Monday, November 08, 2010

New York City Marathon - November 7, 2010


I was able to secure a spot into the 2010 NYC marathon through my friends at ING. Since my vacation schedule seriously interfered with my triathlon racing this Summer, I was quick to sign up. This is a race that I have always wanted to do. My original thought was to just complete the marathon and enjoy the day. I have never finished a marathon strong and I thought that I would like to just finish one without feeling like dieing would be great and I would worry about a time goal another time. Of course, as I started working with Coach Al to get my training plan in order, I couldn't help myself and I set a goal based on some testing. I was going to shoot to run the race under 3.20. Of course, my fastest marathon to date was 3.45. However, I know I have a better race in me. After all, I've run a 4 hour marathon in an Ironman and that involves a little warm up!

Pre Race

I pretty much left everything up to Coach Al for my training. Of course, I had to do everything I could to keep him on his toes. This Summer, my schedule just didn't line up with racing. I started really training for the marathon in late June and had a successful 5k in early July. My training was really going well into August. Then, Theo and I went on a 9 day cruise to The Black Sea in August - a little tough to do a long run on a boat and places like Bulgaria and Romania are not exactly runner friendly. Still, when I got back in late August, I had plenty of time to get on track. On Labor Day, I had a very discouraging New Haven 20k. I, once again, blew up in the final miles. However, I was on to something. For the first time, I realized it was water, not food or salt that I was missing. I had always assumed the opposite. I began drinking a lot more water on training runs and having much better results. I did have a a misunderstanding with Al during my training. I was focusing on the scheduled time of the workout and not on scheduled mileage. I was doing much of my running off road and not getting the required mileage. But by early September, we had that sorted out. Then I got a five day fever. My fever hit 103.5 and I wasn't exactly running. The fever did the most to derail my plans. I lost two more key weekends of running, now with the trip abroad, I had missed four key long runs. I never fully recovered from that fever. Before the illness, I was nailing my PMP runs and after I was struggling to hit my targets and was running slower. I only got one 18 mile run and one 20 mile run in during my build. I would have liked one more of each! With all this, in my head, I was thinking more like 3.30 than 3.20.

The Hilton had a three night minimum, so I decided to take the family down from Friday to Monday. Saturday did not go as planned. First, I ate or drank something that gave me the runs - ugh! I also spent the entire day on my feet and most of it with my 40 lb daughter on my shoulders. American Girl Doll, Rockefeller Center, etc. Not exactly off my feet and resting. I was terrified to take anything for my stomach because of the dehydrating effects. However, at 10.30PM, things still were not going well and I caved. I figured that I was better being a little dehydrated than stopping at 10 ports pottys on route. So, I got myself out of bed and walked to the CVS. Shot of Pepto at 11PM.

Saturday night was daylight savings time so I got an extra hour of sleep. Also, when you are in a hotel room with a 6 and 4 year old and they go to bed at 8PM, there is not much to keep you up. Sunday morning, my stomach wasn't good but better. Reluctantly I took another hit of Pepto.

Pre Race

ING really hooked me up. I was downstairs at 6AM for a 6.30AM bus right at the hotel. Very organized. Most people had to get up much earlier and haul across town to catch a bus / ferry. The only snag was there was a long line of buses in Staten Island when we got there. So, we got off the bus with less than an hour before I was to report to a corral. I hit one more porta potty - things starting to firm up ;=) I managed to get a little food and drink in my stomach. I was strangely relaxed. My time goals faded and I really wanted to take in the experience. I was in the corral at 8.20. The corral closed at 8.50 for a 9.40 start. More waiting around, mostly on my feet. Again an ING hook up, I was in wave 1, blue start which is the elite start and the actual course. There are three different starting points that come together at mile 3. And the third wave doesn't start until 10.40 instead of 9.40 which would have been a painful wait.


The elites are announced, the celebrities are announced, Mayor Bloomberg blah, blah, blah, National Anthem, and the the gun at 9.40 followed by Frank Sinatra belting out New York, New York. I get goosebumps thinking back! "These little town blues are melting away...." A very orderly start, I crossed the start about 2 minutes after the gun. The first mile is up hill (pretty darn steep) on the bridge and surreal. You can see the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan off to your left and runners everywhere as all three starting waves go over the bridge.

The second mile was very much downhill and in spite of the traffic, I was running about 7.45s and was still contemplating 3.20. My legs, however, definitely did not feel fresh. I didn't have the snap that a taper gives you. There was quite a bit of traffic and by mile 9, I was averaging 7.50s and started really thinking 3.30. I had to stop at a porta potty at mile 9 (number 1 only!!) and when I got out, a guy on the side of the road said "the pacer is right in front of you!!" After about 2 minutes I saw the balloons that represented the 3.30 pacer and I had my carrot. I followed as close as I could with the crowds. Runners were everywhere. It was very manageable but there was definately many points when I just couldn't run as fast as I wanted to. The pacer would get ahead of me and then I would get some daylight and I would catch up and I felt really pretty good. My legs were a little dead but I had no trouble keeping up.

Then we hit the 59th street bridge at mile 15-16. The road goes uphill and really narrows. By mile 16, the pacer had a 100 yds on me. At the end of the bridge after mile 16, you go on an off ramp and the road narrows even more and the course takes a 180 degree turn. That was it, the guy with the balloons really gapped me and the downhill off the bridge really deadened my legs even more.

Between mile 17-18, I had a choice. I could kill myself to get to the pacer or slow down a touch and take it all in. I was starting to feel my lack of long runs. I felt good but my legs were getting more sore by the mile. 1st Avenue was unforgettable. There were runners as far as the eye could see, huge skyscrapers and crowds six deep on both sides of the road screaming there heads off. I decided to take it all in.

NY is amazingly hilly (I came to find out that the course record is the slowest of the marathon majors by over two minutes). I was running around 8.30s, drinking like mad and feeling tired but good. At mile 20, I was a little shaky and decided to risk stomach turmoil and I switched to Gatorade. It turned out to be a great decision. My stomach held and the sugar/electrolytes were just what the doctor ordered. I was running a very comfortable pace and I had a smile on my face.

5th Avenue was just as memorable as 1st Avenue and Central Park was CRAZY. For the entire course, there was a band every 3/4 of a mile. The bands tended to mirror the ethnicity of the neighborhood, Gospel music, rap bands, salsa, rock, etc. The last band and the crowds at mile 26 were deafening!! I crossed the line in 3.37 and for the first time in a marathon, I felt pretty good. Very tired but good. None of the usual dizzyness, just tired legs and a sense of satifaction.

Post Race

This is the one negative of the NY Marathon. You cross the line and then have to walk 45 MIN!!! to get to a random street in NY. No family meeting area and no after party - kind of a bummer. You pick a place and hope your family is there. Our family picked 77th and Columbus. My wife, with 2 kids, couldn't exactly just stand on the corner waiting for me. So, I got there before her and had to borrow a cell phone to call her. 15 minutes later, 1 hour after I crossed the line, I met my family and finally got to sit down!! I can't imagine how long that walk was for the people that started in the third wave an hour and 45,000 runners after me!

Overall, it was a great experience. It's a race everyone should do. I didn't get 3.20, but my 3.37 was a PR and given my fever, my stomach, a crazy day in NY the day before the race and a very crowded course I was very pleased. I REALLY had a good time! I am very excited to have finally figured out that water, not solids, has been the missing link. I feel like I cracked the Devinci Code!!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Mystic Valley Triathlon - June 6, 2010
1/2 m swim, 14.5 mile bike, 3 mile run


My original target for this part of the season was the Mooseman 70.3 race in NH. But two things got in the way. First, I broke my toe in Arizona in late March That limited my running in April and early May. Then, I found out that my son had his first solo violin concert at 4PM the day of the race. No way I was going to miss that and no way I could make it back from NH in time. So, I looked for another race. I thought about the Rev 3 1/2 IM, but I didn't think I had done enough running. Quite honestly, I haven't been in the water since Arizona and haven't been in open water since Hammerfest last September. So, I felt even the Rev 3 Olympic swim might be challenging. I just wanted to get a race under my belt. The first race every year is always a shock to my system and it usually jump starts my training. So, I headed to Mystic.

Confessions of an aging triathlete

Its been about 9 years since I won a triathlon and 6 years since my last good season. That is actually all part of the plan. My kids are 5 and 3 and training at a top level while I wasn't sleeping was not possible. But now its time to figure out where triathlon fits in my life. My sense is my IM days are over for a long while and I really am starting to think my 1/2 IM days are over for a while too. That's tough for me to say because its my best distance but the time just isn't there.

The confession is..... I have good genes. I've hid inadequate training behind those genes for many years. Now, in my mid 40's, the gig is up. They still help in small races against my age group, but when the competition gets stiff and the goal is an overall place, there is no where to hide. I used to be able to do a sub 30 min 1.2 mile 1/2 IM swim with very little, if any, swim training.

Well today, I had very little swim training this year and it was exposed. Fortunately, the race organizers put out a slightly short swim course and it was a sprint to begin with.

Warm Up

This is the other thing that I realized today. In the past, my warm up was unpacking the car. Today, I warmed up for about 20 minutes and honestly, for the time I felt it wasn't enough. As my grandmother used to say, It's no fun getting old.


After "warming up" in the water, which was the first time in the open water since 2009, I lined up at the start in the first wave. The gun went off and it was a whole new world for me. Usually, I go pretty hard and I get to the front of the pack. I usually hit the first buoy near the front with very little traffic. Today, I got to the first buoy in a whole lot of traffic. By the middle of the swim, my lats were crushed. No hiding today, I need to actually admit that triathlon is a 3 sport event and requires training in all three disciplines.

I exited the water in 10.36, 49th out of 254.


The real effects of my lack of swim training showed up in T1. I was whipped. I crawled through transition. 1.15, 70 out of 254. To put that in perspective the top 5 went between 33 and 40 sec. Giving up 45 sec in a sprint is a whole lot.


See no swim training and no warm up. I was still whipped and it showed. I also had some problems with my disc wheel the night before the race and since it wasn't an A race, I went discless. The disc was probably good for some amount of time. Usually, I really track people down on the bike. Today, I tracked no one down after the first mile. I didn't get passed either but there were no big gains. I went off course twice due to sleepy volunteers but that cost me maybe 15-30 seconds. There was a huge pack drafting in front of me that pissed me off, but truthfully, it only helped their times not my placing relative to them. I wasn't going to catch many of them any way. If they hadn't been drafting, I would have kept them in sight, but iknstead they rode away.

37.10, 13th out of 254


No real issues here. Slow, but only 14 sec behind the winner. 42 sec, 70 out of 254.


The run actually wasn't too bad. I got passed by a few people in the first 200 yds but then settled in with another guy. We got smoked by a guy after mile 1 but then held our own and I left him with about 3/4 of a mile to go. I wasn't flying, but I have only been able to run for about a month and I haven't done any real speed work yet this year.

20.35, 38 out of 254. Placing higher in the run than the swim is a first for me. I wish it was because my run got stronger!

I finished 15th overall out of 254 and 2nd in the 40-44 AG. The distressing thing for me is I was over 4 minutes from the podium, which is a an eternity in a sprint.

But the race served its purpose and got me back in the game and hopefully training again in all three sports. We'll see how the Summer plays out. One quick note about the race. This is a good race if sprints are your thing. The course was beautiful, the organization superb and the post race party was terrific. And, it has our own Al Lyman as a sponsor!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rhode Island 70.3 - July 12, 2009


My original season goal was to qualify for the 70.3 Championship in Clearwater. I signed up for the Rev 3 1/2 IM in June and then was going to race short in July and then let it all hang out at Timberman in August. Unfortunately our traditional July vacation had to be moved to August, so I switched, late this Spring, to race the RI 70.3 in July instead.

After the pounding I took at the Rev 3, I needed some recovery time. So, one week gone out of my training. But that should have left me plenty of time to set up for a mid July race. I, then, decided to do the Harpoon Brewery to Brewery Ride June 20th. The B2B is a 148 mile ride from Boston, MA to Windsor, VT. Two factors here: 1) I hadn't been on the bike for more than 75 miles this year, 2) I was sucked into youthful enthusiasm and hammered it not wanting to be outdone by some Lance Armstrong wanna be. I'm really smarter than that, but one of my goals for the last few years is to make sure I have fun and not be such a training robot that I had turned into before I had kids. Mission accomplished. The B2B was a ton of fun and if I was racing in August, would have been a non event as it related to my triathlon racing. But alas, I was racing in July and I smoked my 42 year old body and needed more down time.

As July came around, it was apparent to me that I wasn't ready for prime time. I had very little running or swimming from June 7th to July 1st. So, I emailed my coach and reset my expectations to race strong and try to peak later in the year at a race TBD.

As for the race itself, I wasn't thrilled with the set up of RI 70.3, but I did the race because it was the only 70.3 that was local and fit my schedule. Now that I have done it, my pre race fears were validated and it would be unlikely that I'll do it again. IM North America is always extremely well organized. I would seek out a 70.3 race, jut not this one. The logistics of starting in Narragansett and finishing in Providence was a nightmare for me with a wife and two kids in tow. Then there were a few other complaints that I will mention later.

Pre Race

We arrived in Providence Saturday. What a great City. Its what Hartford could be but is not. We checked into the Westin, which is a great hotel and had lunch at Joe's and sat outside right across the street from transition.

The check in and expo was inside at the Convention Center and I thought it was pretty good. Now for the logistics. Our run bag had to be in transition in Providence by 6PM on Saturday. Oops, I didn't bring a second pair of shoes so I wasn't going to be doing any running as a warm up before the race start in Narragansett. My bike had to be in Narragansett Saturday, as well, if I wanted to take the bus Sunday morning. I have a 4 year old and 2 year old, so I wasn't dragging my family to a 6AM start 45 minutes away. So, we drove to Narragansett to drop off the bike. We did go to the beach for a few hours which was fun. But, as the first nice weekend of the Summer, the traffic was horrible.

That night was uneventful except the Parade that wasa outside the window at 10PM that got everyone to the window. 3AM wake up call. One of the benefits of having everything checked in the night before is there isn't much to do in the morning. I had to catch a 4AM bus to get me to transition at 4.45. Transition was scheduled to be closed at 5.45 before the 6AM Pro start. My wave didn't go off until 6.55. So, basically that got me to the start 2 hours early with no running shoes and we were not allowed to take our bike out of transition. BUT, all our clothes had to be on the truck by 6AM. Which meant hanging out in my wet suit for an hour, which became 1.5 hours when the start was delayed because they had to reset the buoys. By the way, you couldn't bring a pump, because they announced that they wouldn't transport it back for you. All that to me, isn't worth it. I'd rather have all my stuff in one place, have my family able to watch and be able to warm up properly.

Race Day - Swim

A squall came through RI Saturday Night (soaking my run transition bag). The rain was gone Sunday morning but the wind remained. The wind was so strong, it had blown the buoys off their markers. The race was delayed 25 minutes, so I was off at 7.20AM. I got a bad start in that my goggles were leaking and I had to stop twice to fix them. I settled in to my swim. It was very hard to site with the swells and I was taking quite a beating. I happen to swim pretty well in conditions like that so I tried to use it to my advantage. One thing I have to work on is pushing on the swim. I generally put out very little real effort for fear of burning too many matches early. But, I have to push a little, because there is time there to be had. I got the beach in about 28+ minutes and there was a long run up the beach to transition so my official time was 30.14.


With IM, you have to deal with the transition bag. I had to take my bike stuff out, get dressed and then stuff my wet suit et al in the bag. That takes a loooong time. My transitions have been bad the last few years and I really need to work on them. I gave up about 1 minute over the people that ended up finishing around my time or faster.



A nice tail wind... the first 20 miles was blazing. I crossed the 5 mile mark in 12 minutes and the 10 mile mark in 25 minutes. The second part of the course was out of the wind and through rolling hills. Nice, not too hard. I REALLY tried to hold back because I'm trying not too push to hard, as I always do, and have nothing left for the run. Even holding back, I was on track for a sub 2.30. There were several intersections where traffic was backed up and we had to ride single file which was very frustrating and broke rythym.

I had switched to Perpetum for nutrition and have had great results. But, I ran out about a week ago. I figured I could buy some at the expo. No dice. So, I switched back to Sustained Energy. I felt a little off. I like Perpetum better and need to make sure I have it hand next time. I factored into the run a little but no real big deal. I also, rented a rear disc from Race day Wheels so I could have a Power Tap while I was racing. it ended up not working!! Waste of money. I want to race with a Power Tap so I know how I'm doling out my effort. I could have gone faster but I'll never know if I should have gone faster without a Power Meter.

The last 10 miles were quite an adventure. As we approached Providence, we basically rode through the hood and industrial parks. All the places you would want to be far away from at night. There was a 90 degree turn every 1/4 mile, the rods were in terrible condition and we must have crossed no less than 5 sets of train tracks with the rails about 3 inches off the ground. My bunny hopping is just not that good. So, I lost a little speed and came in at 2.34.08. My goal is always to come off the bike around 3 hours and see what I have on the run. So, I was a little behind, but it was manageable.


Uneventful, but had to deal with the bags and lost another minute. Got to work on these.



As I left transition, I was surprised how decent I felt. I saw my family and they asked how I was doing and I gave them the thumbs up. I ran the first mile in about 7.30 pace which surprised me a little. Then I hit college hill. Coillege hill is actually one hill followed by a quick right and left and then another very steep pitch. That is a mother of all hills. I ran the first pitch. I could have pushed up the second pitch, but my heart rate was off the chart and I decided to walk / run it the first time so I wouldn't blow up. The rest of the course was what I would call rolling. Not too bad, but definitely not flat. By the end of the first loop I was definitely aware that I didn't have everything in my body I needed. This was The Sustained energy effect. I started to drink more and have a little Coke. I felt a little better. I never walked except "the hill," which I walked almost entirely the second time. Again, I could have pushed and ran the whole thing, bujt I'm just not sure what the consequences would have been. Also, something I'm aware of every time I run the Colchester 1/2 marathon, I'm very slow, relatively, going down hill. I saw people fly by me down hill. I feared the pounding on my body at that point and had a very controlled decent.

All in all, I finished with a 1.52.41 1/2 marathon. That's 8.36 min / mile which, considering my training and walking the hill twice, is about what I could expect.

Post Race Thoughts

My goal was to finish strong. I wasn't thrilled with my time. But nothing really went wrong all day. I got the exact result my training allowed. Mission accomplished. So, I was reasonably happy. I felt fine in the hours after the race. Tired, but not wiped out. I hung out with my family in the park. I thought the post race was excellent. Again, IM North America knows how to throw an event. So, while I wouldn't do the race again, I had a good time and was happy with the day.

Final time 5.01.57, 296 out of around 1800 starters.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Rev 3 1/2 Ironman - June 7th, 2009


Last year (2008) was a year away from triathlon. My two year old daughter wasn't sleeping much and life was just plain crazy. I couldn't muster up the motivation to train and race. I did some mountain bike racing and a two small local triathlons but results were sub par.

This year I have been re energized to train and race. I have been very consistent with my training over the winter. I'm still not training like I was before I had two kids, but my total hours are way up. My biggest challenge is to get that second workout in which is often the stretching, core work, etc.

So, good training but not perfect. Not sure it will ever be again if I hope to keep my life in balance.

So, this year my goals are to race the Rev3 in June and the Rhode Island 70.3 in July with the objective of qualifying for the World Championship in Clearwater. If I don't qualify, I will add a September or October 1/2 Ironman to the schedule. My original plan was to qualify at Timberman in August but my family vacation had to be moved and so, Rhode Island is it!!

Rev 3 is a new local race held at Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, CT. The venue is perfect for a race and the line up of Pros was unlike any race I have ever competed in before including Escape from Alcatraz.

My goal for Rev3 was to train through it and finish strong. That was the goal...

Pre Race

I have to say Race Morning went as well as possible. I got to the race at 5AM to give myself time for the unexpected and everything, for once, went perfectly. This race was extremely well run and organized. I had no trouble with bike set up or my tires (which always seem to be a problem). I warmed up well with a 15 min run with some strides and swam a little to loosen up.

It was a ton of fun to see all the Pros in transition and around the race site. The race went off at 6.55 and my wave was 7.11.


If you've read my posts before you know I am a BIG fan of the VASA ergometer. I have been in the pool once since last season and in the open water twice which includes my 20 min swim the day before the race. All my training has been on the VASA.

I was a little frustrated at the start. I had 99 people in my Age Group Wave and the starting area was tight. I usually like to be in the front but today I was boxed in three deep. The gun went off, I dove in and made one jog left and......I was alone?? Yep, everyone else was like 30 yds to my right. I looked up and the buoy was still on my left. I swam very much within myself. I put a good effort but definitely in control. I wasn't pushing. I never saw another orange cap. After a few minutes, I started passing slower swimmers from earlier waves.

I got out of the water in 30.42 min for 7th in my AG and 98 overall. Feeling good.


A little bit of a train wreck. Just out of practice. It was also a long run from water to transition. Lost maybe a minute on leaders. 3.11 min, 12 in AG, 140 overall.


I did a Race Sim last week and felt very confident in my pacing. I started off very much in control. Passing people but not working hard. At the 5 mile mark, adversity. My only bottle of nutrition (Perpetum) launched off my bike going downhill about 35 mph. I take a deep breath, come to a stop and turn around. I thought about pressing on but I didn't want to get into trouble experimenting with my nutrition. It was a very tough spot. I had to dismount and bushwack in the weeds on the side of the road to get my bottle.

I start off again and try to regain my rhythm. About 5 minutes later, I pick up my bottle and it was 1/2 empty. It has a hole in the bottom and my entire bike, chain, crankset, etc is covered in Perpetum. In hind site I should have turned the bottle upside down. But I didn't think of it and by mile 8, I was out of food.

I had some Hammer Gel with me and I tried to get GU at the aid stations. Once, I dropped the GU and once I was successfully. I was so focused on food that I didn't restock my fluids and I was behind because I usually get some fluid from the Perpetum. I went by the last aid station and a mile later, I'm out of water. Something like 8-10 miles to go. I know I'm in trouble.

I still felt pretty strong on the bike. I was off the bike in 2.47.46 for 9th fastest in my AG and 82 overall.


More train wreck but I had to take the time to find my second Gel flask etc. 1.48 min for 14th in AG, 147 overall


I'm feeling the effects of not enough food and water but I tell myself to finish, catch up on things and recover. The first three miles I was slower than my plan but I was still around 8 min per mile and I kept telling myself, shoot for 1.45 and the day won't be that bad. I hit the first hill at the 3.5 mile mark and that was all she wrote. I had to walk this hill and every hill after and there was PLENTY of hills. The hardest 1/2 marathon I have ever done, triathlon or straight 1/2 marathon. The downhills were brutal. My stomach was doing flips from the GU and CERA they had on the course. I'm just not used to racing with sugar. I was being passed by everyone. I made it home in 2.01.37 for 31 in my AG and 237 overall and I was feeling terrible.


I finished in 5.24.41 (second slowest 1/2 IM ever - slowest was St Croix in 2002 in extreme heat) - 15th in my AG and 121 overall.

I came off the bike 5 min in front of the eventual 4th place finisher and he ran a speedy 1.40 1/2 marathon, so 4th was there for the taking and on a good day 3rd was in my sights.

This is a great race and I hope it stays on the calender. The course is challenging and beautiful. The race is very well organized. Its clearly put on by people who understand what its like to compete on race day.

Recovery wasn't ideal. After resting for about 30 minutes and realizing I wasn't going to pass out. I spent the next three hours carting my 4 and 2 year old around the amusement park. Yep, carrying them up the water slide stairs and even taking them out in a paddle boat....just what I needed, more peddling!! But they had fun and it was great to be with them and it was great to see them cheer me on. Mom kept telling them they could go on the rides when Dad finished. So, the very first words from my son as I crossed the finish line were "Can we go on the water slide now?" - Yep

Monday, July 16, 2007

Musselman Triathlon - 7/15/2007


My goal for this season is to get a podium spot at the USAT Long Course National Championship in St Louis this September. You can either qualify by time or finish in the top 25% in your age group in one of the qualifying races. I only did one 1/2 IM last year (Mighty Mantauk) and finished 15th overall and well within the qualifying time limit but the bike course was shortened by 8 miles due to the severe weater and I wasn't sure my time would count. The other advantage of using a qualifying race is your entry fee ($195) to the Championship is paid by USAT. In the Northeast, the two qualifying races are Mooseman and Musselman. I was racing Escape from Alcatraz the same weekend as Mooseman. So....Musselman it is!!

I have to say that this is a great race. The town is unbelievably supportive and Hobart College provides a great "Athletes Village." The pre race dinner was fun with a nice speech from Olympian Victor Plata. On Saturday, there was a sprint race in the morning and a Professional ITU race in the afternoon. It was pretty fun watching the pros hammer the 8 loop bike and 6 loop run course. The 1/2 IM course on Sunday was very senic and everything was VERY convenient. Over 600 athletes and parking was a breeze right at transition. The walk is longer at the Lake T sprint than it was for Mussleman. The aid stations came often, were very well manned with encouraging volunteers and they were well stocked with just about everything you would want. The post race meal was pretty good with lots of fresh fruit and an Ice Cream stand for the participants. There were post race Ice Baths, a chiropractor tent and two massage tents. And finally a very fun kids race to cap things off. Put this one on the calender, you will not be disappointed.

Down and Dirty

This was one disappointing race for me. For a lot of reasons I'll ponder later, I melted down. I better be a lot better in September. The good news is that I accomplished my main objective and qualified for Nationals.

Pre Race

About two weeks ago, my Softride frame cracked. Not safe to ride. Two weeks to go....No bike....Not good. Oh well, I really wanted a new bike. I wasn't really ready to buy one, but what better excuse could I have? Honey, I don't just want a new bike but for my safety, I need one!! True I could have got something cheaper than the Felt DA....but have you seen the picture?? Thats bike porn!! The biggest problem with the bike is that it arrived Friday afternoon before the Sunday race. So.... I rode it for 5 min on Friday evening and then about 30 min with Jamie on Saturday. Not exactly the ideal situation but there really was no other choice.

The good part about the pre race was I went up to Geneva alone. My family had just returned from 10 days of vacation and it was too much to pack up the whole show again after just 5 days back. Don't get me wrong, I love the family support, but a 2.5 year old and a 5 month old in your hotel room never provides the kind of relaxing pre race evening you're looking for...

Friday was tough...I was really scrambling to get my bike set up, pack, etc....I was up until after 2 AM. Up early to hang with the family and then drive 5 hours to Geneva in time to register etc. Very little sleep. Then race night....I'm an idiot....I stayed up until about 11.30PM watching boxing?? I don't even really like boxing.....I think I was so excited to watch something besides Thomas the Train I couldn't help myself!!

So, race morning I was tired at 4AM when the wake up call came in. But I rallied and made my traditional Hammer Nutrition breakfast. I forgot to buy water Saturday night and the hotel was out of bottled water in the vending machines, so tap water. Tastes like crap but readily available. I got my stuff together, checked out and was at the race site by about 5.15AM. Things went so well, that I was ready to go at 5.30AM. No stress. I hung out a little and started to warm up around 6AM. First wave went off at 7AM. At the pre race I notice I'm hungry and I'm a little queasy? I think it must be pre race nerves?


The swim was my least favorite part of the race. The first wave went off at 7AM, I was in the second wave 7 min later and then 3 more waves 4 min apart. So, by the time the last wave went off, the faster swimmers were almost finished the first lap. So, the second lap was VERY crowded. Also, because it was so close to shore, it was very shallow!! I don't think it was ever deeper than about 6-8 feet and many places you had to walk or porpoise!! The wind was also howling straight onshore, so the waves were as big as they were in San Francisco at Escape from Alcatraz. It was a tough swim.

I got a good start and I though I was swimming really strong. The one thing I have to work on is drafting. I've tended to race less but do bigger races these last few years. I think I need more "racing" to get better at drafting. I've raced 3 times so far this year for well over 3 miles of swimming and I've probably drafted for about 100 yards. I need to find those faster feet and follow along.

Anyway, I got out of the water and looked at my watch....I thought for sure it was going to say 28 min. It said 36 min!!! Are you kidding me!! My slowest IM swim is 1.03. 36 min in a wetsuit 1/2?? I still had 100 yards to wade to shore!!

Therein lies the first lesson. I need to stop racing the clock and start racing the course and my other competitors. The good thing about sprints is they tend to all be a little different...1/4 mile sim, 1/2 mile swim, 10 mile bike, 14 mile bike, 5k run, 4 mile run, etc. there is no "standard." In 1/2 IM or full IM you tend to get fixated on time. For me, I get fixated on stupid. My Lake Placid IM was MUCH better my Florida IM, but was 27 min slower, but I finished almost 200 places better....

37 minutes did get in my head....turns out, everybodys swim was slow. Course must have been long or the walking really added up. Very few people broke 30 min.

37.49 - 83rd overall out of 520 finishers


Uneventful and pretty quick. 1.26 - 33rd fastest


With math jumbling in my head, I start the bike. First thing I noticed is the race director did not lie!! He promised a head wind for the first 20+mile and the Gods did not disappoint!! Now my head is really spinning, I think I need to go sub 2.30 to make my "time" and I'm simply not going fast enough. The other BIG red light is that I take my first sip of Hammer Sustained Energy at my standard 10 minutes into the bike and I can't get it down. I usually set the alarm on my watch to ring every 10 minutes to remind me to eat and I find myself skipping turns. I just can not get my concoction down. I am passing alot of people. But, I hit mile 20 in a little under an hour and I do not feel good. That pre race queasiness has not gone away and there is another problem, my hip flexors. Turns out my new bike was shipped with 175mm cranks, I've been riding 172.5mm my whole life. With a little adaptation, I'm sure it wouldn't have been a problem, but remember, I have 35 minutes on this bike. Between the two, I just do not feel good. At about mile 30, I start to become very concerned about nutrition. When this has happened in the past, I drink some gatorade and the sugar helps me get the calories down. No gatorade on the course, only HEED. I love Hammer products but HEED and Perpetum bother my stomach and always leave me feeling bonky. I don't know why it bothers me and I've given away all my HEED at home. I do get it down better than the SE but sure enough, my stomach starts to bother me. The last 16 miles were VERY tough and already I'm thinking, how am I going to run well??

I finish in 2.34.12 - 27th fastest bike of the day. I'm now feeling very bad and I'm way behind on my calories.


Uneventful and pretty quick. 1.30 - stopped to put on socks


I need a new goal. I 8 min miles and you'll salvage something.....first mile I stop to fix my shoe, stop to pee and run 7.53.....ok....maybe not so bad.

Next mile 8.41.....oh no.... 200 yds into 3rd mile....I have to stop!! My first race ever I have to walk something but a water stop. I start to run for about 100 yds and stop. I'm dizzy, I think I'm going to pass out and I seriously contemplate a DNF. Then I say to myself....your whole season is about this National Championship, no qualify, no championship....You only have to finish in the top 25%....what's that going to take....who knows....just keep going.

I just watched the Jimmy V speech on ESPN...Don't give up, don't ever give up....I have to figure this out. I feel terrible for this guy from an earlier wave. He's shuffling at about 10-11 min miles, I must have passed him 10-15 time. I would run by him and then I would have to walk and he would pass me over and over again. Mile 3 was 10 something minutes on my watch. Mile 4 was 11 something. I think... will I break 6 hours?? I have only felt this bad in a race once before and it was mile 15 in IM Lake Placid. I didn't stop then because I thought I would pass out in the tall grass heading away from the ski jumps and no one would find me.

I think to myself, I'd kill for a gatorade....I hate HEED....Hmm what do you like about gatorade....sugar and carbs...HEY... They have flat coke. I down 2 cups at mile 5 water stop and the sugar hits me like crack and I run/jog the whole 6th mile!! Mile 7 is a BIG hill (Colechester like) and I walk alot of it. More coke at the top. I end up running the rest of the way, just walking the water stops. Don't get me wrong, I still feel terrible, just less terrible. I still think my 1/2 marathon time will be 2.30ish. The end is near and I actually pick it up just to be done with this day.

I ended up run / walking a 1.51 for 8.36 min / mile. I've really been working on my running and I have to say, I can't believe I ran a 1.51.51 - 140th fastest with sooooo much walking. I had at least 2 miles well over 10 min. So, there is a sliver lining somewhere.

Final time 5.06.33. I ended up 57th out of 530 official finishers and 11th out of 67 in my AG. I came off the bike 1 min behind the guy who finished 2nd in my AG and he ran a 1.37. I could have caught him!!


So....get more sleep before a race, adapt to the new cranks or get shorter ones, and back to the chemistry lab for pre race and race nutrition. I've been doing the same thing for 5 years but this year in race simulations, I've struggled a little and clearly struggled Sunday. Find feet on the swim and finally.....get the time goal out of your head! Next stop Litchfield Olympic then St Louis!!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Escape From Alcatraz - 6/3/2007


I had planned on starting my race season late this year in late June or early July. My wife and I had our second baby on Feb 22 and things have been crazy. But, after Ken Schultz put a link to the Escape from Alcatra lottery on the HEAT web site, I decided what the hell!! Much to my surprise was picked!! So....Plan B.....go to San Francisco, have fun and enjoy a legendary venue.

For those of you that don't know, The Escape is a 1.5 mile swim from a boat just off the Alcatraz shores to Marina Green, an 18 mile bike through prsidio and Golden Gate National Parks and an 8 mile run from Marina Green to Baker Beach and back over bike paths, trails, stairs, deep sand and the famous 400 soot sand ladder!!

Once again, I'm reminded that traveling with a young family is not the relaxing vacation experience of my youth and also not ideal prep for a race. The hotel told me they were one mile from the race venue. In San Francisco, you need to ask what that mile looks like!! In our case it was 1 mile down what seemed like a 70 degree incline. Try that a few times a day with a double stroller and a 38 lb two year old and a 14 lb 3 month old. My calves actually ached by race morning!! Sleep in the hotel room was also a joke, but in general we had a lot of fun.

I met a guy in the hotel who had an aunt from SF that belonged to the South End Rowing Club. They had their own beach, so we decided to swim on Sat before the race to experience the cold. Two observations.....1) I had to swim at a 45 degree angle to swim straight (currents) and 2) when I exited the water, I was slurring my words because my face muscles had frozen!! Yikes. But it was comforting, because I survived and it really wasn't THAT bad after about 5 minutes.

I shipped my bike out there and it arrived Friday so I really didn't have time to pre-ride that course without expending too much effort too close to the, I was going to fly blind.

And as far as pre race runs....only if I felt like doing hill repeats!!

Race Morning

Up at 3.30, out of the hotel at 4AM (forgot breakfast....bummer). White knuckle decent to race site in the dark. Set everything up and board the bus about 4.30AM. Buddy gives me a cliff bar (breakfast accomplished - Sorry Hammer). The good thing about this race was that traveling with small children has taught me the value of allowing a ton of extra time. So, there really was no real pre race stress. A little valve extender problem on the Zipps, but I'm getting used to those useless things!! We were at the dock by 5AM.... body marking, porta potty and relaxing. Boat leaves dock at 6.15AM as the sun is coming up. Old guys on the second deck, youngins and pros down below. I head up the stairs with the rest of the gray haired racers (for those of us that still have it). Everyone is pretty jovial, the bars have water and cytomax (breakfast juice) and there were bathrooms that I used at least 4 times. The give the swim instructions a second time. They point out landmarks to use to aim to compensate for the VERY strong currents. I listen carefully and start to smile. For once in my triathlon career, I'm really taking in the venue!! Alcatraz, The Golden Gate Bridge, The San Francisco Skyline....Man, this is a race EVERYONE has to do. Its just awesome.


The boat stops, national anthem and the gun!! The first thing I make a mental note of is that the pros and the first age groupers are NOT going where they were told. I'm nervous about the currents because I had talked to someone who had done the race the year before and had missed the exit ramp and had to swim against the currents to exit the water. Talk about butterflies. They exit 1800 people from the boat in less than 5 minutes!! Its like a military wait in line, step on the mat and then, like it or not, jump. No time to rethink what you are doing. The currents are so strong that the people who jump before you are already 10 feet away by the time you jump. BIG rush of adrenaline and the first thing I notice is the water doesn't seem that cold. For all those that might do this race...the swim isn't that bad. I'll take it over the IM Lake Placid start any day. The way everyone exits the boat, nicely spreads out the field. Yeah, it was cold, yeah, it was choppy, but for those of us who have done races in Long Island sound, its cold and choppy there too.

The biggest mistake I made was to follow the RD instructions for Moderate swimmers. I now know that they build in a ton of safety. I could have even cheated where they told the strong swimmers to go. I really swam much more of an L than almost the whole field. I felt like I was swimming alone most of the time.

That said, GOD bless the VASA!!!! I exited the 1.5 mile swim in 32.13 with the 150th fastest swim out of 1800 with......2 open water swims since my last race in October of 2006 and....1 time in the pool. No fatigue at all!! And quite honestly I could have been faster if I wasn't so conservative in my route or if I pushed even a little.


2nd mistake. I talked to a few people and they convinced me it wasn't worth the time to use shoes for the 1/2 mile run transition. BS... my feet still hurt today, 2 days after the race and my time was about 1.5 minutes slower than my closest competitors. I actually thought I made the right move becasue the grass and gravel wasn't bad and I clearly passed people in the bag pick up. But when I hit the pavement reality set in. The pavement was essentially that crushed shell concrete. OUCH!! 6.29


The Escape Bike is like a hard golf course. You shoot 5 strokes better the second time you play!! The bike is my strength and it is where I make my time. I chose a road bike set up over my tri bike and it was 100% the right call. It is a VERY hard 18 mile with steep ups and STEEP downs. Very little falts and lots of turns. Some of the downs end in 90 degree turns and some run into the next uphill and I never knew which. I got passed alot on the downhills but made up big time in the uphills. Again, I think the reality of living in CT is we live in the hills. My Wed club rides are much harder and every bit as hilly if not more. There were athletes compting from all 50 states. I think there are top triathletes from places like Ohio and Indiana that just get blown away by the hills. For me....let them try the Griskus Sprint in July.

My time was 55.45 or 19.3 mph. 97th best. I definitely lost a couple of minutes here. I would have been much faster if I was familiar with the course

Transition #2

Uneventful 1.31, took time to put on socks after last years 70.3 fiasco and my aching feet from T1 needed them!!


God bless Coach Al. The first 1.5 miles and the last 1.5 miles are flat and I got passed alot, nothing new for me on the run. But, there were steep climbs, the 400 foot sand ladder, stairs to the top of Golden Gate park, etc. When the road / trails turned up all the winter Strength training and downhill strides paid BIG dividends. I picked alot of people off. One word to sum up the whole run is spectacular!! The views were awesome!! I could have done without the 1 mile through deep sand, but it was fantastic.

One quick note, its always great to race with the pros. What made this really special was the run was essentially an out and back. The pros were coming back down the trails from the Golden Gate as I was going up. I literally brushed shoulders with them because the trail was so narrow. It made a lasting impression. I fancy myself as a pretty good triathlete but when I saw the pros run, my jaw hit the ground. You really get a feel for how fast those guys really are!! Lets just say seeing Andy Potts while he is averaging 5.30's over rugged terrain is humbling.

Running is still my weakness, 1.00.36 - 247th best for the day 7.34 avg. (2.16 on the sand ladder challenge!!)


2.36.34 128 overall out of 1800, 18th out of 239. Not bad for a B race against very good competition. I gave up time on the swim and the bike, but if I wasn't complaining about some aspect of my race I wouldn't be a triathlete!!

This venue is amazing!! IM has 1800 athletes over 140.6 miles. This has the same number over 28!! The people are great, the fans are great, the festival was great...Try to do this race....Its one of the ONES!!

Update...I looked at the final results for the first time, 21 "people" who were ahead of me were 107 out of 1545 finishers. As usual, slowest run in the top 107!! But... my sand ladder time was up there... ranking aren't out yet. So, my theory of strong in the hills to work on the flats....maybe I should have gone to the track once?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Mighty Montauk 10/1/2006


After getting sick 4 weeks before IM Canada and not being able to race, focus has been a problem. I raced a team 24 hour mountain bike race in September and won and have just not been excited about swimming or consistent training. No open water swimming since July and only 3000 yds of VASA work. Also, I had several family commitments planned that were suppose to be in the off season which were now very much in season. I haven't had a training week over 9 hours since July. At least I was rested. I decided to put some of my Summer fitness to use and get something for all my efforts even if it was an unenthusiastic effort. I signed up for MM the week before the race (just in case I wanted to back out)

The weekend was beautiful. 70 degrees and sunny every day except.....more on that later. I stayed on the beach with my family (wife, son and Parents) and there were several friends staying in the area. Great location for a race and a nice weekend.

Pre Race

I woke up at 4AM for my pre race routine. Out the door at 5.30AM.....what the **** happened to the weather??!! 30 mph winds and raining sideways!! I had trouble holding my bike in place. About 1/4 of the way to the race start, I turned around to go back to the hotel. I decided the rear disc wheel had to come off, it just wasn't safe. A little stress but mission accomplished.

Transition was one big puddle and it was still very dark. I managed a run warm up but nothing else, the weather was just too bad. EVERYTHING I had was now soaked. I decide then and there that I'm not going for time, I'll going to be safe.

700 people pre registered, in the end only 485 entered the water and 387 finished the race.


Race Director announced the race would go!! I have to believe most RD would have cancelled the race. 15 min before the start, the buoys were still in the truck so it must have been touch and go. The RD announced that the waves were to stay in the tent until called, I was in the third wave of 4 so I hung around. After a while, I decided to make my way to the start with a co-worker doing the race. While we were still about 50 yds from the start, they announce wave 3 is to go off in 45 sec!!! So, much for the announcement!. I run to the water and as I hit the water, the gun goes off, still don't have my goggles on and I haven't even seen the course. I don't even know if the course is clockwise or counterclockwise!!

I get the goggles on but visibility is very low. I stop one more time for a goggle adjustment. Its VERY windy. The waves are high for a lake and it is just pouring. Anyway....I never find any feet, I stop often to try to site and I come out of the water in 33.19 min for the 51st fastest swim. Not bad for no goggles, no prep and no visibility. Lack of open water swimming clearly hurt my time as well.


Decent transition considering the condition. I start really picking people off because I had a decent swim and was in the last wave of non relay racers. I have done ALOT of training in the rain this year getting ready for IM. I would say 3/4 of my long rides were in the rain this summer. The only real challenge was the downhills. It was slick and VERY windy and there were big puddles especially at the bottom of hills. I pretty much coasted every downhill upright out of the aero bars.

At about mile 15 (an out and back) I notice the top 5 guys and probably 7 out of the top 10 are using discs. Shit....that's going to cost me - but I'm really not sure I could have stayed upright. No one else but those 7 had a disc.

At mile 30, I come very close to going over the handlebars when a puddle is actually about two feet deep!! I hit it at about 25mph. Ykes, be carefull!! I come through the 1/2 way point in about 1.20 and feel pretty good considering... I think maybe I should start to push. On the second loop, they close the out and back where I almost went over the bars. It cut 8 miles off the bike. Bummer, they're taking away 8 miles of my strength. Also, now my pacing is all messed up. I don't have a bike computer so I'm just not sure, so I just put the hammer down.

Amazingly I only consume a 1/2 bottle of water and 1/2 bottle of SE the whole bike.

I come off the bike in 2.10 for the 12th fastest bike split. I'm right up there with everyone except the guys with discs. They all had about 10 minutes on me. If I could have stayed upright, I clearly should have used the disc.


Another good transition and the run starts. I only have two things to say here. Holy crap was it hilly!! And I can't believe they didn't call the race. The thunder and lightning started on the bike and now it was really bad. We were constantly running through ankle deep water. I heard a fire whistle (sounded like the horn they blow when they want you off the golf course) and I think, that's it there going to start pulling people off the course, but no!! I just keep trucking. At mile 9 my calves start to really hurt but I plow through. I run fairly well for me. I finish in 1.40.30 for the 41st fastest run. As usual, slowest in the top 20.

I finish 15th overall and 3rd in the 40-44 in 4.27. Somehow, the guy who won the age group finished second overall but because he did not register as an elite he wasn't given second. The guy that was second in my AG was 1.30 ahead and I had a much faster bike. The 8 miles would have helped there.

I always wanted to break 4.30 (my PR is 4.34), this is one way to do it, cut 8 miles off the bike. I figure the 8 miles was around 20 minutes, so a 4.47 in bad conditions. That's a pretty slow bike for me but the course was surprisingly hilly. FYI, the end of Long Island is NOT flat.

Not a bad result for no real focus, no swim training and just horrendous conditions. I wore racing flats (with socks this time) and I really injured my lower legs. Time to put those away for anything more than a 10k. Of course the extra weight I'm carrying around since hanging up my IM training didn't help.

My biggest losses came from 1) the swim - a little more course prep (and being there for the start) and I would have had another 2-3 minutes and 2) the disc, although as I stated, I'm still not sure. For those of you that know me, bike handling is not my strong point (can you say Jan Ullrich going down hill!!)

Until next time....