Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Victory in Huatulco

What a way to end a season! The 2009 training and racing year has been a learning experience. Testing out different training and racing strategies, technique, and abilities. After what felt like a roller coaster of performances, I ended it on a high note. My goal for the last race of 2009 was to crack onto the World Cup podium for the first time.
It’s rare that a professional athlete in any sport can pull off victory in the last competition of the season on the big stage. No this wasn’t World Championships, but a World Cup win is solid.

The more I mature as an athlete, the more I find myself repeating races I’ve been to before. For most of my career, I’ve been racing on a race course in a new city or country I haven’t been to before. When I come back to that city the following year I know where to go for good restaurants, safe places to ride, if I should bring a trainer or not, and whether last year’s hotel was worth residing in again. Since I love racing in Mexico because of the food, culture, and hospitality I never really had a problem any of the five times I’ve come to visit.

If you’ve never been to Central America or South Mexico, it’s hot…all year round. Planning for the race is a given. No wetsuit and wearing lots of extra clothes while training. If you aren’t already on your limit, shedding a couple pounds is less weight you have to carry out on the course when your body feels like a dead carcass in those closing miles. Cutting my weight down a tad was part of the plan.

The bike course has an insanely steep hill. Hills are fun and all but when it’s 100F degrees with no shade, you tend to have a different approach.
I had this theory after 2008’s World Cup that a breakaway was possible. Hard, but possible. A solo attempt early on would be suicidal. I love racing the bike, so I began to get excited right from the water exit. I even took the first bike prime on lap 2. Pushing the pace a little to shake a few of the weaker riders was part of my plan. Attacking up the hill on lap 3 after I sprinted for a prime was not. Looking back a month later, I attacked. At the time, I just “tightened the screw” a bit more.

In cycling, a rider only has two bullets in his pistol, not six. One for an attack or to bridge to a breakaway, the other is for the sprint at the end to win.
I’m not even half way through the bike and I already use up a bullet. In triathlon, you can’t use the other on the bike because of the run. There’s only one bullet. One shot. If you have a bad swim, and have to bridge on the bike to the main field you’re already down to one. Going all out until you’re about to puke then settling back to a sustainable race pace is tough because of the run. Unlike the bike, there’s no coasting on the run. When it’s extra hot, it’s easy to miss fire. You can have an empty chamber by the time to have a reality check and see you’ve got at least thirty minutes left of racing.

So I think I miss fired. That’s ok, because I was planning on making a move anyways. Just not early in the game on a hot, hot day. I used a bullet…On accident… So I had to go with it. I didn’t look back and just rode steady. By the time my next closet competitor, Ruedi Wild, made an attempt to bridge up I had too much of an advantage with little real estate left to sit up and wait for some help.

The run was just gravy. That’s my big focus, so it came the easiest. I’m a swimmer that thinks he’s a cyclist, but is absolutely obsessed with and really wants to feel and move like a runner. (Make sense? No? Me neither… That’s triathlon.)

Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Age Group Tip: Coping With Jet Lag

from the new 3.0!

With many athletes, both Age Group and elite, having to travel across several (or in some cases, a lot of) time zones to the Gold Coast ITU Triathlon World Championships, they will feel fatigued and may be unable to sleep at an appropriate time. They may also suffer a loss of appetite and concentration, and some people experience constipation and general malaise.

These symptoms are the result of the body’s internal clock trying to ‘retune’ to a new schedule and individuals are affected by jet lag in different ways, for example the effects may be worse in the mornings. Jet lag is generally worse when travelling east, so if a return journey is heading back to Europe or Africa it should not be as severe as heading west to Australia.

Top Tip 1
Try and adjust your body clock before you travel. Go to bed an hour or two earlier than normal and get up earlier. This will have the effect of getting your body clock moving towards the different time zone.

Top Tip 2
Reset your watch as soon as you get on the plane and don’t keep converting it to the timezone of your home country.

Top Tip 3
After food has been served, normally in the first hour or two of the flight, try and sleep. Ideally you should get at least four or six hours, but even small naps are beneficial. Make yourself comfortable, recline your seat and use eye-shades.

Top Tip 4
Take additional food and water onto the plane with you and drink plenty of fluid throughout the flight to avoid dehydration. Avoid alcoholic drinks, tea, coffee or cola style drinks that contain caffeine; they will make it harder for you to sleep.

Top Tip 5
On arrival from a long haul flight, such as to Australia, you usually arrive early in the morning – try to avoid natural daylight for the first part of the day but also try to avoid sleeping. If you need a nap make sure this is not for longer than 30min. Staying awake until normal bedtime will mean you get a good first night’s sleep which will help your body adjust quicker.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

2nd in Chicago Triathlon

I had an excellent time in Chicago. I stayed with Jillian Wagner and Mike Ronkoske. A great couple. In fact, so great that Mike went to St. Bedes Elementary school the same time I did! He is two years older than me, so we really don't remember each other. Two years apart feels like a generation with you're in elementary school. We had fun reminiscing about our old teachers.
They live almost to the top of a high rise right near the Pro athletes' transition. It only took me a couple minutes to roll down there race morning.

The night before the race I noticed I wasn't feeling too well. Turns out I had a slight temperature so I popped a couple Tylenol and hoped for the best. When I awoke on race month I wasn't feeling quite 100%. All I could do as take things slow, one step at a time praying that I felt better by the race start. I wasn't feeling bad enough to the point where I should be making phone calls about making the right decision to race. I figured if I kept it to myself and not hear myself say that I'm not feeling right, things will eventually start to come around.

As the morning went on, I began to feel much better. I made my way down to transition wearing a long sleeve shirt. Temperatures have been cool lately in Chicago. Cool for the summer...which meant the 60's. In 2007 when I raced, it was very warm and I ran out of water on the bike, costing me to finish outside the money.

After setting my brand new Blue Triad up, I pulled my wetsuit on and jogged my way over to the start area....about a half mile away. My Aunt Suzie and Bela came out so see the excitement, so I told them I wouldn't let them down especially after a solid performance the weekend before at Nationals.

During the swim, I found myself next to Matty Reed and behind Tim O'Donnell. These two guys are some of the best cyclists in the business and I knew that if I was going to have a great race I'd have to suck it up and some how stick with these guys coming off the bike. We've already lost Andy Potts' feet by the half way and he started to build a lead which I hoped to get back sometime early on during the bike.
Exiting the water I found myself in 3rd and held that position until I eventually caught Andy on the bike. I haven't been training much on my non-drafting cycling this season so without giving much thought to the 2nd half of the bike, I pushed the pace. Andy wasn't going to let me get too far, so we exchanged the lead for a few times before Matty Reed cruised by.
Last summer Andy and I rode the whole bike together at the Escape from Alcatraz before he popped me about 2 miles into the run on the first set of stairs. This was my second opportunity in a non-drafting race to try and beat him.
Shortly after Matty went by us, I was riding a few meters to Andy's right when he suddenly clipped an age grouper who had no idea the pro men were barreling down Lake Shore Drive doing almost 35MPG. Both of them hit the ground hard. A few seconds later Cameron Dye came up along side and we both muttered, "that was close." Word on the street Andy didn't have any broken bones or severe damage. Just very serious road rash.
I talked to his coach and my swim coach, Mike Doane today at swim practice and says he's going to attempt to spin on the bike. Hope you have a speedy recovery Andy!
After Andy was out for the count, Matty put about 40 seconds on me and Cameron Dye heading into T2. By this time, I totally forgot about the way I felt the night before and was on a mission to run Reed down. Some of the time checks people gave me were way off, 20 seconds, 1:40, 30, :60. I had no idea what to believe. Matt's such a tall guy that I would be able to see him easily on the strait aways. I barely saw him. At the 3mi turn around I didn't make up much of any time. The gap stood at 40 seconds. Afterwards, I slowly began to fade and ended up finished almost a minute back by the end. Tim O'Donnell had the fastest logged run of the day and was creeping up on me.
2nd place and 1:49 on that course is pretty respectable.
Thursday I'm off to Gold Coast, Australia for the World Championship Finale, or I get I should say the World Champs!
I had a great track session today and am looking forward to the race next weekend 3PM Brisbane, Australia time.
Check out for great live coverage of the race.
Cheers mate!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Up next: Chicago Triathlon

I'll be heading to the windy in just a few hours for the Chicago Triathlon. This will be my second time racing in the Windy City. I competed back in 2007. Conditions were hot and racing with only one water bottle was a mistake. I ran out about half way through the bike and didn't feel comfortably hydrated until about 1 mile to go on the run. I just kept chugging water at all the aid stations until I felt better. Didn't even crack the top 10!

This year I'll be much more prepared and from what I'm seeing in the forecasts, the highs for Sunday will barely crack into the 70s. Conditions should be super fast.

As always the water temperatures can change in a matter of minutes so I'll have my wetsuit handy if temperatures suddenly drop to 20C. A stiff westerly breeze can blow out all the warm water and bring in cooler water from the deep, otherwise known as the up welling affect.
I'll be racing for the first time on the Triad from Blue with a Zipp 999 set up. For my 2nd water bottle, I've installed a carbon fiber hydro tail from Beaker Concepts. The hydro tail is low profile and very aero. Really looking forward to it. Been having some great rides lately, so I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From Training Peaks

Congratulations Triathlon National Champions Matt Chrabot and Jasmine Oeinck

26 August 2009

Congratulations to TrainingPeaks members and 2009 USA Triathlon Elite National Champions Matt Chrabot and Jasmine Oeinck! Both triathletes used convincing runs to pull away from the other competitors at the end of the race last Saturday, demonstrating both excellent racing strategy and solid preparation for the event.

Exiting the water with Dustin McLarty, Tim O’Donnell and Brian Fleischmann, Matt Chrabot’s group maintained a slight lead during the first half of the bike over a four man chase group that included heavy favorite and defending champion Matt Reed. After the chase group caught the leaders, the pack rode together for the rest of the bike until Chrabot and Fleischmann broke away in the final lap.

On the run, Chrabot was soon out in front by himself, with Reed and O’Donnell in pursuit. The chase continued over the four-loop run, but the advantage remained steady for Chrabot as he ran to a race-best 29:49 10k run and a 34-second victory over O’Donnell, with Matt Reed third.

Describing the most challenging and rewarding moments of the race, Chrabot said, “The most challenging part of the race was the start of the swim. Getting caught in some of the scrum really takes a lot of effort to break free of. Since I was on the end, I had a clean start and swam most the whole way with no contact. The most rewarding was not having any issues bonking or cramping on the run. That’s where I knew all my preparation and hard work paid off.”

Confident in his preparation, Chrabot felt ready to deal with anything that happened during the race last weekend. “My strategy for the race was to accept that my training has been adequate and to deal with whatever circumstances arise. I was ready for either a hard or easy swim, a two man breakaway or large pack, and the hottest conditions… Those who worry in races usually don’t end up winning. I just go with my gut instinct.”

Chrabot’s training leading up to the race was specifically designed to mimic the focus and intensity that he will need to maintain leading up to the 2012 Olympic Trials. So far, this approach seems to be working well. “The great thing about 2009 is that there’s still plenty of time to test out different strategies and really get it dialed in for when it counts most in 2011 and 2012. The next thing I’m looking for is top performances on a consistent basis - that way I can earn enough points to help solidify a 3 man Olympic team. Half way through 2010 we will begin to start racing for Olympic Points. This is crucial for the US, especially since we have the depth to send 3 guys to the Olympics. Each year I’ll have to continue to step up my game just to keep up with the curve.”

As part of his training, Chrabot uses TrainingPeaks to stay in touch with his coach. “TrainingPeaks makes communication with my coach almost effortless. When we’re both very busy or traveling she can at least read my daily entries to see how training is going.”
In the women’s race, Jasmine Oeinck and a group of five other triathletes including Jenna Shoemaker, Margaret Shapiro, Jennifer Spieldenner, Jillian Petersen, and Mary Beth Ellis managed to catch swimming expert Hayley Peirsol on the final lap of the bike. When pre-race favorite Ellis pulled out with a hamstring injury, Oeinck took charge in the run to win with a race best 35:14 run to seal the win in a time of 2:02:49. Shoemaker ran to second in 2:03:17, with Peirsol grabbing third in 2:04:29.

“Everyone did a really good job out there. It was a tough race,” said TrainingPeaks member Oeinck in a quote featured by USAT. “Hayley was so far ahead. She was phenomenal. I just tried to encourage everyone [in our group] that we could get her, if we kept working and plugged away. It’s a really nice feeling to hold the finish line tape. It’s pretty cool.”

Congratulations again, Jasmine and Matt, and happy training!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

National Champion

Just had the race of a lifetime yesterday in Tuscaloosa. Finally pulled off the performance I've been looking for all season long. The first half of the season was mainly an experiment to see how I responded to lighter training loads. No injuries, but not enough haulin' of ass.

The setback was just a setup for a comeback!

Heading into Nationals, I took the last 5 week to really prepare and pull myself together after the mediocrity I've had all year. Mentally, I wanted to put as much pressure as I could on myself to perform. Racing is all about picking a few big ones out of the year and really hitting a home run. Winning Consistantly throughout the year is for the Gods of sport. Most of the rest of the top athletes in the world pick and chose their battles and aim for consistancy leading up to the big moments. I admire guys like Peter Robertson (Australia) for stepping up and nailing gold medal performances at the 2001, 2003, and 2005 World Champs. He wasn't the best during the season, but when it mattered most he can put it all on the line and pull through. Not only that but he's short like me.

When it came time for race week, I mentally and physically prepared the best I could that way if there were any surprises I'd be able to deal with anything that came up without over reacting and losing sight of my goals.





Off to the Chicago Triathlon!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ready for Nationals

I was sitting in the Steam Room today, trying to prep for Nationals when I realized it's been a while since I've raced. Last one was in Kitzbuhel, Austria on July 11th. July 11th turned out to be a cold, rainy, miserable race for me (and Team USA) that day.
Nationals are being held in Tuscaloosa, AL. Completely opposite climate than Austria...Hot, Humid, and lots of sun...just the way I like it. This is were Olympic Trials were held last year. Unfortunately at the time I haven't accumulated enough points to participate and went on that day to win down in Mexico instead.

Fun filled week ahead. I'll be visiting schools Friday morning, promoting Triathlon and the race. Around lunch time I'll be hanging out with my sponsors Blue Bicycles and Zone Labs at the race expo.

This weekend will also be Age Group Nationals. Good luck to all the Age Groupers!

My Mom, Nancy Chrabot will be flying down from Virginia Beach, VA to catch all of the action. This will be her first trip to Elite Nationals.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Travel Tip – Flying With Your Bike

Getting out of paying airline bike fees is something I've been trying to tackle since day one in the sport. United's bike fees are $175 Domestic each way and $200 international...$250 if you're flying to Asia! The hard case with bike stickers are a dead give away.
One thing about the softcase is your bike has a higher chances of getting damaged. Most airlines won't replace the bike if it is damaged, so getting out of paying that hefty fee is worth it in the long run.

Here are some tips and tricks I've picked up along the way to deal with this delema:

One thing I would add is making sure you have some sort of brace in the rear drop outs (where you insert the rear wheel). This helps prevent the rear forks from bending inwards.

Also, with this specific softcase (pictured below), I've inserted fluted polypropylene panels on the outside of the wheels to protect from any direct impact. I've had spokes broken before is this is one way to combat that issue. The panels are very light weight so it doesn't add much weight to the case. You can just pick it up at a specialty plastic store. It's the kind of store that would also make signs to stick in your front yard.

The biggest help to getting out of paying for bike fees is continually flying on one alliance. United is part of Star Alliance so I get frequent flyer miles to all my big races (Lufthansa, South African Airways, Air New Zealand, and many more). Once you reach Gold Status, your chances of getting out of a bike fee are much higher since the baggage rules are slightly different from regular passengers and are more lenient to the amount of checked bags and weight. The agent at the ticket counter might have that slim chance of interpreting that Gold Status members or higher don't have to pay bike fees.

I'm about to go to the airport right now with my bike in a softcase. Racing in Kitzbuhel, Austria on Saturday. Check out for live coverage of the event.


Originally posted on

Blue bike packedBy Blue Competition Cycles

Flying to a race with a bike has never been an easy prospect, but recently things seemed to have become tougher and more expensive than ever. Airlines have declared war on anyone traveling with their bike by charging excess weight and baggage fees that can sometimes exceed the price of your ticket.

Experienced racers have learned that flying with your bike packed in a soft-sided bag is your best shot at avoiding some of these outrageous fees. Soft cases are smaller and much lighter than the traditional hard shell case, giving you a better shot at getting checked-in without having to fork over large sums of cash.

Regardless of which case you decide to use going to your next event, you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on packing your bike to help insure it arrives unscathed. Additionally, here are some tips from the pros on how to get your bike to the races as safely and cheaply as possible:

“I like to go to Home Depot and buy two of the 6 foot long foam insulation tubes used for 1-inch hot water pipes, cut them to match the length of each tube, fork blade, seat stay, and chain stay, and zip tie them into place for extra protection without adding weight.”
— Tina Pic (Five-time National Criterium Champion)

“I shift the chain into the big ring so that the chain covers the teeth, protecting it from potential damage. I use zip ties to hold the chain into place on the big chain ring so it doesn’t slip off during shipping.”
— Brent McMahon (Canadian National Champion, New Orleans 70.3 Champion, Two-time XTERRA World Championships 3rd place)

“I like to keep my packed bag lightweight so that I do not have to pay overweight luggage fees at the airport. I accomplish this by not packing any extra gear into the bag with the bike. I always carry my shoes and helmet separately in a carry-on bag.”
— Andreas Raelert (Two-time Olympian, IM Arizona Champion, 2nd place 70.3 World Championships)

“If I am traveling with two bicycles, I can remove the wheels and pack both bicycles into one bag and carry all the wheels separately in my wheel bags. You can save a lot of money flying this way”
— Laura Van Gilder (US National Cyclocross team member and NRC Road Champion)

“I find it useful to carry a small bottle of degreaser, a wiping rag, a set of Allen keys, and a package of 50 zip ties with me when I travel with my bike.”
— Sarah Haskins (U.S. National Triathlon Champion, Member of 2008 US Olympic Triathlon Team)

“To avoid questions about what is inside the bag, I try to look as inconspicuous as possible. Fortunately, my case is discrete looking. If I walk into the airport with a ‘Bound for Paris Roubaix’ shirt, a helmet strapped to my bike bag, and shoes sticking out of my backpack, I’m a lot more likely to be charged an oversized luggage fee.”
— Heather Wurtele (IM Coeur d’Alene Champion, 3rd place IM Canada)

“I am a tall guy and ride one of the largest bikes. When packing my bike, I remove the front brake caliper from the fork, remove the fork, and put the fork into one of the inside pockets. This allows me to tilt the bike forward so that the seat mast does not stick up too high.”
— Trevor Wurtele (Top 15 IM Arizona, 6th IM Coeur d’Alene)

Blue Competition Cycles is a gold partner of USA Triathlon. Visit the Blue Competition Cycles website at

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

s the Challenges,Elites Discuss Tactics and Misconceptions of Draft-Legal Racing

USA Triathlon June 15, 2009

Draft-legal racing in action

Elites Discuss the Challenges, Tactics and Misconceptions of Draft-legal Racing

As a competitive age group triathlete, your racing schedule is probably pretty packed this summer. But if you approach the new few months as a fan, you can experience some high-level competition by some of the top elite triathletes in the world… and in a format not seen much in the U.S.

Four draft-legal events will be held in the U.S. between now and late August, each perfectly located to draw in spectators from around the country. Check out the race nearest you. Here’s the breakdown:

June 21
ITU World Championship Series
Washington, D.C.

June 27-28
ITU Hy-Vee World Cup and Team World Championship
Des Moines, Iowa

July 11
ITU Pan American Cup at the San Francisco Triathlon
San Francisco, Calif.

August 22
ITU Pan American Cup/USA Triathlon Elite Nationals
Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The races in Des Moines, San Francisco and Tuscaloosa are part of the USA Triathlon Twenty-12 Elite Race Series.

Don’t know much about draft-legal racing? Well, it’s the style raced by elite triathletes on the world cup circuit, and it’s what you see every four years at the Olympic Games as the world’s best hammer it out over a 1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run course.

What you get is a spectator-friendly event with lots of action, multiple-loop courses, pack riding on the bike, and runs that often come down to sprint finishes.

Want to know more about the intricacies and skills needed to race this style? We caught up with four of the top U.S. elite triathletes to give us their take on what draws them to the sport.

Here is our panel: Sarah Haskins (St. Louis, Mo. / Colorado Springs, Colo.), 2008 Olympian and 2008 ITU Worlds silver medalist, Andy Potts (Princeton, N.J. / Colorado Springs, Colo.), 2004 Olympian and 2007 Ironman 70.3 World Champion, Matt Chrabot (Virginia Beach, Va.), 2008 ITU Pan American Triathlon Confederation Champion, and Ethan Brown (Lowell, Mass.), 2007 and 2008 USAT U23 National Champion.

What do you enjoy most about racing ITU-style events?
Matt Chrabot

The level of competition is unmatched in triathlon. ITU style is typically much more spectator friendly so my family and friends find it more entertaining.

Ethan Brown
I enjoy the fast-pace and unpredictability of ITU racing. Every race is unique and anything can happen on any given day. I also like ITU racing because you can race frequently. If you have a bad race one week, you don’t have to wait long to redeem yourself.

Sarah Haskins
I enjoy the speed and the head-to-head racing. I also like the fact that the races are more spectator-friendly, so the fans can watch most of the action.

How does a draft-legal race affect you differently physically than a non-drafting race?
Matt Chrabot

I average about the same amount of power on the bike. But in draft legal, I find it's much more explosive. Off the bike, running with a group of 20 guys is much tougher than by yourself.

Ethan Brown
In a draft-legal race, the swim and run tend to be more painful and competitive than a non-drafting race. In non-drafting racing, you go at or close to threshold the whole time, but in ITU racing you’re constantly spiking your heart rate and effort level, and while sometimes you don’t have to bike “as hard,” covering attacks and sprinting on the bike can drain your legs much quicker than a 40k TT effort.

Sarah Haskins
In the swim, bike and run there is much more surges and changes of pace (especially in the bike). Time trial racing is all about rhythm and staying in your zone. Often times in a draft legal race you have to redline to respond to an attack, and then settle back down below your race pace. Both types of racing are difficult, but in different ways.

What are the biggest mental challenges you are faced with when racing ITU style?
Ethan Brown

The biggest mental challenges you face in ITU racing are preparing for that swim start and first few kilometers on the bike. Those are the most critical points in the race when the lead pack is forming – if you want to be in it, then you have to prepare yourself to go max effort to get there at those two points.

Sarah Haskins
Making sure you have your transition nailed down. If you have a poor transition, it can cost you a race, so I try and mentally rehearse the transition area. Also, if you come out of the swim just 10 seconds back from the leaders, you mentally have to stay in the game and try catch up to the pack on the bike. Heading out on the run in T2, athletes are going very fast and you can't let people 100 yards ahead of you let you down mentally, but stay within yourself.

Andy Potts
You are constantly strategizing as the race moves along. You have to plan for every possible scenario to be successful.

How much is mental and technique and how much is physical when it comes to ITU style racing?
Matt Chrabot

90 mental/10 physical. You have to know how to play the game.

Ethan Brown
Trying to break down the mental, technique-based, and physical aspects of ITU racing into percentages is difficult, if not impossible. Each course presents its own challenge, different competitors can change the way the race plays out, and sometimes sheer luck is involved. All of these things can have a bearing on how much mental prep, pure technique, or fitness is needed to prevail on that day.

Sarah Haskins
Much of racing is mental, period. You are physically swimming, biking and running, but everything in between is a mental game, especially in draft-legal racing. Transitions are very skilled as well as bike handling (cornering, turns, downhills).

Andy Potts
There is a bigger mental component to ITU style racing than non-drafting. In non-drafting races you can put your head down and just push. In ITU style racing you have to have your head up and be aware of everything and everyone around you.

How key is it to get in that lead group coming out of the swim?
Matt Chrabot

It's huge. Looking at the last three of the last four major races, Ishigaki and Mooloolaba World Cups and Madrid WCS, if you weren't in the first bunch out of the water, there was no chance of winning.

Ethan Brown
Being in the lead swim pack is extremely critical for having a successful race. The odds are stacked way against you if you have a bad swim, but once again, anything can happen and you can’t rule out anybody until the race is over.

Sarah Haskins
Very key, otherwise you have to work very hard on the bike/run to catch up.

What do you say to people who say the bike leg is not as important in ITU style racing?
Ethan Brown

The critics who say the bike leg in ITU doesn’t matter don’t fully understand how much short-term power ITU athletes need to have to be successful. ITU races play out more like bike races instead of time trials, and having the power to cover attacks, bridge up, and break away is of the utmost importance. A male athlete who does not have a max power output of at least 400 watts for 5 minutes would find themselves occasionally getting dropped.

Sarah Haskins
Come try it out! It is very similar to a bike race (like the Tour...but much shorter). The change of pace can be just as taxing (if not more) on your legs than a TT ride.

Andy Potts
It is different and hard to put into words. Sometimes the bike can be easy and other races it can be very demanding. It depends on the course and the competition.

What is the difference in the bike leg between the two styles?
Matt Chrabot

ITU is much more explosive. You also have to have the ability to work cohesively with others. If you can't rotate through, and are uncomfortable riding in the pack, you waste a ton of energy.

Ethan Brown
I would say the indicator to success in ITU racing would be having the highest 5 minute power output, while non-drafting would require more of a focus on 1 hour max power output. Developing each of these skills requires two different types of training.

Sarah Haskins
Answered above, but to add in – you have to be very aware of what is going on in a ITU race (packs, attacks, surges, etc), otherwise you could get dropped from a group or crash out. In a non-draft race it is much more internal; you have to set the pace and keep the hurt going.

Andy Potts
The bike in non-drafting races will always be demanding. In ITU racing you don’t know what you are going to get until the race is on.

What are key tactics involved in the bike leg? How does a pack work together? What are the challenges of riding in a group?
Ethan Brown

The tactics involved in an ITU bike leg depend on how many guys are in the group, whether or not the pace is high, and whether or not you suspect someone will attack (or if you plan to attack). All of these scenarios would affect the effort level I would put into the bike. Working in a group can be rewarding but also extremely frustrating. Ideally you want a pace-line where each athlete is rotating through taking short pulls, however, sometimes an athlete will skip their pull or refuse to work, and this causes conflicts, shouting, and slows the group down.

Sarah Haskins
If you have a group of 8 or less, it is important to pace line and take turns with pulling to stay away from the group. Hills or corners are a great place to attack a group and to try and get away from a pack. Teammates can help athletes stay away from a pack by sitting at the front of the group and riding slower. You have to be aware of riders who are not comfortable on the bike and make sure to try to avoid crashing.

Andy Potts
Sometimes the pack works together and other times there is no cooperation at all. It can be frustrating and exhilarating at the same time.

How do you decide when to attack on the bike?
Matt Chrabot

When you know the entire field is hurting the most. When everyone is already red lining, it's time.

Ethan Brown
Attacking on the bike is a decision you have to fully commit to or you will easily be caught. I tend to attack frequently going into transition in order to avoid the chaos of T2, especially if there is a large group. Attacking early in the bike leg maximizes the chance that you will be in a breakaway and open up time on the rest of the field for the whole 40k. Also, there may be a certain point on the course that is especially difficult where you may decide it is worthwhile to attack, not to drop everybody, but to weed out the weaker cyclists.

Andy Potts
Need to read the pack and then take your chances. Reading the pack takes time and experience.

How key are transitions in ITU style?
Matt Chrabot

In a big pack, the difference between the first guy and last guy in could be 20 seconds.

Ethan Brown
Transitions in ITU racing can literally make or break your race. An extra few seconds can be the time it takes to miss that lead pack. Someone from every race has a story about how they “were right there!” but a slow transition ruined their day.

Andy Potts
They are important, but like the swim, no one has ever won a triathlon with just fast transitions.

Does your training differ depending on which style of race you have coming up that week?
Ethan Brown

My training doesn’t vary much the week of a race, regardless of whether it is draft-legal or not. The week of a race I’m focusing on doing shorter, more intense efforts to build speed and feel fast for that weekend.

Sarah Haskins
Not too much, but I will be training on a road bike verses a TT bike when I have a draft-legal race approaching.

Looking back at your first ITU style race, how did the event turn out for you?
Matt Chrabot

It was horrible. 2005 nationals. I nearly finished dead last. In ITU style, the best guys are very solid at all three disciplines. I thought I was a good swimmer, but got annihilated from the start. Plus racing late in the afternoon was something I was definitely not used to.

Ethan Brown
In my first ITU race (2006 U.S. Nationals in Long Beach, Calif.) I feared for my life during the swim. I’d never been in a field with so many good swimmers, and I was beat up pretty bad. When I finally made it to the bike, I had already missed the top 2 or 3 packs, and I ended up riding 30k of the bike with just one other guy, only to get caught by a giant pack with 10k to go. In retrospect, I simply should’ve waited for that pack and conserved my energy instead of working hard with just 1 other guy.

Sarah Haskins
Yes, many mistakes. I had a slow first transition and missed the first bike pack (I was not used to getting on the bike with my shoes already on the pedals). I also ran out of T2 with my helmet on! I was also not too great technically on the bike and had to catch up to wheels after all the corners.

Andy Potts
I made some mistakes but it was a great experience and very exciting.

How long did it take you before you felt comfortable racing ITU style?
Matt Chrabot

It took 3 years. I'm a slow learner!

Ethan Brown
I would say it took me 3 seasons of racing, up until 2008, to really find my groove in ITU racing and start having good results. To this day I’m still working on my swim as I don’t always make the front pack.

Sarah Haskins
A couple of years... and still working on it! I think one of my biggest weaknesses is technical skills on the bike, so focus on the weaknesses, but don't forget to train my strengths.

Andy Potts
I was comfortable right away – I was always in the thick of things and love the challenge of it.

What advice do you have for someone approaching their first ITU style race?
Matt Chrabot

It looks like we are beating ourselves up in the swim but we aren't! Try to keep your hands and arms in if you want to make it out of the swim in 1 piece. If you want to race on the biggest stage in all of sports in triathlon, ITU is the only path to the Olympics.

Ethan Brown
To someone about to do their first ITU race I would advise them to race aggressively and keep their head in the race no matter how it goes. People tend to get destroyed in their first ITU race – the thing to remember is that it’s the experience that counts. You learn something new every race and you have to go into them prepared to suffer, but also with a calm state of mind prepared to learn.

Sarah Haskins
Have fun, stay calm, mentally go over the course (especially the transitions). Practice riding with road cyclists on group rides and get comfortable riding close to people, practice pace lining and cornering.

Andy Potts
Be ready for anything and get really comfortable riding in groups.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Real Endurance Runners

This video on what's know as "the Persistence Hunt" blew me away. A group of hunters ran down an antelope to pure exhaustion during the hottest part of the day in the Kalahari Desert.
It's interesting that humans were perhaps designed after all to become an endurance animal.
-Skin rather than fur to cool our bodies more quickly.
-Hands to carry primitive weapons and water.
-Toes that are far shorter than all other primates. This has been shown to be a big advantage - but only when running over distance

Really cool

Sunday, April 26, 2009

St. Anthony's Triathlon

Wow, rough waves on the swim this morning! It was so rough they canceled the age group swim. Big waves for Tampa bay.
Ended up taking 6th over all. Lost a three way sprint for 4th between Cunningham, Raelert, and myself.
I'm staying at Sara McLarty's awesome house in Clermont, FL for the next day and a half. Then her, Jillian Petersen, and I fly out to race in Tongyeong, South Korea on Tuesday.

Check out live video from next Sunday's 2PM race at


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mooloolaba World Cup

Mooloolaba World Cup officially kicked off the start of the triathlon season for me in 2009. I wanted to go down, mix it up with the best in the world, pick up a huge chunk of points that would help solidify a start position for the Des Moines World Cup and Washington DC - World Championship Series Triathlon.

It was my first trip to Australia. The flights were long and uneventful. On both flights crossing the Pacific my girlfriend Jillian Petersen and I had a whole row of 4 seats to ourselves. It's nice to travel with someone that's close and stretch the legs out when you'd like to lie down.

I stayed with Ben Collins and Kevin Collington at the Belardroo Holiday Apartments. This turned out to be a perfect location. The rates were cheap, we had a great view of the run and bike course, about a 4 minute walk to the grocery store, and the ocean was just across the street. Once we figured out how to work the AC after a few days, things couldn't have been better.

The swim was originally going to take place in the ocean but for some odd reason, they switched it to this river about 1Km away from the original start.
The waves weren't that big in the first place. They were big, just not out of control...head high and clean. Lot's of wind though.

The swim was around an island in the middle of the river. The island was lined with rocks and razor sharp barnacles. The race started during low tide and the barnacle covered rocks were deathly close to a small section of the swim course. The first half of the swims can be a bit violent at times so I got pushed up towards the rocks, slightly cut myself and almost missed going around a buoy.

Out on the bike, I latched onto the main field while 3 Aussies were off the front. I threw in a few attacks along with Ben Collins and Kris Gemmell, but it was no use. The Aussies out numbered the field and they weren't going to let their man off the front, Courtney Atkinson, get caught.

I led coming off the bike and in to T2. I felt awesome the first 2 miles. In fact, I led the run! I didn't think I could run with Brad Kahlefeldt and Gemmell, my goal was just to hang on as long as I could, not lead it.
Towards the 5Km mark, I began to crack and slowly slid back to 9th. The long flight and long base early season training finally caught up to me.

All in all, it was a respectable finish for my first experience racing DOWN UNDER!

Up next:
April 26 St. Anthony's Triathlon
May 3 Tongyeong WCS - South Korea


Monday, March 2, 2009

Twitter/ Competitor Radio

Twitter / mattchrabot
The one line blog site.

Time is flying by in Chula. Training has been stellar. Couldn't be any better.

Went on Competitor Radio last night with the guys. San Diego Sports Radio XX 1090. It was awesome. I've always wanted to be a guest on the show. I originally discovered them on iTunes Podcast oneday when I was looking for something to listen to on long rides through frozen corn fields in Virginia Beach during the winter and was tired of music and books on tape. Bob Babbit is pretty much the godfather of triathlon, so it was great to meet him too. Competitor Radio has interviewed the greatest endurance athletes in history: Lance Armstrong, Mark Allen, Andy Hampston, Dean Karnazes, the list goes on...

Check it out on


Friday, February 13, 2009

Chula Vista

I recently arrived in Chula Vista, CA for a block of warm weather training. Colorado Springs was a bit chilly and I didn't want to be cooped up running on treadmills and riding on the indoor trainer when I could have the option to train in a warmer climate.

The running trails out here seem endless compared to what I have access to in CO. I mostly prefer to run right out the door vs driving a long ways to run or ride so Chula Vista has a lot to offer in that sense. Not to mention the food in the cafeteria and world class track on site is awesome. The riding in exceptional. Some triathletes think riding on Otay Lakes get boring but I beg to differ. Anything beats stop and go riding.

My goal is to improve on my run and so far I'm on the right track. The first real test will be the Mooloolaba World Cup on March 29.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

2nd place: Fast Triathlon

I went down to Brazil again for the Fast Triathlon this year. Here's some advice on Brazilian Visas: If you would like a 5 year Visa instead of a 90-day Visa and get it for the same price, just write a handwritten note saying how much you love to visit Brazil and plan on going back several times... I didn't do this but everyone I know that has a 5 year Visa did. I gotta do this for next time cause these Visas take up an entire page and then some in my passport.

So the Fast Triathlon: in Guarujá, São Paulo state of Brazil.

3 short triathlons (~250m swim, ~5K bike, ~1200m run) spaced out 15 minutes apart. The distances aren't very accurate. I think the run was actually 1236m according to Ben's Garmin.
6 teams of 3 men each. Early season, so the only guys doing any sort of interval training are the Brazilians. In the 3 races I took 2nd, 2nd, and I think the last was 4th. It was hard, but a ton of fun. I crashed last year, so it was nice to keep the rubber side down the whole time this time around...

Here's a link to the news story with some videos of the 3 races.,,MUL981270-16321,00-TRIO+DO+BRASIL+FATURA+MAIS+UM+TITULO+NO+MUNDIALITO+MASCULINO+DE+TRIATLO+RAP.html

During the Brazilian National Anthem

4-5-6-7-8-9! Mexico took 3rd behind us. Brazil won. They were too busy talking to the media to be in our sweet picture. Why is Paco and Ben the only ones not wearing their Fast Triathlon team issued Speedos?

Victor insisted we always pose for pictures in numerical order, just in case...for whatever reason.

I borrowed these pictures from Ben Collins. Check his site out at

Juraci Moreira clearly hasn't just been doing base training like me...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Striper Fishing, not seagull fishing

The night was a bit chilled as the sun went down just before 5PM. My dad and I were well underway from Little Creek Marina to the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. It was too late in the day to head out in the ocean to go after the Striped Bass that had more "portfolio" and size, so we just went after some schoolies that hang out in the shallows by the bridge tunnel. You can't keep any of the fish in the Chesapeake Bay after the New Year, only catch and release or a $500 fine...per fish!

Once we pulled up to the bridge we cruised around looking for flocks of seagulls diving in the water, feeding on schools of menhaden. Where there's menhaden, there's stripers.

The fishing was slow at first, but once the flock of seagulls found the bait fish it picked up very quickly. When it's good you'll hook into one every cast.

Thousands of seagulls flock in the area. Sometimes if you don't cast low enough you'll hit a seagull. Since I was wearing thick gloves it was hard to let go of the line while casting. As the jig hit the water and the line slackened down a gull's wing got caught under the line. The gull panicked and entangled itself in the line.

I started reeling the gull in and noticed he was much more difficult than what I could have imagined. This was a smaller gull, maybe only 2 pounds at most. The bird wasn't freaking out and further entangling itself but for some reason I felt a little extra tug.

As I pulled the gull in closer and lifted him up to the boat I noticed the jig was deep in the water pulling with a lot of force. Turns out I caught a seagull and a striper on the same cast! As I unhooked the fish, the seagull went to bit the 4 pound schoolie. Better him than me! My dad and I had to work fast to untangle the bird otherwise if his friends saw that he was in danger, the scene may have quickly turned into Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." We ended up cutting the line out and he flew away without much difficulty.

We considered the bird and ourselves lucky and concluded this was one of the more interesting catches we've ever had.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Years

Training has been going stellar the past few weeks. Last year at this time I was experiencing a minor setback that led to a whole chain of injuries throughout 2008 season. I tried doing things my way during 2008, some things worked, some didn't. After weighing my options, I figure I'll just sit back and do what my coach says vs my way. Learning the hard way sucks!

I've been back in Virginia Beach for the past few weeks. About to head back to sunny Colorado on Tuesday.
I went out for a ride yesterday morning, but before I left I checked the forecast and there was a wind advisory until 10PM. I figured whatever I like a good stiff crosswind every once in a while.

Turned out to be a serious cross wind. Gusts were out of the NW (I think) at 40MPH! Tailwinds were great but holding about 250 watts on a flat road and only going 10MPH was freakin' awesome. I wanted to try and take some cool pictures while riding with the camera on my phone but I probably would have been blown off the road in the ditch.....Virginia Beach and Chesapeake have almost no shoulders and deep ditches. Wish I could have seen myself hiked way over leaning into the wind in a crosswind.

Moral of the story: get out and ride on a windy day. If you make it back with out blowing sideways into something, you'll feel like you've conquered something