Lessons Learned from Austin 70.3


Learn from your past to make a better future daily!

It has taken me a couple of days to process this race in more than just a race report format.  In the car ride home I went over what could have been done better or done differently to improve my results.

Some may read that and say to themselves:  Is this guy for real?  He just set a 14 minute PR at this distance and he is looking for ways to get better.  My response to that is:  YES.  If I settle for those results how do I get better?  How can I relay my experiences to those looking to get into the sport?  How can I look myself in the mirror and tell somebody to push harder if Io’m not pushing harder?

All that being said I will say that I had a very good day at the office and it was not easy to break down this race into places and spaces where I could get better.  After much thought and processing I have come up with a few ways to improve so that when training starts for 70.3 Puerto Rico in March I am prepared to race faster and improve on my 5:28:06 from 70.3 Austin.


I have been working hard on swimming in terms of form and that has improved my speed.  There is no denying that I am faster today than I was in April, but my sighting is horrible.  My watch calculated that I swam 1.38 miles in 40min 06sec.  Had I swam that pace for ONLY 1.2 miles I would have gotten out of the water in 34 minutes.  That is a 6 minute difference between my actual time and the pace I swam.  That is not acceptable.

I spent a lot of time trying to get to the buoy that I wasted energy and bigger than that mental capabilities.  Every time I thought I was swimming at the buoys and wound up just going straight or right I got mentally deflated.

One way I plan on improving this is to continue to do more open water swims, but when the winter hits and I’m in the pool I need to do something different.  I plan on putting a small object  at the end of each lane and focusing on finding that object as I swim.  This will help improve my sighting and help me develop proper balance so when I do sight my legs don’t drop like anchors.

The other idea I’m contemplating is not starting out right but instead starting either on the buoy line or just centered.  It will be a lot more contact but I’m more confident in my swim.  I know that I can get out there and muck it up with the best of them.  Go hard and battle and then settle in.

I learned to embrace the suck on the bike as evidenced by my 2:49:15 split which equates to 19.85 mph over 56 miles.  I was thrilled with this bike split but there are certainly areas that I can improve on.

First off is to always drive, at the least, the bike route.  Know the course and know the different roads.  Had I not known that the road turned hard right on that one section I would have flown straight across the road and into the  trees and pasture instead of controlling the bike and avoiding a catastrophe.

Secondly, my training has to include more rides with faster cyclists.  I can learn how to keep up or I can fall back and as a competitor I will always try to keep up.  This will help my overall speed.

Third in this process is getting to be a better legal drafter.  I have 15 or 20 seconds to enter the ‘drafting’ region and pass.  I need to learn to enter into this area and draft legally before passing instead of just hammering my way past them.  Will this bother some riders?  Of course, but it is well within the rules to do so and this will not only help me get faster but also conserve my legs for the run.


I had a very tough run yesterday on a tough course.  I will say that I got mentally beaten on this run.  It was a never-ending run of climbing or downhill.  It was unrelenting and I let my mind beat me just a tad.  Embracing the suck on the bike needs to be transferred to embracing the suck on the run.

At one point I got so tired of consuming EFS Liquid Shot but I realize now that it was all one flavor.  I consumed vanilla on the bike for 3 hours and then vanilla on the run for another hour before tossing the bottle.  A way to avoid this is to have vanilla on the bike and wild berry on the run.

I also have always liquified the EFS and carried it in a handheld but yesterday I developed a routine of drinking the liquid shot straight and then sipping water.  I did this because I found that by the end of a 10k I did not want to carry the water bottle.  I can either learn to deal with the hand-held, get a fuel belt or get a smaller hand-held that will fit in the back of my jersey while on the run.

These are all small in retrospect but it is the small things that add up in the end.  I will get to work next week, after this week of recovery, of incorporating the little things.

Do You Have Any Advice For Me?

Have You Ever Analyzed Your Race And Found A Few Little Things That Helped You Greatly?

Print Friendly

Related posts:


  1. BDD says:

    Isnt this the race where they have a famous hill named on the run, with a long horn bull at the top of it?

    – The Swim, you know the old saying, practice how you will race, but why dont people practice sighting in the pool? I suggest, put a water bottle on both sides of the pool and practice your sighting in the pool as well.

    – The Bike, I highly suggest to find a bike team that is fast and join them, like a Team Roll. You will learn so much and will become a better cyclist (might want to get a roadie if you go this route, just saying) When you start to enter the draft zone, align your wheel perfectly with the biker in front of you, you will feel the “pull” about 5-10 feet out and once you get about 2-3 feet from their back wheel, then slingshot on the left with an increased cadence.
    BDD recently posted..Weekly RamblingsMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      They do have a hill on the race called Quadzilla but it was taken out this year because of the drought. That being said they also call the mile that we did 6 times ‘Austin Lava Field’ as there is no shade and you are on the asphalt either climbing or going downhill.

      I agree on the water bottle and was thinking of something even smaller so I had to focus on finding it.

      I have a roadie and will need to dust it off to do this with a cycling group but I think that will help tremendously as I begin the process of focusing on Puerto Rico which is in March and that means a mere 4.5 months away.

  2. I’m always looking for ways to improve too. I’m still horrible at sighting in the swim, but I can rarely swim straight. If you are swimming straight, then go for the target. Don’t bother lining up right.
    Carolina John recently posted..Hello TaperMy Profile

  3. Jeff Irvin says:

    Jason, I love how you always can take away the emotion from the race and look at the results in an analytical manor. You need to teach me how to do this!

    I am with you on the swim, just awful at sighting myself. And even worse I sometimes just follow people in front of me who usually turn out to be awful at sighting too! I usually go to the morning Masters class here but the evening class is Tri based and does a lot of sighting practice. They also take down the lanes and practice mass starts. I think I need to go swim with them more often.

    As for the bike, you are right – go ride with faster people. As you know my bike splits improved dramatically this season and a lot of the gains can be attributed to riding hard and riding with roadies. Getting dropped sucks so bust ass to not let it happen.

    On the run the one piece of nutritional advice I can give you is to live off the course when you can. IE: I start out with an EFS LS flask in my jersey pocket – that is all. No fluids. No hydration belts. I take a shot right before aid stations and then wash it down with water. After the LS Flask is gone I toss it and just grab what I need at the aid stations – ice, water, oranges, flat coke, etc. By this point you only have a few miles until the finish and calories are calories. Not enough time to upset your stomach. At this point in the race nutrition is secondary to fitness. Just toss whatever is available down your gullet and fall back on all the hard hours of training to sprint it home.

    Nice recap!
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..10 For Texas Race ReportMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      Great advice on the run. I had tried to do that with having the EFS flask with water to help wash it down but it did get warm and the cold water on the course was awesome.

      I love the idea of just running with that small flask and grabbing off the course. What did you do for the IM since it is obviously longer? Carry one flask and have another in your jersey pocket so when the first one was done you had the second one ready?

      I also think that switching flavors will help big time.

      • Jeff Irvin says:

        Ironman is a different beast! I carried one EFS flask (wild berry) and a hand held 20oz water bottle, it was filled with EFS drink to start but after it was gone I refilled with ice and water. I had a 2nd EFS flask (vanilla) at the run special needs but it really wasn’t needed because the aid stations are like buffets. The hand held was mainly to hold ice and cold water and dump over my head in between aid stations – it was freaking hot on that run!
        Jeff Irvin recently posted..10 For Texas Race ReportMy Profile

        • CTER says:

          I figured it was going to be a different animal plus the temperature swings in that time span can really change a lot.

          Makes sense to refill with ice and water. I did not see you carrying the water bottle at the end (in pictures since I missed you finishing) so did you toss it at one of the final aid stations then?

          • Jeff Irvin says:

            Yep, tossed it in a trash can around mi 25. Should have stuck it in my back jersey pocket but the trash can seemed like a good idea at that point?
            Jeff Irvin recently posted..10 For Texas Race ReportMy Profile

          • CTER says:

            HAHA! Yeah Mile 25 and 12:10 minutes into a race I’m not sure your mind is working properly anyway.

            I tried running just with the EFS flask in my back pocket and it drove me nuts but I will just have to train that way so that I can get used to it. Practice makes perfect.

  4. Mandy says:

    The swim…I practice OWS so much, I am a pretty good siter. BDD’s idea is good, I put a bright colored towel and sight every 2nd breath or something. I have a rhythm in OW. I do bilaterally breath and I think that helps with siting? So every time I breath right, I take a quick peak. It becomes part of my stroke.

    I am slow as hell though so don’t take advice from me.

    Bike. Yeah, bike with faster people. I wish I had some. People.

    Run. Dude. I cannot eat the same thing for that long. I was gagging just reading that. Your pallet gets tired of the same flavor over and over. And I get sick of gel! Sure it is mental, but you have enough mental stuff to deal with you don’t need that too. You need calories, I either live off the land (like Jeff said) or take a few Honey Stinger Gummies with me to mix it up. They are sticky and stuff, but it works for me.

    Again, I am slow as hell so maybe this won’t work for you there Mr. Speedy! :)

    Congrats on an awesome race.
    Mandy recently posted..Hey!My Profile

    • CTER says:

      Fast or slow if there is something to learn I want to learn it and the idea of a bright towel is excellent.

      I agree with you on the too much of a good thing, but I think it is all in the flavor. The vanilla is very mild when mixed with water on the bike. Then the vanilla became too much on the run with it straight before washing it down with water. Having that mixed berry should help and will be something I practice quite a bit before Puerto Rico.

  5. Good analysis Jason. Keep in mind that while riding with faster people is good, group riding tends to develop different systems than you’ll use in iron-distance races. On the flipside, it is the best place to practice drafting skills. At the US Open I remember Kemper and Potts had a discussion about the their varying abilities in draft-legal vs non-drafting races. They definitely know their strengths and choose races to maximize them.

    • CTER says:

      Chris – What type of systems are you talking about?

      Yeah, those guys know their strengths for sure and that is also why they are where they are.

      • Group riding has a lot more short-term bursts and recoveries. The draft itself is a big part of this as your power requirements shift. Working towards an IM I’d think you’d be better served with more consistent efforts. For drafting, have an occasional workout with 1 other (faster) cyclist where you can take turns drafting (and passing) each other. There’s no point in doing a paceline like a bigger group ride as that tactic has no place in triathlon.

        I struggled with this when I dipped my toes into bike racing waters. After doing duathlons the first half of the year I found I was competitive in time trials but had yet to develop the necessary burst and recovery needed to be competitive in road races and crits. They place very different demands on you.

  6. marlene says:

    Always a learning process and I think it’s important and valuable to evaluate how the day went down (big PR *or* a terrible race!) since we can always improve! Thanks for sharing… I am always learning from you!

    I’ve been told to leave a water bottle or some other object to sight in the pool lanes.
    marlene recently posted..Tuesday Shout-OutsMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      You are very right about that and understanding what will get you better is important.

      I am never afraid to try new stuff out as well. It’s important to keep testing and finding what is proper on THAT day. That is the other thing….we are always in pursuit of the perfect race but I don’t think one exists. You may hit that PR but there is something that could have been done better to achieve a faster PR. It’s crazy isn’t it?

  7. The Rockstar says:

    Riding with faster cyclists will improve both your run and bike. Perhaps a bike race in the future?
    The Rockstar recently posted..A dose of realityMy Profile

  8. Jen says:

    I can’t offer advice because this type of thing is so out of my league but thank you for writing about this subject. It does make me think about the things I can do differently for my own races.

    I’ve learned something new in what to do and not do from every race.
    Jen recently posted..Atlantic City half marathon recap: Born to Run!My Profile

  9. Bilateral breathing/swimming & pool sighting. Those would be my top recommendations. The most important thing about bilateral breathing is the balancing of your shoulder muscle. I very rarely practice bilateral breathing in a race situation (unless due to environment issues) but I believe the thing the straighten me out over the years was learning bilateral breathing and swimming like that at all times during workouts. I also build my “sighting” muscles up about a month leading to a race (upper back and neck). I get to a point where half my pool workout I’m sighting up at the starter block or cone sitting on the pool deck.
    Bret Petersen recently posted..Sick Before RaceMy Profile

  10. Jon says:

    Swim: How many interval sets do you swim on smaller and smaller rest? I literally dropped minutes off my 1.2 mile swim by ditching the distance and doing nothing but doing 5 x100, 5×200, and 5×300 sets on shorter and shorter rest. God those sets sucked but man did it give me a new edge in the water!

    Bike: Riding with faster people can work, but really its knowing the terrain of your bike course and maximizing your consistent speed over the distance without cooking yourself. I find riding with others has too much fast and slow riding and not enough consistent effort riding. For the Half Ironman distance, ALL of your long rides should be done at race pace.

    And regarding the EFS liquid shots, it wasn’t until after the Ironman that I realized that EFS liquid shots should be regarded as more of a “electrolyte product with energy” rather than an “energy product with electrolytes.” I am going to revisit this product again next year and use it as an electrolyte suppliment that just happens to have some carbs in it.

    Run: You should brick it after every long ride. This is the true test that shows whether you paced and nutritioned your bike perfectly.

    Finally: Time. Year over year CONSISTENT training is what is going to make you faster. Its called “accumulated base” and you just have to stick with it. Give youself some quality downtime now. Let your body ABSORB this long season of training .When you come back, its gonna suck, but man oh man are you going to come back SO MUCH FASTER you are going to ask yourself, “where did this come from? Oh yeaaaaaahhhh!!!!!”
    Jon recently posted..The Top 15 Men & Women At Kona On Their Bikes and KicksMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      The swim sets she schedules for me are all interval sets. I can probably count the number of 500+ yard swims I do on one hand per set. I know I have gotten faster on the swim but then you swim an extra 0.2 miles you just lose time. So new mentality for next year will be to get in the middle and go after it and not be afraid. I know I can do the distance so now it is about doing the distance the fastest and smartest way possible.

      I agree with you on the bike alone time as I tend to go out at race pace for the 70.3 distance and find that the guys I’m with cannot keep up, which is why I want to ride with a group or at least a few guys that are faster so as not to get dropped.

      And you are correct every long ride has a brick run to it but it seemed that for 40 minutes I can run a 7:30/mi pace but once we entered into that longer distance it was hard, but it was also terrain as you point out in the bike section. This run was unlike any other run I have ever done with the constant up and down.

      And I always remember you saying that from a while ago. Time, Time, Time…..you get faster with time but only with consistent training. That has stuck with me from the moment you said it.

      Trust me when I say your knowledge is not lost on me.

  11. I have tons of advice, but the advice I KNOW is true is to ride with a “roadie” group slightly above your ability. The above your ability part is obvious, and the reason I say “roadies” is because those dudes are in for coffee in bagels after the ride (bricks are building materials) and as a result leave it all out on the road for their rides.

    The downside to roadies? You need to assimilate a bit as they can be slightly more pretentious than triathletes, especially if riding a Campagnolo gruppo. You’ll need a road bike. Though I always see TT bikes in all the big local group rides I can only imagine the flack they must be catching and I also personally believe that the universe is in slightly better balance when you are on a road bike in a big group ride.

    Also (and if you get a road bike), try a few criteriums. Is it the best structured interval work out there? No – but it’s definitely interval work. Not wanting to get dropped and then publicly shamed is usual good enough motivation to dig a little deeper (I speak from experience). Plus your bike handling skills will improve purely out of necessity.
    Patrick Mahoney recently posted..Ironman Training To Start (Almost) As PlannedMy Profile

  12. Chuck says:

    Good thoughts man! Why not just use gels on the run?
    Chuck recently posted..Mile 6.5 got really dark…My Profile

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: