Soma Triathlon 2011 Race Report

Soma Triathlon
Tempe, Arizona
United States
Red Rock Company
95F / 35C
Triathlon1/2 Ironman
Total Time = 4h 47m 50s
Overall Rank = 36/769
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 8/115
Pre-race routine:

As the last tri of the year on my schedule, I really had high hopes for this race. This would be my third attempt at this distance and for the first time I would be racing 100% healthy. At both Wildflower and Honu, the story was the same…good swim and bike followed by a less than stellar run. In both those races though, that was the plan. I knew my run would suck as I was just recovering from a run injury that basically forced zero run training early in the year. My run has always been the worst of the three disciplines but with this set back, it turned into a major problem at those two races. At Wildflower, for example, I had yet to run 13 miles in a week let alone in a Half Ironman distance race.

As the year progressed though, my coach has been able to ramp up the running slowly and steadily to the point where I’ve actually put in some decent performances in that discipline and had some very solid finishes. The hope was it would all come together at this race…

Ashley and I headed up to Phoenix on Friday morning. We decided to drive to relieve the headache of packing up the bike. Our hotel was about 1 1/2 blocks from transition..and that worked out great! The race started a little earlier than I am used to with a 6:36 wave start. I was glad though because the forecast was for a hot and sunny day…the earlier we could start, the better.

Woke up around 4:45 and got ready. I wasn’t hungry at all and was barely able to force down a banana and a couple bites of a bagel. I also drank a Gatorade. Felt fine though.

Physically, I felt great. I was pretty fatigued throughout the week leading up but a good taper had me feeling wonderful just one day before the race. I really felt coach and I timed this one perfect. I went for a very short run and spin on the bike the day prior and just felt awesome.

Ashley and I made it down to transition and I got all set up. The bike had to be racked the day before and everyone had assigned spots…so that was super easy. Laid out my gear and inflated my tires to the proper PSI and was ready to go.


Event warmup:

Moments before getting in

I didn’t get any warm up. For a HIM, I don’t think I really need it. I mean, what am I going to do? Go for a run when I’m not running for roughly another 3 hours?

They did let some folks into the lake for a few minutes right before the start, but I decided to just use the swim over to the start line as my warm up. I was ready to go…there really wasn’t a need. The pros left at 6:30 and then everyone under 35 went at 6:32…because there was only two minutes between starts, some of the guys didn’t even make it over to the start line…lol. That sucked.

We got in and I swam real easy to the start and aligned myself just to the right of the first bridge leg. That way, if anyone was swimming beside me at the start on my left, I could just force them into the bridge and make them fall back. Within 1 minute of lining up, we were off.




This swim was remarkably uneventful. I just settled in and that was that. At the start, I saw Chris Davis to my left. I knew he would lead out as he is at a min 2-3 minutes faster than me over 1.2 miles. Like clockwork, he was beside me and slowly creeping away. I stayed close till we went under the bridge and then just let him go. I did use him to pull me away from the pack though. I was in second for a couple minutes and then I saw a pack go by to my right. After that, we had a solid lead over the rest of the field. Now it was just a matter of swimming straight and weaving through the previous wave. On the way out I was warned of the blinding sun. Turned out that the sun didn’t come up till right before we made the turn back for home. It was actually a really good landmark…or mark in space I guess…to swim for. I felt my shoulders get a little fatigued before the turnaround but I chalked this up to the hard effort off the start and lack of warm up.

Made the turn and the arms started to feel much better. Breathing was steady and under control and this swim was turning out to be pretty easy. The bridge showed up real quick and before I knew it, I saw the last buoy. By this time, I was solidly into the previous pack. There was a bit of congestion at the buoy and I decided just to muscle my way around. After a really easy, smooth swim, with 100 yards to go…BLAMMMO, a punch to my face. I thought, oh great, I have the most uneventful swim ever and I get punched right at the end. After a moment, I realized it wasn’t bad at all. It just made me laugh that I get into it so close to the exit.

Got to the stairs confident I was somewhere around the top 5 or so and was excited to get to the bike. I ran up the stairs and around the wetsuit strippers. One tried to grab me and I just ran by. If you are good at getting out of your suit, the strippers are way slower.


What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Very happy with the effort and time.

00:29:23 | 2112 yards | 01m 23s / 100yards
Age Group: 6/115
Overall: 17/769
Performance: Good
Suit: Blueseventy Axis
Course: Tempe Town Lake…standard Rectangle
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 74F / 23C Current: Low

Coming into T1


Smooth transition. Came in 6th and went out 5th…so that’s good. Time was right there with everyone else. As usual, I take about 20 seconds more in T1 to get everything watch on and such but my T2’s are pretty quick.


What would you do differently?:





As always, my coach and I came up with a power target for this race. When we had the conversation, I had a number in my mind and I told him that but still let him tell me his number first. His number was lower than mine….lol…(inflated ego!)

The funny thing about my power targets is that they have been coming DOWN all year long. This is not a function of my cycling getting worse. It’s a function of gathering more data and understanding my abilities better. I’ve only been racing for 2 years now and only 9 months or so with a power meter. It takes time to compile enough data where the outliers get smoothed out and the glitches in the equipment get weeded out by the good data. The first few races were based on so little data and they were, in a word, wrong. The more data we compile, the better we can set the target.

Anyway, to make a long story longer, we set the target at ~190-195. With that, I have a little wiggle room and I do mean a little. Brian doesn’t like me to move more than ~5 watts based on how I feel. Even that is iffy. If we come up with a solid target, I should feel fine the entire ride. The ride should never be labored…so moving the target up during the race because I feel good can sometimes defeat the purpose.

Coming out of T2

Right off the bat I hooked up with a pack of about 5 or 6 guys. This pack went back and forth for basically the first lap. I was passed by all of them and then would retake a couple back on the downhills where they would sit up and soft pedal. Same old story of riding with power. You’d have guys come out of their shorts on the uphills to pass you only to give it back as they run out of gas on the downhills. The problem with that strategy is that you never fully recover from those gigantic efforts on the uphills. At this point I was seriously second guessing this power target. I was getting passed quit a bit. It took a lot of discipline to stay on track and stay with the plan.

Second lap saw a bit of a headwind pick up coming out of transition and going out on Rio Salado. I kept the power in check and at this point starting reeling people in. At this time in the morning, the weather was absolutely perfect. I decided to pick it up just a touch. I mean, barely 5 watts. I was staying on my nutrition perfectly. I had an aero bottle setup with 6 Gu’s mixed with water and a Gatorade between the bars. I was sipping the Gatorade throughout and taking on the Gu sludge about every 30-45 minutes. I calculate about 200 Cals an hour which is good for me. Anymore than that and I start to feel full and sick.

About 1/2 way through the second lap, the course got a tiny bit more crowded. It didn’t really effect me though because most of the course is huge! Even the turnarounds had plenty of room.

Coming around one of the many corners

One really bizarre thing I saw was this chick with a radio or something blaring music from her bike. It was comedy…it sounded like a Honda Goldwing stereo. So funny.

Third lap was great..still feeling awesome and decided to up the power another few watts. I reeled in another few that passed me early on. I was doing real good staying in aero all the time excepts the turns. I was really comfortable on my bike. This course was really cool because I got to see Ashley and Brian a couple times every lap…that made the time go by really fast. I also set my Garmin to 18.5 mile laps which was what they advertised the distance of each lap at…so I had a good idea what my time was going to be as well. I was right on schedule. I felt so good, I was sure I was going to be just fine on the run.

Came into transition and there were no bikes anywhere near me. I assumed I was doing pretty good. Legs felt great getting off the bike and starting the run.

Here are the power numbers
Entire workout (198 watts):
Duration: 2:25:22
Work: 1720 kJ
TSS: 159.8 (intensity factor 0.814)
Norm Power: 204
VI: 1.03
Pw:HR: n/a
Pa:HR: n/a
Distance: 55.218 mi
Elevation Gain: 755 ft
Elevation Loss: 740 ft
Grade: 0.0 % (7 ft)
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 521 198 watts
Cadence: 17 158 91 rpm
Speed: 6.1 38 22.6 mph
Pace 1:35 9:51 2:39 min/mi
Altitude: 1108 1200 1143 ft
Crank Torque: 0 651 184 lb-in
Temperature: 62.6 82.4 75.5 Fahrenheit

Coming through the main intersection

You can see that the weather only got up to the low 80’s on the bike. Also, looking back at the results, I was in 1st in AG coming out of T2 and 8th overall.


What would you do differently?:

Nothing…bike was perfect.

02:25:25 | 56 miles | 23.11 mile/hr
Age Group: 3/115
Overall: 14/769
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Basically up and around the city of Tempe. Three loop course with a lot of turns and turnarounds. Mostly flat with some small uphills and downhills. Nothing too tough.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 91



Great T2. Even going with socks I was still out in one of the fastest times. One thing I will note for next time is that I pulled my sock on too tight in my rush. That wound up hurting one of my toes about halfway through the run.


What would you do differently?:

Don’t get over excited pulling my socks on!




The plan for the run was to come out and try and keep it right at 7min miles and even split the run. I ran out of T2 and landed on about 6:40 pace and decided to slow down. The running felt too easy but I needed to be smart…there was a long way to go. I slowed and ran through the first mile at 6:54 and felt great. I was keeping up well with the two in front of me and felt really good. There were not many on the run course at this point. Next mile clicked off no problem at 7:09. I had two Gu’s with me and I decided to take one at the end of the first 5k…5k came and I had slowed just a touch at 7:37..hmmm…took the Gu and got an instant side stitch and had to walk for a second…the pain was pretty bad. This passed and I thought I would just get going again….NOPE. The next mile I failed to break 8 minutes. At this point, I wasn’t sure what was going on. Legs didn’t hurt, back didn’t hurt….I was just my head.

Going out for second loop

This is where the race fell apart. It is going to be hard to explain through this post what exactly happened. I know what happened, it’s just tough to convey. Basically, I bonked…but I didn’t bonk in the race. This was a season bonk that just happened to occur during the run of this race. Basically, the swim and bike were so easy that I was able to fake it for a couple hours. As soon as the effort got hard, ie the run, that’s when my physical, and more importantly, mental state became apparent. I didn’t want to push anymore. I couldn’t convince my brain to convince my body to push…I was fried. I couldn’t stay focused in the moment and all I could think about was finishing and stopping. Well, the finish is a long ass way away. So, I stopped and walked, and ran a little and stopped and walked. I started making deals with myself like, run to the aid station and then walk, run to the mile marker and then walk, run to the bridge and you can have an extra ice cream sandwich, just finish under 2 hours…blah blah blah. There were no thoughts of glory, no thoughts or praise for my awesome performance…only thoughts of embarrassment knowing I was going to have to sit down and write this and explain why I failed….yup…failed, fail, failure, that’s all I could think. That word would not go away and it forced me to go slower and slower and slower. This was a mental breakdown.

I came around to the end of the first loop and start of the second. I was ready to quit. I couldn’t wrap my head around doing another loop. The first one felt like 9 miles and now I have to do another. No way that loop was…Even though thoughts of quitting crept in, I wasn’t at that point yet. I was still pretty sure I was top 10 in my AG and I was totally physically capable of completing the race. I just didn’t care anymore….but, I was there, hell, might as well keep going. I knew the thought of quitting was just an in the moment thing and would never forgive myself. I saw Brian at the start of the second loop and told him, “I’m fucked”…that was all I could think to say.

So, I made my way around for the second time and was passed the whole way. It’s funny the things you start thinking about when getting passed. The things you think about to just make it another 100 yards. Everything seemed longer that second loop. It was just a combo of walking, jogging, drinking..

It was starting to get a little hot but I must say the heat was never a concern. I never once thought I was hot or needed to cool down. That was probably because I was going so slow, I wasn’t heating up! There was a section where the sprinklers where on and everyone was running through them. I stayed out because I didn’t want to get my shoes wet and I didn’t need to cool down. That would have just made me uncomfortable.

Made it to the last bridge which is like 2 miles away from the finish and said, ok, let’s finish strong…yup, that lasted 1 minute…lol. Then I came to the last aid station…ok, let’s pick it up to the finish…that lasted 30 seconds….and that was it. There was no finishing strong. I just jogged it in. I crossed the finish line and was just pissed. At that exact moment, my only emotion was anger. How did I let this happen? After reflection, I figured it out, but at that moment, I wanted to throw my finisher medal away.

Moments before the finish

What would you do differently?:

Plan my season better. More rest halfway through the year.

01:50:35 | 13.1 miles | 08m 26s  min/mile
Age Group: 30/115
Overall: 106/769
Performance: Bad
Course: Flat…around Tempe Town Lake.
Post race


Warm down:

I was feeling fine after the race and just sat down with Ashley and Brian and sorta discussed what happened. I also found Chris Davis after the race who also had a poor run…we discussed why and had a great conversation while sitting there cooling off.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The short answer is the season was too long. It’s a little more complicated than that but that’s it in a nutshell.

Event comments:

2011 is in the books. Looking back at the season on a whole, I would say it has been a tremendous success. Several great performances while constantly improving. This race was still a PR at the distance even with the horrific run.

One thing I will not say is that I was capable of more. I don’t believe in that. My time is what I was capable of….if I was capable of more or of going faster, I would have. When we say we are capable of more, we are saying things like, in this instance, season planning doesn’t matter. Well it does. Every decision we make matters. Things didn’t go as planned, but this is what I was capable of based on the whole of my training. So I will walk away from this and make adjustments based on what happened. My coach and I will come up with another plan for the next race and hopefully, next time, be able to execute it.

The trip to Tempe was a great one. I had lunch on Saturday with Bryan Dunn and had a great time with him…thanks for lunch Bryan! I also met Elliot Kawaoka as he passed me on the run…and at the finish. I wish I wasn’t so pissed and could have hung out a little longer. Great finally meeting you Elliot. Ashley and I also went to dinner with Brian and Sarah as well as some of their friends…what a great group of people.

It’s time now to sit back, relax and recharge the batteries. Brian and I have come up with an off season plan and are going to sit down at the beginning of the year and plan out next year a little better. As of right now, next year’s focus is going to be qualifying for Vegas 70.3 WC’s. I want to thank everyone for a great year. First, my sponsors that help me out…101 Pipe & Casing, Kurt Orban Partners, KSwiss, and Wins Wheels. My training groups, Accelerate 3, Fortius Racing, Conejo Valley Multisport Masters, Conejo Valley Tri Club, LA Tri Club. The community of athletes and friends I have around me is simply amazing…I love you all. I want to thank my coach Brian Stover for putting up with me and offering me such great advice….and yes, he did tell me I was racing too much a LONG ASS time ago. Ashley for being the best girlfriend I could possibly ask for. She is always there for me and I love her to death….even when she thinks it is hilarious that one of my mile splits was 9:41…

Knowing how fun this year was and how many new friends I made, I’m so excited for another go around.

About Dusty Nabor

I'm an Age Group triathlete out of Southern California...
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5 Responses to Soma Triathlon 2011 Race Report

  1. Elliot says:

    You’ve had a great season Dusty. One of the things I was worried about in doing this race was “mentality” aspect. I had a packed first-half of the season and kinda dropped off by the end of the year. I’m pretty much done with my race season and just want to have fun the rest of the year (i.e. that’s why I did the relay). I give you props for digging deep and finishing the run. Lots of guys that are competitive like you would have just dropped. You killed the swim and bike. One positive point on the run… I finally got to meet you in person! 🙂 You should think coming back in April and doing Marquee half.

    • Dusty Nabor says:

      I would love to but Marquee is right in between Oceanside and Wildflower. Stover would kill me…LOL. I was looking at all the Red Rock events and they all conflict with ones I am already doing…I wanted to come back but it doesn’t look like it is in the cards. At least not for a Red Rock event…I’ll be back for a just because. 😉

  2. eric says:

    Thanks for writing these detailed reports; they’re fantastic, and it is clear quite a bit of care goes into them.

    I think it’s interesting that your post tackles the mental aspect of a season of racing. It seems many people focus on the physical demands of racing, or on the mental aspect preparing for or competing in a particular race, but the mental fatigue from a long season of racing is something that cannot be ignored. Being based in a warm climate, you have the opportunity to train and race year-round (or nearly so!), and sustaining a high level of performance is really tough. We all want every performance to improve upon the last. At some point, this may not happen.

    You strength of character really shows in completing the race even when it feels like the wheels are falling off. I know you say you didn’t feel like you earned that medal, but I’d argue that you probably are far more deserving of it in many ways vs someone who coasted through without difficulty, even if they were faster.

    It’s really easy to not show up at the line or to quite when things aren’t going well; it is much harder to find reasons to stay in it, especially when those reasons must come entirely from within.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Christina DeRonde says:

    Dusty-what an amazingly honest and open report. Your candidness is a breath of fresh air and allows us to have new perspective with which to reevaluate our own races.
    Your athletic prowess is undeniable and to read about how you suffer hurts. I can say I have been there-more than once. Sigh.
    I will learn from you. Thanks for being a great triathlete, friend and mentor.

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