Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New England Kids Triathlon: Guest Posts

Guest Post by Jordan:


This is my second time doing this tri and even though I knew this course (but the run) from the pervious year, it was harder on the bike but more of that later…

So on the way there I had a double chocolate muffin which I think really gave me energy. Then we got there. Skipping to my race start: I was in the third group number 710 so I went after my brother.

I was just about to jump in the pool when my brother had finished. For my swim I did front stroke for 1½ laps and backstroke for the rest. When I got out I was super happy because it was a good swim for me.

I swam the 200 yards in 7:25 good for 355th place.

I felt I had a good transition. In the middle of it a girl kicked over my helmet and towel. My time for it was 2:40.

On the bike in the first mile I stopped because I thought my race bib fell off. I realized that it was still on so I kept going. At first tons of people kept passing me. For the first 3 miles I passed only 1 person. On my second loop I felt much more in control. I passed like 10 people.

I was going an average of 12 mph and was 337 in my age group with a time of 30:04.
On the run I knew this is my element. I was passing people left and right. When I was running I helped inspire other people to keep running. For the last 1/8 of a mile I ran with a 14 year old. He let me beat him at the end, which probably means I beat him in the run. At the end and after I got my ice cream my dad said I should be a runner because my results were 7:19 per mile and 21 in my age group which is 11-15 and I’m eleven.

Race Time: 48:49

Thank You For Reading

Jordan, left. Cole, right.

Guest post by Cole:

We started off the day by having some good ol’ bagels. Driving to the race I tried to sleep but was too excited to. When we got there we had to get our race numbers written on our arms and legs. Also we needed to get our numbers on our helmets.

Then I set up transition. Walking into transition with my carry bag full of NewBalance running shoes, a towel, socks, helmet, running bib and goggles, I kept on thinking what my dad had just said to me, “Put your towel down first, then your sneakers with your socks rolled up in half balls on the top. To the left put your open running bib with numbers face down and helmet overturned, straps to the side on top, and shirt in any open space. When I was finished, I looked at everything one more time, when I was ready I headed back to the side. When we were all done we went inside and waited, and waited and waited some more. Finally after a good 2 hours, it was finally our turn. Let me tell you me one word that describes it all...anxiety. The first group he called was 600-650, and I was 654. I was next. As mygroup walked to the pool everyone fell silent.

The water felt very warm so I was pushing from the start. But within the first lap, I started to tire out. Wheezing, I tried the breast stroke. 2 laps to go, 2 gone. Now in survivor mode, I begin to doggie paddle. 1 1⁄2, 1, 1⁄2 I had finished! Relief quickly spread across my face. (Note: I am not a very good swimmer)

Time: 7:19

Place overall 351

Sprinting out to transition, I heard the crowd screaming GOOO! Adrenaline pumping through my veins, I skipped drying my feet and got the socks on right away. Shoes, socks, helmet, shirt, and belt on I only needed my bike. Here I go, I said as I climbed onto the bike.

Transition one: 1:59

Turning my first corner there were three people behind me. Turning on to the main street (1 mile) they all had passed me. Pushing and pushing , I passed more, and soon I was in an area by myself. On the second lap I was passing person after person.

When I came into the finish I did a flying dismount and was off.

Time: 24:57

Overall place: 204

Running into transition, with my bike in hand, I unbuckle my helmet and turned my race bib to the front. “Racer do you need help getting your bike back on the rack”, he said “Or can you do it yourself?”

“Could you do it,” I answered. As he took my bike I put my helmet on the mat took my water bottler out of my water holder, and was on to the run.

Transition two: 1:09

I thought that the run would be the hardest because I had been battling a Stomach Virus since Wednesday. My hypothesis was correct. Out in the sun, with nothing but a warm water bottle, I was barely even running. “I need to push!” I was yelling at myself. Sweat dripping down my face I passed under the New England Patriots blow up helmet and was on the track going into a full on sprint. I saw the finish line,

100,50,25 and I passed through the finish banner! Joy overpassed me.

Time: 11:55

Overall place: 251

I got a wet and cold towel, a water bottle, and a medal and went to go watch my brother finish

Final Race time: 47:22


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mass State Triathlon Race Report

During the winter of 2012/13 when I first contemplated taking up triathlon I spoke to Karin Biskovich about it. Karin is an accomplished triathlete, and a Physical Therapist who had worked on me a few times. She thought I should go for it, and she predicted that I would go right from the sprint distance to the Half-Iron distance then up to the full Iron distance skipping right over the Olympic distance. I thought no way. She was right. Finally, three years into my triathlon journey I have completed my first Olympic distance race.

First off. Wow. This is a hard distance.  It is like the sprint distance, just further. You go almost as hard though. With the iron distances you pace yourself. Those distances mean you have a long day ahead of you. Not so with the Olympic distance. The swim is .9 miles. A long swim however, it is night and day from a 2.4-mile Ironman distance swim. The bike in an Olympic tri is generally 25 miles. Much shorter than the 112 miles in an Ironman distance race and the run is 6.2 miles versus 26.2 miles in a full iron. Looking from the outside it would seem as if the shorter distance race is easier. From the inside, nope.

Two weeks prior to the race I headed down to ride and run the course. I find that knowing what is ahead of me is far superior to being surprised on the course. I was happy to find a very manageable bike course that had rolling hills and only a couple of extended climbs. The negatives to the course was the ride through downtown Gardner, which would have traffic during the race, and route 68 which had a number of potholes and in general was in poor shape. The run course (of which I only ran four miles) was generally flat with minor fluctuations along the way. I knew what was ahead, and I was prepared.

Race day dawned and it was going to be a scorcher. Thankfully the race started at 8:00am and was ending just as the heat of the day was heading towards its apex. I arrived at the Lake Dennison RecreationArea, the staging grounds for the race, at 6:10 in the morning. I walked over to the packet pickup area, got my timing chip, bib, schwag and went back to the car to get my gear. A nice advantage of arriving early is parking near transition.

Once I had everything I setup my space in transition, organized myself, and said hello to the many members of NorthEast MultiSports that were racing. Sticking with my nutrition plan I had my beet juice 30 minutes before the race, my caffeinated GU 15 minutes before the race and eight ounces of water to wash it all down. I then headed to the starting corral and hung out with, among others, Mike Bukowski and Tom Frost. As we waited for our turn to start we discussed our ‘speed’ swimming and drafting technique. Tom made it clear that he should not be drafted off. He was right, as the only person to kick me in the head was Tom. We waded into the water and waited for the signal to begin.

Once the race started I was in the middle of a very physical pack of swimmers. This may have been the most physical race I have been in with everyone jockeying for position. My expectation was that by the time I arrived at the first turn marker that pack would have broken up a bit and I would have some clear water. No dice. As we approached the midway point between the first two turns I decided to swim on the outside of the pack. This seemed to work though I was adding distance onto my swim. Once in the clear I could think about the tips that Stacy Sweetser (Who won the women’s division) had been giving me. Stacy owns Sweetwater Swim Studio, coaches athletes at Hampshire Hills, and was a collegiate swimmer in addition to being an amazing triathlete. With her voice ringing in my head I began to find my stroke. While not perfect, or even close to perfection, I felt improved.

My shoulder had been a concern as noted in a previous post, and on the Wednesday prior to the race I received a cortisone injection. Thursday and Friday the shoulder had actually felt a bit worse yet Saturday it felt much better. I went for a quick swim and where there had been pain I felt nothing. It was actually strange because the pain had been with me for so long that not having it felt odd. I like odd. During the race my ‘awareness’ of my shoulder increased and by the time I approached the final course marker the shoulder felt uncomfortable, which was a lot better than painful. I swam in as far as I could, stood up, and headed towards transition. While my pace was not officially my fastest I had gone very wide on 2/3rds of the course so I am pleased with the progress.

Time: 31:51 (Goal 35:00)
Pace 2:01/100 yards
Place: 301/455   Overall 25/37 Division

I scooted into transition, pulled my wetsuit off rapidly, put my pre-rolled socks on my feet, then my bike shoes followed by my helmet and got my bike off the rack. (The rack was short so getting the bike off and then back on later was interesting) I ran toward bike out pushing my bike ahead of me and hopped on at the mount line.

T1: 1:23.8 (Goal 1:30)

Once on the bike I felt much more comfortable. After almost 10,000 miles I should. I quickly downed a gel, hydrated, and as I headed out of the park onto the mean streets of Winchendon I settled into an aero position. My goal was to be between 85% and 90% of my FTP for the ride while maintaining a cadence of at least 90. I was pretty close to my goal for the first 10 miles. I was passing many more cyclists than were passing me. Having ridden the course I had a good sense of what was ahead. The one thing that I did not plan for was my GPS turning off. At almost mile 10 I looked down and it was off. I knew I had fully charged it. I was stumped. While my watch will display my power numbers, I had not set those fields. It was time to ride by feel. I continued pushing and was very aggressive on the downhills, my favorite part, and rode using muscle memory on the up-hills and flat sections. I passed some cars in downtown Gardner and took advantage of open spaces when I could.  I continually drank and took two licks every five miles of my Base Salts. I was feeling pretty good. With about a mile to go, Frosty who encouraged me to push harder, passed me. I did. Soon enough the left hand turn back onto the State Reservation, I undid my shoes, and pulled off another flying dismount. (I need to practice the flying mount)

Lessons: 2+
1) If the power on a device turns off try turning it back on.
2) Setup watch fields ahead of time.

Time: 1:03.0 (Goal 1:05)
Pace: 21 mph
Place: 130/455   Overall 14/37 Division
IF .88  (Goal .85 - .90)

Once in the transition area I ran to the rack, put my bike back on it, removed my helmet, slid my feet into my sneakers, and grabbed by visor, glasses, and bib. As I ran out of transition I put on those items.

T2: 0:51.3 (Goal 1:00)

As I exited transition I fell in behind Frosty. I knew that I would not keep up with him; I just wanted to stay as close as I could to him as long as I could. The run course was basically what I had run during my course practice, yet I had begun my run in the parking lot, not where transition was set up so by the time I got to two miles in I was in new territory. The ground was paved and the pavement was very rough. I could feel it through the bottoms of my shoes. The run also got hillier than expected. Nothing I could not handle, just more than expected. It was also getting warmer. My top was unzipped as far as it could go. I grabbed Gatorade and sponges at the aid stations. I took my salts. I ate my gel. I powered on.

The nice thing about an out and back course is the ability to see friends, teammates and to shout out words of encouragement to each other. Jim Piper, coming off an epic day at IM CDA where it was 108 degrees, was on the course cheering us on and taking pictures. Everyone was working hard. I ran on. I looked at my watch and could tell that I was a little slower than I had wanted to be, though not by much. I did some quick math and knew that I would soon be approaching the finish. I saw the arch ahead. I rounded the corner, gave it all I had, and crossed the finish. My first Olympic distance race had been completed.

Time: 0:50:26 (Goal 0:50:00)
Pace: 8:09 /Mile
Place: 183/455   Overall 18/37 Division

Time: 2:27:30.6 (Goal 2:30:00)
Division (Men 45-49): 15/37
Overall: 173/455

Overall I am happy with my first Olympic distance race. I was not certain what to expect at that intensity, and my guesses were fairly close to what actually occurred. The great thing about the race was being able to hang out with so many teammates. We got to watch Lucas and Stacy collect their awards for winning the entire race. I got to see some teammates (Who will go un-named) enter a dance contest to win a wetsuit. Pulling off the worm and a handspring in the process. It was a good day, and I am looking forward to my next one, in mid-August at the Cranberry Tri-fest. By then I will be well into my build for Ironman Maryland so I should be able to improve upon this initial performance.

Me (Left) with Tom Frost

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ironman Syracuse 70.3 Race Report

I set a PR in the Half-Iron distance at Ironman Syracuse by almost two minutes (5:44.26 at Rev3 Maine in 2013 v 5:42.33 in Syracuse) and had my best bike split ever. As strange as it seems, I am disappointed with my overall results at Ironman Syracuse.  Nothing else went the way I envisioned it over the winter. Things happen. You learn from them. Move on.

I arrived in Syracuse on Friday and headed over to get my registration squared away. I had heard that in the past there were very long lines if you were not an All World Athlete. I am not. When I got to Jamesville Beach State Park, where the race would start and finish, there was no line at all. I picked up my packet and my schwag (small back pack, tech T, and other assorted goodies), looked around at what the vendors had to sell, and headed to the Schulman’s (family friends) who had offered to let me stay with them for the weekend.  Their house could not have been any better located, less than 4.5 miles from the park!

After unpacking I headed to Wegmans supermarket to get the mountain of food that my race nutrition plan called for. I headed back to the Schulman’s, organized my gear, relaxed, reviewed my eating schedule for the next couple of days, and went to bed. I wanted to keep as loose as I could and not let a lack of sleep throw me off my plan.

Saturday morning I woke up at 4:30, spent the next hour in bed, and finally at 5:30 headed out for a 20-minute easy ride and 10 minute run. It was chilly in the morning, about 45, and I wore my old NEMS (NorthEast MultiSport) tri kit that fit me snugly at one point not so long ago. I had a great ride and run. The bike was functioning perfectly and the engine that powered it, me, felt primed. I put the number stickers on my bike, loaded it onto the car, and went to a local diner for my ‘big breakfast’ as specified on my nutrition plan. I hungrily ate the eggs, pancakes, home fries, toast, and ham. It was the last time I would be hungry for over 24 hours. When finished I decided to drive the bike and run courses.

I had heard that the bike course was very hard, perhaps the equivalent of the Quassy half-iron course. The elevation profile on the Ironman site made the first 12 miles look very intimidating. Thankfully the drive set my mind at ease. Yes, there are hills on the course. Yes, the first 12 miles have a lot of them. Was it anything that intimidated me? No. I live in New Hampshire and I have trouble finding places to ride that are flat. There was nothing on this bike course that I have not dealt with before. I knew that as long as I stuck with my plan on the bike I would be fine. Using the site Best Bike Splits, I knew that if my body cooperated my goal was obtainable.

After driving the bike course I dropped my bike off in transition and drove the run course. Uh Oh. I had heard that the run course was hard however that is putting it mildly. The course is two loops and on each loop there is a hill just about a mile long with an elevation gain of approximately 250 feet. This is one steep hill. The worst part is that once you get up the hill you have to go back down it. Running downhill is harder, I believe, than running uphill. You get to do this twice. So, that was something to look forward to while I would be biking.

Syracuse 70.3 Transition Area

At least I now knew what I was up against. I continued with my day long buffet of eating and also got my gear packed for the morning. I had decided that instead of heading back to my gracious hosts home for a post-race shower that I would just head straight back to New Hampshire. It was Father’s Day after all, and seeing my boys would be a wonderful way to end my day. I headed out to meet the NEMS team for an early (4:30) pre-race dinner. Having a dinner with the team the night before a race is one of my favorite activities. Everyone is anxious and has energy radiating off them. Race talk is everywhere. Plans. Expectations. The energy is palpable. Colin reminded everyone to go easy on the first 12 miles of the bike portion, and let those passing you burn themselves out. We all wished each other luck, took some team pictures, and left to get some sleep.

My alarm went off at 4:00am and I was up immediately. I got dressed, headed downstairs to make some coffee, and while that was heating up went outside to put my bags in the car. It was raining. Not the way I wanted to start the day. Not anything I could do about the rain so while I ate my breakfast (2.75 cups of applesauce, 1 banana, 1 protein shake, 1 bottle sports drink) I mentally thought about how I would adjust my transition setup to deal with the wetness, and thought through any other adjustments I might need to make.  Feeling ok with the rain, and grateful I had brought a raincoat, I got in the car and drove to Jamesville Beach State Park. I was one of the first people there and got a great parking spot. The rain was letting up as I walked towards transition, and I decided to stick with my transition rain plan (which consisted of putting my gear upside down and covering everything with a towel) and tried to relax.
Gear covered with a towel
The clock ticked inexorably toward the start of the race. The national anthem was sung. The canon boomed. The race began. I was in wave 10 and waited with Mike and Cindy for my wave to draw near. Wave after wave of swimmers entered the water. I wished Mike luck, put on my light pink swim cap, and entered the water. The starter said 15 seconds to go, my body tensed. The horn went off. I hit the start on my Garmin and took a few steps forward and was swimming in a churning mass of humanity. My plan was to stay on the outside edge of the wave to avoid as much contact as I could. With my neck and shoulder having issues I was willing to give up a little time for clearer water. The plan worked. By the fourth marker I was in clear water and only about 10 yards to the left of the buoys. I noticed at the sixth one that the alert on my watch chimed. The alert was to let me know when I had swum 600 yards. For the first time I realized that the buoys were 100 yards apart. I wondered if this was something that everyone else knew.  I kept swimming at a steady pace. My shoulder would not let me go faster, and each stroke was mildly painful. I focused on getting to the next buoy. Then the next. All I could control was the space around me and the journey from buoy to buoy. I saw the arch ahead of me and knew that my swim was successful. Not the fastest. That was ok. The swim was the vehicle to get me onto my bike. I got out of the water and began the fairly long run to transition.

The awkward left hand un-zip
SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 130
1.2 mi

I was helped out of my wet suit by a peeler and once I got into transition tossed it along with my goggles and cap onto the ground under my bike. I pulled the towel off my gear, put my shoes on, put my helmet on and buckled it, and stuffed half a Power Bar into my mouth as I ran to the bike mount line. Not my fastest transition, acceptable though.

T1: Swim-to-bike 5:13

As soon as I got on my bike I felt as if I was in my element. I have spent a lot of time working on my cycling. Fit Werx matched me with a Parlee TT a couple of years ago then made certain that the fit was perfect. The bike rides as if it is part of me. I had previously uploaded the ride to my Garmin using Best Bike Splits and all I needed to do was follow the power numbers every time they changed based upon the terrain. As previously mentioned, the first 12 miles are hilly with the effect of steps. Climb, Flat, Climb, Flat, with a few minor downhills. I let people pass me. I stuck with my numbers. I saw people walking their bikes up hills by mile 8. I stuck to my numbers. When the climbing portion ended there was a long down hill. I hit my peak speed of 53, and was passing people. I kept passing large groups of riders and every once in a while I got passed. When I got passed I figured I would either pass them on the run, or they were just stronger triathletes and that is ok. I want to be a stronger triathlete tomorrow than I am today.

While on the bike my nutrition plan was to have a lick of BASE Salt every five miles, and a PowerGel or GU every 40 minutes. I was also going to have 34 ounces of GatoradeEndurance every hour. Here is where I made my first mistake. I did not drink anything close to that amount. I was so focused on hitting my numbers I forgot to drink. I had my gels. I had my salt. I drank when I had those. That was about it. In total about 50 ounces on the entire ride, well below what I should have. Other than that the ride was incredible. Trent and I had talked about what my IF should be and settled on .83. Looking back on the numbers I hit .835. I could not have been much closer. Overall the bike was uneventful, though the no pass zone with 2 miles to go was frustrating. I turned the corner, pulled off the ever exciting flying dismount, and went back into transition.

BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 84
25 mi
25 mi
17.63 mi/h
56 mi
31 mi
21.56 mi/h
56 mi
19.61 mi/h
This time I knew I could have a faster transition. It was a shorter run and I only needed to rack my bike, get my sneakers on, grab my visor and bib and head out. I slid my sneakers on and put my bib and visor on as I ran out.

Visor in hand, hustling out of transition.

T2: Bike-to-run 2:07

The beginning of the run course is a hodge podge of pavement, grass, gravel, and mud. I settled myself into an 8:30 per mile pace as I got through the first portion of the run. I bypassed the first aid station thinking I was hydrated enough turned the grass/mud corner where I looked up and saw a fat tire bike with the sign 1st Place Male and behind the biker was Colin. We gave each other a quick high five, I yelled back a congratulations (In the end he was actually the 6th place male overall, and the first finisher. Triathlon is funny that way) and continued on my way. The trail took a slight uphill before reaching the road and this is where I came across the first of many walkers I would see. I went past them and as my watch beeped that I was at a mile I suddenly knew I had a problem. My left quad began to tighten up and get the ‘pre-cramp’ feeling that I knew so well from the days when my nutrition plan consisted of coconut water and a bagel. Immediately I slowed my pace down and tried to asses how it felt going slower. No change. I needed a plan.

There was no way I was not going to finish, and I needed to finish by 2:00 so I could call my son Cole and wish him luck as he was playing for the U11 soccer State Championships at 2:00. (he was the starting goal keeper). I knew that I needed to drink and that I needed electrolytes. I took more of my BASE Salts and as I made it to the second aid station I drank 3 cups of the Gatorade and I walked the aid station instead of running it. I also grabbed wet sponges to help cool me down and tucked them under my top. I also grabbed a few ice cubes and held them as I ran to help with the cooling process. It had gotten very humid, and my body temperature was climbing. Anything I could do to help regulate that would be a plus.

Shortly after the aid station there was a slight downhill then the long, long hill began. I shortened my stride, and began the ‘climb’. I could see many people ahead of me walking. I thought no way was I going to do that. I did. At one point my heart rate got too high so I walked for about 50 yards to get it back down. My quad was still not happy with me, though it was manageable. At the top of the first section of the climb I turned right and began to run again. This was a brief flat section before the climb began again. I continued to run and, eventually, I got to the turnaround and headed back down the hill. This my quad did not like. Neither one really, and they both let me know it. Running down hill is hard. The level of impact on your body goes up, your leg turnover increases, and you need to keep focused to stay in control.

As I got back to the corner, which now was a left, my quad locked up. I hobbled over to the side where there was a guardrail and stretched. I began walking and once it unlocked I began to run again. This did not take too long yet it felt interminable to me. I was not going to go down like this. I was going to finish. I was not going to be someone that says they had a great bike, and then walks the run. (In my mind the bike is just a vehicle to get you into the run portion. A great bike only exists if you can run afterwards. Otherwise, you have just blown up your race.) I continued to run, albeit slower than planned, and continued with my modified nutrition plan. I had a gel at the next aid station and continued to push. Step by step I made it to the next turnaround, located to the left of the finish line.

In my head I kept telling myself that the next time I was here I would be heading to the finish line. I was going to make it. I was going to finish strong. I kept playing this over and over in my head. Finish strong. Push through. Almost done. I headed back out and this time I knew exactly what was ahead: the slippery turns on the grass;what was at each aid station, and how far ahead of me they were located. I continued to take my salts,drink the Gatorade,grab wet, cold sponges. One foot after another-each one bringing me one step closer to the finish line. Back up the hill I went,walking a short section to keep the heart rate down. The turnaround. Back downhill I headed. This time my legs felt better. I picked up the pace.  I let gravity assist me. I began passing runners and not just walkers. At the eleven-mile marker I passed someone who remarked that he wished he felt as strong as I looked.  I pressed on. Two miles to the finish. One mile to the finish. I ran past the final aid station and back onto pavement. Fans cheering on both sides. Instead of going left to the turnaround I went right toward the finish line. I gave some kids high fives and then I crossed finish line, gave myself a quick arm pump, and had my finishers medal placed around my neck.  Ironman Syracuse 70.3 completed.

Finish Line Ahead!

RUN DETAILS | Division Rank: 65
3.3 mi
3.3 mi
6.6 mi
3.2 mi
9.8 mi
3.3 mi
13.1 mi
3.3 mi
13.1 mi

After getting some ice on my shoulder I ran into Cindy who let me use her phone to call Cole. I let him know that win or lose I was proud of him, that I loved him, and to play his best. I spent some time relaxing with Justin after the race,talked to Dana when he finished, and soaked in the atmosphere. Overall I was happy with my results though I knew I could have done better. I set a PR. I was able to manage myself out of a potentially bad situation with cramping. I had overcome obstacles and earned that medal. (Interesting note on the medal, the skyline on the medal is of Rochester not Syracuse. Oops.) As I gathered my things they announced that the race was over. A huge storm was approaching. Everyone had to gather their things and get into their cars. If you could not get your bike out of transition before the lighting they said to leave it. Come back after the storm.

I feel awful for those that had not crossed the finish line before the race was over. One of the things that I love about endurance sports is seeing how others push themselves.  A long distance course does not care how much you weigh. What color your skin is. What you do for work. What it does is measure your heart. How far can you push yourself? How hard can you push yourself? To be out there for 7 or 8 hours in a 70.3 mile race is not easy(not that being out there for less time is.) It takes a big heart to keep going after that many hours. To walk the 13.1 miles takes a lot longer than running the 13.1 miles. It takes courage. I hope those that were not official finishers due to the storm know that they are still Iron.

Final Results:


On July 18 I will be participating in the Ride To End Alzheimer's in honor of my Grandfather. Please help me meet my $500 Fundraising Goal by donating HERE.