Friday, November 27, 2009

Return to the Scene of the Crime

I ran the local Pequot Turkey Trot 5-mile race yesterday. This was my fourth time participating in this event. I was curious to see how my recent triathlon run fitness would translate into a fresh road race. I had not competed in a road race in a few years. My first impression is how much different it is then a multi-sport event. I had forgotten just how different the effort is.

A good friend of mine had lured me into this race back in 1999. At the time, I had not run competitively for over 12 years. As I look back on that race, a decade later, I remember how comical our preparation for that race was. We would do 2-3 two mile training runs a week leading into the race. The day of the race was chilly and raining. We lined up in the middle of the 5,000+ pack. I still remember how my lungs burned from the anaerobic effort. I crossed the finish in 37:39 that day. It was not exactly pretty, but I had enjoyed the event tremendously. I would race again the following two years with finishing times of 31:26 and 30:40 respectively. My multi-sport training and racing really started to build after 2001. I found that by the time late November rolled around, I was pretty tired from the racing season. Therefore, I had not participated in the Pequot Turkey Trot since 2001.

This year I felt pretty fresh and I was carrying some good run fitness from my Clearwater preparation. I decided I would give the race a go and see where my "fresh" running was. Race morning was ideal, with temperatures in the low 50s and overcast. As the horn went off, I tried to get out quickly without going out to aggressively. I settled in behind the two lead runners. The pace felt comfortable at the time, so I decided to try to stay with them for a little bit. As we approached the first mile marker, we hit the first slight climb and the lead guy just pulled away. I dropped back a bit and heard 5:10 as I went by the timer. I felt good and I was wondering if I would be able to hold that pace. I then spent the next 3 miles learning what it was like to run a fresh road race again. I went from 3rd place to 9th over this time. My pace slowed some: mile 2 @ 5:24, mile 3 @ 5:27, mile 4 @ 5:20. I was holding it together, but my effort was not the "proper" pacing strategy for a running race. The individuals who passed me, all got stronger as the race went along. I, on the other hand, was holding on for dear life. As I went through the 4-mile marker, my left achilles started to really tighten up on me. This achilles tightness has been a little nuance for me almost the entire year. However, it's never really flared up during a race before. I was a little concerned and I tried to focus on keeping my effort as steady as possible. My form really suffered in this last stretch , but I was able to finish mile 5 in 5:30. That gave me an overall time of 26:54, which placed my in 9th place overall.
I was very happy that I decided to do the race. However, the race and events that events that unfolded during the effort are both fantastic reminders of how different a "fresh" running race can be compared to a multi-sport event.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

70.3 World Championship Race Report

I started my 2009 70.3 Championship journey with the standard flight delay out of JFK airport. Things quickly turned for the better, however, when I landed in Tampa. Timex teammates Bruce and Andrew picked me up in a shiny bright red mini-van, sweet! We then drove to the condo that Bruce had lined up for the weekend. The place was amazing! It even had its own elevator. With the lavish accomodations the pre-race was a very enjoyable experience.
Andrew, Bruce, and I ventured over to the pier Friday morning to do a short swim. We were greeted with rolling surf that made swimming an interesting adventure. It wasn't anything outrageous, but there were some decent size rollers and it was almost impossible to get into any type of rhythm while swimming out into the surf. However, once we turned back towards shore, it was a completely different story as the waves made it feel like I had fins on. We finished up our swim and I was able to catch the Lifesport swim clinic. Lance Watson was going through several race tips to deal with the rough conditions. However, both our swim warm-up and the race tips turned out to be unnecessary as the swim was moved to the bay side of Clearwater. While the decision to move the swim did not make Bruce "the shark" Gennari happy, it made our race morning jog to the start only 400 meters.

The race morning went pretty smooth. Bruce and I headed down to the swim start and found the lines moving very quickly. I jumped right into line; got my Aquasphere Icon wetsuit zipped up, and quickly found myself on the timing dock about to jump into the water. There really wasn't any time for pre-race nerves and I focused on trying to get a decent effort going. The remainder of the swim was pretty uneventful. With the time-trial start, I had no idea where I was in relation to the rest of my age group, so I just went as hard as I could. It was a time trial effort from beginning to end. I exited the water in 27:23, which placed me as the 93rd amateur. I quickly made my way through T1.
Once I got through T1, I was really excited to get on my Trek Equinox TTX. I had just come off of my best bike training heading into the race and I was very eager to see if it would pay off. I quickly dialed into my appropriate heart rate zone using my Timex Race trainer. My perceived effort felt about right and my power output was also coming back with good feedback from my Saris Powertap. The time trial start seemed to spread things out a bit to start the bike, although there were some tight roads for the first 5 miles. I managed to get the cleanest roads I've ever had in Clearwater and I was able to really focus on my own effort. I did hit two packs during the middle section of the ride, but I was fortunate enough to get through them quickly. My nutrition and electrolyte strategies were pretty aggressive as I took down almost 1,000 calories and about 16 Thermolytes. This strategy worked for me as I was able to keep my energy level high and I did not experience any cramping during the entire ride. In fact, this was my first race of the season that I was able to keep my heart rate average up in zone 3. I rolled into T2 with a 2:04:17 split and I had managed to move up to the 4th place amateur position starting the run.
Paul Regensburg, my coach, had asked me to build into my run effort. He wanted me to avoid the adrenaline rush of the first 400 meters out of transition. The plan was to find my cadence and build the effort similar to a progression run. I had done several progression runs in training and that practice was a great source for me during the race. As I was approaching the .5 mile marker, Daniel Fontana (2nd Place Overall), went blasting by me. It was a little shocking and I wondered if my legs were fatigued from the bike. Then I saw the third place bike pull up next to me. I awaited the inevitable pass of the next pro. I was starting to find a decent stride rate and beginning to feel comfortable. I ended up running next to the bike for the next 3 miles. As I approached the aid station around mile 5, Matt Reed came up on my shoulder. I asked him if he wanted to go in front to get his calories in. He said he was just trying to hold his place and he was hoping I could pace him in. I told him that would make my day if I could. I then proceeded to go a little above my comfort level for the next mile and a half. I was thrilled to be able to hold it together for that stretch, but I was a little concerned I might have exerted a bit too much energy. I decided to grab my first cola of the day at the next aid station. The simple sugars kicked in quickly and I was able to keep my form together. I ran the 10th mile in 5:30. However, that fluid stride began to get labored in the 11th mile as my pace dropped to 6:18. I then climbed back over the causeway for the last time. I attempted to carry the momentum from the downhill section of the bridge, but I was starting to fatigue and my 12th mile came in a little over 6 minutes. I saw Paul right after the mile marker and he gave me some nice encouragement to push into the finish. I allowed myself to glance at my overall time for the first time during the run. I saw 3:47 and change. I then realized that I had a chance to have a finish under 3:53. My form went completely out the window at this point. I gave it everything I had. I saw Lance Watson with about .5 mile to go and he yelled to sprint to the finish. I tried, although it certainly was not pretty. I crossed the line with a run PR of 1:16:55 and a total time of 3:52:50. I was completely ecstatic to find out that this placed me as the first M35-39 and 2nd amateur overall. I want to thank Team Timex, Lifesport, and all of our phenomenal sponsors for a tremendous year of support.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Body Fat Testing Methods

There are several types of methods used to assess body composition. What exactly does body composition stand for and why is it so important to determine? First of all, body composition is the ratio of lean body mass compared to fat body mass. When you see the percentage number from a test, that number is approximately how much of your body is comprised of fat. These numbers need to be treated just like anything else in life. The extremes are unhealthy. Sometimes people believe they need to get as low as possible. However, there are dangerous levels at the lower boundaries. The human body needs 10-12% essential fat in women and 2-4% in men. This is the fat necessary to protect the organs and maintain a healthy daily living. The numbers on the high side are associated with all kinds of ailments including: hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The high risk boundaries are >32% for women and > 26% for men. So now that we know the boundaries that we should stay between, how exactly does one measure body fat percentages? Some methods are more accurate than others, but they might not be as realistic to perform. Here are some thoughts on the methods and their relevance.
DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) is used to measure bone density. It also is used to measure body fat percentage in addition to where the fat is located. This is a whole body scanner with two different low-dose x-rays to read bone mass and soft tissue mass. The test takes about 10-20 minutes to complete and is highly accurate (2-3% margin of error). This test is painless and is rated as one of the most accurate tests. It usually costs around $100. Insurance may cover this test.
Hydrostatic weighing is another extremely accurate test (2-3% margin of error). For this test, picture being lowered into a big fish tank. One sits on a scale inside a tank of water, then one expels as much air as possible. Next you are lowered underwater and asked to expel even more air, if possible. The accuracy of the test depends on if one is able to blow out all of the air. The simple explanation of how this works is: fat is lighter then water and the more fat you have the more you will float. So the scale measures underwater weight to figure out body density. This test can be a little scary and is certainly not a good option for high risk individuals as it probably will cause a pretty big spike in anxiety levels. The cost for this test is between $25-$50.
Plethysmography is a technique that requires an individual to enter a dual-chamber device. The device measures the air displaced inside the chamber. This is an expensive technique and it has not been thoroughly researched as of yet. The standard error is about 2.2-3.7%.
Calipers are a common sight at most health clubs. This is the device used to measure skin fold thickness at several locations on the body. The basic premise of this test is that the thickness of fat under the skin reflects total body fat. There are several potential flaws with this test. First, a skilled tester is required. One needs to use the same tester for each test to avoid slight variations in testing methods. This test is not that accurate for people that are fat on the inside. Some skinny individuals as well as older adults can fall into this category. The benefits of this test are that it is generally painless and easy to administer.
Bioelectrical impedance is probably one of the fastest and easiest methods to test body fat. A handheld or standing scale is used for this test. An electrical signal passes from hand to hand or foot to foot. The speed of the signal indicates the amount of muscle one carries. The faster the signal the more muscle the individual has. The basic premise of this test is that water conducts electricity. Fat contains almost no water, while muscle is comprised of 70% water. The margin of error of this test is about 4%. The variables that can affect the accuracy of the test are: hydration, food intake, and skin temperature. If one is dehydrated, then the body fat will register at a higher level. The general rule of thumb is test at the same time each day, preferably first thing in the morning after a cup of water.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cadence Drill

I'm going to sound like a broken record. Sometimes the simpliest things, are the most useful. Recent research done by the top running coaches in the world has shown that the variable that holds the highest correlation with performance is cadence or stride rate. Bio-mechanics are extremely important, but when one breaks down the film on the top performers in the sport of running, the one element that consistently has the highest relevance is stride rate. When one stops and actually thinks about it, it makes perfect sense. There's a self-fullfilling prophecy about proper stride rate. One is forced to have better bio-mechanics and form in order to maintain the proper stride rate. The general rule of thumb for stride rate is that 94 individual strikes per minute is optimal. That's either right or left foot strikes for every 60 seconds.
The wonderful element of this simple drill is that it can be incorporated into almost any run. I do it on treadmill runs, tempo runs, and general long base runs. I find that when I really focus on the proper cadence that I tend to float over the ground. At first the drill can be much more aerobically challenging. However, over time, the benefits start to sink in and the efforts become much more fluid. It's less muscularly taxing to be running properly then literally putting the brakes on every foot strike. Unfortunately, so many of us have developed the loping run stride, that is a classic over-stride. This type of stride creates more work and literally slows us down every time our feet make contact with the ground.
A visual que that one can use while running is that you never want to see you foot in front of your knee. If you can see your foot out in front of your knee, then you are overstriding.
Keep training and keep it fun.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why it's Important to always be working on Form

You always hear and read about focusing on technique in order to improve. It all seems to make sense. However, it can get a little discouraging as you work tirelessly trying to perfect technique, only to see minor gains in improved performance.
It is so important to stay the course and be as consistent as possible. Recent research has shown that it takes 20,000-50,000 repetitions of proper movement in order to correct an inefficiency and instill the good form. It's very hard for most of us Type A personalities, that want instant gratification, to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. One has to be willing to put in the time and trust the process. However, it's critical that the drills and technique work are being practiced properly. The old saying perfect practice makes perfect needs to be the constant mantra. If possible, having knowledgeable, experienced support around to reinforce or correct technique is extremely important. At the end of the day, one needs to remember that it's all about the journey. Enjoy the ride.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Core Training

I love watching the on-line coverage of the Hawaii Ironman. There was a lot of chatter this year in regards to the core training that Craig Alexander and Chrissy Wellington put in under the supervision of Dave Scott. Craig and Chrissy were both looking super lean.
I'm a huge believer in proper core training. I, finally, started incorporating core training into my weekly regime, this year. The added body awareness and strength from core training is tremendous. The key is to learn how to perform exercises properly. As the body adjusts to frequent core training, one's bio-mechanics naturally become better. As I like to tell my personal training clients, everything starts with the core. If one's core is weak, the odds of injury go up dramatically. I encourage everyone to build core training into their training programs. In addition, working with a personal trainer that is qualified and knowledgeable on core training is very effective and will help to reinforce proper form and technique. Good luck training.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Benefits of making a list before heading to races

This is my tenth year racing triathlons, yet I continue to make some classic rookie mistakes. I have traveled quite a bit this year to race. During this travel, I seem to think that I've got my routine down. However, almost every trip I have forgotten at least one critical item for my trip. The simple answer to this is to have a LIST. Everyone should have a race item list written down. Everytime that one travels to a race, every item on the list should be checked off. It's a very simple concept, yet so many of us constantly forget things.
Here are a few of my omissions this year:
1. REV3 1/2 IM: morning of the race, I left all of my calories in my refrigerator
2. 70.3 Calgary - my heart rate monitor battery was dead and useless, however I didn't realize this until I got onto the bike during the race
3. 70.3 Timberman - my powermeter needed to be recalibrated and had some crazy, useless readings. I did not realize this until I got onto the bike
4. Best of the US - my skinsuit ripped the morning of the race. I should have checked it more thoroughly before I left
5. Best of the US - I forgot my powermeter computer at home and didn't realize until I was out in California
Here is the most classic omission I've ever heard of from a friend:
1. IM Lake Placid - a friend of mine forget his running shoes! He didn't realize this until he got to T2. He borrowed a pair from a volunteer that were 2 sizes to big and had a horrendous run. (OUCH!)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

BOUS Race Report - Racing against the young guns

This was my third year racing the Best of the US olympic distance triathlon.
The race, one man one woman from each state, has been run for 5 years. Friend and Timex teammate Cindi Bannink has competed in all 5 events. She rocked it again this year with a third place result. Each year that I've competed in this race, I've been so impressed with the organization and quality of the field. The event has seen 5 different locations over the years and this year's race was held in Mission Viejo, CA in conjuction with the Orange County Triathlon. As teammate Bruce Genarri can attest, Mission Viejo is one beautiful place. The course is extraordinary and very fair. The bike course has some decent climbs and decents. Neither are too steep, but good to break things up. The run starts out pretty flat for the first two miles, but then rises up to some nasty hills for miles 3-5.

The water temp on race morning was a little over 80 degrees which meant the wetsuit stayed packed away in my bike box (ugh). The conditions were perfect race morning. In fact, the entire race seemed to go very smoothly as the volunteers were well prepared and had tons of positive energy. I had a decent non-wetsuit swim, but found myself in the middle of the pack coming out of the water. The bike seemed to go a bit better, but it was hard to tell where I stood in the placings. As I came off the bike, someone yelled "2.5 minutes down" from the leader. I saw 5 bikes in transition and I quickly realized I had some serious ground to try to make up. I hit the first two miles pretty good (5:12 and 5:30), but I still couldn't see anyone. Then the course went off road and the terrain changed to a wood chip trail. I had flashbacks to my highschool cross-country days. It was fun to run on the different terrain. Finally, as I was heading up a REALLY big hill around the 4 mile mark, I spotted one athlete in front of me about 100 yards up the road. I closed out the run well and I managed to pass that one athlete, but three others had stayed out in front for the duration. In fact, they not only stayed out in front but put a serious beating down. I learned after crossing the finish line that the top two were 21 years old! Ouch, that hurts. I had a great time racing and it was a privilege to meet so many unique individuals at the event.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tower 26

I traveled out to Santa Monica, CA this past weekend for a coaching clinic. The day prior to my trip, I received an e-mail inviting all attending coaches to an open water swim the morning of our first seminar. The swim was scheduled to take place at Tower 26, near the Santa Monica Pier.

There would be a workout and the swim was organized and directed by Gerry Rodrigues.

I was a bit late to the workout due to a little navigational issue on my part. However, once I landed, I experienced a fantastic, organized, and energetic open water swim session. I would encourage anyone traveling out to that part of California to look up Gerry. He's a phenomenal swimmer and a great coach. Gerry also coaches at the Trifit Multisport facility in Santa Monica.
It will be well worth it to get involved in one of these open water swims. I took full advantage of the area and swam every day I was out there. I witnessed a few dolphins swimming around the same buoy we were using for our course. That sight sent the heart rate climbing at first, when I saw a single fin, until I realized the fin was coming from a dolphin and not those other swimming machines.
Swim Link

Friday, September 11, 2009

Trakkers Sponsorship 2010

Trakkers has opened up the sponsorship opportunity for their 2010 team. Please check out the link below. This is a tremoundous opportunity to be involved with a first class group of passionate people.
App's are due November 10.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

70.3 Timberman Race Report

This was my 7th year racing 70.3 Timberman. I really enjoy this race and I have tremendous praise for race director Keith Jordan and the first class event he has built. I came into this year’s event on the back of a classic pre-race mistake. On Wednesday prior to the race, I had gone through a demo full body training session that had one heavy dose of calf raises. The training session was followed up with a track workout later in the day. I spent the next two days with my calves completely blown out and I was barely able to walk properly. On Saturday, I went down to the race site to watch friend and Timex teammate, Ian Ray, compete in the Sprint triathlon (he got 3rd overall!). Fortunately the massage tent was set up and I was able to get some work done on my calves. I spent the rest of the day trying to stay off of my feet and praying that I would recover in time for Sunday morning.
Race morning I awoke and took that first nervous step out of bed. The calves were still tight and a little tender, but much better then the previous three days. As I walked around, they started to loosen up and I was feeling a lot better about the run effort to come later in the morning.

Once we got down to the race start, the transition area was a buzz of nervous energy. I looked out at the water and it was nice and flat, sweet. We had one little hick-up as a early morning accident between a car and a deer out on the bike course forced a twenty minute delay. However, once the pros were in the water, the wave starts flowed smoothly. I went off in the 5th wave of the morning and I was able to find some clear water quickly. My Aquasphere wetsuit felt great. The remainder of the swim was extremely enjoyable in beautiful lake Winnipesauke. I was able to exit the swim in 27:16.
When I left T1 and jumped on my Trek TTX SSL, I started really looking forward to following the race strategy that my coach, Paul, and I had planned out on Friday. The game plan included taking the first 12 hilly miles in a conservative fashion to save my calves and really push on the flatter 32 mile out and back section. I hit the first 12 miles well, but I was having a hard time really dialing up my effort on the flat section. I felt good and my perceived effort felt about right, but I just couldn’t get into my higher racing zone. I settled in and tried to make the most of it. It was a very humid day and I tried to really concentrate on my liquid calories. I also wanted to make sure that I was taking enough salt tabs so I could avoid any cramping. My calorie game plan combined with the salt tabs worked well to bring me into the bike finish with a 2:19:21 bike split.
I got out onto the run and I quickly realized that I was going to need to stay consistent with my salt intake. The temperature was rising and the humidity was approaching 100%. The two loop run is always more enjoyable as I’m able to see a lot of teammates and friends multiple times. My K-Swiss K onas felt great. Due to my calf issues, Paul had asked me to make sure I really focused on shorter, quicker strides. This strategy really helped me to keep my mind off of the fatigue coming from my calves. In addition, I resisted the urge to over-stride on the downhill sections. By the time I hit mile 11, I was relieved that my calves had held up. I started to open up my stride a little and it actually felt pretty good. I crossed the finish line with a 1:21:27 run split and a total time of 4:10:54. This placed me in 8th overall and the top amateur. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Park City Mossman Olympic Race Report

Two years ago I had competed in the Best of the US (one man, one woman from each state qualify) Olympic distance triathlon for the first time. I had a lot of reservations about the race leading into it. However, once I arrived at the race and met some of the other participants, I quickly changed my perception. There were some super nice people and there were quite a few really fast competitors. I got my butt kicked. It was a very positive eye opening experience. I had such a great all around experience in 2007 that I’ve tried to qualify for this race each year.

My Connecticut qualifier was this past weekend, the Park City Mossman. It is billed as the fastest Olympic distance race in New England. The race takes place completely within Seaside park in Bridgeport, CT. The swim is one loop, while the bike is a five loop pancake flat course with a few turns, and finally the run is a two loop completely flat track. I guess I’m trying to say that this race is pretty FLAT.

I’ve had a game plan for every race I’ve done this year and I find that it helps to focus on different aspects while racing. Paul, my coach, wanted me to try to be aggressive for the swim and the bike, then back off on the run if possible. I’m scheduled to race 70.3 Timberman this weekend and he wanted to keep my legs as fresh as possible. While I was lining up for the swim start, I looked out at the water. It was smooth and FLAT, nice. I scanned over to my right and I saw, friend and Timex teammate, Ian Ray just putting on his swim attire. Ian hates to be early to races and this one was probably one of his latest arrivals. It doesn't seem to really effect him though as about 2 minutes later, the gun goes off and Ian is rocking to the swim lead. It’s a beach start with a shallow section of water for about 50 meters. I watched a lot of competitors actually running through the water. I’m a bit vertically challenged, so I just attempted to do a few dolphin dives, then I tried to get into my own rhythm. I focused on trying to maintain the straightest route to the buoys and it paid off this time as Ian and another competitor managed to swing way out right. The remainder of the swim was a comical array of Ian doing his best impression of swimming like a snake, first off to the right, then off to the left. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining as it allowed me to catch up to him by the last turn buoy. At this point, I think he realized it was me. We both were wearing our sweet Aquasphere wetsuits with the golden soldier trademarks. I tried to take a different route into shore in hopes that Ian might continue his wayward swimming techniques. However, it did not pan out and Ian clocked the fastest swim from our 1st wave at 19:02. I climbed out of the water at 19:04 and focused on a smooth transition so I could get out on the FLAT bike course.
I was a little nervous about the logistics of a 5-loop bike course. I feared that it would become very congested and potentially dangerous. I was pleasantly surprised at the space on the course and I was able to just focus on my own effort. My Trek TTX was rolling smoothly and I was able to see my family on each loop , which is always a huge lift. I was not quite capable of riding the effort prescribed, but I gave it all I had on the day and exited the bike in 55:38 (distance was a little short @ 24.4 miles).

I came off the bike as the first body heading out onto the run course. However, with a 3 wave swim start and the under 35 crowd in the 2nd wave, I still was not exactly sure where I stood overall. I wasn’t able to fully adapt to Paul’s plan until I was heading back on the first loop and I was able to get some splits on the other racers. The run course was entirely along the water. There was ample room on the course even with the two loop format and narrow sidewalks. I crossed the finish line with a total time of 1:52:05 and I was able to solidify my spot for the Best of the US competition out in Mission Viejo, CA on September 27th.
I thoroughly enjoyed this race. It was a true privilege to be able to see my family and friends several times out on the race course.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

70.3 Calgary Race Report

I had the opportunity to do my first race at altitude up in Calgary, Alberta this past weekend. It was great to race and hang out with local Timex teammates Lisa Mensink and Kyle Marcotte. Emily Herndon and James Cotter also made the trip into Calgary to represent Team Timex. The race started at 3,500 feet and went a bit over 4,000. Now this is relatively tame compared to Boulder, Co. However, it was an interesting experience for this flat lander.
Race Morning:
The weather was just fantastic and the water was relatively flat. I got lucky with the age group wave start and I was lined up in the 2nd wave, 10 minutes behind the pros. My swim had two events worth mentioning. I got dropped within the first 10 meters and I had clear water the remainder of the swim. Everything else was pretty routine. My T1 was a little sloppy, but once I managed to get into my Bontrager biking shoes I was ready to get rolling. Paul (
my coach, had given the greenlight for the bike effort. The only problem was that my body wasn't ready to GO. My perceived effort was on the high side right from the start, but I was clearly having some issues. My wattage output was 20watts lower then any of my other races this year. I managed to fuel well during the bike and I did not experience any cramping issues the entire ride, bonus. On the flip side, I did have some lower back issues again. I was definetely looking forward to the run. The bike turned out to be a bit long at 58.85 miles. I rolled in with a 2:16:07 effort.
Once I got onto the run course I was happy that I got up to speed pretty quickly. I've been using my

on a frequent basis and it definetely helped me to get through the anxiety of feeling out of breathe at the beginning of the run. I focused on my form and I tried to shorten my stride to length while maintening a high cadence. At about 2-3k into the run, I started to feel comfortable and settled in. By the 6k mark I decided to start using the cola at the aid stations for the simple sugars and caffeine. The cola definetely helped to keep my energy levels up. As I approached the 8k mark, I realized I had run into the middle of the pro women's race. It was really cool to witness the race unfold. Miranda Carefrae had managed to put in a huge gap by this point, but the rest of the race was wide open. Linsey Corbin, Lisa Mensink, Catriona Morrison, and Magali Tisseyre were all battling in the top 5. These girls are tough and it was truly amazing to watch them battle each other on the hilly run.
I had a couple of minor GI distress moments in the later stages of the run and some rough patches between 14-16km. However, overall the run was a lot of fun. I managed to cross the finish line with a 1:20:13 run and 4:11:01 final time. I had a great time traveling up to Calgary and I want to put out a special Thank you to Lisa and Richard for their hospitality.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Open Water Swimming

I decided that I would try something new during my mid-season break. One of our local YMCA's has been running a 1-mile point to point open water swim race for the past 31 years. While I was chatting with friend and teammate, Ian Ray, on Friday afternoon, he informed me that wetsuits are not allowed. This information set me back a little as I clearly do not come from a swimming background and I try to take advantage of any added buoyancy I can get from a wetsuit. Oh well, I figured this would be a great opportunity to try out our new Aquasphere skinsuit.

The suit was fantastic and the race was a blast! I finished in 21:45. I did get my butt kicked by a 14yr old, but I managed to squeak in my first swimming award with a 2nd place age group finish.
Thanks for reading.


Monday, July 13, 2009

70.3 Rhode Island

The 2009 70.3 Rhode Island event was a great opportunity to get caught up with many friends and teammates. Our Timex team had 6 members racing: AC Morgan, Andrew Hodges, Bruce Gennari, Cindi Bannink, James Cotter, and myself. It's always a pleasure and a privilege to be able to race with teammates. Everyone is extremely supportive and positive to be around. A special thanks to Tristan, Paul, and Larry for all of the support leading up to and during the race.

The pre-race logistics of this point to point race are still a bit tough, however once the racing begins it is a very enjoyable experience. The weather was fantastic Friday and Saturday. A storm front blew in late Saturday night and we woke up to some wet roads and a bit of wind Sunday morning. When we arrived at T1 to set up our bikes, the surf was a bit choppy. It looked like it was going to be a very interesting swim. I did a short warm-up swim to check out the conditions. I quickly realized how important it was going to be to stay relaxed during the 1st half heading out to the turnaround. The fact that the water temperature was 70 degrees did help to offset the rough conditions, though. The pros were scheduled to start @ 6am, but due to the conditions and a few buoys getting blown off their moorings things got delayed 25 minutes. I started in the 9th wave of the morning. Once the gun went off, I just tried to swim as straight as possible and find my own rhythm. A couple of guys from my wave jumped out really quickly and I had no chance of holding them. I settled into my own swim and played with my stroke until I found something that would allow me to navigate the rollers without to much effort. Overall, I enjoyed the swim, including the thrashing on the way out to the turnaround. I exited the water in 26:17.

Once onto the bike, I was excited to get things rolling. Paul, our team mechanic, had tuned my Trek TTX SSL just right. My game plan for the bike was to ride conservatively. This was a similar approach that I had taken in my last 1/2 IM race @ REV3. Paul Regensburg, my coach, had asked me to dial things back again. He wanted to see if I could put together a decent run off of the bike. I was definitely open to this strategy. In 2008, I had biked very aggressively on the course and I remember feeling extremely strained once I hit the run. The lower perceived effort allowed me to consume all of my calories. I also managed to avoid any lower back fatigue for the first time during a half ironman. The conditions were overcast and cool for the majority of the ride, which made for a very enjoyable ride. I did make one really foolish decision on the bike. I decided to hold back a little on my electrolytes due to the conditions. I paid for that mistake later in the race. I survived the last 3 miles of city riding into T2 and came off the bike in 2:14:56. As I was trying to come out of my sweet Bontrager bike shoes, both of my hamstrings locked up on me. After a moment of panic, I continued to move and they both released.

I hit the run in my K-Swiss K-onas and tried to get my cadence turning over. I did not want to push to hard at the start until I crested the REALLY big hill at the .5 mile mark. Once I got over the top of the hill, I tried to push my pace a bit. I noticed that my heart rate was running a bit low, but I didn't want to over analyze during the race. I decided to run off of my perceived effort. I grabbed some cola from the aid station right before the four mile mark. I had peaked at my heart rate again and it was still running to low. I felt fine but clearly I was having difficulty pushing into my race zone. I thought the simple sugars and caffeine might help to lift me up a bit. The cola did help a little but in hindsight it wasn't enough to get me into Z3. I did the entire run in Z2. I tried not to over think it and I thought I was running decent. I hit the turnaround point for the 2nd loop feeling fresh. Then, as I was at the halfway point up the REALLY big hill, I started to feel my legs cramping up. I was a bit panicked because the next aid station was over a .5 mile away. I grabbed an electrolyte and started chewing on it. This was definitely not one of the most enjoyable experiences. However, it worked well enough to get me to the aid station where I took a water, gel, cola, and more water. The cramps subsided, but I was still very nervous. I slowed my pace a little bit to make sure that my stomach could process everything I had just thrown in it. The remainder of the run was kind of standard with some highs, lows, and GI issues. I finished the run in 1:19:44 and an overall time of 4:02:55, which I later learned placed me in 5th overall and 1st amateur.

Every race is different and each offers tremendous learning experiences.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Griskus Sprint Race Report

Never stop learning. I’m going to sound like a broken record, but I learn something new every time I race. I got up to the race about 1.5hrs before the start and I got my bike tuned up and a short warm-up in all 3 disciplines. I had planned on riding the bike course, but I arrived a little bit to late. I felt ready by the start and I was excited. The conditions were ideal. One of the things about this race series is that it always attracts a bunch of top high school and college swimmers that crush the swim. Well, the gun went off and I had aligned myself behind my friend, Ian Ray, who I do a lot of swim training with. The game plan was for me to draft off of him for as long as possible. He waded into the water a little slowly and before I knew it, I felt a hand on my back. The next thing I knew I was literally getting swam over from behind. This was the 1st time in my career this has happened so severely. I was literally pushed under water and had to find a space to come up. Once I came up I was behind a swimmer that had a motor boat kick. The wave was a foot in the air. I was having a very hard time breathing. Things were really tight and I couldn’t move out from behind the splashing. Finally by the first buoy, which seemed like an eternity, I was able to get around some of the swimmers. There were obviously a lot of sprinters in the group as about 5-6 guys hit the first buoy and literally stopped… I got myself back together after a few choice words under the water. I found a decent rhythm and swam the rest of the .5 mile by myself. This was definitely my highest swim effort of the season. I came out of the water and sprinted to my bike. When I got to my bike, I felt like I was going to throw up! I tried to calm myself and get out on the bike without vomiting.
Once I got onto the bike, I settled in for the 1st mile. However, once the hills came, I found myself back in the red zone and having a hard time recovering. Another tiny mistake I made was I tried to ride the hills in my big ring, because I was a bit worried about dropping my chain while downshifting. I road hard and had the top two guys in my visual path by mile 5 of the 10.5 mile course. Then we hit some more hills and I found myself spiking too high and recovering. I didn’t pass the 2nd place person, Ian, until mile 9 on an uphill section and I never caught the 1st place person. I came into transition and had what I thought was a very quick dismount into T2. I was racking my bike and putting my running shoes on when a volunteer came running over and told me that I had entered T2 in the wrong entrance and that I had to go back out and into the correct entrance, uggh. My fault completely as I’ve now done this race 6 times. The only excuse I have is that I was so focused on a quick transition that I came rolling into T2 and went for the nearest opening I saw. They would normally have roped off that entrance, but athletes were still going out, as it was the bike exit. I made up for my mistake and headed out onto the run. I was now in 3rd place and probably dropped 20-25 seconds on that genius move. I focused on my cadence and tried to avoid going out to hard as I knew my adrenaline was rushing. I caught 2nd place, Ian again, at the .5mile mark and tried to pick up my speed to see if I could bridge up to the 1st place guy. I ran ok, but it was not in the cards and I ended up finishing in 2nd place.
Post race thoughts: I’m happy with the effort. I hit higher points in the swim and bike then I have all year. I wasn’t quite ready for a sprint type effort but it was a good learning experience and a very good workout.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Achilles Injuries

Well, I've just gone through a very big reminder. I strained my Achilles last October leading into the 70.3 World Championship. The strain had subsided in the off-season and had only come back during my track interval work this spring. However, it was a very slight annoyance. That is until the Griskus Olympic race. This was my third race in three weeks and I was probably due for something to flare up. My Achilles was a little irritated following the race, so I decided to have some ART work performed on it. I like the ART technique for muscle strains but a good friend of mine pointed out how tendon strains are a whole different injury. Immediately after the procedure I felt better. However, during my 75 minute run the next day, I noticed something was wrong right away. My Achilles felt tight and irritated. By the time I finished the run, it was really inflamed. I tried to do a very easy 30 minute run the next morning, but the Achilles became inflamed again. I proceeded to ice and rest it for the next two days. Then I had some fartlek intervals scheduled. I felt completely fine during the warm up and the first fartlek, but by effort number 2, I could feel the tendon tightening again. I finished the run and immediately iced the tendon.
I then took the next four days off from running. I also made sure to keep the icing sessions going. I ran this morning for one hour and forty minutes as a progression run. I felt great and was very relieved to not feel any tightness in the Achilles. There is multiple lessons I've re-learned from this episode. 1. Do not ignore any injury 2. Do not treat tendon inflammation the same as muscle tweaks 3. Do not run hills while experiencing an Achilles injury 4. Ice is still one of the best remedies out there 5. Always respect an injury, your body is telling you something

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Griskus Olympic Race Report

I had a very interesting week leading into the race. I was still carrying a serious cough hangover following REV3 at the beginning of the week. I did a swim workout with my friends, Showky and Ian on Tuesday that actually went well. However, I was coughing under the water during the intervals.

I went to sleep early on Tuesday night and when I woke up Wednesday morning, I knew that something wasn’t right. I felt sick to my stomach, achy, and very tired. I proceeded to sleep the entire day and when I did finally wake up at 4 in the afternoon I was only able to take down pedialyte and crackers. I went right back to sleep and I did not wake up again until the next morning.

I felt so much better Thursday morning. While, my stomach was still a bit queasy, I was able to eat breakfast and do an easy 30 minute jog. I weighed myself Thursday morning and I tipped the scales at my lightest weight since my senior year in High School, following my tonsil removal (143.4lbs). I spent Thursday and Friday taking in smaller meals and eating lighter snacks and by Saturday morning I was feeling a lot better.

Race morning turned out to be fantastic weather to compete in. It was overcast and on the cooler side. I went off in the first of three swim waves. I started the swim and was immediately shocked that by 100 meters into the swim I had already lost a big gap to the lead group of swimmers. I chalked it up to the recent sickness and figured I was having an off day. I also remembered that I usually get my butt kicked during the swims at the Griskus race series, since a lot of local high school swimmers will show up to race. I focused on finding a rhythm and ended up swimming solo for the entire duration. I exited the water and ran across the timing mat in 23:54, which was a course PR by over 3 minutes. I still got my butt kicked but it was a great learning experience.
I hit the bike and was focused on having a steady, consistent effort. Coach Paul had requested that I dial the bike effort back a bit again and try to really focus on the run. It felt really comfortable to bike with a consistent effort and I continue to learn more and more. I had one minor hiccup at mile 22 at the bottom of a hill. It was a classic mistake. I tried to shift down into my small chain ring as I had already started to climb the hill and my chain jumped off of the rings. I attempted to shift up and get my chain to jump back on, but it didn’t work and I had to pull over to get it back on. Another important lesson was telling myself to relax and not rush trying to put the chain back on. It probably only took 10-15 seconds to fix. I ended up riding over a 4-minute PR on the bike course.
When I started the run, I felt very fresh and I tried to focus on good cadence and form. I’ve done this race 5 times now and I know the run course very well. I wanted to have a consistent effort and see if I could tap into some of the recent running improvements I’ve seen in training. I was still a bit hesitant to really push into the redzone, but I wanted to make sure I was leaving it out on the racecourse. Coach Paul had said that he wanted to see a 33 handle 10k run soon and I ended up coming in at 33:13. My overall time was 2:00:15, which was a little over 8 minute PR for the course. Results:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The 24hr Bug

Wow, I just came through a full day of sleep. I'm not joking about that either. I went to sleep at 8:30pm Tuesday night and I got a for a few brief stints during the day on Wednesday. I didn't fully wake up until 6:00am Thursday morning. It was a weird experience. I hit the scale this morning just for fun and I weighed in at 143lbs! I have not been that light since I got my tonsils out my senior year in high school.
Following the REV3 race, I had caught a cold mid-week and I had not been able to shake my annoying cough. During my swim on Tuesday, I was coughing under the water during the intervals. Obviously, in hindsight, my body was worn down and my immune system was very compromised. The interesting thing about this bug was that it was not accompanied by vomiting, just fatigue and achy joints. There is no substitute for sleep, though, and I feel a lot better today. Hopefully, I'm turning the corner.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Healthnet Triathlon

I had a week of recovery leading into this race. Every race is different and every recovery is different. My training week was pretty light this week with some active recovery workouts that helped to flush out my legs. My legs finally started to feel better on Friday just in time for Saturday morning's Healthnet Triathlon. My immune system was running a bit low all week. At midweek, I started to feel a cold coming on. It wasn't a heavy cold, but one of those annoying stuffy throats, headache, with a slight cough.
I was a bit anxious heading into the race with the cold and tired legs, but I was excited to race and have a good tempo effort. The swim is beautiful at this race. It takes place in the housatonic river at Indian Well State Park in Shelton, CT. The water was nice and flat this morning, although the current was running pretty well and it seemed that most swam around 4 minutes slower then last year. I felt pretty good during the swim and I just focused on finding a good rhythm. I ended up finishing the swim as the 3rd male from my wave. Friend and teammate Ian Ray led the wave out of the water with a smooth, consistent stroke.
Once I got through T1 and onto the bike, I focused on finding a good power level and I tried not to spike my effort too high. My legs felt ok, but mentally I was just not ready to go into the pain zone today. I was able to move along the bike course with a consistent effort and I was 1st body into T2. With a 3 wave field, I wasn't sure where the younger guys were as they started 5 minutes behind our wave.
As I started the run, I tried to focus on finding a good cadence and settling in. The run course is hilly and challenging. I was trying hard to keep my pace up without going into the redzone. That strategy became challenging as I hit the hills. My gameplan was to run with a consistent effort and see how things were settling in on the two loop course. The two loop format is very nice to get a look at everyone on the course. It's always nice to get a feel for how people are feeling. I finished the run in 35:14. It was a very interesting race to learn how my body would react to a race effort 6 days after a half IM. Results:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

REV3 Race Report

I can say without hesitation that I just competed in one of the most well run races I’ve done in my triathlon career. The volunteers and police support on the course was first class. Every turn was well marked and all the intersections were extremely safe. Although this was a first year event, from an athlete’s perspective, everything flowed smoothly.
The whole weekend leading up to the race was very enjoyable. The Team Timex athletes that live locally and those that were in town for the race were invited up to the Timex headquarters on Friday to meet some of the fantastic Timex employees and tour the facility. It was a great opportunity to catch up with teammates and learn a lot from the experts at Timex.
Race morning: I had a good pre-race routine as I made sure to have a solid breakfast three hours before the race start. The only glitch of the morning happened when I opened the trunk of my truck when we parked at the race site and I realized I had left my water bottles (with all my calories) and gel flask at home in my refrigerator. It’s one of those things that no matter how many races you do; a good reminder list of necessary items is just priceless. After I had my moment of “deer in headlights” fright, I quickly called teammate Ian Ray, as I knew he was planning on traveling up to the race to spectate for the day. Fortunately, I caught him as he was heading out his door and he was able to grab my stuff.The transition area was a buzz of energy, as Heather Gollnick was busy interviewing Pro and Amateur athletes all morning. The effort and professionalism of this race was very impressive. The swim start was very organized and the crew quickly moved each swim wave through the coral and to the edge of the water for departure. My wave was the fourth of the morning: 1. Pro Men 2. Pro Women 3. M30-34, 4. M35-39. My game plan was to try to get out quickly, get some clear water, and see if I could find some feet that I could draft behind. I noticed two guys moving quickly up the middle of the splashing and I veered over to get behind them. I was able to get right on the feet of one of the guys. However after about 200 meters, all of a sudden he stopped and started breaststroke. I was able to slide by him and bridge up to the guy in front of him. I settled in and found the pace comfortable. One thing that is very interesting about getting a draft in the swim is how much it can really bring the perceived effort down. I knew the pace was pretty good as every time I tried to swing out wide and swim up past, I could only get up to the guy’s knees. So I settled in and proceeded to slap his feet every couple of strokes. At the halfway point I had found a good rhythm and I decided to try to move past one more time. This time I was able to move past, but the reality was that we were both swimming about the same speed and he just tucked in behind me. This was fair, though, since I had taken advantage of his draft for the first half. I realized as we were coming out of the water that the guy was my friend Mitch West. I felt very comfortable throughout the entire swim in my Aquasphere wetsuit and I was looking forward to the challenging ride ahead. Swim: 27:12

I tried to move through transition with a steady effort. I was out onto the bike and excited for the opportunity to ride my Trek SSL over the rolling hills. My coach, Paul Regensburg, had asked me to follow a gameplan that included holding back a little bit on the bike. I had just come off my biggest running volume week ever and he thought it would be a good race to hold back on the bike and see if I could really attack the run. I followed the game plan and I focused on monitoring perceived effort, heart rate, and my power from my Cycleops power meter. The bike was going well and I was focusing on taking my fluid calories on a regular basis. Then at mile 27, in the middle of the 7-mile climb, I was tensing up a bit and my left hamstring locked up on me out of nowhere. I quickly reached into my back pocket and grabbed an endurolyte tab. I’ve had some cramping issues in the past on the bike, but previously it’s happened on warmer days. I think the effort from the climbs and the fact that I must have been sweating more then I realized played into the cramping. The endurolyte tab quickly did its job and I was able to continue climbing without further issues. The remainder of the bike went well. At mile 36, there was a 4-mile out and back section that was a great opportunity to get a look at the pros in front and the fellow amateurs. I came off the bike in 2:25:01 and I was pleased that I had followed the game plan. I felt really good and I was excited for the run to see if the recent training would pay dividends.
The first mile was downhill, which was nice to help to get the cadence into gear. I felt really good running in my K-Swiss K onas. I was a little nervous, as I had never felt so fresh coming off the bike before. I found a good rhythm for the first 4 miles. As I was approaching the six mile marker my hamstring and inside quad starting cramping pretty severely. I was still about a half-mile from the next aid station, but I was just about at a downhill section. I was able to hit the downhill and the pounding of my stride on the gravel worked to loosen my leg up enough to make it to the aid station where I took another endurolyte and grabbed everything they were offering. I’ve never really experienced cramping issues on the run before and I was really nervous. I had been feeling really strong and I wanted to see if I could put a good run effort together. For the remainder of the run I grabbed everything the aid stations were offering and I even took a
gel at mile 8.

Whatever you've gotI’ve only taken liquid calories, during the run section, on all of my races. I’ve always been too concerned about GI issues. Well, this time I was more concerned about cramping and I didn’t want to have to stop and walk. So I guess the lesson is, you never can predict the variables of a race and all the preparation in world can still leave openings for first time factors. The attention to volume that I was giving to the aid stations seemed to pay off as I felt well fueled for the remainder of the run and my energy levels stayed high. I saw a lot of Timex teammates on the course in addition to Ian, Keith, Tristan, and Ben. The support and camaraderie on the Timex team is just fantastic.As I came into the finish line, it was apparent that fatigue was starting to settle in as my form was kind of all over the place.

arms to the right, legs to leftMy family was able to make the trip up to see the finish and it was a tremendous feeling to see my three little boys as I crossed the finish line. I finished the run in 1:20:07 and a final overall time of 4:15:03. I was really happy to learn that I ended up as the 1st amateur and 10th place overall.I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this race. It was a very challenging but fair course. I feel that REV3 put on one of the best races that I’ve ever participated in.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Crit Racing

I've been a big believer in participating in race type efforts during training. We have a local crit race every Wednesday night. This particular race was a point race with sprints every 5 laps with 27 total laps. With this format, the race is much more tactical. This causes many more spikes and lags in power and effort as the power chart shows. This was the first crit race that I've used my CycleOps power meter. I really like having this data while racing and it's a great way to analyze the effort after.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Key running workouts - Great Race Day Prep

I had an early morning 75min run planned today that included 45 mins at 1/2 IM race pace. I'm a big believer in practicing race day efforts. As my youth ice hockey coaches relentlessly preached, "you can't expect to show up on game day and just turn on the switch". By practicing and training appropriately, one is able to take the guess work out of race day performance. One still has to be "on" at any given race, however if you haven't been able to dial in on specific key workouts during training, it's going to take some pretty amazing luck to be able to pull it off on race day.
Today's session was a nice effort that felt a lot more manageable after my Friday track sufferfest. It still amazes me how the human body adapts to VO2 training sessions. As long as one recovers properly, the fitness gains can be pretty substantial. The perceived effort relative to pace following a VO2 max workout day is almost always a significant jump up in performance. In addition, having the ability to train with others during these hard efforts is a tremendous advantage. The key workouts are not always fun during the effort, however the dividends paid back later in the race season are unparalleled.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

REV3 Bike Course

I had a 3hr base ride with hill repeats prescribed for my Saturday workout, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to go sample the REV3 bike course up in Middlebury, CT. I am really looking forward to racing on this course. The bike is going to be challenging, but fair. The roads are great and the scenery is unbelievable.
I also ran the last 3 miles of the run course. I was very impressed with this section as well. I am really excited for June 7th. The pro list of participants keeps getting deeper and deeper, Matt Reed just signed up for the race. The pro race should be a classic.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Training Partners

Due to my daily commute into NYC I've spent the majority of the past 5yrs training almost entirely by myself. This can get a bit dull. It's also mentally challenging to really push on some of those key workouts. One can think of a thousand reasons to pull it back a bit, while training solo.
I had a track workout scheduled for Wednesday that included mile repeats. I had performed a couple of these workouts over the winter and I had completed the most recent one two weeks prior to St. Anthony's. My coach has been pushing me to really stress these repeats and find a new pace. He felt that I've been settling into a fixed pace and not pushing myself to another level. Fortunately, I had scheduled to do this workout with my friend, Eric Hodska. There was an immediate impact of having a training partner to push the workout. One of the first things that was noticeable was the ability to key off of someone else and not be completely focused on my own effort. In addition, the pacing and continued focus of the efforts were much more consistent. I have a bad habit of flaking out a bit in the mid-section of some of my harder workouts. While the efforts were still strenuous, they were much more controlled. I cannot stress the benefits, of training with someone else, enough. I was able to drop 10 seconds, per mile repeat, from my most recent attempts. I do still believe that there are certain workouts that need to be done solo, but this was an extremely enlightening workout and much more manageable.

Monday, April 27, 2009

St. Anthony's Race Report

Where’s the swim? As I’m walking towards the transition area I hear the announcer state that they’ve decided to cancel the swim for all of the amateur athletes. The wind is blowing @ 30mph and they can’t launch the kayakers into the water to monitor all of the competitors. The race has been adjusted for the first time in its 26yr history. The new format will be that each athlete will go off in 2 second intervals running from the swim exit into T2 to start the bike leg followed by the run. The swim report from the pros was mixed following the race, with some including Andy Potts stating that it was the hardest swim of their careers, while others didn’t think it was that bad. Fellow Timex teammate and friend, Andrew Hodges, had a great quote regarding the swim, “I spent the entire time either trying to swim or trying not to drown…”. I fully respect the decision of the race organizer as he’s responsible for 3,800+ athletes’ lives. It was still a bit disappointing as its very rare to get an elite amateur wave of 78 in 1 place and it would have been fun to swim, bike, and run, but it wasn’t in the cards.I had the orders from the coach to let it go on the bike and reach for a new power output level. It was an interesting ride, but I had held the average of 300watts thru mile 21 that my coach Paul had prescribed, then the pack rolled up. It’s a tough setup when there’s no swim to break up things and the level of talent is pretty similiar. It was what it was, unfortunately. I came into the bike to run transition feeling like I had biked extremely hard and I had managed to put out a PR power output that was over 20watts higher then I’ve ever done for that distance. I was pleased but I knew the run was going to be a drag race with guys like Eric Bell and Vinnie Monseau ready to rip it up. They ran 32:47 and 32:51 respectively! Not bad for a 30 and 40yr old. These dudes can run. I was second body out of transition, but due to the timetrial format, I had no idea where I stood. I was able to attain 1st body for approximately .25m before Eric went blasting by. I had no chance of holding him and I was just trying to focus on keeping him in sight. About a .5 mile later Javier Beuzeville went galloping by. I could have sworn this 21yr old speedster was going to catch and surpass Eric, but as he ran up along side, they settled in stride for stride until mile 3. I had the best seat in the house to witness this duel. It always fascinates me to watch really good runners battle. At mile mile 3, Eric put in a surge and it was over. He had broken him. He ended up running :40 seconds faster then Javier on the day and was 1st body over the finish line. I was just trying to find a rythm and keep a decent cadence going. Coach Paul had instructed me to run with the runners, but the individuals that had gone past me were just too fast for me to hold. I saw friend and teammate, Ian Ray, a little after the turnaround and he yelled that I had 50 meters on the guy behind me. At mile 4, Vinnie Monseau ran up along side. We chatted for a few seconds, then he continued his push. I jumped on his shoulder for all of 10secs before the gap formed. I tried to regain my own rythm and focus for the last 2 miles. As I approached mile 5, I started looking down at the road and focusing on the next 10feet in front of me. This was the first time I have had to resort to that strategy since my Ironman racing. I was hurting and just trying to keep some sort of form. Finally, I was able to will my sorry butt across the finish line. I ended up running a personal best 10k of 34:05 and due to the timetrial format I was the overall winner, even though I was 4th body across the line. I’m happy with my effort, but it’s really unfortunate that the race format was modified.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

70.3 California Race Report

I’m fresh off of another phenomenal Timex Team Camp. With 40 of our 46 2009 teammates making the journey out to Carlsbad, CA this year, it was a great opportunity to catch up with teammates from prior years and to meet a fantastic group of new additions to the team.
I spent a good portion of Friday with Paul, one of two phenomenal team bike mechanics. Paul got my bike all set up and dialed in. The bike was ready to roll for the race. Race morning was a bit chilly as all the athletes got their transitions set up and prepared for the race start. I was in the 3rd M35-39 wave and 10th wave overall. My start time was 7:10am and 30 minutes after the first wave of the day, the pro men. By the time my wave got to the water’s edge, the water felt warm relative to the air. I was excited to try out my new Aqua Sphere wetsuit I had received on Friday. The race organizers said the water temp was in the high 50s. I slowly made my way out to the start line about 100 yards off shore. I was just trying to get comfortable sticking my face in the water and breathing without loss of breath. By the time the horn went off to start our wave, I was feeling ready. The remainder of the swim was pretty uneventful as I focused on navigating through some of the traffic from the prior waves and tried to keep good form. By the time I hit the mat at the end of the swim, I was looking forward to trying out the new Trek TTX SSL.
At the beginning of the bike, it was still pretty chilly. I tried to find a rhythm and settle in. I had my CycleOps power meter dialed in and working in combination with my Timex heart monitor. I focused on the data feedback in combination with my perceived effort throughout the entire ride. The combination of the three helped to keep me focused and alert in order to stay hydrated and properly fueled. Every time I would start to feel a bit sluggish, I would take some calories and gradually start to feel better. While this bike course is pretty challenging, it is very fair. It was very cool to see a fully equipped tank rolling at me on the other side of the road on the backside of the course; you just don’t see that in CT. Once I hit the hills, I immediately noticed my lack of outdoor riding this year. The hills are pretty steep and while I love my Computrainer, you just cannot replicate that type of effort on it. As I approached the end of the bike, I increased my cadence in preparation for the run segment.
The run included a .25 mile beach section this year due to construction and as it is a two-loop course, we had to go over that section four times. With the idea of the sand and it being my first race of the season, I decided to wear socks for the first time in over 7 years of racing. It turned out to be a good idea as the medical tent was filled with athletes with major blister issues following the race.
I wore my new K-Swiss K Onas and really enjoyed the comfort and race weight of the shoe. As I settled into the beginning of the run, I was having a hard time settling in and increasing my cadence. I wasn’t sure if I had underfueled on the bike or if it was just due to it being my first race and I was not ready to hurt yet. One thing that really helped to lift my spirits was getting the opportunity to see my teammates on the run course, those racing and spectating. It’s just a fantastic lift to be able to race with that kind of support. In addition to my teammates, my coach was out on the run course and it really helped to dial in after some encouraging words of advice. At mile 4 of the run, I finally started to feel better and started to turn over at a quicker cadence. The remainder of the run went by much better. Of course there were down moments throughout the run, but I kept focusing on positive thoughts and my kids. I, personally, find that I’m able to draw a lot of strength and motivation from thinking about my kids. I crossed the line in 4:17:12 and I was thrilled to find out that I had finished as the top amateur and 27th place overall. Another really exciting moment for me was finding out that my teammate, Tim Hola, had qualified for the Hawaii IM for the 11th year in a row. I can’t wait to watch him throw down on the competition out there in the lava fields once again. The combination of the race and another fantastic Timex team camp made for a great weekend out in CA. I’m looking forward to my next race down in St. Anthony’s, then followed up by the much anticipated REV3 race in Middlebury, CT.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The early season run with Tempo

Headed over to the old rail tracks this morning for a nice longer run with some tempo in the middle. The trails are nice to get some tempo work in as they're relatively flat and you can focus on form, effort, and pace. Parts of the trail are paved, however, and those sections can beat up your joints and muscles. Overall, it was a very enjoyable run and it was nice to get outside for the run, as most runs have been on the treadmill over the winter.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cause and effect

I'm sick and I have no one to blame but myself. After my classic training move on Saturday I'm sure my immune system was running a bit low and I was coming off of two decent weeks of training. Oh well, it's a recovery week. So, I'll have to make sure I don't try to overdo anything. My house is a germ fest though, as my oldest son is home with a double ear infection and pink eye. The germs go round and round, gotta love it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Simple lessons

Early season race training can lead to some common mistakes. My Saturday workout was a 2hr ride with some tempo efforts followed by a 1.5hr run that was supposed to step up in effort each 30 mins. I did the ride on my computrainer and it went smoothly. I had planned on running outside on a hilly course for the run. I headed out and immediately realized that it was still REALLY cold. Then at 20 mins out, I started to bonk. Now the combination of freezing and bonking was not that enticing to me, especially since it's just March. I had made the common mistake of underfueling during my bike and I was really paying for it on the run as I felt dizzy and disoriented. I decided to turn around and head home for the warmth of my treadmill and see if I could get some calories in. I finished up the workout at home and re-inforced two important lessons. 1. Always check the weather report before heading out 2. fuel properly or pay the price.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

1st Outdoor Ride of the Season

We did our first outdoor ride since Clearwater in November. It was a classic 1st time out. I had 2 flats before I even started, then I couldn't get air into my third tube. Ian had 2 flats on the road during the ride. However, even with these minor frustrations, the ride was a lot of fun. It was a beautiful day as it got up into the low 60s. It was really nice to be riding outside. We hit a lot of hills, since the roads are still in winter mode. We thought it would be better to keep the pace down and try to avoid the monster potholes formed from the winter plows. There is definetely a big difference between riding the trainer and riding outside. I do use my computrainer almost to a fault, but you just can't simulate the total muscle impact of riding outside.

Whew, interesting how when you start to bring the tempo efforts into your road runs, how quickly you start to feel beat up. I woke up this morning and hobbled down the stairs as my left calf was a bit tight with my quads and glutes sore as well. I had two days of tempo on Friday and Saturday. I had an 1.5hr aerobic run scheduled this morning, which felt pretty good after 15mins of very easy running. Now, I've got a day full of ice hockey as my 3yr old has hockey 101, then I take the two oldest boys to our local semi-pro hockey game, which they get to skate following the game. All good stuff.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday's 3hr trainer ride

So I told my kids that I had a long bike workout for Sunday. My two youngest boys asked if they could ride with me. That's Connor (2yrs old) riding next to me and Spencer (3yrs old) showing his enthusiasm. Having the kids ride for some of the workout made things go by quicker, but it got interesting as they both wanted to ride at the same time. My wife has informed me that we need a third trainer... All three of the boys really love to ride bikes. Ryan, my oldest, would ride with me when he was younger and Spencer spent a few days last winter riding with me. I finished up the ride, cleaned up then headed to Spencer's ice hockey lesson. Today was the first day that he really skated (ie. not just walked across the ice). He was even able to participate in the drills with the older kids. I have to say that watching him skate for the first time was one of the most enjoyable moments.