town along Flathead lake, Montana about 70 miles north of Missoula. By Montana standards 70 miles is like a backyard race.

I don't do a lot of local races, mostly because I gravitate toward the longer distances and the local stuff consists of Olympics and Sprints. Also, I often want to just focus on training for the next big event and don't want to be distracted by racing every other weekend. Short stuff still takes a bit of taper and recovery afterward, which means it can take 5 days out of training. That can add up to a significant amount of training lost and throw me off my regiment. This one happened to be just two weeks after an Ironman so the timing was good. They're all super fun though and I recommend everybody jump into a local tri. They're designed to be open to anybody with a general level of fitness and you don't have to be a stud to get across the finish line.

Missoula is a very fit town and a little hub of endurance athletes. Although triathlon isn't huge here, there are some pretty dang good racers. Any race in the area can bring some stiff competition. It isn't like just because it’s local it’s a giveaway win. I knew all the guys that would be considered the top racers for Polson and figured it would be a hard fought race. I've won the race twice, but it’s always been super close. Once like 10 yards close. I'm not a man of many gears, so the shorter the race the harder it is for me to be competitive for first. I went in this year with the mindset of not stressing out too much and just having fun while going the fastest I could. I decided a few days prior that I wasn't going to worry about lingering soreness, the weather, flat tires, or anything else. I'd just roll with it. That was a good decision because race day brought some tough conditions.

A cold front moved through and we woke up race day to some nice 20 mph winds and gusts to who knows what. Whitecaps were on the water which for me is a distinct disadvantage. My original strategy was to swim with some people who would push me to a good swim time. But with the chop I really couldn't see anything but waves and it ended up just being “get through it” going through my brain. I survived and was out of the water with who I expected to be out with. On the bike I was able to move into 2nd and felt pretty good. It took some paying attention with the wind but made for a unique ride. As I came out on the run I saw that I was in second and quite a bit back from first. I've closed the gap on the run there before, but this time it seemed insurmountable. I tried to open it up but was sputtering a bit. People out west understand the drought and fire conditions this year have been abysmal. The day of Polson brought the inaugural September smoke to the valleys and 11 days later writing this it’s still here. It doesn't bother me too much training even though they recommend not exercising for extended amounts of time outside. I might get some ash in the eyes, or a scratchy throat and snotty nose. But the discomfort caused by the smoke pales in comparison to the discomfort I've experienced from heat, cold, and other weather conditions. So I'm generally alright with it. With that said, racing at a really hard effort in the smoke can make it feel like you're at 10,000 feet. As I crested the top of the hill on the run I was really fighting for air and still not a top racer in sight. That was a bummer. I cruised the last couple miles and finished like 3 min back from first and 5 up from third. So it was kind of a race in no-man’s land for me. Still a good time out there and nice to get back and race a local community event.

Now I'm back grinding for a couple more weeks to get back in Ironman shape. Then will be a short taper for Barrelman and after that will come touching up for my next Iron Distance race at Beach to Battleship in mid-October down in North Carolina.

Get in the mind of a Pro Athlete. Andy recaps his win at the 2015 Vineman Full Distance Triathlon.


Let me start by saying this race is awesome. It was professionally run, the volunteers were great, spectators were dedicated, and the course was one of the best I've ever had the luxury of racing on. The town of Windsor, CA is a clean and beautiful town that any person in their right mind would love to spend a few days in. I stayed in a vacation rental near the race start (the start is 20 miles from the finish) in Guernville, CA. It was a rustic town with a blend of tourists and backwoods locals. On a couple occasions before the race while riding I was treated to some pretty unfriendly behavior. So, I'm not sure if the locals were too interested in having spandex laden, pointy helmeted triathletes hanging around, but the race has been going on for 26 years and it’s probably time they got used to it.

The days leading up to the race were relatively normal for me. People ask me if I get a lot of anxiety. I don't think I do. But 90% of all the anxiety I do experience is related to if my taper is going well. It’s always a really tight window and recovery is always a bit different. I wasn't feeling great the few days prior to the race (which from an energy standpoint is normal) and I had a fair amount of tenderness still in my shoulders and other places throughout my body. Did that stuff affect my race....who knows? It always makes me worry though. I knew I had trained smart and hard which help dispel any pre-race anxieties.

It's been 10 months since I raced an iron distance race so I was pretty dang excited when race morning came and I was healthy and ready to race. It had been so long though, that my confidence was a bit shaken as I felt a bit inexperienced, like I had forgotten the hard lessons learned from previous Ironman's and I was going to make rookie type mistakes.

So let’s discuss race strategy. I knew the course record (8:50 and some change) was within my wheelhouse. I also knew that my competitors would out swim me by around 20 minutes, but I could close that gap on the bike and really close on the run. I decided to race within the limits of what I know is relevant and focus more on keeping the course record time within my grasp. I knew that would be my motivator and if people were ahead of me, then they would have to set a course record to beat me.

The swim venue was great. The Russian river doesn't really flow. It’s also shallow and narrow which makes swimming pretty easy. A marine layer fog had rolled in overnight though and visibility was pretty limited. The fog also made it pretty chilly and temps were in the low 50s. The swim was a wave start and I was off in wave 1 with the other pro athletes (women too) and all the age group athletes 30-39 years old. I decided to implement a little different strategy this race. Normally, I like to swim hard and then I realize after a race that I basically swam within 5 feet of the same person the entire time. This time I decided to get with a group that was my hard swim speed and then just draft. So that's how I rolled and it saved me a ton of energy. I wasn't working very hard and the shallow water allowed even some walking, which was nice because I had a chance to meet the people I was swimming around and check out some of the scenery. I was disappointed in my time though. I was hoping to swim around a 1:03 and came out to see 1:07 on my watch. My wife said I was 18 back which is what I expected, but the 1:07 meant the course record would be that much harder. I felt great though, like it was just a good warm up. I heard later the swim was long so I probably had a good swim for me.

Transition went smoothly, but as I started the bike leg I realized I was really cold. It was low 50's and I was wet. The fog was keeping me from drying and the 24 mph wind I was creating on the bike was just drawing all the heat away that I was creating from exercising. I knew it would burn off and just had to tough it out. I spent about an hour lightly shivering on the bike before things finally cleared and I warmed up. It ended up affecting my entire race though. I'm a very tight bodied person and that limited flexibility often causes me to experience pretty severe back pain on the bike. Riding cold made me really tight and only 20 minutes into the ride my back was already hurting me. By the halfway point at mile 56 it was full on seizing up. I considered pulling from the race because I really didn't know if I was going to make it and I was straight up hating the ride. I decided to just mitigate it by sitting up and stretching every few miles or so. It really hurt my time, but I had no other choice. At mile 56 I hit my cheer squad and then stated I was in 6th and 20 minutes back from 1st. I had lost 2 min and things were not going well. Plus, my first loop time was really tight on what I needed for that course record. I had to push bad thoughts out of my mind and just focus on one section of the course at a time. I was also having issues with fueling. The Gatorade bottles were not going as much into my bottles as they were all over my bike. I also mixed my other concoction too thick and it wasn't coming out of the bottle. This is where training comes in though. Things always go wrong and being super fit allowed for those mishaps on the bike to not ruin my race. My back was limiting my power, but because I was riding easier it meant that the ride wasn't really taking it out of me, which meant I'd feel better on the run. I wasn't getting all my nutrition needs, but I was still getting more than I generally do on training rides. The ride was a real battle for me, but luckily it was an engaging course and just an awesome area. After what seemed like forever (actually 4 hours 46 min) I finally came into T2.

I was soooo happy to be off the bike and running that my mind was in the place it needed to be starting the run. Now I would have family support, spectator support, and would be doing the activity where I could make some movement in the field. I received a split in T2 that I was in 3rd and 14 minutes back from 1 and 2. That came as a huge surprise. I had gained 7 minutes on lap 2 of the bike, but my lap 2 was really a struggle for me. To me, that meant number 1 was not having a great day and with 3 hours of running to go anything could happen. I also looked at my watch and saw that I would have to run around a 2:52 marathon to set the course record. I've been training to run a 2:50 so I knew it was doable. This course though is hilly and running a 2:50 would mean a flawless run. Putting the words flawless and Ironman together is a risky proposition. I knew that starting out at that 6:25 pace was risky. But my goal was course record so I decided it was a risk I was willing to take. The run course was 3 out and backs so I knew each out (or back) I would have to run in about 28:30. I don't use a Garmin on the run and just go with effort. On the first out I was 28:15 and it felt good, so I knew I was on track. I had also cut the gap on number two by a lot, but number 1 was running really well. Like well to the point that if it continued I wouldn't catch him. Each loop brings a runner by the finish line where all the spectators are. With every loop I was rejuvenated and things were really going well. A mile into lap 2 I had moved into second and then just before the turn I was in first and still on pace for the course record. I felt really good but was a little concerned that I hadn't gotten what I wanted from my special needs bag. I wasn't willing to take the time to stop and dig through special needs so I didn't get the salty and savory goods I had in there. That is again risky, but time for that CR was tight. Coming into lap two the announcer confirmed what I had on my watch. I did the first lap in 56 min, the second in 57, and all I had to do was run the last lap in 1 hour and I would set the record. I pumped myself up and focused on keeping the legs moving at that same pace. Then it happened. It’s what often happens in an Ironman. The fatigue sets in. At mile 20 I was slowing, but not too much. I hit the turn in 29:30 so I just needed to come back in 30:30. That was doable. As I came down the first hill on the return trip I lengthened my stride and both Hamstrings started to cramp. They continued to be right on the edge of putting me on the side of the road stretching on a fence (which many people were doing). I had to shorten my stride to limit the work they had to do. That's when I knew the CR would not happen. I decided to focus on winning the race safe and smart for the remaining portion of the run. It was a bummer. Normally I use the fuel of the spectators and finish line to just haul ass the last mile and I wasn't able to do that. Energy wise I felt awesome, but the hammy's were angry with me. I crossed the line in 8:53:30 and took the win.

It’s the best feeling in the world to finish an Ironman and overall I had a successful race that I could learn from. I have some things to work on before the next one and still have some big goals this season.

Some funny things that happened...

  • An aid station worker was wearing a banana suit.
  • I was riding down a fast, relatively technical decent and was taking up the whole lane. I thought I was being attacked by a bird, but it was actually just a dude in a car with a broken horn who as driving right behind me just blaring the horn. Sounded like a pissed off raven.
  • A lady as I passed said “looking good”, and followed up with “your ass looks even better”. Number 2 racer at that moment was a few meters back and said something like “what about my ass?” She said yours is good but his is better. It must be all that strength training ;)
  • A spectator (remember this is wine country) was passed out drunk with a wine bottle in her hand and totally neglected all her duties as a good friend and spectator.


Vineman is coming up!

Another Iron distance race has finally arrived (or will soon arrive on Saturday the 25th). I've been waiting since September. Way too long of a gestation period for me. Normally I would never place so much time between Ironman's. Last year though, I was a broken man after Ironman Chattanooga in September and I just couldn't risk another race. Then this year I was supposed to race Challenge Atlantic City 3 weeks ago, but was forced to change plans when they slashed the pro field due to lack of funds. The distance I love is finally here though and I'm ready to race. So this week has some training but the main missions are to avoid sick people, stay away from sketchy roadside food stands selling chicken, and keep the bike upright. I can get a little weird in the week leading up to an important race. A person will cough and I'll be holding my breath. I'll freak out if I don't get 8 hours of sleep. I constantly push on different muscles to “test” how the recovery is going. And I'm always pondering how a certain activity might make me feel. All those things I've heard are normal.

This is the 26th year of Vineman and it’s a race that has been dubbed “the people's triathlon”. Since its inception they've placed focus on what the athletes want and really make people feel welcome at the event. The race also offers a stellar course. A 2 loop, 2.4 mile swim in the Russian River (yeah, there's still water in there somehow), followed by a 2 loop course on the bike that take cyclists on a tour of wine country, and then three out and backs on the run give spectators a good view of the action. As far as the action goes, there should be a lot of it. This race always brings a solid field of competitors that are generally pretty close in level of talent. I should be up near the front of the race midway through the bike, but it’s hard to know because every race brings a unique dynamic. I'll be packing my standard untalented swim (hey, I try hard!), but my biking and running has been well, so I'm excited to see what I can do there. If the weather is right, I'm hoping to make a run at the course record, which is just over 8 hrs 50 min. I've done a few Ironman's in 8:50 that were allegedly harder courses, so going sub that time is definitely in my wheelhouse. If it’s hot though, things tend to get a bit rough. Plus Ironman is a really long race and there is a lot of opportunity for misfortune. That stuff is out of my hands and if bad things happen on race day, then goals will change midstride. Right now, my number one objective is to win the race with setting the course record as icing on the cake. I've put the training in and dedicated the time necessary to make those goals become reality, now it just comes down to execution.

Pacific Crest Long Course
Get in the mind of a Pro Athlete. Andy recaps his win at the 2015 Pacific Crest Long Course Half Distance Triathlon.


Pacific Crest Long course drew about 500 athletes this year. It's a bit down from where it used to be. As Ironman expands its 70.3 brand they draw athletes away from choosing to race Pacific Crest. Many people want the “big chain” experience. With Ironman you know what they're going to get and Ironman delivers an awesome experience. But independent races have something to offer as well and people should not shy away from signing up for a race like Pacific Crest.

It’s a long drive from Missoula, MT to Sunriver, OR (600 miles to be exact). But we generally break the drive up into two days. It helps from getting that stagnant feeling in the car and doing a little workout before and after driving keeps me sane. I just can't hammer away at long drives like I could when I was 20. Or maybe I just don't have to.

Race day brought a brutally hot forecast, but that's nothing new for this race. It gets hot in central Oregon and although the forecast was for 98 degrees, the bike portion is at elevation where it’s a bit cooler. Also, the breeze created by going 25 mph makes it much more tolerable. Generally the run is where heat becomes an issue, although everything race day has an effect on the rest of the race. Come back soon and I'll post some tips on how to deal with hot training and racing.

I really enjoy the swim venue and this day was about perfect. The water was like glass and the 68 degree water is nearly perfect. That made for an enjoyable swim.

The bike also brought near perfect conditions. Just a light breeze and warm enough to never be chilly. Having light winds on this course is key for me. Coming off Mt. Bachelor is a 45 mph descent for a few miles and then another 10 miles of speeds in and around 35 mph. Wind can make things sketchy at that speed and it'll just take the fun out of the ride. My race plan was to hit the bike with a hard effort and try to work my way into first where I thought I could then run for the win. So, I put my head down and did some work through the bike leg. Eventually I worked my way to the front of the field and came into T2 together with one other racer.

Hitting the run course in 2nd gave me some good confidence that I was in position to win this race. I decided before that if I was in 1st I would set a pace that would be just fast enough to win. Some might call that sandbagging, but there were a couple strategies at play here. One was it was hot; if I ran conservative it would minimize the risk of blowing up and then bleeding time. 2nd was that the less damage I could do to my body the better position it would leave me it to get back training for the next race; which is a more important one. But without help this strategy would be risky. I'd be getting no splits and would risk getting caught and not being able to then outrun whoever caught me. Luckily I had my wife Trisha to help. She raced and won the half marathon earlier that morning, then hopped on the 1980 kid’s bike to give me some valuable info. She let me know that I could run a 6:30 pace (that's about 35-seconds slower than what I shoot for when really throwing down) and keep a big enough lead to win. So, I dialed in that pace and held off the rest of the field. It was my first victory at Pacific Crest and gave me a good idea of where my fitness is at.

Next is Vineman in 4 weeks. There I'll tackle a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run in the wine country of Northern Cal.


Pacific Crest long course triathlon will take place Saturday, June 27th, in Sunriver, OR.  The race is just one of many they offer over the weekend.  They host a bike tour, a 5K, and just about everything in between you could think of.  It’s a great race to travel with friends to because there is something for everybody. Central Oregon also offers great scenery and typically the weather is perfect this time of year. The race is put on by Why Racing.  They don’t have the iconic name that Ironman brings, but this race is very professionally put on and should be on most triathletes list; particularly those athletes who live out west. The race begins high at the source of the Deschutes River in the cold clean water of Wikiup Reservoir. From there cyclists churn out 58 miles into Sunriver, where they transition into running 13.1 miles on paved paths throughout the community. Having raced Pacific Crest 3 times before and having been to many races around the country, I would say it’s one of the better courses around.

Because the race is a bit smaller than what Ironman’s 70.3 or Challenge brand races typically host, competition is generally not as deep. The race typically draws just a handful of pro athletes. I would suspect there will be at least 5 guys near the front forcing me to push hard. Last year I buried myself on the run trying to get the win, but ultimately came up a bit short. I’m confident I can win the race this time around, but many variables open it up for a medley of endings. With triple digits temps forecasted for the weekend that always makes for some crazy racing as well. I generally look forward to the heat because it makes things interesting and harder, but I’ve cracked in the heat too, which is never much fun.

For me this is a “B” race. Which means I’m training for a more important race (Vineman Full) and the importance of going into Pacific Crest fully primed is trumped by preparing for Vineman.  Vineman preparation has been exhausting, as Ironman training tends to be.  This last week I put in 26 hrs of training (swim, bike, or run), the week before 30 hours, and even this week of the race I will be putting in 18. This week is a recovery week, but training fatigue takes weeks (sometimes months) to fully recover from. I won’t be at full strength, but I raced Pac Crest last year in the same scenario which gives me confidence knowing that I can still throw down a strong race with a fast time.

Per the usual, I’m expecting to be out of the water a good bit behind the top competitors. While on the bike, some decent climbs in the first 40 miles will allow me to put nice power into the pedals. Barring heat stroke or crazy tired legs I can run my way to a first place finish and that’s what I plan on doing. Whatever happens, it will be a challenging and fun day in Oregon.

Challenge Knoxville Recap
Get in the mind of a Pro Athlete. Andy recaps the highs and lows of the 2015 Challenge Knoxville Half Distance Triathlon.


Earlier in the year I committed to racing a season of Challenge brand races (although that unfortunately changed in the last couple weeks when prize money was pulled for my whole season). Knoxville was first of the year an offered a fun river swim, followed by a scenic and challenging bike course, and an engaging run course.

I was fortunate enough to secure a sponsorship with Power Systems early this year. Power Systems is based out of Knoxville and they decided it would be a good opportunity to team up and produce a video for their website with the intent of inspiring people to live the active lifestyles that drive their business to thrive. Power Systems worked with JAOPRO (an ad production company) who did some interviews on Friday and came out race day to snag some great footage on each leg of the race. That was a unique and great opportunity for me of which I’m excited to see the end result.

Race day brought me feeling a little distressed about the race not being wetsuit legal for Elites. Having a wetsuit is a distinct advantage for weaker swimmers (like myself) and it meant that the time gap would be even larger for me. But to be fair the water was 72 degrees, which is plenty warm to swim with no wetsuit.

The swim went standard ops. I was kicked off the back in the first 100 yards and then swimming solo the rest of the time. It meant clean water, but nobody to draft off, nobody to spot off, and nobody to pace off. Circumstances led to coming out of the water a whopping 12 min behind the leader and 8 min from the main group. Normally that is my time gap for an Ironman, so it didn’t start the day off on the right foot.

Getting on the bike it became obvious quickly that this ride was going to be sketchy. It was raining quite hard and this course had a significant amount of turns and winding roads. Not to mention a lot of newer asphalt that is known to be slick. After fishtailing a few times early in the race I decided that my body and bike were not worth sacrificing for what was likely not going to be a great day for me (being the deficit on the swim). I rode hard but with caution and having witnessed a lot of carnage out on the course, I’m glad I did. Taking risk for a podium spot is one thing, taking risk for 10th place or 15th place seems not worth it. So I had a solid ride, but it wasn’t anything special. The course was great though, would gladly go back.