Austin Tri-Cyclist Blog

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tips from Brandon Marsh:
Triathlon Training in the New Year

New Year's resolutions last about as long as a snowman in July. A couple of days into January, you're feeling motivated…ready to quit coffee, climb Mt. Elbrus, file your taxes early, clean out your garage, and maybe take up sailing, to boot. But after the first few weeks of trial and tribulation, it's often all too easy to shelve those lofty goals until next year.

We asked Brandon Marsh, professional triathlete and coach, the best way to start the new triathlon season, from how to set goals and stick to them to finding the right balance in training. Read below for his responses.

What's the best way to go about setting realistic goals?
  • Look at past years' performances and set specific goals for swim, bike, and run improvements. These can be pace, power, or just making sure you get out the door and focus on your key workouts more.
  • Evaluate you realistic training time, and adjust your goals and expectations accordingly. Improvement will come from training "smarter," training "more," and from the additional year that you have in your legs!
  • Try to focus goals on performance as opposed to times or differ even year to year. Conditions are variable, so even if the course is the same, comparing a time year to year may not be the best thing, and you cannot control who else shows up at the race. Control the controllable.

How often should I race? What's the best way to put the race season into perspective?
  • I like to have two pretty key races close together (unless they are IM events). That way you are not putting “all of your eggs in one basket.”
  • The amount of racing you decide to do will probably depend on your personality. With the focus so many have on IM distance events, a lot of athletes miss out on the fun of racing just for fear of missing a long ride or run.
  • It helps to realize why you are doing the sport. Is it your job? Is it a stress reliever? If so, try not to allow triathlon to just create more stress. The season is long, so treat it as a long race and pace yourself!

After the off season, when should I start ramping my training back up again?
  • Ramp the training back up whenever you feel ready or at least get started with training again when you feel ready. Maybe you feel sick with yourself that you've taken so much time off or eaten so much junk or put on a few pounds. Or maybe you have started to "miss" the training. Those are good indicators that it is time to get going again.
  • “Off season” can be a bit of a misnomer for some. A lot of triathletes put in a run focus and end with a marathon in the early spring or late winter. I say do the training but don't run the marathon if you need a run focus. Whatever your “off season” is, it's a good idea to find a loose structure that you can maintain and try to stick to it without being too psycho!

What are some tips for finding the right "balance" in training? How do I find the right mix of volume vs. intensity, frequency vs. duration, and time devoted to each sport? How do I know when more is beneficial and when more is going to get me hurt?
  • This really is an individual question as no two athletes are the same. Typically, the injuries that triathletes get are overuse type injuries, and typically they show themselves while running. But, generally I like to encourage athletes to have two key swims, bikes, and runs each week. If you have more time, fit in additional easy workouts around those six key sessions.
  • Try to run more frequently, and keep the runs shorter and easier for a while. Begin to add to one run until you reach 60+ minutes. Then start adding to a second run so that you have two key runs a week.
  • For cycling, most athletes will be able to handle a little bit more intensity and volume. But, I think that for some a bit more intensity...especially in the winter/indoor months…can go a long way. This can also help us in Austin where it is really easy to be really fit all year. So, you might have one ride that has some shorter efforts and another with longer efforts.
  • The swim, same as riding, especially since no one likes getting in a pool when it is cold. Make the sessions count. Put in a good effort when you swim. Don't just get in and float around. Work on your stroke in warm-up and cool-down, but get after it in your main sets.

What are important things I shouldn't forget to incorporate in my training?
  • Mainly don't forget to vary your training. We will all gravitate towards workouts we like, but don't neglect doing the ones that you don't particularly like or that challenge you every once in a while.
  • Do some of the small things. Personally, I like to do some TPTherapy work in the evenings in front of the TV. I like doing some very basic planks and core work, but you don't have to go out and buy the latest gadget (TRX for example) to make it work. Just a few minutes of those two things can help keep you ahead of the injury game.
  • Since most of us have pretty "sedentary" jobs, get up and walk around a bit just to not be sitting all day.
  • Keep it fun, and keep it social when you need to. That will help your longevity in the sport more than the latest training fad.

For more info on "Team Marsh," coaching, and more, visit

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Cervelo P5 Unveiled: Simply Faster!

The Union Cycliste Internationale, ruling party of all things bike racing, has been busy "clarifying" rules pertaining to bike design for most of its history. Frames and bike parts deemed legal for years are often found, quite suddenly, to be illegal. Recent victims have included the Specialized Transition, P4 water bottle, Cervelo seatposts, and the much-loved Vision time trial bars.

Growing weary of the changes and restrictions, which strike many as arbitrary and superficial, triathletes have campaigned for bikes that do not adhere to UCI rules, since most triathlons allow for much more design freedom. Bike makers have begun to answer the call. Spy pictures of a UCI-illegal "Illicito" from Quintana Roo have surfaced. Specialized had a brilliant release of the Shiv Tri, with Craig Alexander's Kona win as a fitting introduction. Now Cervelo has released their offering, the P5, which features a UCI-illegal fork, seatpost, and front end. But don't fear, roadies – there's a UCI-legal configuration as well.

Full details on the aerodynamic advancements have not been released yet (a whitepaper is coming) but the Cervelo website hints at the P5 being "30 seconds faster over 40k." It's not known if they are comparing the P5 Tri with the P4, but if so that would represent a significant leap forward, given that the P4 was already among the fastest, if not the fastest, bike on the market. The time savings implies that Cervelo may have trimmed another 75 grams of drag from the P4 to the P5, which would make it a complete outlier among bikes today.

Two Versions - UCI-Legal and Triathlon Specific

The Cervelo P5 frame is a completely UCI-legal and optimized shape. Several design features will appear similar to other recent super bikes such as the Scott Plasma 3 and Cannondale's prototype (currently being referred to as "the new Slice"). This is no accident, as the distinctive seat tube and head tube shapes are a logical consequence of the UCI's tube shape rules. Cervelo claims to have gone the farthest in maximizing these rules, resulting in deeper tube shapes in these regions than any other frame. The UCI-legal frame allows Cervelo to offer the bike in two configurations, one for triathletes and one for roadies. Those with the coin could even switch between configurations depending on the race. The UCI-illegal frameset comes with the following UCI-illegal bits to reduce drag even further:

  • A deeper, UCI-illegal fork that integrates with the Magura hydraulic aero brakes
    (~4 seconds per 40k time savings)
  • An aerodynamic, UCI-illegal front end cover for the front brakes
    (~3 seconds per 40k time savings)
  • A seat post allowing a more forward seat position adjustment
  • A custom, UCI-legal integrated aerobar, the 3T Aduro

Given that forks, head tubes, and aerobars sit up front hitting clean air, these changes should make for fairly large drag reductions compared to the UCI-legal frameset. The 3T Aduro offers the most potential advantage with its integrated design, adjustability, and water bottle mounting features. Fortunately, it's UCI legal, so roadies can use it too, though it doesn't come standard on the UCI-legal bike. Below you can see the P5 in three configurations, the standard UCI-legal bike with Magura aero brakes, the UCI-legal bike with a standard brake caliper, and the all-out triathlon setup (click to zoom):


The P5 frame features a bit more stack than the P3 in order to better accommodate the typical triathlete position. Those who prefer super low positions are not out of luck, however, as Cervelo assures the aero-minded that their 3T Aduro bar in X-Lo configuration allows lower positions than could be achieved on a P3 or P4. They claim the P5 allows more than enough adjustment to accommodate the entire Garmin team's positions, including Aero God Dave Zabriske. Cervelo has provided a stack and reach chart to aid in sorting out their new integrated aerobar system (below). When using the 3T Aduro bar, large stack adjustments are made with the 3 different configurations (X-Lo, Low, High-V). Fine tuning of the stack is done with under-stem spacers shaped to match the integrated stem. These under-stem spacers, once finalized, can not be adjusted much once the fork is cut to size. You can however make adjustments later with armpad riders. Any 3T, or Vision aero arm pad spacers will work.

P5 Features
  • BBright - Stiffness and weight +Click For Details
  • Dropped Down Tube - Integrates with fork and front wheel +Click For Details
  • Storage and Hydration - Carry water, food, and tools +Click For Details
  • Magura Hydraulic Brakes - Optimum aero and stopping power +Click For Details
  • Easy Maintenance - Easy traveling, wheels fit, standard parts +Click For Details
  • The 3T Aduro - Integrated, adjustable, fast +Click For Details

Specs, Pricing, Availability - ATC expects stock to begin arriving in March

Four configurations of P5 are currently offered, framesets and complete bikes in "TT" and "Tri" configurations. Details and pricing follow:

TT FramesetUCI-legal fork and seatpost, mechanical rear aero brakeN/A$4,500
TT Complete Bike3D Rotor BBRight Cranks, 3T Aura Pro Aerobar, Magura Hydraulic Brakes +aboveDura-Ace/Ultegra$6,000
Tri FramesetUCI-illegal fork and seatpost, hydraulic brakes, 3T Aduro AerobarN/A$6,500
Tri Complete BikeRotor 3D BBRight Crankset +aboveDura Ace Di2$10,000

More Info

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 Ultra Provocatorio Invitationale Race Report

by Missy Ruthven

The Ultra Provocatorio has a very unique race format in that teams of five compete together in somewhat of a time trial for roughly 100 miles…and the race route is not revealed until 45 minutes before the start. This is the second year for this event put on by our friends of Team Wooly Mammoth.

I was the only one on my team to have participated last year so the duties of team captain went to me. Ideally we would have our five ladies of Team Snapple ATC all together, but that was not to be this year; so we added two guys (Mike Minardi, Andy Maag) to our team of three ladies (Missy, Marla, Leah).

Last year I believe this race was advertised as a five person team time trial (but not allowed to use TT bikes, helmets, etc.)…this year it was advertised more as a team “fondo," which translates to “team fun event." Since none of us had ridden 100 miles in recent memory (and one of us had never ridden 100) we went in with the “let’s make this a good training day" approach. Thankfully the weather was on our side as it was a beautiful sunny day with cool temperatures and not much wind.

Team captains got the cue sheets (race route, it was only 94 miles!) 30 minutes before the start with race officials making sure to point out important items on the cue sheet…such as the three sections of “off-road” which they termed “pave” on the cue sheet.

Our team went over the cue sheets/race route and the first thing Andy says is “how do we get across the water? Swim or boat?”. The cue sheet took us over Lake Austin…and not on a bridge…and we were to complete the last 20 miles on some serious hills (like last year). Race officials didn’t say anything about the water crossing; they just insisted that we make it to the checkpoint at 74 miles. This was going to be an adventure!!

We taped the cue sheets to the top tubes of our bikes and started the event… Teams left every 2 minutes, 24 teams total. We had to be conservative in the beginning as there were a lot of turns and we had to consult the cue sheets quite a bit so we didn’t get off course. Then we had the three sections of off road…mostly packed dirt with small rocks…8 miles. We made it through this pretty well as we weren’t the fastest, but we also had zero flat tires (many people had flats in these areas!!!). We were like the tortoise in "the tortoise and the hare” story. Miles 30-75 we got in a good rhythm. Mike led mostly, Andy took the back mostly, the three ladies all stayed in the middle and shouted out directions - me with page 1, Marla with page 2, Leah with the most accurate odometer.

We had gone south towards Lockhart, crossed I-35 in Buda and wound our way through Old San Antonio Rd to southwest Austin (Escarpment, Southwest Pkwy, Barton Creek Blvd). At mile 75 (after climbing Barton Creek Blvd!) we stopped at the rest stop and were informed that there was a course change and that we would not be crossing the water in a boat as planned. Mixed feelings. Though I like the idea of a boat being part of the event…I didn’t know if my legs would like sitting for a bit and then climbing big hills for the last 20 miles. So, after refueling we took off for the hills of West Austin for the last 10 miles (Bee Caves, 360, Westlake, Toro Canyon, High Road, some super steep neighborhood streets I had never been on, Stratford, Rollingwood).

We finished at Austin Tri-Cyclist where there was food, beverages, and a lot of discussion about the day. We had a great time!! We all rode solid!! I would do this again!! From the talk I was hearing at the after party it seems everyone felt the same.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Take Your Triathlon Training up a Notch:
Camp Multisport

Beautiful scenery, mild temps, rolling hills, and the crystal clear Frio River... The Texas Hill Country is the perfect place to hone your swim-bike-run skills before the peak of tri season. This winter and spring, Big Pistachio will host three multisport camps in Concan at the Seven Bluff Cabins.

Coaches Siri Lindley, Brandon Marsh, Susan Farago, Claudia Spooner, Rosemary Hohl-Chriswisser, and David Garza will lead daily workouts and conduct hands-on clinics, lectures, and active workshops. During your three days of training, you choose which workouts and seminars to attend, with options ranging from Brandon Marsh's "Confidence in the Water" and Susan Farago's "Altitude Training – How to Race at Altitude and Live at Sea Level" to David Garza's "The Fourth Discipline – The Art of Transition."

Erin Truslow, founder and owner of Big Pistachio, was inspired to host the camps after a visit to the venue. Situated on 48 acres, Seven Bluff Cabins includes over 1,000 feet of Frio River frontage lined with towering cypress trees and live oaks. "It's just so amazingly beautiful, so peaceful and calm," Truslow says. "Every time I'm there, I can't help but think about how I'd like to stay there for a week and swim, bike, and run."

The Frio River, slow-moving and spring-fed, is roughly five-feet deep in most places, which makes it ideal for swim practice. But since "Frio" is the Spanish word for "cold" (by all accounts, a fitting name), participants are encouraged to bring a long-sleeved wetsuit. Rentals will also be available. Truslow says that the camps take a unique approach – instead of a structure promoting a single coach working with a specific team or group, Camp Multisport offers up to five coaches per camp and caters to both individuals and teams. Benefiting from the coaches' different methodologies and expertise, athletes have the rare opportunity to "try out" several coaching philosophies at one time.

Camp Multisport featuring Brandon Marsh (February 24-26) is open to beginner, intermediate, and advanced-level athletes. Based in Austin, Brandon Marsh is a professional triathlete and coach; this camp is a good fit for those looking to set a new PR.

Camp Multisport NO BOYS ALLOWED! (March 2-4) is a women's only camp coached by women, and is particularly well-suited for first- or second-year athletes.

Camp Multisport featuring Siri Lindley (April 5-8) is open to all intermediate, advanced, and professional athletes, as well as coaches. Lindley, a two-time World champion, coaches age-group and professional athletes, including Mirinda Carfrae, Leanda Cave, and Luke McKenzie.

To learn more about Camp Multisport, visit the website or contact Erin Truslow (512-517-8118,