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 (www.lifesportcoaching.com/coaches.php)
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!
Results: http://ironman.com/assets/files/results/calgary70.3/2009.htm