Want To Race At 9,156 feet?

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Looks like I was onto something with the Yellowstone tri! My highest triathlon record will be held for just over a year afyer this Colorado race at 9,000 ft.


To get my record back will probably take some planning and mountain biking.

Yellowstone Triathlon complete!! Initial Report here…

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I am very happy to report that the first ever (that I know of) Yellowstone National Park Triathlon is complete!

I completed the half-distance triathlon in 6:56:57, almost an entire hour slower than the stretch-goal and 27 minutes slower than the regular goal; that 27 minutes is accounted for by buffalo-jams that I expected but didn’t put in goal-time-equations.

Summary of stats for first Yellowstone National Park half-distance triathlon.

Summary of stats for first Yellowstone National Park half-distance triathlon.

Summary Review Notes, with details coming later.


  • An awesome experience and so glad I did it!
  • Course changed a bit upon assignment of campsite because the site provided a perfect transition area due to its proximity to the road. I looked at the topography of the beach between the shore by the campsite and the marina, where the swim was supposed to start, and realized I would be swimming in shallow water with a start next to camp, so that prompted the switch to an easier transition area being right in our campsite. This also provided race-specific training for the Bear Lake Brawl because of the long uphill run from the swim to the transition area.
  • It was a beautiful day! Perfect weather!

The Swim:

  • I already mentioned the change in swim course. This was a good call.
  • I swam in 3-4 feet of water with sandy bottom and very clear water the entire way. It was awesome.
  • The swim course ended up about 200 yards short, but the turn-around was a nice area and I didn’t want to cross the marina channel twice, so that’s what it was.
  • Pace was slow at 1:38/100 but I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the course I had chosen on land, so a few times I did breast-stroke to take my time sighting and making sure I was on the course I had in mind. Remember, there are no buoys out there on a do-it-yourself race!
  • Water temp was about 65 degrees best I can tell. The only temperature gauge is from the Lamar River at Tower, and I suppose that is pretty close to what Yellowstone Lake would be like. I was expecting it to feel much colder, but in reality it was one of the warmer swims I’ve done. Yes, I wore a wetsuit.
  • The morning was incredibly calm and beautiful. I thought this was going to be the hardest part to finish, but once I got going, it was very relaxing and a pure joy to do, and something I think I will remember forever.
  • Started a bit later than expected, right before 7:00am. Original plan back in June or so was a 5:30 start, then I actually looked at sunrise and found it to be 6:23a.m. Revised plan called for 6:45 start, and I started at 6:53 or so.
View of the shoreline of the swim. Vertical red line represents the center of the marina channel and a buoy I swam around as the half-way point.

View of the shoreline of the swim. Vertical red line represents the center of the marina channel and a buoy I swam around as the half-way point.

View of the sunny calm morning swim venue for the YNP Tri.

View of the sunny calm morning swim venue for the YNP Tri.

How could I do it without a support crew?

How could I do it without a support crew?

YNP Tri Swim ViewThe Bike:

  • The bike course changed just a bit when I determined this would be more of a tour than a race. I added the Yellowstone Falls area tourist roads to Inspiration Point and Artists Point, where I ended up taking some selfies just for fun.
  • I was worried about traffic and getting run off the road. 99% of the drivers were incredibly nice. The 1% was a big truck that just couldn’t wait. After white-knuckling the white-line with no shoulder for a minute or two, I ditched into the ditch when the drop-off minimized to a foot-deep. I survived with nothing more than a dropped-chain and realized 10 miles down the road that my water bottles were still in the ditch, causing problems on the run.
  • Yes, I got caught in the buffalo jams. That was part of the reason it took nearly 3.5 hours for the bike leg! I positioned myself on the other side of a car for protection and felt pretty small and weak ten feet from a huge bison.
  • Riding in Hayden Valley was a dream come true! It was so beautiful and relatively flat and open.
  • Riding along the lake was really cool too! Again, no wind.
  • The weather remained incredible during the bike. Relatively cool and no wind.
Elevation profile of YNP Tri Bike course. Total of 1,939 elevation gain over 58 miles.

Elevation profile of YNP Tri Bike course. Total of 1,939 elevation gain over 58 miles.

  • Cruising through Hayden Valley on the bike during YNP 2015 Triathlon. Yes, this picture did capture two other bicyclists, the only two bicyclists I saw the entire day.

    Cruising through Hayden Valley on the bike during YNP 2015 Triathlon. Yes, this picture did capture two other bicyclists, the only two bicyclists I saw the entire day.

The Run:

  • The run course changed a bit on the fly. Out of T2, I ran past Fishing Bridge as I realized I wanted to get some uphill out of the way early, as I didn’t have any gels with me, and I had lost some hydration when my botles were left in the ditch during the bike incident.
  • It started getting hot! I never prayed for rain during a race before, but I wanted rain during this tour. I got a few drops, and the clouds helped alot, too.
  • This is when I felt the elevation hit me, or the lack of gels and hydration. I ended up doing some walking.
  • Paul biked with me the last five miles on Sea Gull Point. That was pretty fun! In the spirit of the #IronCowboy when his daughter ran the last 5k with him each day.


  • After the big finish, I immediately chugged a recovery drink of two servings Recoverite and one serving Hammer Whey protein and was mostly rejuvenated within an hour, at which point a beer was in order. Then we went back to the bike area to get my water bottles. Then continued to Canyon where I got a shower and a coffee. While buying fishing permits for our next adventure, I think I seemed a bit out of it to the salesperson.
  • We stayed at Canyon for dinner. A couple Coors Lights, a bison bacon cheeseburger, and double order of fries hit the spot for dinner.
  • The next day we hit the Lamar Valley trail for our annual family backcountry adventure at Cache Creek. The boys don’t carry real gear yet (they carry a camelback with their own water, lights, and rain jacket), so Dad gets 65 pounds of gear. When I see the smiles on their faces during backcountry swimming, fishing, rock throwing, and marshmallows on the fire, I instantly forget (most of) the pain from the back.

Final Comment: Why do this? I simply combined my love of Yellowstone National Park with a love for triathlon to create a do-it-yourself race-cation in a unique spot, and I like the idea of doing something nobody else has done (that I know of). And with two young boys, I gotta do what I can to save money here and there; which is where the do-it-yourself race-cation concept comes into play, for both money and time away from work.  Finally, this was certainly no major feat like the Iron Cowboy, but I also hope to inspire somebody to get out there and do something exciting and active.

Garmin 920xt now has buzz-only alarm!

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Latest 920xt firmware update FINALLY has buzz/vibrate-onky alarm option. I updated and found it very easy in the alarm menu.


Wife will be very happy now with no audible alarms in the morning.


Crowie’s Habits – Comment #1

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The info-graphic below is from an ad for Triathlon Research at http://www.triathlonresearch.org. Even though it’s an ad, there are some great take-aways.

#1: “4…..Champions focus on core strength…”  I have always known this to be true but have never practiced it til this summer when I decided I would finally change-up my training routine.  Now I do some crunches and leg-lifts after every weight training session (three per week) and after regular runs.

The impact is incredible! All triathlon power truly does come from the core. I run faster. I bike faster with greater endurance. And, my swim is more efficient with a lower SWOLF.


Crowie's Habits from Triathlon Research

YNP 70.3 one week away

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I am one week away from my Personal Challenge half-distance triathlon in Yellowstone National Park. I am pretty excited!

A few notes…

Training is coming along nicely. I have had a good four week block that ends this weekend that is looking at race specificity, specifically distances and topography. I am not riding the hills anymore, opting for race-specific longer distance and flat with a few rollers followed up by runs. The runs are mostly flat, and I am not doing the hills anymore.

Weekly Training Hours August 2015

I did a 2500 freestyle yesterday to confirm swim endurance, and that went pretty well; although the brick workout I followed-up with in the afternoon was a struggle to finish, and I think that was from the relatively immense training load I have in my legs right now.  My bike leg is doing fairly ok, but I notice that I struggle after 40 miles or beginning at the 2-hour mark, so I continue to focus on 2+ hour workouts right now. My run workouts are doing well, and I am focusing on minimum of 15-minute transition runs after each bike. My weight has finally started coming back down to under 190 pounds!

Big Training Events so far, with a focus on elevation training and getting past two hours on the bike.

My training load is peaking right now for this YNP event. And you can see how I continue to build on the performance chart nice and steady on my way to Sept 19 for the Bear Lake Brawl.  If I can keep up with the training schedule I have created, I think I can break 5:00 for the Bear Lake half-distance (51 mile bike; average 5400 feet elevation).

Training Load Aug 7 2015

Performance Chart Aug 7 2015

The focus of this training plan is to hit a short/intense session, tempo session, and long session of each discipline and three weight-lifting sessions each week. I usually do the swim after the weights, and that is proving to be difficult because my upper-body is getting wrecked during the weights.  I am also forcing myself to do the bricks and transition runs, and it really doesn’t take that much more time to add a 15-minute run on to a bike; I think cutting five miles off a bike ride is worth it, but I struggle with that because I need every mile of bike riding I can get.

I have to keep in mind that the YNP 70.3 is really a touring triathlon for fun and a big training event along the way to  a big effort at the Bear Lake Brawl. Along with the YNP triathlon, I am scheduling my first Century Ride in southeast Idaho and a true Gran Fondo hitting the big four peaks in the immediate area around hometown Pocatello, but I’ll be doing this unofficially and on my own because I will be fishing the Lamar River post-YNP 70.3 on the day of this event.

Thanks to Hammer Nutrition for providing 20% off in conjuction with this personal challenge! I made a big order from Hammer for nutrition purposes. I got most of my “regulars,” with the regular raspberry gel and strawberry Recoverite and cranberry bars, and I also got a bulk tub of Perpetuem to get me past that two hour mark on the bike. I also got some more SeatSaver, which I have found to no-kidding eliminate saddle sores.  And I got some Whey Protein to ensure I recover from weight-lifting sessions, which is much of the reason that I am not losing weight because I am adding lean mass (I think!) from weight-lifting, which is ok with me.

In the “new-to-me” category, I also ordered the Phytolean for the first time….I think it works pretty well, but I am having trouble making sure I take it 30 minutes before a meal.

Another new product I am trying is the Edurolytes Extreme, but I haven’t got to use them yet because the standard August dry heat days are replaced by cool days with near-daily afternoon rain. I love Endurolytes on hot summer days, and I like the idea of carrying alot fewer Endurolyte pills with the Extreme.

The 5 Golden Rules of Sports Nutrition | TrainingPeaks

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From Training Peaks:


How am I doing according to their 5 rules?

1. Don’t train on an empty stomach: I try to always train on a near-empty stomach, especially running. But I also want to have eaten something in the last two hours (except early mornings when the rule is have at least two big cups of coffee in me).

2. Don’t miss breakfast: I NEVER skip breakfast. In fact, I have truly instilled the theory of “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.”

3. Plan your meals 2-3 meals ahead of schedule: this is kind of intuitive for me, especially within a day of my big workouts.

4. Don’t skip recovery meals: I am 50/50 on this. After a big workout, I rarely skip a Recoverite shake unless I did it during the work-day and I didn’t have any recover its with me. I rarely have a “recovery” meal after swims of 2k or runs of 10k and shorter, other than a piece of fruit.

Cycling to extremes – VeloNews.com

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Of course, everything in moderation, but there is definitely something to think about here as we keep pushing ourselves into old (er) age.

“Fairly quickly I learned I’m in deep shit here. Basically, I figured I was done, this was it,” he said. “It’s interesting; at the time, my emotions were… I was frustrated. It was not on my list of things to do because I was kind of a type-A. My dog was in my truck, we were going to go out and do a ski when I was done, I had work to do that afternoon, phone calls. It just wasn’t on my list of things to do, to die on the ski trails. I was pissed [laughs].

There is something in this article for every triathlete over 40, and probably for the younger folks, too, who train with us old guys.

Some great case-studies and just enough science to keep it interesting.

Have you ever felt that flutter in your chest? Ever thought, “That’s odd. What was that?”

Maybe you dismissed it. I couldn’t possibly have something wrong with my heart — I’m an athlete. I’m fit. I’m invincible. You wouldn’t be the first, or last, to disregard that subtle blip on the radar screen. Chances are it’s nothing, after all.

But how much is too much? Where is that line? If you have a heart rhythm problem, then perhaps you’ve already crossed that line. Is there any turning back?

“Everyone asks where that line is, and how much is too much,” Mandrola said. “It will never be a yes or no thing. It will always be this gray zone. But one of my takes on the evidence is if you have a heart rhythm problem, then perhaps you are over that line for you. Still, number one: Exercise is good. The endurance athlete who gets this stuff is often over-cooked or over-done.”

For Zinn and Endicott, two of thousands who may have ridden and run their way to a contracted lifestyle, the lesson is clear.

“Few people sharing our mentality will make much of a change based on reading an article like this,” Zinn said. “But if the takeaway is that they can keep doing the things they do but with a much higher prioritization of rest, that stands the most chance of actually saving some people from veering off down the path of becoming a cardiac patient.”

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