I came into my 9th participation of the Pat Griskus Olympic triathlon feeling fantastic. I took the week leading into the race a little easier as I was recovering from 70.3 Eagleman 6 days earlier. I finally started to notice my fitness coming into form during the week. It was such an awakening to feel good and fresh again. I had not felt like that since before the Ironman World Championships in October. I was actually really looking forward to racing.
I had a great warm up before the swim start. I was able to work in some high end efforts. This really helped me once the race started. My swim wave consisted of all male athletes age 44 and under. I knew there would be some really fast swimmers. I focused on trying to get out as fast as I could. I had some decent contact during the first 200 meters, but I was able to settle in after that. I was able to push my effort right to my hypoxic limit without going over it. My Blueseventy Helix felt fantastic. I was really happy with my effort for the entire swim as I was actually able to bridge up to a group of swimmers in front of me on the 2nd half of the swim. I came out of the water and made my way to my Quintana Roo Illicito.
I headed out onto the bike and I was surprised that I was able to get the lead vehicle within the first 2 miles. Once I had the lead motorcycle, I focused on dialing into my effort. There was a course change this year during the first 5 miles that made things a bit more technical and slower. The roads were still wet in places from the heavy rains the night before. I was a bit more cautious as I approached each turn. Once I was back on the original course, I focused on staying steady on my pedals. I was pleased with how steady I raced the bike segment. My variability index(normalized power/average power) was only 1.02. This steady effort allowed for fresh legs coming off of the bike.
My legs felt very fresh heading out onto the run. I usually have some cramping in my hamstrings as I dismount the bike. However, I have been using a product called Trace Minerals B12.
I have found that this supplement has really helped me with many issues I would chronically experience during races.
Once I got onto the run course, I settled into my rhythm. As the run course is a double out and back, I knew I would see where I stood shortly after the turnaround. My goal was to stay steady until I saw my first competitor. I used my Timex Run Trainer 2.0 to monitor my pace. As I was approaching the 2 mile marker, I saw the first 2 competitors coming the other direction. I figured that I had about a 6 minute lead, so I focused on my form for the remainder of the run. I tried to push the 2nd lap a little harder to bring my heart rate into zone 4.
Final Time: 2:04:59 1st Overall
This race is so well run. The race director, Tom Wilkas, and all of the volunteers do an exceptional job putting on a first class event.
Some days go better than others. However, there are no excuses. I made a promise to myself 10 years ago that I wouldn't show up to a race unless I was ready to race. I was hoping to use the Harriman Olympic race to dust off the cobwebs and kick start my racing season before my qualifying race at 70.3 Eagleman. I have been starting my racing season a little later over the past couple of years as I try to stay fresh into 70.3 Worlds in September and the Ironman World Championship in October. It's kind of a double edge sword. I'm trying to peak later in the year, but I'm having a harder time hitting high intensity efforts without racing. I was curious to see what I could put together at Harriman. It's a good odd distance race to prep for a 70.3. The swim is .6 mile long, while the bike is 28 miles with a couple of big climbs. The run is the standard 10k.
I thought the 59 degree water actually felt pretty nice. I swam well, but just was not prepared to hit threshold for the effort. I was by myself the entire swim and felt very comfortable.
This is where I started to really work out the kinks. I headed out onto the bike. My QR Illicitio felt great even though I had only been able to ride it outside a couple of times before the race. I got about 3 miles into the bike and realized that my Joule 2.0 had popped off of my handlebars. I didn't think it was a big deal. I figured I would be able to find it after the race. I then began the first minor decent of the course and I noticed that my handlebars were a little low. I didn't think much about it until a car decided to cross over the road right in front of me. I grabbed my bullhorns(brake pads) and the bars went right down close to my front wheel. I thought I was going to hit the car. Fortunately, I was able to miss the car and make the right hand corner with my bars down. Then I got into the aero position and pulled my bars back up. I spent the remainder of the bike pulling the bars back up as they would slip down on every bump. I had a very hard time bringing my effort up, but I tried to stay as consistent as possible. I came into T2 with some fresh legs. I saw two guys heading out on the run as I was entering. I figured they had about two minutes on me. So I tried to get ready to go as hard as I could and see if I could pull some time back.
I was really happy with how I went on the run. I committed to running as hard as my fitness would allow me to. The leg turnover was good and I was able to get my heart rate up into Z3. This is not the most ideal for an Olympic distance race, but I was happy on the day.
Finish: 2:10:23 2nd Overall
This was my 6th time participating down in Cambridge, MD for the 70.3 Eagleman race. My fitness felt good coming into the race. My swim preparation was in line with 2012, but still a little behind my best fitness of 2011. I was really looking forward to seeing if my off-season bike focus would pay off on the flat roads. I knew that my run speed and form were a little behind normal, due to the bike emphasis. However, I still felt confident that my endurance was strong enough for a decent run effort. The biggest question I had coming into the race was to see if I was ready to suffer. My aerobic fitness is at the highest level it’s ever been, but I’ve been having a harder time hitting tempo efforts.
I felt very comfortable at the beginning of the swim in my Blue Seventy Helix. In fact, I was probably a little to comfortable. I started in the 2nd M40-44 swim wave. I noticed a couple of guys jump out quickly on the inside. I was positioned more in the middle of the pack. If I was swimming aggressively, I would have tried to bridge over to them immediately. This time I was just content to swim on my own and try to stay clear of the swim waves that had started earlier. I was able to stay clear of the masses. The remainder of the swim was very uneventful. I came out of the water feeling pretty good until I looked at my watch. I try to always stay calm about swim times until after the race when I can really analyze what happened.
I was pretty excited to race on my new QR Illicitio. I got up to speed quickly and focused on settling my heart rate down. The temps were much more accommodating this year, only reaching high 70s. I was rolling along pretty well until about mile 30. My main focus was staying consistent with my nutrition and salt intake. As I was riding through the marsh lands just past the half way point, I noticed that my heart rate was dropping into low zone 2. I like to race 70.3s at low zone 3, so I tried to increase my effort and stay focused. I have a tendency to flake out a bit in the middle of the bike leg. I put my head down and focused on staying as aero as I could. At about the 35 mile mark, Mike Gadzinski rolled up next to me and just about scared me right off of my bike. Mike had started five minutes behind me in the M35-39 wave. I had not been passed up until this point and I was not expecting anyone. Mike is a very good swimmer and strong cyclist. The scare turned out to be a perfect wake up call. I was able to get back into a decent groove. Mike and I went back and forth the remainder of the ride. I was happy with the effort I was able to put out for the remainder of the ride. I ended up averaging 3.8 watts/kg, which was 6 normalized watts lower than in 2012. My heart rate was 8bp lower than 2012s ride. However, some of that was due to the conditions. It was 10 degrees cooler this year and we seemed to have a tail wind during some sections of the ride. Also, I road a disc this year, which definitely helped.
I was ready to run coming off the bike. I found my cadence and rhythm quickly. I did not want to push things to early as I had the previous year. I actually kept pulling myself back. I spent the first half of the run focusing on my form and making sure that I was not over striding. My Timex Run Trainer 2.0 showed me averaging about 6:20 pace while my heart rate was staying in zone 2. My main objective for this race was to try to secure a spot to the IM World Championship. I passed an athlete from an earlier wave at the 2 mile mark and I asked him if anyone had passed him from the 40-44 age group. He told me that no one had passed him. I wasn’t completely convinced, so I pushed on until I caught up to the next athlete. That athlete confirmed that I was the first 40-44 to pass him. At that point I just wanted to make sure I didn’t make any foolish errors. So I made sure I got fluids and calories in at every aid station. Once I hit the turnaround, I tried to increase my effort for the return trip. I was able to get my heart rate up into zone 3 and my pace quickened a bit. I ran pretty well until mile 9. Then I started to suffer a bit. So I went to the cola at the aid stations to get some simple sugars. This strategy worked well enough to get me to the finish line. This was my 32nd 70.3 race. However, as I crossed the finish line and saw my friend and former Timex teammate, Ian Ray, the first thing I said to him was “this doesn’t get any easier...” I was very happy that I did not have any issues with cramping during the entire race. I have been using a supplement from Standard Process called: Magnesium Lactate. This product has really helped me with my cramping issues as it facilitates muscle contractions.
Finish: 4:08:34 12th Overall/4th Amateur/1st M40-44
My main objective, in any race that I compete in, is to race to my fitness level at that time. I felt that I gave everything I had on the day and I was fortunate enough to earn a ticket to Kona. Oh, I’m a glutton for punishment. Now I need to focus my training for 70.3 Worlds in September and Kona in October.
Career Highlights: 2009 USA Triathlon Amateur Athlete of the Year, 2012,2013, 2014 USA Triathlon Masters Athlete of the Year, 2014 USA Triathlon Olympic National Championship Masters Champion, 4 X Ironman 70.3 World Championship Age Group Winner (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013), 18 X 70.3 Overall Amateur Champion, 9 X Ironman World Champion Finisher (4 X Top 10 in Age Group), 2015 American Zofingen LC Champion, 2nd OA IM Maryland
I started competing in triathlon in the summer of 2000. I had always been intrigued by the sport since the early ‘80s when I would watch the Hawaii Ironman on TV. I got into running at a young age (6yrs old) as my father was a big marathon runner back in the late 70’s, early 80’s running boom. I did my first 10-mile road race when I was 10 years old. I also played ice hockey throughout my childhood and I stopped running my sophomore year in high school in order to completely focus on ice hockey. I did not run again until the fall of 1999. During that race, a friend of mine mentioned that he competed in sprint triathlons, short duration races lasting around one hour. I was immediately interested and I signed up for my first triathlon in July of 2000 up in Falmouth, Ma. I was immediately hooked. I loved the competition. I especially liked the aspect of the three sports and how one could continue to practice and improve in each sport. I believe all three sports compliment each other. I also really enjoyed the idea of challenging myself to see where I could get. So, while triathlon is a competition, I see it more as a race against yourself then others. It is a very addictive sport, but I think it’s probably one of the healthiest addictions that I know of. The training is also a great stress relief. I worked in New York City for the past 5 years and down on Wall Street for 2 years. The commute and the lifestyle can get pretty stressful at times. The training really helped me de-stress and stay focused. I have three little boys and I really enjoy sharing the sport with all three of them. I don’t care if they ever compete in a race, but I do believe it’s important to expose them to healthy opportunities in life. I would say that the hardest endurance scenario I’ve faced was actually the first half ironman I competed in up in Laconia, NH, which was the Timberman race. I’ve completed four full Ironman events, but that half ironman was my first attempt at the distance. I feel, in hindsight, that I just was not properly trained for the event. It was an incredible eye opening experience. I don’t think I’ve been more tired then the moment I crossed that finish line. However, the human mind is fascinating, as I was looking forward to the next race less then 24 hours after.