The Quassy race course is one of the most challenging and honest courses that I've raced throughout the years. It deserves a lot of respect. I was a bit concerned coming into this year's race with how I would hold up covering the punchy hills with my level of fitness. So my goal for this race was to use it strictly as a training race. If I felt good I would go with it, but I was not going to dig deep at any point during the day.
This was the one discipline I felt pretty good about coming into the race. I had a good warm-up and did my usual pick-ups so I could avoid the hypoxic feeling. The swim start is on the beach and the first 15 yards is kind of a funnel. I lined up on the inside hoping to get out quick and out of the chaos. I was able to do this and noticed that only 2 guys got out in front of me. I tried to quickly jump on the feet of one of the swimmers. I was able to do this, but in the process the lead swimmer got a 10 meter gap. In hindsight, that gap was inevitable as the lead swimmer was a former Olympic swimmer, Pie Geelen. I was pleased when I came out of the water 2nd place in my age group.
My mantra right from the beginning was to ride steady. I did not want to feel any leg burning throughout the ride. Whenever I felt like I was starting to bear down to much, I would back it off a notch. I felt relatively smooth and was actually enjoying myself in the rainy conditions. There are some sections of the course that I had to be a bit more cautious due to the conditions, but it was the same for everyone. I managed to ride up to the lead vehicle by the half way point. At this point, I focused on maintaining my caloric intake and sticking to my strategy. Things were rolling along well and I was pleasantly surprised that my legs were holding up. I knew the real test was going to come on the back half of the run, but I was happy with my bike effort up to that point. At mile 55, Brian Duffy blew past me like a freight train. He was cooking and ended up completely blowing the race apart. His 4:09 final overall time was 6 minutes faster than my best time at this race back in 2009. He is going to smoke IM Lake Placid in July. Once I got over the ego bashing pass from Brian I finished up as 2nd athlete into T2. I had stuck to my game plan while riding over 2 hours in Z2 and only 16 minutes in Z3 heart rate.
This discipline was my biggest question mark coming into the race. I was really concerned that my lack of spring specific training would leave me weak on the run. I knew I needed to find a decent rhythm as quickly as I could. The course is very hilly and it never really lets you settle in. It can be very fun if you are run fit, but it can be a killer if you are behind the curve. When I am fit, I try to get right up into Z3 heart rate. That was not the goal at this race. I spent the first 15 minutes in Z1, then ran the next 1hr 9mins in Z2. I only hit Z3 for 1 minute during the run. By mile 8, Dave Slavinski (M45-49), had closed the 5 minute head start I had gotten by my wave starting first. Dave was extremely nice and he turned into a perfect diversion from the pain I was starting to feel. He slowed down and ran with me for about 2 miles. His company helped to get me over two really steep hills. At this point, I was really struggling and just tried to run steady for the remainder of the race. I willed myself the remaining distance and crossed the line with a total time of 4:35:59 1st M40-44 and 4th Overall.
There are times when an athlete can be very fit and not have an optimal performance. Then there are times when an athlete can be at a lower fitness level, but can outperform that fitness level. I was very happy to say that I really outperformed my fitness level for this race and I was really happy with the result. I know that I will get a nice fitness boost from the effort and that it will help point me in the right direction for my push into 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.