Tuesday, May 8, 2018

2018 Ironman 70.3 St. George- 10th (North American PRO Championship)

Ironman 70.3 St. George goes HARD! The North American Championship title makes the competition serious. The hills and heat make the course an honest feat to simply cover all 70.3 miles. Overall, it’s a worthy race of the championship distinction and after underwhelming performances in Oceanside/ Liuzhou, I was pumped to give it my best effort in Utah. 
Jeanni and I previewing one of the critical portions of the bike course- Snow Canyon. 
The ~3 weeks between getting back from China and heading to St. George were some of the best training I have had all season. It was only a 10-day training block but I was putting up massive numbers that had my confidence back on the right track. We had to make some tough decisions in the amount of load/ intensity going into this race and ultimately went with the more intense, higher volume option with Ironman Boulder looming. Despite a bit more acute fatigue than I would generally have heading into a top-notch 70.3, I felt good on race week and prepared to perform to my maximal ability. 

The day started off with what is likely my lifetime best swim. I had a great start, settled into the front group and comfortably locked in at about 90% effort. I felt smooth and in control the entire way, exiting the water in 4th with some of the best swimmers in the sport. I had my customary near race-best T1 and I got onto the bike in 2nd. I could not really have asked for any better only 25 minutes into the race!

Once onto the bike, my excitement was quickly taken back. I tried really hard to ride with guys who came through quickly like Tim Reed and Joe Gambles but didn’t have the fire power that those guys were pushing up that first climb. I had 5 minute power at 400w and still got dropped going up. My plan was to be in the 430w-450w range on that climb but my legs would not produce the power I needed to stay in contact. The remainder of the ride was mostly a solo effort attempting to hold it together and not get caught by the chasers I knew would be racing hard from behind. I felt very comfortable from an aerobic perspective but my legs would not respond! I was stuck in one gear and on a course as brutal as St. George, you are going to lose time if you are not riding at max effort.  
Photo: Paul Phillips (Competitive Image)
I ended up coming off the bike in 12th but in the mix for spots 8-14. Starting the run, I felt surprisingly good. The first 5k of the run go straight uphill, climbing about 500 feet. I was moving well along that section and was putting time into all of the guys around me. But similar to the bike, I was sort of fixed at one pace and surprisingly had trouble running fast on the downhills- typically a strength for a tall dude like me. I jockeyed for position a few times and ultimately settled into 10th place, the final money slot and the final position on the ultra extended podium. 
Was this my best race ever? No. But it was far from my worst. I wanted to be solid and in the mix. I was able to do that. There were a lot of positive aspects that I took from this race but also a few things that my team and I have unpacked and refocused on cleaning up before the Ironman. Here is a peak into the list we came up with... 

THE GOOD: 
-Awesome swim! My 3-year swim project has finally come full circle and I have gotten to the point with my open water skills and swim fitness that I am confident I will exit the water at the front of almost every race. 
-Great transitions. I made up critical time there across the board having the 3rd fastest T1 and the 3rd fastest T2. That is something I always have and always will focus on. Lionel Sanders had the fastest T1 and T2 of the day. There is a reason he dominated the race. He was obviously the strongest man in terms of swim-bike-run but his attention to detail even further aided his victory. 
-Solid-ish run. I improved 3 minutes on the run from my race here in 2016. I thought I was capable of running closer to 1:15 on this brutal course but I felt really comfortable the entire way and at the finish could have kept rolling through a few more miles. 
-My attitude. I was happy and confident. I rolled with the punches. I didn't put pressure on myself for a result and only focused on the performance. Focusing on the performance over the result will always leave me satisfied with some aspect of the race. Although I always want to win, focusing on getting the best out of myself generally leads to my best race results. 

THE BAD: 
-The ride. My ride was awful here. I pushed 313w average power, 319w normalized power. I was shooting for 335-340w average! I lost a TON of time to the guys ahead. And some time to the guys behind. I am confident that it was just an "off" day on the bike but this is probably the area that I will focus a lot of my attention on in the next few weeks. 
-My focus. I was able to generally stay positive over the course of the 4h race but the middle portions of the bike I found myself having some bad negative self-talk. I moved from 2nd on the bike to 14th. I haven't really been in that position before because my swim has not been on this level but it is still hard to watch the race go up the road. Instead of focusing on pushing my best power and staying as aero as possible, I sat there wondering why I was getting dropped. At one point I went down a spiral of thinking about being too heavy, not being aero enough, etc. I have worked hard on all of those things and have them dialed in (for now). Especially in the Ironman, I am going to do my best to keep the positive self talk rolling all day long because similar to my attitude, that will pay off at the end. 

I am back home in Boulder feeling excited and motivated to start this training block. This Ironman has me more fired up for a race than I have been in a long time. Over the entire course of my 11 years in the sport, I have wanted to do an Ironman. My coaches, peers and family know that this race is going to be special for me. I was reading an article that my high school news paper wrote about me back in 2008. I was doing local sprint triathlons at the time and running 35 minute 5k's but there is a quote in there from me that says, "I want to win an Ironman." It feels like a lifelong dream that I finally get my first opportunity to realize. 

And you KNOW the #metzlmour fan club was going to turn up for this one! A big crew this time around to inspire Jeanni and I the whole day. Also a huge thank you to our amazing homestay who feel like an extended portion of this family- Tom and Sandy Daniels. 
Dad, Mom, Pop, Gram, Jillian. 

IM BOULDER training starts this week. Wish me luck!

Justin 






Sunday, April 15, 2018

5th at 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 Liuzhou +(what happened in Oceanside)

What a whirlwind trip! As my first "real" races of the season, the Oceanside->Liuzhou double got me excited. It motivated some of the best training I have ever done and allowed me to put up some massive sessions at the Qt2 PRO camp in February/ early March. According to the numbers, I went into these races with a level of fitness that I have never had before. I am reaching a point in my career where some level of risk in training is required to find out what it will take to reach the next level. I think Jesse and I both knew we were right on the line of all that training load resulting in a great race performance or being one step too far. I unusually struggled through some sessions in the final two weeks of training in Boulder which is quite uncommon for me. We more or less aired on the side of caution in the final approach and despite not having the confidence that I did immediately post-camp, I still felt like I could deliver some serious performances. At the end of the day, I was confident in our preparation and pumped to get two chances to test it out on course.
Picture: Talbot Cox
70.3 Oceanside started off well with one of my best ever swims, exiting the water in 5th place. Once onto dry land, it was a totally different story. I immediately got dropped from guys I would typically be able to ride with and then the entire mens field came through me on the bike. Obviously something was wrong and around mile 25, I decided to save my legs for 70.3 Liuzhou the following weekend. I hate DNF'ing races. That being said, I am starting to rely more and more on prize money to pay bills. So although it was hard, from a business perspective it was the right call.
Picture: Scott Smith
Honestly, after the race I was pretty down on myself. More than disappointed, I was just confused. It's hard to expect one thing and have reality end up being the polar opposite. My parents had flown in from New York and Jeanni was there too. They all attempted to lift me up but it wasn't until I boarded the flight to China where I was able to switch focus, forget about Oceanside and put my energy into redeeming myself at 70.3 Liuzhou, 6 days later.

Travel to China went as well as it ever has for me (this was my 5th trip to China in the past 15 months!) and having done this race last year, I felt very comfortable arriving in Liuzhou. I settled into my "China" routine of staying on American time zone (going to bed at 7pm and waking up at 2am), eating club sandwiches and spending the majority of the day inside my hotel room. Everything was going great until Wednesday morning when I went out for a 50 minute run right at sunrise and severely sprained my ankle twisting it on a crack in the sidewalk. I had immediate pain, swelling and bruising.
(not optimal)
I spent the next 48 hours in serious discomfort. I could barely walk from the bed to the bathroom in the first 24 hours it was so painful and stiff. I RICE'd it over the course of that time and although it wasn't perfect, it did start to feel better the day before the race. It rapidly improved over the course of the final day before the race and the night before I knew I would be OK to start.
I always love helping out at the IRONKIDS before the race. Their stoke is so high and the smiles on their faces after crossing the finish line are priceless. 
Race morning I felt happy and strong but I knew things would have to go my way in order to compete against the field that assembled in Liuzhou. The headliners included 2x Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee and arguably the best long course athlete ever in Craig Alexander. These two overshadowed a handful of other incredibly fast dudes that included 70.3 winners Sam Betten, Mitch Robbins, Guy Crawford and Felipe Azevedo.

Once again, I proved the development of my strength in the water with a front pack swim. Solid transition and onto the bikes where Crowie immediately started hammering away at the front trying to limit our losses to Brownlee. I had to work very hard to stay onto the back of the group but after about 10 minutes the pace slowed and I went to the front. My legs came around and I felt very good. I put my head down, rode hard and looked back to see a 30 meter gap open up. I made a noticeable acceleration to try and get away that I think Crowie took note of. He pulled the group back up to me and from that point onward, I knew there was no breaking up the pack on this flat and fast course.

Around 25km, I felt the clamp that holds on my saddle come loose. I typically run the saddle slammed all the way forward but as the bolt came undone, it got pushed all the way back. My position was ultra stretched out and that made it challenging to push power. Every 10km or so it would come a little bit more undone. It went from just slamming back, to sliding up and down and then ultimately got to the point where the top part of the clamp completely fell off the bike. I was able to keep the saddle on the post with the pressure of my body against the bottom clamp. I rode like that for 50km! With 15km to go, the saddle fell off the bottom rails after hitting a bump and at that point I thought I was in trouble.... But I was so freaking determined to finish this race. I rode the final 15k of the race either standing out of the saddle or sitting on the seat post clamp. Through pure grit I made it back to T2 with the group...
I take 100% ownership for the mechanical issue. There was nothing wrong with the clamp. I should have checked that bolt after the bumpy ride in Oceanside last weekend. I am sure it was a bit loose going in and the few bumps on course gave it that little bit of force to wiggle it free. I am super detailed with my bike and rarely have issues like this. I literally disassemble and reassemble every bolt on that bike when I travel, except for that one... I will not make that mistake again. 

Starting the run, it felt like I had borrowed another persons bike that I had never been on before and rode as hard as possible. You can imagine how that felt.... My legs were toasted. Crowie, Sam and Mark Buckingham (Brownlee's training partner) took off up the road and I didn't have very much pop in there to go with them. It was far from my best half marathon but at the end of the day, those guys ran very well and I'm not sure if I would have been able to catch them even if had I not had those challenges on the bike.
Holding strong for 5th 
I always go into races with the objective of a.) winning or b.) being on the podium. If you would have asked me how I would have felt about 5th place at this race a month ago, I would have been angry.  But considering all of the circumstances I have had the last two weeks, I was content. Just getting across the finish line required me to dig deep and find true grit, determination and tenacity. All things that will bode well for my major tests this season, in particular the full distance race.

I'll slowly start shifting my focus to Ironman Boulder here over the course of the next few weeks. Next up will be 70.3 St. George and then I will start my overload training for the big one.

When things don't go exactly how you want them to, you find out who really has your back. I shared some of my trials and tribulations through social media and had a lot of people reaching out in support- thank you.

Also a huge shout out to Jeanni, Jesse and my parents who's unwavering support is amazing. I'm a lucky dude to have them all believing in me so much.

I'm hoping that I got some of this crap out of the way and that we can move a little more smoothly into the meat of the season. There is still a lot of racing to go this year!

Until next time....
JM
Men's top 6: Alistair Brownlee, Criag Alexander, Sam Betten, Mark Buckingham, me, Felipe Azevedo. 













Friday, February 16, 2018

*RACE SCHEDULE* update (first half of 2018)

The first half of the year is already technically underway after my 5th place finish at Ironman 70.3 South Africa in January but the "official" start to my 2018 season still awaits. Below is my plan of attack for the remaining first half of 2018 including why I chose that particular race.

April 7- Ironman 70.3 Oceanside

Considered the North American season opener, this race will be ultra competitive. In previous years I have shied away from this event because everyone seems to be in great shape and a serious performance is required to get an early season paycheck. I think this year I am in an entirely different space in terms of my physical and mental preparedness. A hard early season hit out will be a good indication of where I stack up against some of the best as well as help me sort out exactly how I need to prepare for the 70.3 World Championships later in the year.

Photo: Tristan Brown
April 14- Ironman 70.3 Liuzhou

~6 days after Oceanside, I'll be racing another 70.3 but this time a little bit further away from home. I can't seem to stay away from toeing the line in China! I have raced in China 4x, two of times it has gone great and the other two it went poorly. That being said, I feel like I am starting to understand the China travel and racing dynamic. I had the opportunity from Ironman to come back to this race and with relatively easy travel from LAX, I decided to go for it. I used miles to book a business class ticket (my first business class flight) which I think will make a big difference. I also think there is a huge benefit to racing back to back weekends as it clears out chronic training fatigue while maintaining fitness from the hard race-day effort. I am really looking forward to this one.


May 5- Ironman 70.3 St. George

One of my favorite races on the circuit, driving distance from Boulder and another very competitive event. It will have a similar dynamic to Oceanside and the 70.3 World Championship. I hope to be in really good form after the Oceanside-Liuzhou double and look forward to a return to Utah. I did this race in 2016, skipped it in 2017 and regretted it. The harder the course and conditions, the better it is for me. St. George always delivers a massive challenge so it made a lot of sense for me to give it a crack this year.
St. George 2016. Picture: Tristan Brown
June 10- Ironman Boulder 

The race on the schedule that is giving me the most amount of motivation in my training. Up until St. George, I am giving 100% of my attention to half-distance preparation. But with my consistently high training volume and intensity, the switch to a short Ironman focus after St. George will not be very different. The minute I started triathlon over 10 years ago, I have wanted to race an Ironman. I have suppressed my urges to race one in the past few years out of fear it will impact my overall career development. I will be 25 on race day which is still relatively young in terms of Ironman racing but my years of consistent and balanced training have me in a spot to be very competitive. I think it takes a very unique athlete to do well at an Ironman and in particular an Ironman at 5500 feet. I check all the boxes to have a strong first attempt at Ironman Boulder and get excited just thinking about this one.
Picture: Timothy Carlson/ Slowtwitch
The remainder of the year is still TBD. The only race I have penciled in is the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The remainder will be a combination of domestic and international 70.3 events.

Thanks for following along and see you at the races.

JM





Tuesday, January 30, 2018

2018 IRONMAN 70.3 SOUTH AFRICA

Ironman 70.3 South Africa- January 28th, 2018. Yeah, that’s right. January. I went way outside my comfort zone and kicked off my 2018 campaign significantly earlier than normal this year. Racing halfway across the world is always a bit of a gamble but this one felt like an even more significant bet. I went into the race with only 4 weeks of proper training and a few extra holiday pounds still on my bum. Not to mention, there was a foot of snow on the ground when I decided to trade the Colorado winter for the African summer. Despite the risk, Jeanni and I were given an offer to make the trip about 10 days before we had to leave. Both of us were knowingly underprepared but we saw more positives than negatives and decided to book it up. 
It was a bit of a hustle to turn this from a winter training bike into a race ready whip!
(Photo: Jaryd Brown)
I’m quickly becoming quite the world traveler. That is one of the aspects I love most about being a professional triathlete. Along with that, I’ve established a routine when it comes to international travel. Most would shy away from the 3 flights (one of them being 16h) plus a 9 hour time change. But I took it about as well as anticipated and landed in East London feeling adjusted and ready to race. 
Picture: Jaryd Browne
I had gotten some decent sleep in the build up to the race but four days is not nearly enough to get on the time zone. It still “felt” like I was back on Colorado time meaning the race would be happening from 11:00pm-3:00am on my body’s internal clock. I’m generally pretty good at rolling with the time zones but this one was going to be tough! Fueling, hydration and particular, caffeine were going to be huge players. 
Always 2 bottles of EFS the day before a hot race.
(Picture: Jaryd Browne) 
1 hour before the start I downed my 5x First Endurance pre-race caps and 1 can of Beet Performer. I hit my warm up jog, some ECFIT activation and then went down to the beach for the ocean swim. The gun went off and I used my height advantage to get a bit of a lead on the long run into the sea. I quickly found myself in the main bunch within contact of the lead kayak. There were 2 athletes ahead but the gap seemed to be very small so I settled into the front pack and hit the cruise control. I took control of the group on the back half and pulled back a bit of the time on the two ahead. I exited the water in 3rd position 0:30 down from the front. 
Picture: Jaryd Browne
I think it’s important to mention my transitions here. I always joke about having the fastest transitions but some of these pro transition times are really unacceptable. It’s free speed and something that I visualize, practice and nail every single race. Once again, I had the fastest T1 and T2. Making up critical time in T1 which negated that 0:30 gap out of the swim.
https://www.obstri.com
This bike course is LEGIT. Honestly, one of the hardest courses I have ever done. For reference, harder than 70.3 St. George, harder than the World Champ's course in Zell Am See, harder than Challenge Iceland. 3000 feet of gain in the first 45k on rolling hills. After the turn, a slamming descent but not without 5-10 hard, unexpected punching climbs. The boys came through early on the climb and had guns blazing. I had 5:00 power over 400w, 30:00 power over 360w. I maintained contact for about 30 minutes but my lack of fitness was eventually exposed. I struggled on the back half but made it to the top of the course still in contact with 3rd-6th place and knew the downhill was where I would make up time. By 70k I had bridged to the 4th and 5th place guys. By 80k I picked up the 3rd place dude. From there, it was hard to drop anyone and our bunch of 4 all got off the bike together. 
Picture: Jaryd Browne
Once again, the fastest T2 of the day and I was onto the hilly, hot and humid run course with a little bit of a gap. I settled into my standard 70.3 goal pace (~1:15) for the first 30 minutes or so but didn’t have a lot of gas in the tank to sustain that effort. 3rd and 4th pulled away and I had no response. 1:21 may seem like a pretty slow time but it was only 2:00 off the fastest run split of the day showing just how tough that course is!
Picture: Carene Botha 
I crossed the finish line in 5th place- honestly very happy with the performance. I was going to be stoked just finishing this race in one piece. The fact that I was able to grab a paycheck and kick my butt into gear with a hard 4 hour effort made the trip 100% worth it. 

I came back to life after a cold bottle of Ultragen at the finish line and waited for Jeanni to come through. I saw her battling for 1st and 2nd on course, so I was on the edge of my seat to see who was going to break that tape. I feared it wouldn’t be her but deep down knew she was going to suffer in front of her home town fans and get the W. #littlelegend has arrive- 2018 edition. 
Photo: Chris Hitchcock 
I fly back to the USA content with this performance but hungry to train properly and arrive at my next race knowing I have done the right preparation. I know that I have at least 5:00 in my back pocket that I will chip away at and unleash at my next series of 70.3’s. 

Until next time- 
JM

Picture: Jaryd Browne

Friday, November 18, 2016

5 reasons you are not getting faster

1.) you don’t do your easy rides easy enough 

Somewhere along the line aerobic training and recovery training got thrown together. Too many athletes go out there and just ride/ run by feel. I constantly hear "whatever feels easy" is my recovery pace. But a lot of the time that effort ends up being slightly too hard and inhibits the athletes ability to push on sessions where it actually matters. A good gauge I like to use is <110 heart rate. So pop your bike on the trainer, link up some Netflix and chill.
Jeanni intensely riding 70w. 
2.) you don’t train your gut to take on fluid, salt and carbohydrate 

Carbohydrate, salt and fluid are the name of the game when it comes to racing. Everyone needs some combination of these three in order for race day success. Yet, I am constantly seeing people posting about not performing on race day due to GI distress. And that is likely because they do not train their gut. Your stomach is trainable just like anything else. And not practicing your race day nutrition strategy on a weekly, even daily basis, can leave you wasting precious seconds in the port-o-loo. Many athletes don't take in enough of these sport products during training because they are afraid it will sacrifice their body composition goals. But during your training sessions is NOT the time to skimp on calories. So drink your sports drink and slam a gel. You will be able to execute your session more effectively and you'll be training your gut in the process. 

3.) you don’t care about your body composition

This one is a touchy subject but it is a critical point on this list. Unfortunately, there is an emotional aspect with body weight, body image and food. That is what makes this one difficult. But that does not mean that it should be ignored. Losing body fat will make you faster. A lot faster. In running, I typically see 3-4 seconds PER MILE drop in paces for each pound of body weight lost. Additionally, the lower the body fat, the better ability the athlete has to deal with hot conditions. Getting down to "race weight" is challenging but important. I personally struggle with losing body fat and have tried every trick in the book. My suggestion is to track your calories for 6-8 weeks at the beginning of the season to shed off those holiday lbs and then again 6-8 weeks before your big race.


sushi and wine can be part of the diet plan (but you better track it!) 
4.) you aren’t adaptable 

All triathletes are type-A and there are lot of ways that this personality trait gets in the way of optimal performance. When we get into a training block it is all about routine. Familiar training routes, comfortable eating patterns and adequate amounts of sleep in your own bed. But when you travel halfway across the world for your next race, every piece of that puzzle is thrown up into the air. You don't know the roads, you have no idea what that thing is on your plate and you are sleeping in the middle of the day trying to adjust to the time zone. Some athletes freak out and let it impact their ability to perform during the race. Others can adapt to the situation and not let these circumstances dictate their race day outcome. There is a way to be type-A but still be adaptable. Go in with a flexible mindset. Trust your training and roll with the punches. Remind yourself that as long as you show up at the start line on race morning fit, healthy and ready to race- nothing else matters. 
In China. Seriously jet lagged. Fueled by white rice and mystery meat. I even watched an episode of Shark Tank before the race. But highly caffeinated and ready to race. 
5.) you don’t acclimate for a hot race 

I learned this one the hard way. I constantly would rock up to early and late races fit as a fiddle but walk home with less than expected results. Typically they would come off the back of sub par runs where my body broke down in the heat. I recently learned the benefits of acclimating to the heat while living in a colder climate. For those doing hot races coming from a climate cooler than the race environment, this one is a MUST. One heat session each day somewhere between 17-20 days before your event will do the trick. A "hot session" is a workout were you are increasing your core body temperature and sweating. So ride the trainer and run on the treadmill. And don't be afraid to hop in the sauna pre and post swim session. 
If it works for a #champion, it can work for you too 
And that's it. If you do even one of these five, you will get faster. All 5 and you may just have yourself a PR. That being said, a lot of these tips take some more specific, personal instruction. And that is where a smart coach comes into the picture. If your coach isn't focusing on these things, then ask him or her to start. And if they don't know what to do, you should probably look into getting a new one. 

For those looking for someone to guide them through any of these tips or looking for an individual coach, Jeanni and I will be working together to coach a select group of clients in 2017. Feel free to reach out to us- justinmetzler1993@gmail.com and trijeanniseymour@gmail.com 

Cheers,
Justin 



Saturday, December 26, 2015

Jaybird Reign- another tool in your arsenal

Success in the sport of triathlon comes down to training properly in all three sports- swimming, cycling and running. Putting in the work, making the sacrifices and committing yourself to the multisport lifestyle. But at the top level of sport, every professional triathlete does the same thing from a training perspective. The sets, intensities and durations may differer but we all swim, we all bike and we all run.
And because of this, nearly all professional triathletes are at 95% of what it takes to be elite. The remaining 5% comes down to what you do off the training grounds. There are countless small details that separate someone from simply racing as a professional to having success and making a career out of the sport. But one major component of training that can help take an athlete to the next level is focusing on recovery techniques.

The major recovery techniques that I focus on are nutrition, sleep, protein intake, use of my Normatec recovery boots, foam rolling, massage and acupuncture.

In the past, tracking recovery was a preemptive measure and I would attempt to anticipate how I would respond to a block of training or super hard string of workouts. But the body acts in mysterious ways and no matter how much I try to calculate that, it is a very difficult variable to predict. And this is where the Jaybird Reign comes into the picture.
The Reign is a small, watch-like device worn on the wrist that is essentially a power meter for your body. The Reign understands your body's fatigue and recovery by measuring your Heart Rate Variability (HRV) in addition to activity and sleep patterns. These values are put together and converted into a singular number called your "GO-ZONE." Using the Jaybird app, I can log on in the morning and see exactly how my body is responding to my training. When the numbers are good, my recovery is on track and I am confident to push it in training that day. When the my go-zone is off, that is a red flag that something may be up and I take a serious look at how I am feeling before going out on a 5 hour ride or a 2 hour run.
The Reign is an awesome tool that can easily be incorporated into your training and get you that extra few percent you are looking for next season.

For more information on the Reign or to pick one up, click HERE.