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July « 2011 « Brandon Marsh's Blog


Archive for July, 2011

Triathlon De L Alpe D’Huez

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Yes, a blog is way past due!!

Everytime I sit down to write a blog about a race…aka a ‘race report’, I fear that it may end up sounding the same.  And, invariably, they do end up sounding the same…sometimes down to the result.  That really seems to be the case with 90% of ALL professional triathlete race reports.  In the end as a pro triathlete, one can argue that the result is all that matters.  So, to write another race report that ends with a 12th place finish really kind of pisses me off.  I was stuck at 9th for awhile, and now it seems as if it is 12th.  That is a trend in the wrong direction.  So, while I can end my report there I do not feel that it would give my race, my build up, the race the justice that it deserves.  Nor would it give you, the reader, a small piece of the experience that is the Alp D’Huez Triathlon.  If you are reading this and are from the US, which I suspect many of ‘my’ blog readers are, then the Alpe D’Huez Triathlon is probably NOT on your radar of events to do.  It should be.  It should be because I feel that every triathlete who has the means to, should go do a race in another country, especially Europe.  This race is unlike almost any that you will race.  I will race again in a few weeks in Germany, and while that one will be an ‘Ironman’ branded event, I suspect that the experience will not be what it will be because it is an ‘Ironman’ race, but because it is in Germany.  So, that is the prelude to what will undoubtedly be the longest race report that I have posted here on the TeamTBB website.  And, I hope to have a few pictures for you as well.

I will not dwell on what I called my build up for this race.  It will come across as excuses, which I seem to read in a lot of race reports.  You have to deal with the hand that life deals you.  In mid April and May I was dealt a hand of lemons.  So, here we are roughly 8 weeks later, and I am doing my best of make lemonade out of those lemons.  I’m not quite sure what it means, but another pro remarked that he was focusing on the ‘donut and not the hole.’  So, if that means focusing on the bigger picture, that is what I am doing and what the race in Alpe D’huez was about.  For TeamTBB members, this race has been a bit of a tradition.  A tradition that I missed last year because I was racing Ironman UK.  Apparently that did not stop Aaron this year.  On Sunday morning before the race all those going were given a single sheet of paper that said “Sutto’s Tour de France, Day 1 itinerary”.  We got another one on Monday.  Each day saw a long ride separated by a stay in the posh Etap hotel in Albertville, France.  Everyone was all smiles and chipper on the trip (comments written before reading James’ blog!).  Here we have Amy shortly before the trip…another one of many “Hey Amy what are we doing!?” shots.

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Here is Mr. Stephen Bayliss, soon to be papa Stephen Bayliss at the top of the first climb.  While he does usually wear a lot of clothes while cycling, his apparel choice will give you some kind of idea just how cold and miserable the first day was!

Stephen looking like a Euro Cyclist

The video below was sort of a candid video of MBE as she’s known to her friends, Mary Beth Ellis for everyone else.  She was like a kid in a candy store so to speak.  The video also speaks for itself.  This is our lunch stop on Day 1.  And, there is a picture of MonteBlanc that you can just see peeking above the clouds.

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Monte Blanc through the clouds

The race report wouldn’t be complete without a picture of me, my bike, and part of Dave’s finger at the top of the Col Du Glandon, just so you know that we did indeed ride the climb.

Me, Sign, Bike, Dave's Finger

Nor would a race report be complete without a few pictures of the famous Alpe D’Huez climb.  Unfortunately, I do not have a good picture of all 21 switchbacks, but I think that you’ll get the idea.

A couple of famous switchbacks

Just in Case you lose count, they tell you...all the way to 21

Dutch Corner as it is known

We arrived in Alpe on Monday, Tuesday was an ‘easy’ day, and Wednesday was race day.  Brett said to treat as a bit of training for this point in my season.  To not take too many risks in the race, but in the end it is a race!  I suspect that I lost somewhere around 10-15 minute by being overly cautious on the wet downhills.  It was cold, it was wet, it was windy, it was just about everything that it could have been except for sunny and warm.  I got off the bike and started the run that takes place pretty much at an elevation of 6,000 feet and higher.  I ran really well.  If you want to get down to it, I had the 3rd best run split.  But, having the third best run split, while a bit of a personal victory, does not get the job done when you cross the line in 12th.  12th is still 12th.  And, while it is a good finish on the comeback trail, when the gun went off, what the last 12-16 weeks looked like didn’t really matter.

As mentioned in James’ blog, we were to have a swim the day before and the day after the race.  We had a guest coach on deck in Paddington Bear, but he seemed to have forgotten the red rainboots.

Red Rain Boots Anyone?

The trip there and the race really were just part of the experience.  The day after the race, I put my TeamTBB bike kit back on…after we had a swim…and we rode the flats back to Albertville, France where we stayed again in the posh Etap hotel.  Friday it was back on the bikes for the nearly 180k trip back from Albertville to Leysin.  Unlike the trip on the way to Alpe, I’m pretty sure that the miles and time in the saddle had made everyone pretty well mad at everyone else (comments also written before reading James’ blog!!).  The trip back was certainly not as pleasant as the trip there.  That’s what hard training will do to you.  Here it is on Saturday as I write this blog and we’ve had a solid swim.  I’m sure this will be posted either late Saturday or Sunday.  One thing is for sure, the trip to Alpe was a great one.  Certainly some character (I’ll call it that at least) was built.  Fitness was gained.  A race was run.  Money was won…yes even for 12th money was won.

As I am sure that I wrote last year, if you had asked me 2 or even 10 years ago if I would have raced with a team in Europe and done the triathlon that ended with a trip up the famous Alpe D’Huez climb, I would have answered not in my wildest dreams.  OK, maybe in them, but either way, it has been an experience.  And, that is why I say that if you are a triathlete, and if you have the means, I think that a European race should show up on your calendar.  So, next up will be another European race before heading back to the US to add the sugar to the lemonade that is being made right now.  Wiesbaden, Germany is the next stop.  James tells me that triathletes are like superstars in Germany.  I wonder if those wearing red, white, and blue are superstars there?

Keep TX Wild…Let’s go Run

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

So, I am here in Switzerland.  I should have blogged this a week or so ago.  I took you all on  a ride with me when I was in Vail, Colorado.  I decided on the road trip home that I would swing by Palo Duro Canyon, just south of Amarillo.  Next time, maybe I’ll hit the Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo.

Palo Duro is a bit of an anomaly in the Panhandle Plains of Texas.  One of my two loyal followers here suggested that I tie everything to Texas…kind of like in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Not that everything there can be tied to Texas, but if you have seen the movie then you will know that ALL words can be tied to Greek.  Anyway, this was Saturday after Lubbock…so just a week after the 70.3.

So, I started running…and even though we were in Texas, no horses were allowed here.

Yep, Even in TX...No Horses on this trail

Before I get to the video, a little bit of where I am running, and where I am going…

Could be Sedona Arizona

You can’t see it, but way across the canyon, I am running to Lighthouse Peak…

Lighthouse Peak View

And now to go for a bit of a run!

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And I have pretty much made it to my destination at this point in the run!

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I’m not quite done yet, but close to it.  This is the end of the run.  I’ve run out of water, and just in time.  It was freakin’ warm out there.

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So, there you go.  We went for a bike ride last week, a run this week.  Who knows what next week will hold.  I’ve got an idea or two…and when Amy finishes Ironman Switzerland, we can get back to the ‘what are you doing’ videos.

Canyon in the Panhandle Plains

Hail Yeah…Colorado!

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Yesterday finished the Cervelo Bicycles BRAIN BIKE conference.  Yes, they are introducing a new bike…right now.  The S5.  It is sweet.  The spec is sweet.  The 2012 model line up is sweet.  It is great to be sponsored by these guys.  There will be changes all around for 2012.

I decided to stay an extra couple of days in Avon, Colorado…where the Beaver Creek ski resort is.  We did a couple of 40 mile rides as part of the conference.  They were pretty much, out the door, flat for a bit, up for a long bit, turn around and come back.  Yes, I also did a bit of running and swimming.  Today, I ventured out to do the Copper Triangle…a 80ish mile ride (90 from Avon) that goes through Copper Mountain, Vail, and Leadville.  It is on three roads, hence the triangle reference.  I spent a LOT of time/miles around 10,000 feet of elevation.  I hit all the weather types…sunny and warm, very windy, cold, hail, rain.  I’ll take you on a short tour with me.

This is heading into the mining village of Leadville…home of the Leadville running and mountain bike events.

Abandoned Mining Town

I made it to Leadville…headwind the whole way…in 2.5 hours for a whopping 37 miles.  I went from about 7,300 to 10,150 feet of elevation.  I got there just as storm #1 rolled in.  I hung out at the grocery store till it passed and resumed 20 minutes later on wet roads.  I got to descend a little bit, and then hit the next high point of the ride.  This was Pass #3 after Battle Mountain Pass and Tennessee Pass.  Pass #4 would be Vail Pass.

Freemont Pass

I got down the mountain into the resort town and ski village of Copper Mountain.  From here it was hop on the bike path to Vail and Avon.  Since Amy is not around, I had to do my own video.  I was riding at the time.  There are two for you.

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This next one is right before storm #2 rolled in.  For the first time ever, I thought that I was going to be blown off the road.  It didn’t help that the ‘road’ was an 8 foot wide bike path.  But, I rolled on.  I saw on twitter where a certain world champion was blown off the road the same day while training in Boulder and had to be picked up.  More on being picked up later…

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Right around the time the second video was shot I was pretty near the top of Vail Pass at 10,600 or so.  The next hour was a downhill ride that we had done the day before, but this time with a twist.  I had figured on a tailwind.  That would come, but it wouldn’t be until I had descended most of the pass.  My bike path downhill white knuckle descent was not as joyful as it should have been with the head and crosswind buffeting me around.  And, it got even better…

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I really thought that for the first time ever…I was going to have to make a call to be picked up.  Little did I know that Brad was at the top of the Beaver Creek Ski Resort on his mountain bike hiding under a tree of his own watching the hail come down.  So, I went from an epic race to Colorado where I got an epic ride.  It’s off to Switzerland soon, and I’m sure I’ll ride some more hills there…

Ride stats were 90 miles, 5:10 not including 2 weather stops and 1 coffee stop, 6800 feet of elevation gain, Max temp of 80F and Min temp of 50F, hail, wind, rain.