Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cranberry TriFest - Olympic Distance Race Report


Thursday June 30, 2015.
66 days until IronmanMaryland

As Boston Express bus 805 made its slow journey from South Station in Boston to the Park-N-Ride located at exit 8 in Nashua, NH I continually pulled up weather.com on my laptop to see if the weather forecast was still holding steady. It was. The heavy rainstorm was on its way out and by 6:00 pm there would only be remnants over Brookline. The radar images told the same tale. Things were looking good for my scheduled 65-minute ride.

In February I had a skiing accident and after months of physical therapy with limited improvement (though my neck felt much better) I received a cortisone shot in my right shoulder and just like that I could train hard again. I had recently been training in MontTremblant, Canada with NorthEast MultiSports and was feeling confident that I was finally trending in the right direction. My numbers were all coming up. I had just completed a 114-mile ride one day and a 60-mile the next. I had managed a 2.5-mile swim and felt good. My runs were starting to get longer. All systems go.

When I got off the bus and headed home the heavy rain had dissipated, just as weather.com had foretold. I got my riding kit on grabbed my bike and headed outside to ride before it got too dark.

There was a light drizzle.

Not a problem I told myself. That is just the last of the storm pulling away. I started to pedal. The drizzle got a little heavier. I rode down Route 13 and then headed past Hampshire Hills. The skies opened up. Heavy rain. At least it was warm I told myself, and it is going to pass quickly. I pedaled on. I took a right onto Ponemah Hill Rd. and began climbing. The rain continued. Hard. I was having trouble seeing too well as my riding glasses were being pelted. I wiped them. It made no difference. The rain was not pulling away. As I approached the top of the hill I began to weigh the pros and cons of completing the ride. I crested the hill, began to pick up speed, and the next thing I know I am on my side skidding across the road.

As my rapid deceleration ended I paused for a beat, unclipped from my pedals, picked my bike up, and went to the side of the road. I began my damage assessment with my bike. Aside from some ripped tape on the left bullhorn all seemed well. Thank goodness. I then began to assess myself. My left knee was bleeding heavily. My right arm was bleeding heavily. My left shoulder hurt. A lot. My head felt fine. My helmet was untouched. With the rain continuing I called home for a ride, and suggested that Amy bring a lot of towels. Crud. 66 days until Ironman Maryland.

The next day I went to Urgent Care where x-rays of my shoulder indicated that I had a separation and possible fractured clavicle. I as given a sling and advised to contact my Orthopedist Dr. Dan Bouvier. I got my long run in that weekend wearing the sling and an Ace bandage to keep my arm from moving. Not graceful yet I got the work in. I saw Dr. Bouvier and the diagnoses in the end turned out to be a separated AC joint in my shoulder. He said further training would not cause additional damage (unless I had another accident) and that pain was my limiter.

Clearly swimming was out and this was disappointing, as I had made many improvements recently in my technique. Riding outdoors was out, for now. I could not put weight on my left arm, or really move it. Trent Hayden lent me his Wahoo Kickr so I could still get my rides in. Training picked back up, just not quite as intensely as I wanted. The days passed and I slowly got more mobility in my shoulder and the pain was manageable.

On August 17th I went for my first swim since the crash. I swam with no expectations and managed 2537 yards in 1:03.54. Not fast. There was pain. Nothing I could not handle. Cranberry TriFest Olympic was on for me! The next day I went for my first ride outside since the crash and again I could handle it. The pain was manageable. I trained for the rest of the week and prepared for my race with very different expectations than when I signed up.

Cranberry Trifest Olympic

Upon arrival at the Ted Williams Camp in Lakeville, MA I collected my registration packet, and setup my transition area. Since the water was 82 degrees the race would not be wetsuit legal. One less thing to worry about. Once I had transition setup I realized I had left my timing chip in my car.  I ran back to the car and then back to transition. I realized I did not have my swim cap with me. Back to the car I went. It was not my finest hour. In between my journeys to the car I talked to fellow NEMS teammates and generally got myself relaxed and ready to race. Time ticked away and it was time to test my shoulder.


The Olympic distance swim is .9 miles, which was the distance around the pond if you swam all the way along the edges of the pond keeping the markers to your left. The race had a time trial start with two swimmers heading out every five seconds. I got in line with my fellow silver caps and made my way to the start. The clock counted down from 5 to 0 and I made my way into the water.  As planned I went slowly letting faster swimmers pass me. I had a lot of open water and the real challenge was trying to stay out of the way of others. I was not ready for water combat. As I swam I could not extend my left arm very far, perhaps 1/3rd of my normal extension. As a result of a fairly normal extension with my right arm and a shortened one with my left I tended to pull left. I adjusted as needed and kept moving forward. The pain level was about where I expected it to be so I just plugged on. Eventually I saw the swim out, I pressed on and finished the swim.

Time: 37:21
Pace: 2:22/100
Division Place: 39
Overall Place: 380


The run to transition involved navigating some slippery rock steps and a run the length of the transition area before you could head to your rack. I navigated this, and then had to sit to get my shoes on. No flying mounts for me. No putting the shoes on by extending my arms. While not the fastest it was a reasonable transition.

Time: 2:12.6


Once on the bike I was in my comfort zone. I wanted to ride at about an IF of .85. I very quickly started to pass people. Riders seemed to be in clusters stretched along the rode with big gaps before the groups in front of them. I had a power gel and drank my Gatorade Endurance formula as I rode. Every five miles I had two licks on my Base Salts. I felt good and passed many riders. The course was familiar as much of it is the same as the Patriot Half course, and I had trained on and raced the Patriot Half. The cranberry bogs were beautiful and made for great scenery. I was nailing my nutrition and felt that I was setting myself up for a successful run. As I headed back into transition I performed a flying dismount and charged back to the racks.

Time: 1:13:50
MPH: 21.3
NP: 191
IF: .84
VI 1.03
Division Place: 13
Overall Place: 63


Once again, due to my shoulder, I had to sit to get my shoes on. My normal procedure is to just bend down, slide my feet into them, grab my glasses, visor and number belt and start running.  As a result my time was slower than I expect of myself.

Time: 1:46.4


Within moments of leaving transition I caught up with the woman who I had been playing ‘tag’ with for the last ten miles of the bike. We entered transition together and she was faster out, so catching her felt like a positive development. I stayed with for the first half mile or so then I picked up the pace a bit. This race had nutrition stations every mile and as I ran I would grab water and dump it over my head to keep my temperature down. My pace was steady. I could not swing my left arm as I usually would so my gait was a bit off from where I like it. I did manage to keep a fast cadence however and over all I felt good. I was at a pace that I felt I could maintain for the rest of the race and probably could not have run faster. The course is overall fairly flat with a few small rollers. Nothing compared to New Hampshire. It was overcast so the sun was not an issue, which in some spots it certainly could have been. I licked my Base Salt every mile and pushed onward to the finish. With less than 500 yards to go I got passed by a runner who had been on my tail for miles. Some days you are the rabbit. Some days you are the fox. On this day I was the rabbit. I crossed the finish line, received my medal and a water bottle and proceeded to leave the finish area.

Time: 47:37
Pace: 7:41/mile
Division Place: 17
Overall Place: 97

Time: 2:42:45.5
Division Place: 25/42
Gender Place: 111/237
Overall Place: 140/441


Soon after leaving the finish area I ran into Zuzka Trnovcova who had won the women’s division in the sprint event the day before, and had just won in the Olympic completing an amazing weekend. After talking with her I headed towards the medical staff to get ice packs for my shoulder. Now iced it was time to pack up, change, and get the car loaded before I was going to head to the award ceremony. As I packed I could not find my keys. I went through everything and they were not there. I hoped that in my rushing around in the morning that they would be on top of the car, where I thought I had placed them at one point. No dice. Fortunately I had also forgotten to lock the car so I again went through all of my bags, looked under the seats, and looked under the car for the keys. No keys. I quickly took a baby wipe shower and changed into fresher clothes and made my way back to the finish area. I looked on the ground everywhere I had walked. I asked the announcer if anyone had turned keys in. No. I checked the registration area. No keys. The starting area, no keys. I walked along the porta potties. No keys. Eventually I made my way back to the car, went through it again, and still no keys. I checked on final place, on top of all the tires. On the fourth tire I checked. Keys. The lesson. Slow down in the morning. Use the checklists you created.

As I drove home knowing I had just 42 days until IMMD I felt confident for the first time since the crash that I could pull this off. My goals that I had when I signed up have gone out the window. I have no idea what the swim will bring. Will my shoulder allow me to fully extend when I swim? Will the pain be that much less by then? No matter. I know I can pull off the swim. The time it takes will be less than 2:20. That much I do know. The cycling will be under six hours if I can continue to build the way that I have. The run… again a lot is dependent upon my shoulder and how much I can have my normal arm swing. It will be what it will be. I will keep working and on October 3rd give it my all.

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