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.