Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Showdown at Soma

Matt had a good placing in his sights, but couldn’t deliver the goods
(he did get to shoot an AR-15 after the race, however)

Last weekend was the Soma Triathlon hosted by Red Rock Co.; it has been a popular local race for Arzionans…Arizonians…Arizonites (there we go), in the past. Durapulse Performance Co. and Iron Gear Sports put up a nice little prize purse for the professionals this year, so I figured I might as well give it a shot. If nothing else it would be a good learning experience to see how well I can do two half-ironmans with only 2 weeks between. Having gotten into shape for Rev3 South Carolina, I figured I might as well give it a crack as the end of the season was approaching, and there wouldn’t be many other opportunities to test my fitness.

Pre-Game – “by delayed you should have known that we meant early”

There was one big surprise on my trip to Phoenix. My 5:45 flight was delayed until 6:10 (according to the check-in counter, arrival/departure screens, everything), so I took my sweet time at Sea-Tac and downed a burrito prior to the flight. I showed up at the gate at 5:43 and to my dismay, the flight had left already! Why delay a flight and then un-delay it? I didn’t even know you could do that! Anyway, Southwest partially redeemed themselves by getting me to Phoenix only 2 hours later than my reservation. A good lesson that the battle of getting to your flight is not won until you arrive at your gate.

Fortunately I was staying with the coolest homestay couple ever, Denise and Dave Jones, and they didn’t mind picking me up late. I met this classy couple the last time I raced in Phoenix for the Desert Classic Duathlon, and since then they have gotten married, gotten pregnant, and moved to the suburbs! My how things change.

Swim – “I can’t believe I was in a pack”

The swim was held in Tempe Town lake, this strange man-made lake in the middle of the city. The pro field was much different than usual in that most of the field was not a super strong swimmer, and most were good runners. Also, men and women started at the same time, so I knew I would have people to swim with. I found myself a nice pack and steadied into rhythm. The pace felt pretty comfortable, so I suspected maybe I should have been up one-pack. Usually I am just fighting by myself in order to not lose too much time, so it was strange to have options! I got out of the water at about 31:15, so sure enough I was a bit slower than last race, but no matter, plenty of time to reel people in, or so I thought.

Bike – “By now I have no pow-a”

I decided to start the bike out conservative this time in order to get the legs warmed up before really putting the smack down. Jozef Major and Kevin Taddonio passed me early on, but I let them go as I was more interested in attempting to grab a gel at the first aid station and somehow they escaped my grasp. I just kept riding consistent and thought things were going pretty well, hitting 27-28 mph on the flats. I was passed by another rider and decided that I should ramp things up and try to stay with him. Unfortunately, this was the exact wrong move at the exact wrong time! I picked up the pace a bit too much, ended up losing all composure, and immediately hit a nasty head-wind section. I floundered for the next 5-6 miles, and struggled to find a normal rhythm. Finally, I came out of my tail spin, but not before my average speed had plummeted by ½ mile/hour. Still, I finished in a PR bike split time of 2:17 thanks to a fast course. The mistake of attempting to ride at a higher intensity probably cost me a top-5 in the end, but hindsight is 20/20 and I have used other riders to pace off of and follow their lines thru corners and it has worked in the past. It just didn’t work this time.

The Run – “I saw the Devil”

Coming into the transition around 2:50, I was about 3 minutes up on my time thru T-2 from two weeks ago. Sweet, I thought to myself, unless you really blow it on the run, you are headed for another PR. Aside from stopping to drain an unusually full bladder at mile 1, the first lap (6.5 miles) went off without a hitch, I kept hitting 5:45-5:50 mile splits and was surprised at how easy it felt. Then, the thermostat hit 90 plus and in the matter of about a mile I went from feeling great to barely moving. My weak Seattle-trained body couldn’t handle the heat! I hit an aid station and decided to walk thru. I dumped as much water as I could and grabbed ice to put in my hands. I repeated this a couple times. By the time I hit the aid station at the eleven mile mark I had sufficiently cooled myself down. The refreshment that cooling the body down has an almost immediate effect, and one can start running quickly again. The heat has another weird effect in that I nearly forgot I was racing, but once I cooled myself off I looked at my watch and realized that I still had a chance to PR. “Oh crap Matt, start sprinting!” I thought. So I hit the gas full throttle, must have hit 5:30 for the last mile. I just missed my PR by around 30 seconds. Looking back at the results, other guys must have been having the same issue, because I still posted the 3rd fastest run time even with 3 stops.

Lessons learned – “I done goofed!”

Circumstances worked out nearly perfectly this race. I had an ample warm-up, the course suited me, my Kestrel was fast and fit well, I had plenty of First Endurance EFS liquid shot and gels on course along the way, and the Avia-Bolt shoes felt amazing as usual. Probably the main thing is that I don’t have the base built back up sufficiently to compete at this level, especially in the running department. Still, I could have executed the race better tactically. I also found it pretty difficuly to concentrate and push myself quite as hard as last time, and have a new respect for the pros out there that can put in good performances week in and week out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Long Ways to Go - Rev 3 South Carolina

70.3 Personal Record! - 4:12

I surprised myself out there Sunday at Rev3 South Carolina, a long trip from Seattle but well worth it for the amazing race experience that Rev3 provides. The race was stacked with some 45 or so male pros, all of which I knew would be excellently prepared. A $50,000 prize purse tends to attract good competition; who would have thought!

Coming off a pelvis fracture in late April, Rev 3 South Carolina would be my first important race back. I competed at the Black Diamond Olympic Triathlon a couple weeks ago and won by a good ten minutes, but that was just a small local event. This race would be against some of the world’s best triathletes.

I have received some amazing assistance from Sports Reaction Center (SRC), a physical therapy clinic, and Elite Sports and Spine, a chiropractic/Active Release Therapy clinic, during my comeback to competitive triathlon. I’ve also been using the Alter G anti-gravity treadmill at SRC during my build-up, which is new technology that is a huge advantage to anyone that has to learn how to walk and run again. Special Thanks goes out to Jacob Perkins at Elite and Neil Chasan at SRC. Your support is amazing!

Okay, now before we get into the details about the race, let’s get past the nasty little issue every endurance athlete has: excuses - I woke up to a nasty cold race morning…I couldn’t get comfortable on the bike…I didn’t fuel well enough early on…I’m just coming off a big injury…okay, now that that unpleasantness is behind us, let’s move onto the positive.

SWIM: The swim was by far my best 2000m swim ever. No questions about that. Thirty minutes sixteen seconds. I’ve done close to that in the past, but that was while wearing a wetsuit, which usually shaves off 2-3 minutes. Starting off was a little frantic as usual, and I tried in vain to get on some feet after getting around the first buoy. No luck- I just missed getting on a good train! The first woman passed me half way through (the women start 3 minutes after the men). I couldn’t get on her feet either; she was just too quick. Second women’s pack went by…still too fast for me to hop on. Eventually the 3rd women’s pack rolled by and I hung on for a good minute or so. I think there was something pushing me the entire time and that helped keep my tempo up. Controlled but not letting my arm-turnover lag. This helped me to a fast time (for me) even though I didn’t draft virtually the entire swim.

BIKE: The bike was my fastest half-iron distance bike, 2:22, but maybe not my best. I was getting good feedback right away, catching all the pro women early on and a few guys. It might surprise you, but that’s actually very positive for me. Even though I have had some good placings in the past, sometimes I don’t catch the top woman until the beginning of the run!

Unfortunately, my hamstrings were on fire right away, and I couldn’t seem to get my powerful quads into the mix. Eventually my muscular endurance waned. I was on the hoods often or out of the saddle on many of the small climbs, and was generally could not get into a good rhythm. Fortunately, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to get more aero, and even though I wasn’t putting down great power numbers, I was still pretty fast compared to my previous self simply because of more aerodynamic equipment and body position..

The bike course ended up being WAY harder than I expected with all the small grinding climbs. The course is held mainly on quaint backroads with virtually no traffic. It’s kind of like 70.3 Lake Stevens only with less opportunity to get into a rhythm because of the various turns and shorter but more frequent climbs. The wind was much worse than expected out there on race morning too. I have no clue how Starky went 2:10 on that course, but props to him! I felt like I lost a lot of time on the 2nd half of the course, and started running out of gas way too early. I had one flask of First Endurance EFS Shot with me, which provides about 400 calories, and was expecting some gels at the aid stations. Unfortunately I didn’t see any until mile 2 of the run!

THE RUN: I was actually pretty pleased with my 1:18. I couldn’t pull out my ace-card simply because of lack of consistent run training. I’ve had some residual back pain which has caused me to be very conservative in my build up to real running training again, so I knew racing 13.1 miles would be a stretch, and thought anything under 1:20 would be good at this point. After throwing back as many gels as I could find in the first half of the race, I started to feel almost normal again. I passed a few athletes on the run, but not enough to move me far up the leaderboard. Still, I went about 1:30 faster than my best Half-Iron distance race for overall time, and I think there is even more potential to discover.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tumble in Tucson

Hi there! A lot of good things have happened recently in the triathlon realm of my life recently. The happiest of which was signing with the Team Trakkers/Rev 3 Triathlon Team. This is a big step for me and one I think will really help my triathlon career continue to progress.. The team is comprised of some really solid pro triathletes including Michael Lovato, Brian Fleischmann, and Richie Cunningham. We have some awesome sponsors lined up including Trakkers GPS, Rev 3 Triathlon, Avia Shoes, First Endurance Nutrition, TYR Swimwear, Kestrel Bicycles, and Canari. Check out when you get a chance and you can get more of the “scoop” on the team and the Trakkers technology. I am really excited to work with these fine individuals and companies, use their products, race fast for them and represent them well.

Okay, onto the bad news. So, last Friday I was in Tucson for the Duathlon Nationals Championships, and was excited to be in good shape and ready to defend my title. I was literally two-blocks away from finishing my pre-course ride the day before the race, was about to go through a T-intersection, and that’s about the last thing I remember. I woke up on a stretcher, took a helicopter ride, and ended up in the Emergency Room with a fractured pelvis, pneumothorax (air that gets outside the lung but still inside the body, where it is not supposed to be), and a concussion.

Apparently a car was traveling in the opposite direction as me, did not see me, and going through the intersection, made a left turn into my line of travel. We were both traveling at low speed (~15mph), but it was enough to knock me unconscious, as from what I can ascertain, I went headfirst into the passenger side of the car. I was unconscious for a couple minutes, and when I came to, apparently said some things to my dad (who was on the scene quickly) that I have no recollection of!

I have a long road of recovery ahead of me. Your prayers are more than appreciated, and I would like to thank all of you that been praying for me. I am making a very speedy recovery, which I know is what most of you have been praying for!

USAT did publish a pre-race article, in which I was a contributor. It can be viewed here:

Another pre-race article gave me a little press:

Other than that, I would like to give a shout out to my friend Matt Russell, who won the national championship in my stead!

Thanks for reading,

Matt Sheeks

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Keeping up in Costa

Hey all! I just returned from Costa Rica, where I finished my first “Rev 3” series race and first race of the new year. Rev 3 specializes in family friendly triathlons, and also treat their professional racers really well. I was fortunate enough to have them put me up in a sweet location down there, and can really recommend the Guanacaste region in Costa Rica as a vacation spot if you are interested in a beach sort of vacation.

Sunday happened to be my first ocean water swim race and first Olympic Distance race as a pro. Conditions were pretty warm, if not downright hot. I learned at least two things from my race down in Costa: (1) I am not good at Olympic Distance, on account of the length of the swim. (2) I am not good at ocean water swims, yet. That said, I was really pleased with my bike leg (1:01 for 40k including a gigantic hill) and run (34:30 for 10k on a really hard course) in the race, and gives me confidence that I am getting back into shape. It also tells me that I have a lot of work to do on my swim before my next race.

On another note, I was really pleased with how my Kestrel Airfoil performed, and estimate it is about 1 mph faster in all conditions than any other bike I have ridden before. Now the rider just needs to get a bit faster! Seriously though, I can tell that the bike is really well engineered, with every measure made to make it more aerodynamic, light weight, and stiff (see pic). Now that’s a triple threat!

I would like to thank Krista from Rev 3 for her hard work helping all the pros out down in Costa. Things can get complicated pretty fast when you are racing in a foreign country. My next major race will be Duathlon Nationals on April 30th in Tucson. So look for it!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sheeks signs with Team Trakkers!!!

Hey all and greetings from beautiful Woodinville, WA, where we haven’t seen dry pavement from over 100 days. I wanted to make a quick announcement that I have officially joined the Team Trakkers Elite Triathlon team! This is a big step for me and one I think will really help my triathlon career continue to progress.

The team is comprised of some really solid pro triathletes. You might recognize some big names like Michael and Amanda Lovato, Richie Cunningham, and Brian Fleischmann. Look them up; they have some awesome credentials and many of them have won multiple Ironmans and Half-Ironmans. We have some awesome sponsors lined up including Trakkers GPS, Rev 3 Triathlon, Avia Shoes, First Endurance Nutrition, TYR Swimwear, Kestrel Bicycles, and Canari. Check out when you get a chance and you can get more of the “scoop” on the team and the Trakkers technology. I am really excited to work with these fine individuals and companies, use their products, race fast for them and represent them well. I will be putting everything to the test as usual. After all, you know the Matt Sheeks’ motto: “If it ain’t broke, break it!”

I would like to give a quick shout out to some people that have really helped get such a long way in the sport in such short order. In particular, I would like to thank coach Ben Bigglestone. It is hard to say in what areas Ben has been instrumental because he has pretty much helped out with everything. Ben even helped make the connection that got my plugged in with Team Trakkers. I would also like to thank Rob Whitacre who was my triathlon manager in 2009, took care of all the details I suck at, and convinced me not to give up when the going wasn’t going so great. Thanks guys. Your support means a lot to me!
Training has been especially tough this year given the interesting winter here in the Northwest, but I am bound and determined to make it to the starting line for my first race February 20th at Rev 3 Costa Rica. It is a non-drafting, Olympic distance race that is part of the Rev 3 series. Also, you may have noticed some updates to my race schedule (see sidebar at I’ve decided to go ahead and re-route my 2011 plan to include more Rev 3 races; there are many good reasons to go the Rev 3 route, and believe this route will better suit where I am at in my career and will make more sense for my long-term development.

Fee free to drop me a line anytime at and happy training!


P.S. Here is a re-posted article announcing the team:

Press Release: 2011 Trakkers—Revolution3 Racing Team
(Boulder, CO) January 25, 2011 – The 2011 Trakkers-REV3 Racing Team returns with new athletes, new sponsors, and a new mission.

After a successful first season, Team Trakkers begins the New Year by revitalizing its relationship with the Revolution3 Triathlon Series, which now supports the team as its co-Title sponsor. Presenting sponsors include both Kestrel Bicycles and First Endurance, who return this year to support the 11-person professional team and 39-member amateur squad.
New partners for 2011 are industry-leading companies, AVIA (footwear), TYR (wetsuits, speedsuits), and Canari (apparel).

“The Revolution3 Team is overjoyed at the opportunity to be a sponsor of such high-class professional athletes. Their determination and drive to succeed motivate each and every one of us at Rev3. Our goal is to push the sport of Triathlon forward and we hope our commitment to this group of athletes shows that we take this growth seriously. We cannot wait to see them at the Rev3 races this year,” said Charlie Patten, Head Honcho of the Revolution3 Triathlon Series
“Kestrel is excited to be part of the Trakkers-REV3 Triathlon Team,” said Steven Harad, Kestrel Brand Manager. “This is our second year with the Trakkers team and with the addition of many top level athletes, we are looking forward to a successful season.”
“First Endurance is pleased and honored to be associated with this high caliber team of athletes and sponsors,” stated Robert Kunz, the VP of Science and Technology at FE. “All of the athletes will be using the entire system of First Endurance products, and more importantly they will have influence and input on our new product development, allowing us to keep producing and upgrading our line so it remain the best on the market.”

In addition to the changes in sponsorship, the team roster has grown and evolved. Returning members—Richie Cunningham, Brian Fleischmann, Jacqui Gordon, Amanda Lovato, and Michael Lovato—welcome new athletes, Hillary Biscay, Courtenay Brown, Kathleen Calkins, Chris McDonald, Jessica Meyers, and Matt Sheeks.

With a refreshed athlete roster and its committed sponsors, Team Trakkers—REV3 begins the 2011 race season with an evolved mission: to promote and help grow the Revolution3 Triathlon brand; to gain exposure for the world’s first real-time GPS tracking devices; to represent triathlon’s strongest brands; and to compete at a world-class level over varied distances, at multiple triathlon series worldwide.

“We had a great year in 2010, but our aim is to improve across the board, as we go forward,” stated Michael Lovato. “To evolve in a positive direction, we have partnered with key sponsors who are committed to the sport of triathlon, to its growth, and to its athletes. We could not be happier with our group of sponsors, or with our recharged roster of athletes.”

The full professional team includes:
Hillary Biscay: 2008 Ironman Wisconsin Champion; 15-time top-three Ironman finisher
Courtenay Brown: Danskin Tri & Silverman Half winner; Inside Tri columnist
Kathleen Calkins: 2010 REV3 Cedar Point 3rd place; Top Amateur Kona 2009
Richie Cunningham: 2x 70.3 Champion; 4x Top-Five 70.3 World Championships
Brian Fleischmann: 1st World Team Champs; 2x 2nd place USAT National Champs
Jacqui Gordon: Multiple Ironman and 70.3 Top-Ten finisher
Amanda Lovato: 2010 Pucón 70.3 Champion; Multiple Half Ironman Champion; Multiple Top-Five Ironman finisher
Michael Lovato: 2x Ironman Champion; 3x Top-Ten Kona; 3x National Champion
Chris McDonald: 3x Ironman Champion
Jessica Meyers: 2010 Augusta 70.3 Champ; US National Team; Armed Services Champion
Matt Sheeks: 2010 Duathlon Pro National Champion; 2009 Duathlon AG World Champion