Ultraman World Championship Day 2 Recap

After spending the night on Volcano it was time to get moving.  After Day 1 during Ultraman Florida I was able to get a massage, wear compression gear, and sleep quite comfortably.  This time around I wasn't able to do any of those 3.  My whole left side was bruised up and rolling the wrong way was a painful experience.  Surprisingly though when I got on my feet I didn't feel any ill effects from the crash, besides the annoyance of road rash.  Knowing the history of the race I figured it would likely be a wet/cold descent for the first 25 miles as we went down the other side of the Volcano that we had climbed the previous night.  

As we left our house I started walking out without my jacket that I brought specifically for the first descent, Jeremy who had both crewed once and finished the race once before reminded me to take it.  Considering Erica had to remind me to pack it before we left for Hawaii I don't think subconsciously I really wanted to have any part of that jacket!  As expected it was in the low 50's and drizzling when we got to the start.  The crews weren't allowed to have contact with us until we hit the bottom for safety reasons so I said my goodbyes and lined up close to the front.  As I made my way over Meredith noticed that I was bandaged up and asked if I crashed, and told me to be careful today! 

My strategy was to lay back for the first few miles and see how everyone was going to play, I knew that there wasn't much time to be gained out front or much time to be lost by hanging back a bit and seeing how things played out for that first hour.  As the countdown to takeoff started and the rain started to come down a bit harder I decided to take off my glasses to make sighting a bit better which turned out to be a good decision in the end.  Before I knew it we were off, Craig, Miro, Tony and Jochen took off leaving everyone in their dust.  I sat back at first and before I knew it I was riding somewhere in the middle of the group with about 15 in front of me.  Part of it was strategy, but part of it was also being a little more cautious and timid than normal after I went down hard on Day 1. The rain was starting to come down harder, the roads, were slick, and I could barely see.  But as I started to fall back my competitive nature kicked back in,  and I moved back up in the field.  When I finally settled in I was somewhere in the top 10 between Ultraman Veteran Gary Wang and Peter Kotland. I sat there for a majority of the descent knowing full well there was a 10,000 ft of climbing and a lot of tough riding ahead of me.  

Knowing that I spent most of Day 1 in the vicinity of Tony, Tobias, and Peter I expected to eventually be riding in a legal group with them and 1 or 2 others while trying to limit any further advancement by Craig.  My plan seemed to be working as I hit the bottom of volcano and made the right turn to head towards Pahoa I could see the crew cars lined up ahead. Everyone was looking to shed their jackets and gloves from the cold rainy descent,  I spotted my car, dropped my gear, and sped off as quickly as possible.   I picked off quite a few riders that were taking their time changing and forged ahead.  Suddenly I found myself largely alone, with no one  in sight up the road.  The next time I saw Erica and the boys they told me I was in second, and the only one up the road was someone with a size-able lead but not a contender.  I kept my competitive streak under wraps and decided I would hope to real him in naturally instead of going on an attack so early on. Here I am about 30 miles in chasing to make sure I am in the front group

The rain and repetitive motion of cycling had started to deteriorate my bandage on my leg and it was starting to unravel.  I tried several times to tear it off while cycling, but it just wasn't going to work.  Eventually it got to the point where it was dangerous and I had to stop before the bandage would get stuck in my chain or on my crank.  Next time I saw them I told Erica and the boys to meet me at the top of the next hill so I could get the bandage off.  Once at the top and stopped it didn't take long for Tony and Tobias to come flying by me.  I was reminded to stay patient and calm as there was still a lot of riding to do.  Once the bandage was finally off I chased to make sure I was with them, but then I backed off once I got there.  Over the next several miles we played leap frog with each other with Tony eventually dropping Tobias and I on the long descent to the red road.  

At the last stop right before the no feed zone I missed my hand off and Tobias had offered me one of his gels, since I didn't necessarily need anything and my last hand off was more of a precautionary measure I declined and we kept riding.  As we hit the left turn on to red road Steve King was there announcing that we were coming through in 3rd and 4th place.  We could still see Tony  just up the road so he hadn't made too much progress on us.  The red road is some of the most beautiful riding I have ever done in my life.  Luscious greenery on a gorgeous coastline with the waves crashing against it for several miles. The rain had died down so it was easy to enjoy the scenery.  The road itself is like a roller coaster with a lot of short ups and downs which made for a fun ride, but made it hard to see what was going on.  Tobias and I were going back and forth battling for the first half of the red road neither one of us wanting to give up too much to the other while still chasing Tony.

Tobias and I share a battle

Tobias and I share a battle

After awhile I took the lead as it seemed he had started to fade. As I made the way through the bumpy twisty section my focus turned to Tony as I could see him again and I wanted to catch up.  However when I hit the first stop sign I and I turned to see if Tobias was behind me he was nowhere in sight.  Knowing that it hadn't been that long and not expecting to put too much of a gap on him I told the official that was waiting at the stop sign that he might have flatted and might need help.  With Tony still in sight I put a little more pressure on the pedals to make up some more of that ground.  

On a mission! 

On a mission! 

 

The end of the red road came up quicker than expected and before I knew it we were heading back towards Pahoa and up to Hilo.  I had just caught Tony and there was still no sign of Tobias.  Once I saw the crew car I grabbed my nutrition right on schedule and kept moving.  After 5 minutes I got a little impatient and decided to launch a mini attack of my own.  As I went by Tony he gave me a little encouragement telling me to "go get em" , but I knew that wasn't going to be last I saw of him.  With all but one person behind me I asked Jeremy and Adam to find out the splits on the leader, the word was that he was 2 minutes up the road, since the gap was 4:30 minutes before the red road, I was confident I was making progress and would eventually be able to catch him and take the lead. 

The strong solo riding continued as I made it to Hilo,  I also had a bit of a luck streak only hitting 1 of the 8 stoplights in the busiest section of the course.  As I rode past the many strip malls and stop lights I was still solo and I was almost back to feeling normal on a bike and riding with more of a purpose instead of the timid way I was riding early on.  Part of that might have had to do with the fact that the terrain had become straightforward with the exception of dodging the extra cars.  At the one stoplight I did hit I turned around to see if anyone was behind me, but no Tony or anyone else for that matter.  

Mile 85 and all by myself

Mile 85 and all by myself

As I made my way past the airport and on in to Bayfront Park I was still in 2nd.  I couldn't figure out why I hadn't seen the leader as it was almost 40 miles and I surely should have made up the difference at the pace I was riding, especially since I had been able to ride away from everyone else.  As I came out of the park I couldn't see any arrows dictating which way to go at the next intersection but I fortunately spotted Tobias crew car, which clued me in to making a right when I otherwise would have gone straight.  I was happy to see his car for two reasons, one, it kept me on course, and two it meant that he was okay.  On the other hand his crew car being in my vicinity could only mean one thing, I wasn't going to be riding alone for long.

Right after that I got sent the wrong way and I ended up in traffic instead of on the nice paved road that only the bikes were allowed on.  I slowly and carefully made my way around the reflectors and tryied to squeeze my bike in the tight space between the cars and the cement construction guardrails until I hit the end of that road and could get back on course.   As soon as I did my great luck with the lights had come to an end and I got stuck at a red light.  Sure enough while I was waiting Tony and Tobias had made their way back to me and proved they weren't going to be going away anytime soon.  Right around the same time my power meter decided to die.  Normally I would get  a warning, and I actually had planned on changing my battery after Day 1 since it died on me during Florida on Day 2 but the crash derailed my chain of thought.   All of the sudden the next thing I knew it told me battery low and without warning it was dead within the next 3 minutes.  I was comfortable pacing myself for the last 90 miles based on perceived effort and heart rate so it wasn't too much of a concern, but it would have been nice to have the data. It was at this light that I found out Tobias was having some nutritional issues back on red road and he had to stop and collect himself because he almost passed out.  I was extra thankful that I didn't take the gel from him because he ended up really needing it in the end.  

When the light finally turned green we played it conservatively.  The three of us rode together for the next 20-30 miles up the gorgeous Honokaa coast constantly changing places with mini attacks while saving enough for the upcoming climbs.  Tony was the first one off the front and that sent Tobias and I in to defense mode and off chasing him, right around the same time it the rain started to pick up again.  When I pre-drove the course with Erica earlier in the week it was raining extremely hard and I told her I really hoped that it wasn't going to be raining that hard once we hit the gulches because of the long , fast technical descents that were involved.  

Sure enough as we hit the beginning of the gulches it started down-pouring.  Raining absolute buckets, as far as I remember that was the hardest rain of the day.  Tobias and I were still chasing Tony and battling each other at the same time.  Nobody wanted to fall back this late in the game with the toughest stretch ahead of us.  Tonys time in front was short lived as we hit another extremely long light on one of the one-way construction bridges.  It felt like forever for the light to turn green, we made small talk about how it wouldn't stop raining and I took the opportunity to relieve myself while not riding. Here is where I noticed the wet conditions were starting to form the beginning of a saddle sore.  The sting of the urine on both the sore, and my open wounds at the same time was definitely not something I want to experience again.  For anyone who has ever wondered what peeing in an open wound feels like, its certainly not pleasant.   Fortunately for us nobody else caught the the group before the light turned green. 

Shortly after the light turned Tobias made his way to the front, he went on full on attack mode and I wasn't sure I wanted to follow.  Since Tony was a multiple time finisher and knew the course I figured I would sit behind him and use his lines on the technical descents.  For the next 2 gulches we would play leapfrog with me sitting behind Tony watching him descend and then passing him on the climbs.  In the gulches we were either going 40 mph down sweeping turns, or going 4 mph uphill the other way as soon as we hit the bottom.  I was clearly still spooked from crashing on Friday and was much happier riding uphill at 4 mph.  The constant deluge of rain made the roads slick and I found myself repeatedly chanting "stay u, stay up" on the way down!  Fortunately for me Tony is an excellent descender and I was able to follow his lines quite nicely. After the last Gulch Tobias was nowhere to be seen, and Tony had decided to chase.

Now the real climbing was to begin!  Unfortunately for me this is also where I started to fade for the first time all day.  I was taking in my calories on schedule and I had no issues getting any fluids or solids down so I couldn't understand why I suddenly was struggling to keep my my cadence and pace.  Tony started to get further and further away and Tobias had made his attack stick.  Sure enough just as I started to fade I saw Peter Kotlands' crew car.  I knew that meant he was hot on my heels and inevitably he would pass me and drop me back to 5th.  Peter came through riding strong passing me like a freight train on a mission, he had paced himself well and was ready to attack the final climbs.  He didn't stop there either, I watched as he effortlessly did the same thing to Tony who was about 2 or 3 minutes up the road.

I was now in 5th or was I?  We surely would have passed the mystery leader at some point given the rate we were gaining on him up to the end of red road.  Maybe we passed him while he was off the road, or maybe he made a wrong turn?  I wasn't really sure but my focus immediately turned in to getting more calories in knowing that I was going to have some hard climbing to deal with and yesterday I was unable to take in any nutrition on the final climb.  I started to take in ensure in addition to what had been my regular diet of EFS and Bonk breakers to hopefully counteract the fade and bank some calories for the final climb up the Kohala Mountains.  

Mile 130 and fading fast!

Mile 130 and fading fast!

 

Both Tony and Peter were soon out of sight and I was on my own again.  This time not in front, but struggling to hang on to the lead that I had built on everyone else.  I tried to stay calm and just focus on taking in more calories hoping that it would eventually turn around, like I had been able to do on countless training rides.   I also knew as terrible as I felt I could keep moving at a decent pace that would keep me in contention.   The next few miles rolled by and I was thankfully still alone, I hadn't made up any ground on Tony or Peter, but I hadn't seen any crew cars besides mine either.

When I finally hit the town of Waimea I was feeling stronger and riding more aggressively once again.  It was nice to have some relief from the long climb, but I still had the Kohalas ahead of me.  Even though I suddenly felt strong again I Peter, Tony and Tobias were still nowhere to be found.  The sun started to peak its head out, but the roads were still slick making sure we still had to ride with caution.  Even so it was nice to finally be able to ride with some speed after spending the last hour under 14 mph.  As I got closer to the Kohalas the winds started to pick up and I was starting to get thrown around like a rag doll by the cross winds.  The next time I saw the crew I yelled wheel swap, so we could get my deep dish 808 off the front and replace it with a shallower 404 for the final climb and descent.  This had been the plan all along as I knew how bad the winds on the mountains were proposed to be. 

We made a quick pit-stop to change the wheels but the wind was so strong it blew the quick release lever out of Adams hand as he went to make the change.  Fortunately it didn't get blown far and I was up and running in less than 30 seconds.  When we drove the course this was the section where Erica seriously asked me "how are you going to do this?"  Well I was about to find out.  I knew it was roughly 7 miles to the top then a 15 mile descent to the finish so I was ready to go all in on the climb.  As I started the climb the winds were already rough and only going to get stronger as I got higher.  I found myself leaning hard in to the winds to stay upright.  It's hard to put in to words how strong the winds were but you can see for yourself by clicking here

Battling the winds

Battling the winds

 

On the way up I noticed something I hadn't seen in awhile.  It was Tonys' crew car!  This immediately gave me extra energy as I realized I had been reeling him in!  Each time I saw Erica and the boys the would switch out my bottle and give me splits on Tony and as we kept climbing, he kept getting closer! With about 4.5 miles to go not only could I see Tony up the road I spotted Tobias' crew car which pushed my spirits even higher.  Click here for the 4.5 miles to go video

Nearing the top

Nearing the top

As I got closer to the top I got closer to Tony and when I finally got to the crest of the climb the lead had dwindled to :30 seconds!  I had finished the climb and felt absolutely on top of the world and was ready for the final `5 mile descent.  I had read several times about how hair raising and scary this particular descent could be but driving it in a car it didn't seem that bad. However I quickly discovered why people describe the final leg as frightening.  The unpredictability of the winds adds another level of discomfort that most people, myself included are just not used to.

Unfortunately I quickly lost sight of Tony and all the gains I had just made seemed to be a moot point. The numerous switch backs and blind curves coupled with less than ideal pavement had me riding the breaks more than I would have liked to.  The crew van would go ahead of me and then slow down until they saw I made it around a curve before proceeding ahead.  I was fully riding my breaks the whole way down and I was still going over 30 mph in certain spots! I was riding scared after crashing and my focus was only on getting to the finish in one piece.  I suddenly didn't care how long it took me to get there.  

About halfway down the mountain I suddenly saw Jochens' crew car which meant he wasn't far behind.  Sure enough shortly after he came flying by me around a curve descending like a bat out of hell.  While upset that I was losing another place in the days standings I was impressed by his fearlessness and descending skills at the same time.  I made it a point to keep him in my sight for the rest of the ride. I suddenly started to get cold and my forearms were getting sore from having a death grip on the bars and really utilizing the breaks to manage speed.   Keeping Jochen in view I made it down the rest of the mountain unscathed but I can honestly say it was the scariest experience I have ever had on a bike!  Hitting the final stop sign at the end of kohala mountain road was a relief and I was glad to be done. Knowing that the rest of the way was mostly flat I gave chase to limit the damage that Jochen was able to do which ended up being only 30 seconds or so. 

Relieved!

Relieved!

I crossed the line in 6th place, keeping me in 5th place overall and in a great spot to still be in contention for the run.  The man in the lead that we were chasing happened to be Craig Percival but I didn't remember him passing me.   He was off the front early in the day and missed the first turn in a group with Miro and Jochen.  Talking to him after the race he seemed to have remember passing me on the descent to red road, but since Tony is the only one I remember passing me I must have gotten them mixed up at one point and I was fully in control and leading the race before the descent to red road.   Looking at the results for day 2 I lost almost 7 minutes to to Tony and I'm sure just as much to Jochen on that final descent.  Had I known that Craig was the one in front the whole time I certainly would have made a move to close that gap. He already had a quite sizable lead after day 1 and his 45 minute lead was now 90 minutes but anything can happen over 52 miles especially with the run being his weakest leg. All in all I finished the day in good spirits and showered before we headed out to Waikaloa for the night.  


Post Race Analysis: Link to Garmin DataAverage pace 19.8 mph.. avg HR 119!

Ideally it would have been nice to have a complete power file, but the heart rate data shows a pretty consistent effort.  You can see where the heart rate drops at lights and long descents and raises on the climbs.  It also looks like I spent about 5 minutes waiting at lights, and stopping for minor issues when I needed to like my wheel swap and bandage removal.  Looking back I am pretty happy with my ride but I definitely need to work on my descending skills.  It's something that's going to be a challenge since long sweeping descents are not readily available where I live. 

Day 3 coming soon! 

 

 

Setting the Tone- Ultraman World Championship Day 1 Recap

  When I first got into the sport of triathlon there were a few races that I always had on my bucket list and while completing an Ultraman was checked off the list in February, the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii was on a whole different level.  When I got invited to race back in May of this year I was ecstatic. I would be heading to a place I have always wanted to go, and racing a race that has always been a dream of mine to compete in.  Since I had been following the history of the race for such a long time once the start list was posted I knew the strengths and weaknesses of most of my competitors and what it would take to come out on top.  

After a few days of playing around on the island and getting acclimated to the temperature difference while getting my taper workouts in it was time to race. While this was a race I was looking forward to for a long time, it's also a race that absolutely terrified me as well.  For one I have a healthy fear of open water swimming especially when I'm going to be swimming over 6 miles in the Pacific Ocean with countless species of marine life.  To see how nervous I was before we got in the water here is a short video .  

We got in the water shortly after that and before I knew it they were counting down to send us off.  I made a plan to find my kayakers Adam and Glee and avoid the huge cluster that happens at the beginning of these races as everyone rushes to find their support.  Since I was one of the few wearing a sleeveless wet suit I would be easy to spot , so I told them I would follow the crowd and they could catch up to me when things cleared out.  Once things calmed down and I settled in they caught up with me my nervousness disappeared.  Instead it was replaced by a strange calming feeling. It must have been something about the clear blue water and cloudless sky that produced some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen as the sun rose over the Hawaiian mountains.   For awhile I was just lost in my stroke enjoying every moment until I was quickly forced out when I spotted a box jelly out of the corner of my eye.  I just about jumped on the kayak straight out of the water in one fluid motion.

Seeing one of these bad boys quickly put me back in alert mode!

Seeing one of these bad boys quickly put me back in alert mode!

I took Adam and Glee off guard by doing that but I mumbled something about a huge jellyfish and kept swimming as far away from that thing as fast as possible. Maybe another 5 minutes after that I let out another loud expletive as I got my first taste of a jellyfish sting for the day.  At this point I was only around 1.5 miles in and I knew that wouldn't be the last one.  After I got stung once and I got over the initial shock It just became an annoyance.  It was like getting a small electric shock every once in awhile.  One sting became two, two became four, and they just kept piling up.  At one point I was being stung on my right forearm, left shoulder and the back of my neck all at once.  I gave up counting my stings after I hit 10, but I definitely had quite a few more.  I knew going in to the swim that the stings would be an issue, but it still wasn't a pleasant experience.  

No land in sight

No land in sight


Throughout the swim I was on a 15 minute feed schedule which seemed to work well, Adam would get the bottle ready and pull the boat over to me, and I would roll on my back and take a chug and roll back over and continue swimming as to not lose much time.  This cycle worked flawlessly and I was happy, the only other time I had to stop for anything was early on when I noticed my neckline on my wetsuit was rubbing a bit too much so I stopped to fix that before it became an issue.

Feed sessions were short and purposeful

Feed sessions were short and purposeful

On my feed stops I would always ask about my position and for awhile according to Adam I was hovering around 8th place.  I could see 2 boats within our vicinity for awhile so I figured I was close to 6th and I kept pushing forward  toward the middle of the swim I was feeling really strong and I surged for about 45 mins or so, when I came up for my last feed of that section I asked Adam where I was and he told me 14th or so.  This completely floored me as I was feeling so strong and I actually lost time.  Regardless I didn't let it get to me, knowing that the swim is not a strength of mine and I continued to push on so that I could get to my bike and have a chance of making up some time on the swimmers.  

Finally almost to shore!

Finally almost to shore!

When I we finally hit the first buoy I was excited as I could finally see the bottom of the ocean again and all I could think was how I just didnt want to be stung by any more jellyfish.  I thought that since the bottom was in sight the rest of the swim would be smooth sailing, boy was I wrong.  On the bright side once I hit the buoy I finally stopped getting stung by jellyfish but that was made up by the massive current we faced as the tide was going out as we approached the shoreline of keahou bay.  I suddenly felt like I was going nowhere and that was confirmed by the stagnant seascape below, I kept asking Adam where the last buoy was when I was feeding since I couldn't see it, but apparently he could.  The miles slowly ticked off, 4.5, 5.5, I thought I was almost done, but I still couldn't see the buoy.  My goal of getting out of the water under 3 hours was definitely not happening and I had no idea how much longer I would be swimming then all of the sudden I could finally see the last buoy.  I started to give whatever I had left in me since all I wanted to do was get on my bike, my right shoulder was killing me and swimming in general was starting to get to me.  Adam directed me around the final buoy and before I knew it I saw Erica waiting for me on shore and it was time to stand up and get rid of my sea legs.

Finally out of the water but in 15th place

Finally out of the water but in 15th place

I had asked Jeremy and Erica to get splits on certain people for me so I knew where I stood getting out of the water.  Even though I was 15th out of the water I found out I was only 4 minutes down from last years champion Miro Kregar and 1997 champion and run course record holder Peter Kotland which immediately rejuvenated me.  

Taking in nutrition and getting splits as  I get ready to go on the attack.  

Taking in nutrition and getting splits as  I get ready to go on the attack.  

One thing about being a mediocre swimmer and a decent cyclist is that you get to go hunting after getting out of the water which is one of my favorite things to do.  I got on my bike and headed out on a mission.  The course starts with a 1500 ft climb right out of the water with really no time to get your legs under you.  As I got in to my rhythm I started to pass some of the other athletes, within the first 10 miles I had reeled in 5 athletes and pulled myself in to the top 10.  I was starting to get my nutrition in and I was feeling good.  When I finally could see Peter I sat  a few hundred yards behind him for awhile using him to gauge speed and lines on some of the quick downhills and just to have someone to keep chase on.  Somewhere around mile 20 in Captain Cook I made my move and finally passed him which was a huge boost as I considered him one of the contenders for the overall win.  Next time I saw Erica and the crew I shouted out, "One former world champion down, one to go" as I set my sights on Miro who was right up the road.  I was now on the attack and riding more aggressively as I moved up in the field. Click here to see me in attack mode

Focused out of the gate on the first climb.

Focused out of the gate on the first climb.

After I locked in on Miro it wasn't long before I decided to make a move and pass to move in to 8th place.  I kept on the throttle and was searching out for who was next.  Jeremy told me there was a group of 3 right up the road and it wasn't long before I saw them and started reeling them in.  I passed Yasuko as she was off on the side of the road with her crew and then Kathy and I think the male in the group was Jochen.  We were about 45 miles in and I was feeling amazing.  I was now in 5th place and gaining momentum, I knew I had about 15 miles before the final 30 mile climb and I was on top of the world.  In the distance I could see Julie, Tobias, and Tony and all 3 of them slowly were becoming closer and closer.  

As we made the right hand turn on to South point road I was really gaining on Julie and was getting ready to pass.  Once on south point its close to a 500 ft drop in 5 miles so you can really pick up some speed.  It was pretty windy and Julie was fighting the wind and her bike on the descent and I carefully passed her going around 35 mph, I allowed my speed to get up to 42 mph as it was a pretty decent straight away but  as I came over the next horizon I immediately went in to damage control as I spotted the next 90 degree turn and a stop sign with volunteers waving frantically to slow down.  If there was a sign or a volunteer close to where I spotted the turn I would have been fine, but unfortunately I was out of luck.  I came into the stop sign hard and slid across the road going down somewhere between 30 and 35 mph. Immediately I got up and tried to move out of the way so Julie had a clean road and then I looked at my bike to see if it was okay to ride and hopped back on much to the chagrin of the volunteers that witnessed the crash.  It all happened so fast I'm really not sure that there was anything I could have done differently to avoid going down. 

Erica, Jeremy and Adam pulled up as I was getting back on my bike and asked what happened as they saw me pass Julie and then the next thing they saw I was off my bike and bleeding.  I couldn't have been down for more than a minute and if you look at my power file you cant even tell there was a crash.  While they were concerned I told them not to worry and I soldiered on.  Even though my first stint in 4th place was short lived I managed to catch up to Julie again shortly after and continue to the hunt for Tony, and Tobias who I had been able to see at one point and Craig who I knew was likely out of the water first but no idea where how far ahead of the rest of us he actually was. 

 

The next few miles I was definitely on high alert as we descended back to sea level before making the final 30 mile, 3567 ft climb up the volcano to the Day 1 finish.  While coming down the Naalehu coast was breathtaking I was too busy fighting the winds to stay upright on my bike to truly enjoy it.  The winds of the southernmost and windiest portion of the US certainly did not disappoint.  It was shortly after this that I decided to stop and have Adam replace my front wheel from the 808 to the shallower 404 the winds were really picking up and I didn't want to be fighting them while having to climb.  The switch out was quick and I was ready to climb. I could see Tony and Tobias in the distance and my focus turned to reeling them in.

For awhile I was still making some progress it seemed as they both were in sight and seemed to be coming back to me, but somewhere around mile 70 things started to really take a turn for the worse.  Up until then I was having no problem taking in nutrition but suddenly I was not able to keep anything down.  I was throwing up any solids that attempted to swallow and my power numbers just started to plummet.  I switched to ensure to get some quick calories in but I'm not sure I was absorbing that either.  I thought the heat was getting to me but never once did it occur to me that the crash was the culprit. The thing is that as we started to climb the temperature started to drop but I was still burning up.  Adam and Jeremy were running beside me so they could shove ice on my back to keep me cool while climbing but nothing seemed to be working.  Even though my power was dropping and I was fading my effort level had increased two fold and it was getting ugly.

While my I was able to hold between 220 and 230 watts for the first 3 hours of the ride I was suddenly having a hard time getting my power over 200.  I had been drinking water religiously and dousing myself to keep cool in the 90 degree temperatures all day, but somehow I still managed to be dehydrated as well.  On top of that the adrenaline spike from my crash had been long gone, and I was left with a body that did not want to do any more work, I think somehow I moved in to the shock phase of the accident and as much as I was focusing on not letting it happen my body started shutting down. Slowly I started to see Peter's crew truck more frequently and I knew he was gaining on me, and at the same time Tony and Tobias were getting further and further away.

Still Climbing, and fading fast

Still Climbing, and fading fast

Erica told Jeremy to tell me what I already knew, Peter was coming and he was coming fast while looking strong.  My aggressive competitive self normally would have taken the challenge and made him work to pass, but I was already at my limit and fading fast.  Peter eventually passed me right before we made our way in to Volcanoes National Park and I didn't even think of responding.  I had moved from attack mode into survival mode and there was no turning back.

Regardless I kept yelling at Adam and Jeremy that my power wasn't where it needed to be but anything we tried didn't seem to work, or maybe it did and I would have been a lot worse off than I was!  At one point Jeremy asked me what I needed and my response was " I need to be on the top of the Volcano and off my #$%@ bike".  My attitude and mind set went from who's next to catch, to who is chasing and who might catch me.  Looking at my file my average power for the last 2 hours was 178 with a normalized power of 184, compared to an average power of 221 with a normalized power of 236 for the first 3.5 hours.  My body clearly had shut down and there was nothing I was going to be able to do about it. Fortunately I was able to make it to the finish line still in 5th place surprisingly with the 3rd best bike split on the day, behind Craig by a little under 5 minutes and only 70 seconds behind Peter.  Click here for a video of me finishing day 1

Finishing battered and bruised

Finishing battered and bruised

When I finished I was absolutely spent.  I was shaking and I was hardly able to stand.  Erica came over to see how I was and the finish line staff quickly got the doctors attention so she could treat my road rash and see the extent of my injuries.  All I wanted to do was go find the house we rented for the night and go to sleep, I still was unable to take in any food and my body was  really starting to feel the effects of my crash.

Completely spent!

Completely spent!

I was so shelled I forgot to even look at the leader board before we left to see how things were starting to shake out after a very challenging day 1.  I had no idea how big a lead Craig had out of the water and I have to admit I was a little deflated to find out that I was already trailing him by 52 minutes.  However the fact that the difference between 2nd and 5th was only 12 minutes with 2 long days to go kept my spirits high going in to Day 2.  

Post Race Analysis: Click the bolded section for links to Garmin Connect

Swim Details : (Target 3:00 for 6.2 mi/ Actual 3:18 6.72 mi)  Despite actually swimming 6.7 miles instead of 6.2 it  looks my team kept me on a pretty solid line throughout the swim and hopefully helped avoid some of the currents that we faced our there. The 1:41/100 yd pace was slower than my 1:31/100 yd at Ultraman Florida but I think the currents definitely had something to do with that. Julie swam within 1 minute of her UMF time but everyone else seemed slower. Juan was 7 minutes slower,  Brian and Meredith were 17 minutes slower,  and Pedro 27.  So with the UMFL class an average of 15 minutes slower at UMH my 21 minute slower swim isn't as bad as it looked at first glance.  On top of that the fastest portion of my swim was the back end which either means I started too slow or I paced perfectly. That being said coming out of the water more than 45 minutes down from Craig put me in a place where it was difficult to recover from. I definitely need to be working on my swim this off season and I am hoping to dial in my stroke for next year.  I have some video of me swimming during the race which will be helpful in determining on what to focus on. 

Bike Details: (Target 5:00 for 90 Miles/ Actual 5:35 91.28  I am extremely happy with the pre-crash portion of my ride, I was right on my power targets and everything was going according to plan.   I felt strong right up until that point and if I break the ride down to pre and post crash it looks like this:  Pre Crash: 2 hours 40 minutes : average power 228, normalized power 244, post crash 2 hours 55 minutes:  average power 186, normalized power 199.  As you can see the crash had a bigger impact on the day than I would have liked to admit at the time.  I never realized how much a hard crash like that can take out of you.   Now that I have done a deeper dive I really wonder if it had more than just a psychological effect on the next two days.  After looking at articles and pictures of crashes of Contodor and Froome from this years Tour De France I am grateful that it wasn't worse and I was able to continue on, even if I wasn't at full strength.  The burning question is now how my day 1 would have played out if I had been able to stay upright on my bike and continue riding at 100%.  Would I have hit my target mark of 5 hours?   Maybe, 45 watts is a big drop in performance and over 3 hours could possibly have netted me the extra 38 minutes which would have definitely changed the dynamics of my race as that would have only put me 7 minutes behind Craig at the end of the day.  Unfortunately the race played out the way it did and I crashed hard effecting my performance, but that doesn't stop me from thinking of what could have been.  The fact that I was able to ride so strongly in the first half that it allowed me to still have one of the top bike splits on the day is definitely encouraging and a sign that my bike training was on point, and shows how high my fitness really was going in to the race.

Day 2 Report coming soon

Required Medical Attention

Required Medical Attention

I didn't know it yet, but my race was effectively over 

I didn't know it yet, but my race was effectively over 

Peaks and Valleys: Ultraman Florida Day 3 Race Recap

After another early wake up, this time in the 3am range, I was fired up and ready to go.  There is something about race mornings, I never have a problem getting up to go do something that I love.  The wake up on day 3 was a little earlier due to an earlier start time, some might complain but I would gladly run in the dark any time in exchange for less time in the heat.  As usual I was the first one up, making sure I got my breakfast in, and all my nutrition and gear was set for the day.  There was a lot less stress knowing I was off the bike and any mechanical issues would now come down to shoes and I had 4 pairs with me so I wasn't worried.  Before I knew it everyone was up and it was time to head for the hour drive back to Mt Dora.  Before we left Erica asked if I wanted to bring an extra pair of shorts just in case, but I thought 2 was enough.  

My legs felt surprisingly good after the beating I gave them over the previous two days, and I was feeling pretty strong. I was probably a little more quiet than normal on the drive over as I knew very well I had a tough day ahead of me, but I was prepared to give it everything I had. We got to the start with about 30 minutes to go, I got my final nutrition in and prepared to run the 52.4 miles back to Orlando.  Since the bathrooms were still locked we had to find a spot in the bushes to do our pre-race "business".  

 

Startline countdown

Startline countdown

“The best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die.”- Steve Prefontaine

I started in the front, because that's exactly where I wanted to be, I had 49 minutes to make up on Chuck, and less than a minute on Inaki.  I came down here to win, and if I played it conservatively my chances of making up such a huge chunk of time was slim.  While it may matter to some, the difference for me between 2nd and 3rd place is negligible,  over the previous 2 days I had done enough work to give myself a decent enough cushion that even if I had a spectacular blowup I would at the very least be able to maintain my position. I also knew that my plan was going to take an extreme amount of mental toughness and a little bit of luck as I would be on my own with just my crew all day if my plan worked.

When we finally got the signal, it was go time. I shot off the start line like I was shot out of a cannon and I was very quickly alone, like I knew I would be.  I had a feeling Chuck would let me go, because with a big cushion like he had, his luxury would be pacing conservatively through the first marathon and hope I either blow up, or limit the damage so that making up the difference in the 2nd half of the run would be near impossible.  I was unsure if Inaki would follow my lead but knowing that he had never run under 8 hrs in the past, I wasn't surprised when he didn't.

Off the front and on a mission

Off the front and on a mission

Getting out of the park was a little tedious as the turns weren't marked and I found myself constantly overshooting the turns, and having to ask which way I was going.  That lasted for only a few minutes before we headed out into town and on the way back to Orlando.  I never once looked back but I could tell by the beautiful night silence that I was completely alone.  As I went through the first mile in 7:14 I passed some of the pacers that were waiting for their runners.  I felt amazingly strong and my entire focus was ticking off the miles.  At times they seemed pretty effortless and I was in a zone. I started on my nutrition early and wanted to make sure I was going to be able to fuel myself while maintaining my pace. At one point Erica asked me how fast I was running because I was so far ahead, when I told her 7:15 she shook her head in acknowledgement and told me to just keep running.  For the first 9 miles I ticked off miles in the 7-7:15 range without incident but I soon started to get the GI rumble that every runner dreads.

Shortly after hitting the red road for the first time I had to pull over and tend to my "trots".  I was way ahead at this point so I wasn't concerned with a small pit stop and kept on running, even able to maintain an 8:22 for that mile, but quickly bounced back to my 7:15 pace for the next 30 minutes or so, when I had to stop once again.  I passed through the 1st half marathon and I got word that I was about 12 minutes ahead of Chuck and Inaki who were reported to be running together and I thought to myself if I keep this up its going to be close, but I might have an outside shot at sneaking in for the win.  I stayed positive even though the heat was starting to become more intense and my bathroom breaks were becoming more frequent which was not letting me get in a rhythm.  After another quick stop I went back to running but this time my running break only lasted 13 minutes before I had to stop yet again for another bowel movement.  

Feeling amazing, but knowing the worst lies ahead. 

Feeling amazing, but knowing the worst lies ahead. 

I was starting to get very frustrated as nothing was seeming to stay in, and I was starting to run low on baby wipes. I had gone a little over 20 miles and I knew if I wasn't able to keep anything in the next 32 miles were going to be quite a challenge.  It was after yet another nature break that I decided to see if walking up one of the first extended inclines would calm my system and allow me to get some nutrition in that I would hopefully be able to keep in. I walked the back half of mile 21 and ended up with a 11:20, the slowest of my day, in hopes that it would allow me to get back to running in the 7's where I should have, and wanted to be.  I creeped back into the 7's and was able to run another 2 miles before I had to stop yet again, for you guessed it, another nature break. 

As I started running again up one of the hills at the top one of the volunteers who was following us all weekend, Kathy, was waiting at the top on her bike and gave me her best impression of a Waynes world "we're not worthy" salute.  It was a nice to have some support other than Erica and my crew, since I had not really seen anyone but them and Steve at the half marathon mark for some time. I might have looked strong at that point, but she had no idea what I was going through on the inside.  Right after seeing Kathy I headed back downhill which rumbled my stomach more and had me on the side of the road once again a mere 12 minutes later.  

At this point I think the head official was getting pretty frustrated as every time he came by looking for me I was in the bushes or somewhere else off the course hidden so I could do my business.  I started running again and once again only lasted 12 minutes before having to stop and release.  I had initially planned on changing my shorts half way through but I was so soaked and the chafing was starting to bother me so I combined this stop with a quick change since I was about 25 miles in to the run.  I had now stopped 8 times since the 9 mile mark but to my surprise I still found myself in front of the race.  I could hear Steve King's voice in the distance at the marathon mark and it drew me to run through and look strong, hoping that Steve would relay the message to Chuck and Inaki that I was looking strong, and not the one that I was breaking down.  

For those that have never done an Ultraman Steves' voice is like an oasis in the middle of the desert.  It's both calming and empowering as he shows up in the middle of nowhere with his announcing and yet he is somehow always at the next stop before you get there.  It's like he magically appears and that can be very soothing as it means you have passed another checkpoint. That next checkpoint was the marathon mark which I crossed first in 3:28.

Through the 1st Marathon in 3:28

Through the 1st Marathon in 3:28

Ideally I wanted to run 7 hours or faster, 7:30 as a worst case scenario and halfway I was right on target.  The problem was that I was still having GI issues and that combined with the excessive heat, 100% humidity and lack of shade was really starting to take its toll.  I don't know what it was but for some reason about 28 miles in I looked back for the first time all day, and I could see Inaki.  As much as I expected it to eventually happen, I didn't think it would have happened that soon.  I decided, probably mistakenly, to back off completely until he passed.  I slowed down to a walk and took in a recovery drink to see if that would perk me up so I could have energy to do some battling.  I had not seen any one else that was racing for roughly 3 and half hours.  I never looked back again just kept moving forward taking in my calories and expecting him to pass.  

He eventually passed with a quick handshake and kept on his way, at that point to me, he looked pretty strong.  A minute or two went by and as to be expected there was Chuck not far behind.  I was still walking at this point, and as he ran past he told me I had some set of balls for starting out like I did.  I knew at that point unless Chuck had a major breakdown he was going to be impossible to beat.  24 miles is still a long way to go, but he was averaging running in the 8 minute range, and in order to pick that up Inaki or I would have to run the rest of the run in the low to mid 6's to come away with the win.  I told Erica I was going to let them both go in hopes of catching them later once I got some calories to stick, and she looked at me like I had 8 heads.  In retrospect she was right, like she normally is, that it was a terrible idea.  I walked the whole mile in 16:28 and even with walking, I had to stop once again for a bathroom break.  

It's funny how quickly that it happened, but I went from leading the race and feeling on top of the world to being in 3rd and feeling completely helpless.  I couldn't take in any solid foods, and anything liquid was going right through me.  I decided to start up on the coke to see if that would settle my stomach and hopefully provide me with a little bit of a caffeinated boost.  Erica had been pacing me on and off since right around the marathon point, but it was right around here where she made it clear she wasn't going to be leaving my side unless absolutely necessary.  At some point over the next 4 miles I ended up running a mile, then walking a mile after my bathroom breaks.  I had almost gone through an entire package of baby wipes and was in the bushes and Erica noticed that I was stating to wipe blood.  I didn't let on at the time but I was really nervous that I was going to have to seriously dial it back even more, to make sure I got to the finish line in one piece. 

With the increasing heat and lack of nutrition, the wheels are starting to fall off fast

With the increasing heat and lack of nutrition, the wheels are starting to fall off fast

Shortly after my blood incident I saw these nice people that were encouraging me and offering me stuff and I kind of wondered what they were doing out in the middle of nowhere.  I thought they might have been volunteers and I thought it was strange that they were at such an odd spot but I didn't think anything of it. I kept moving forward and in another 15 minutes or so I saw them again, and I thought to myself, wow these guys are all over it, really nice to have volunteers that care so much about the racers in such a small field.  As we got to the next section of the red road I quickly realized that the nice volunteers that I kept passing were another athletes crew.  I could see the car creeping up, and I kept moving forward but I was depleted and having a hard time responding. 

Somewhere around mile 34,  Daniel made his pass, and looked quite convincing doing it.  I was now in 4th place and fading faster than I would have liked. Before I knew it there was another crew car leap frogging us as well. All of the sudden I was looking at dropping back to 5th just like that. The next few miles were the most physical, mental and emotionally challenging miles I have ever experienced at any race of any distance.  I tried to run and I would start moving sideways. It was brutally hot and the lack of shade was getting to me along with everything else. In as bad shape as I was I remember saying to Erica, wow do I feel bad for the bigger guys like Chris running in this heat, he's gotta have like 40+ lbs on me and this heat and these hills are no joke. 

I thought to myself "I signed up for Ultraman Florida, I didn't sign up for Badwater".  Coming from the north where most of my runs were in the 30's and 40's to running in the 90's was destroying me.  The negativity was creeping in and I was having a hard time keeping it out.  Thoughts of power, and strength had been replaced with weakness and demise.  I was completely BROKEN.  I had a complete emotional breakdown at that point.  I had trained so hard, I am in such good shape to run, why can't I take a step without going sideways.  I broke down and just started to tear up and feel sorry for myself.  Erica grabbed my hand and just walked with me, as I was completely dejected and drained. At the same time in the crew car both my mother and mother-in-law were having a crying party of their own because I was in such bad shape.  The entire team of athlete #31 was a distraught mess.  

Mentally, Physically, and emotionally BROKEN

Mentally, Physically, and emotionally BROKEN

I'm not sure what it was but all of the sudden I got angry, and I forced myself to start running again, which surprisingly felt better than walking. I averaged 8:15 for the next 2 miles and caught back up to Daniel and away from the other crew car that was close to us.  It wasn't the 7's I was running earlier in the day but with the increased heat and minimal calorie intake I was happy.  I was able to run/walk the next 2 miles an get a few 11 minute miles and take myself back into 3rd place.  I crossed the 3rd 1/2 marathon mark in back in 3rd place at 5:51 picking up 5 minutes on Daniel in the process, but I was now 30 minutes behind Chuck and Inaki.  I actually had no idea where they were and I had stopped asking for splits after the marathon mark in fear that knowing that their gap was increasing would creep further negativity into my head.  

I was so happy to hit that 3/4 mark, but at the same time something went very wrong after leaving the red road for the final time. In fact It took me almost an hour to cover miles 41-44. I walked the entire way, I'm still not exactly sure why and I don't know what was going through my head, but I wanted absolutely nothing to do with running.  Maybe if I knew that they were only 30 minutes ahead it might have given me a boost, or maybe it would have made it worse. I have no idea.  During my walk break Daniel passed me, then Artem passed me, then Leandro passed me, then Andres passed me and I'm not sure but I think Meredith passed me as well.  I had dropped back and I was now in 8th place.  The great thing about Ultraman is that EVERY...SINGLE..ONE of the people that passed me tried to get me to come and run with them at their pace.  We were all suffering together with one goal get to that finish line as fast as possible.

I knew mathematically there was no way I was losing 3rd unless I walked the rest of the run and that just wasn't going to happen. While walking I was able to get some nutrition in, and I finally had stopped going to the bathroom every 15-20 minutes.  I was wishing I had listened to Erica and brought extra shorts, as I was completely soaked and uncomfortable.  I had ice bags to keep me cool and a wet tshirt that we were soaking in the cooler around my neck to keep me cool. Even with that I was still struggling to walk.  I had been asking for salt pills, but the canister that we had them in mysteriously disappeared.  Fortunately Leandros crew had a few extras that they were willing to part with and all of the sudden I came back to life.

With 10 miles to go I was suddenly on a mission. I started to run again, only taking walk breaks to keep my core temperature and heart rate down.  I would run for 5-6 minutes with ice in my hand and put ice in my hat while I walked to cool down for a minute.  I continued this strategy as I was covering a lot more ground.  When I was running I was back to running in the mid 7 range, but my walk breaks were netting me miles in the 8:30-10 minute range.  Little by little I started crawling my way back in the ranks. I gave as much encouragement as I could muster when I would make a pass but I spent some extra time trying to convince Daniel to run with me.  

As I passed him I said come on lets go, I'm doing a run/walk lets finish this thing up. He said I would love to but "I ain't got that right now".  I forged ahead with my head down and my face planted on my watch.  I knew exactly when I was going to stop and exactly when I had to start running again.  At this point in the race it's real easy to walk extra, and the walk breaks feel like they last for 10 seconds while the running feels like it lasts for hours.  I was happy that Erica now was only coming to run with me sporadically, she needed a break from the heat and she got some well deserved time in the car.  

48 miles or so in to the run, determined.

48 miles or so in to the run, determined.

Before I knew it I had crawled back in to 4th place on the run and I was still moving well with about 5 miles left. The closer I got to the finish the more my pace started to increase and the last few miles seemed to just tick away.  With a little over a mile left to go Erica told me she wanted to cross the finish line with me, I said are you kidding me?  There is no way you aren't going to be next to me crossing that line after everything you've done all weekend.  I told her and the crew to go ahead and meet me at the finish line.  I wasn't stopping any more and I was running the rest of the way in.  

And that is exactly what I did, I knew I had done it. I suddenly had another energy burst as I could now feel the finish line.  After I came across the final bridge I could see the finish flags and I could see Erica right there waiting for me.  I was suddenly floating ,and the pace just came effortless to me,  just like it had in the morning a little over 8 hours earlier. When I finally hit the point where Erica was standing we ran stride by stride all the way through the finish, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I ran as fast as I could muster for that last mile and in the end it ended up being just as fast as my first mile.  


Almost there! 

Almost there! 

Done!

Done!

I crossed the line in 8:16:33 with almost a 4 hour PR of a 50 mile run.  The only other time I ran 50 miles was in 2011 and I had run it in 12:29.  As soon as I crossed the finish line I found a shady spot in the grass and just sat down, sitting down immediately turned into laying on my back as every muscle in my body was screaming and spasming. I had just emptied the tank and had absolutely nothing left.  I stayed there, on my back for quite some time. At the time it was the most comfortable thing ever.  I was laying in a bunch of sticks and leaves and I felt like I was in a California king size bed at a 5 star hotel with 1500 thread count sheets. I tried to stand up 3 or 4 times, but I was in that spot for at least an hour before I could get up and move around.  The doctor came over to keep checking on me, just to make sure.  

Drained.  I did not leave this spot for at least an hour. 

Drained.  I did not leave this spot for at least an hour. 

After 3 days of racing , 3rd Place overall!

After 3 days of racing , 3rd Place overall!

When I was finally up and about I started to get some more calories in and congratulating everyone on their finishes.  I got my final medical stats taken and a massage to help work the kinks out.  As much as I would have loved to stay around, after my massage I headed back to the condo as I was still in really bad shape.  I was happy to be able to follow everyone elses progress via the Facebook group at home. I was literally stalking my phone refreshing the Facebook group to see when everyone was finishing and cheering from afar. I was sad to see that Bob & Eric had to pull out, but amazed at what happened in the last 5 minutes before the cutoff.  Amy Palmiero-winters became the first Amputee to finish Ultraman on her 3rd try and Chris just made it to the finish with 69 seconds to spare.  If you ever wanted to know about the vibe and culture that surrounds Ultraman it is explained in the 2 minute video below. 

The awards ceremony the next night was just as amazing as the event itself.  Everyone is invited up to talk about their race and their experiences and everyone is VERY emotional.  I've heard before that the hardest part of the race is trying not to cry during your speech and after going through it, and experiencing the range of emotions over the weekend I can certainly see why.  If anyone ever has any ambitions about doing one of these events I would highly recommend it.  There is something extremely special about them that can't be explained unless you experience it for yourself. 

I want to thank everyone for reading and of course need to thank all of my generous sponsors.  Forte Gelato, Zoot, Pacific SBR, Enduropacks, and HUUB without your help all of this would not be possible.  Most importantly I want to thank my wife for not only being there for me during the race but throughout the training as well.  You know me better than anyone else and I am glad that I get to share my life and experiences like this with you.  

 

Cupcakes at the finish

Cupcakes at the finish

Parade of Athletes at the Awards ceremony

Parade of Athletes at the Awards ceremony

Learning New Things: Ultraman Florida Part 2/Day 2 Race Report

After another 4 AM wake up call I was out and about the condo with my pre race routine making sure I got in enough calories for breakfast before what was sure to be an exhausting but exciting day.  Out of all the days of the race day 2 was the one I was most looking forward to,  since we were all starting at the same time I would have riders close to my ability to ride with for most of the day.  After everyone else was up and the car was packed for the day we headed out for the hour drive back to Cocoa beach.  Everyone that has started day 1 had finished so I was excited to ride with 32 of my new friends and hoping everyone would see the Day 2 finish line as well.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

We arrived at the start line with a little more than 30 minutes to go.  Most everyone was inside and eating breakfast with a select few outside tweaking with their bikes before the long day in the saddle.  I borrowed a pump from one of the other crews to top off my tires and made sure everything was tightened and set.  I also made sure that I had enough nutrition on board to last the first 18 miles of the race which was a no feed zone, where we would be out of touch with our crews.  After finishing up the last of my pre race nutrition I kissed Erica goodbye and headed over to the start line placing myself right in front with Adam, Chuck and Inaki.  

10 seconds to  go!

10 seconds to  go!

Even though I was about to embark the longest ride of my life mileage wise, I was surprisingly calm.  I knew from some of my epic training rides where I road through sleet, snow, rain and ice that there were absolutely no conditions that I was unable to handle a bike. I had done several rides over 7 hours outside and was forced to do some inside rides of the same length as well due to the weather.   I coyishly asked the others what their plan of attack was for the day as I honestly did not know how hard they were planning on going out.  All I knew is that with a more than a 30 minute deficit to make up whatever they did I had to follow or I risked falling further behind. 

The next thing I knew we were counting down to start and we were off.  At first it was a nice calm pace to get the legs moving, with nobody showing their cards.  However that really didn't last long as one of the other guys decided to take it out at a pretty hard pace.  Chuck and I looked at each other and he said "we'll see him later".  I nodded my head in agreement and then someone else took off right behind him.  They made a quick break however they both got stuck at the next light, and we were back together as a group.  I looked at my power output and took stock of how I felt it was time to up the ante.  

We were probably less than 5 miles in, there was virtually no wind, and we were on a very flat section of the course.  I went out and set the pace seeing if anyone would follow.  I was well within my target wattage and I felt strong so I went with it. I was now leading the group and wanted to see who was coming with me.  I turned around after a few minutes and was happy to see I was not alone.   The next time we got stopped at a light our group was significantly smaller and by the light after that we were down to four with no one else in sight.  It was early on and we had already made a significant time gain. The three others with me were Adam, Chuck and Inaki just like we had been on the start line.  It was at this point that Chuck decided to take the lead and I was happy to let him do some work without letting him get too far ahead.  After awhile I decided that I wasn't working hard enough so I went back to the front and back to work.  

leading the pack early on

leading the pack early on

We soon came across the crews for the first time and it was really neat to see all the vans lined up on the side of the road anxiously waiting for their athletes to arrive.  Some of them were taking pictures with others just staring in to the distance with nutrition in hand waiting to be able to hand off at any minute.  I passed Erica, grabbed my bar and, kept on peddling.  The winds started to pick up a bit but I really didn't think anything of it.   I did notice however that I was starting to have the urge to pee. After the first pit stop Inaki's crew was sticking to the group and taking a ton of photos.  It was fun to have the paparazzi, it took my mind off the massive amount of mileage that we had yet to conquer.  

leading the group through the fog

leading the group through the fog

The next few miles ticked off without incident but the winds picked up more, and the humidity was apparent. We saw several groups of cyclists coming the other way, but the four of us were still together. The next hour or so was pretty uneventful, we kept a pretty close eye on each other and no one got too far ahead.  I found myself mostly in the front, simply because I wanted to dictate how fast I was going, and how much energy I was expending.  All of the sudden it started to drizzle, then it started to rain, then out of nowhere the sky opened up and the deluge started.  I could almost hear the nervousness coming from my crew van, but I knew I was in my element and I was loving every minute of it.  The next time we made a pass I yelled out to them "are you having fun yet?"  We were soaked to the bone and riding our tails off.  It was coming down so hard that it was making it difficult to see the road ahead, but I was comfortable leading the way and pointing out any dangerous hazards to the rest of the group.  After about 15 minutes the rains let up and were much more docile.

As we were plugging along on one of the straightaways Adam pulled up along side of me and let me know that Inaki had flatted on one of the last bridge we came over.  I mulled over attacking for a minute and trying to put some time in make up some of the time that I was behind, but I quickly decided I did not want a mechanical to be the reason I made up time so I eased up on the throttle a tad.  I figured since he was an experienced athlete, he and his crew would have an extra wheel ready to go so at the very least he would be back with us in a few minutes once he swapped the wheel and caught up.  

Shortly after the 3 of us crossed a busy intersection and Adams crew flew by us and his wife was flagging us down and waving her arms like ferociously to turn around.  It had been a while since any of us had seen our crews and the hard rains had wiped the turn arrow off the pavement so we ended up going off course. Fortunately for us his crew saw us miss the turn and we only rode an extra mile or so out of the way.  We quickly turned around and headed back the other way.  I turned to Chuck and told him I really needed to learn how to pee while riding as I still been holding it for the last 2 hours or so. He commented on how he had been doing it all day and even gave some advice on how to.  I knew going in to the day I was going to be in the situation and I didn't want to lose the group, so I had to figure out a way to learn, and learn fast, but I tried once again without success.  On the way back we got stuck at the light at the busy intersection and lost some more momentum, but once it turned I was just focused on where we needed to go next.  After a couple of quick turns we saw Sway, the race director,  and asked her if Inaki had come through yet.  When she told us he came through a few minutes prior, I shouted some expletives, put my head down, and started to go in to attack mode.  

We saw Inakis crew as we were chasing and they apologized for not being there when we missed the turn, which really wasn't their fault as they were busy attending to their athlete.  I put in a few 300 watt surges and Chuck and Adam were right there with me,which was fun.  In hindsight this probably wasn't the smartest thing to do as we still had over 100 miles of riding left, and the gap was fairly small, but it didn't seem to hurt in the long run. Chuck at one point during one of the turns commented that he was getting nervous that he hadn't seen his crew in awhile but I let him know I was fully stocked and if he needed anything I would be happy to let him borrow fuel.  We finally started to pick up some momentum and then all of the sudden we come to an area and see all of our crews stopped, among other cars and not going anywhere. 

Our group for most of the day followed by Chucks Crew, setting the pace early

Our group for most of the day followed by Chucks Crew, setting the pace early

Apparently there was some sort of street fair and the street had been blocked off.  After we were initially stopped by the cops, they decided to let us ride through as the bikes don't take up much space on the road, and we would be in and out of the blockade shortly.  Once we were finally through and came around to the next corner we saw Inaki sitting there waiting for us.  He had seen us get stopped and decided that waiting was the right thing to do.  I patted him on the back as a thank you, and we kept on riding as we had been in our group of 4.  We stayed together for the next stretch, but that didn't last very long, and  I still really had to pee.  It had started to rain again and I dropped back a little to see if I could finally learn how to pee on my bike after 10 years of racing, and all of the sudden I had a Eureka moment.  I was so happy to finally be able to break the seal on the bike.  I caught back up with Inaki and Chuck at the next light, but noticeably absent was Adam.  He had told us early on his plan was to stick with us as long as he could, which was quite some time,  but with a little over 100 miles to go our group was down to just three.

For the next 20 miles or so Chuck, Inaki and I rode in a very loose group, each one of us attacking at different times.  Chuck had gaped Inaki and I at a light and we got stuck waiting for a few minutes.  I had gotten there first and Inaki asked where Chuck was, having seen him just make the light I told him he wasn't far ahead.  Once the light change Inaki attacked, and at first I went with him, but I looked at my power output and decided he was going harder than I wanted to go, so I sat back and let him go.  I was comfortable in my decision as we had ridden almost 100 miles but we still had a long way to go, with a decent amount of hills to contend with. 

The next stretch of the course was fairly lonely and uneventful, with the turns and the hills, I could no longer see Inaki or Chuck.  I rolled through the 100 mile mark solo in 4:34 which was the fastest 100 miles I had ever ridden.  I was still alert and in good spirits making sure to feed at my designated intervals so I was getting in at least 400 cal/hr.  I was pretty excited when I finally came to sugar loaf mountain I shouted out to Erica "Sugarloaf!!!!"  I could see Inaki climbing and about to crest it so I wasn't too far behind.  About halfway up my chain decided that it was going to fall off, which is really the first bike issue I had had up until that point.  I looked back at what I had already climbed, and ahead at what was left and decided my best option would be to run the rest of it and climb back on the bike when I would be able to get some momentum and get the chain back on.  Sway was at the top warning about standing water on the downhills and telling us to slow down.  I had my sights set on Inaki so I wasn't concerned about the water, and didn't really listen hitting 42 mph on the way down.  After coming down the hill I noticed at the that my Quarq stopped reading correctly.  It was at that point I realized I had a dead battery and I would be riding the next 60 miles on feel and could no longer rely on power.    

Halfway up sugarloaf, dropped chain, only option was to run it up!

Halfway up sugarloaf, dropped chain, only option was to run it up!

Almost at the top!

Almost at the top!

Time to find Inaki, sorry Sway, I'm bombing the hill whether there is standing water or not!

Time to find Inaki, sorry Sway, I'm bombing the hill whether there is standing water or not!

The next section saw quite a bit of climbing and was a bit dicey on some of the descents with the standing water from all the rains.   At one point my crew car was in the way of my descent and almost caused me to go down, but I corrected and stayed upright. Even so I continued climbing aggressively and descending the hills with reckless abandon as I wanted to make up my deficit and get back to Inaki and Chuck.  I had lost my chain again on another one of the climbs and I decided I was done with small ring riding for the rest of the day.  Shortly a after I spotted Inaki and his crew up the road and I told myself I would be staying with him for the rest of the day once I caught up.  

I slowed up as I passed the car and I could see Inaki working on the bike and messing with the rear derailleur but didn't think anything of it.  I figured there was nothing I could do to help since I'm not really mechanically inclined and just commented on how my chain had been falling off for the last 10 miles.  I though he had just had a small mishap and would be up and riding again shortly.  After coming across Inaki my mindset immediately changed to finding Chuck and limiting the damage he could put on me before the end of the stage.   Every time I saw one of the volunteers I would ask how far ahead Chuck was.  At first it was 6 minutes and then I started to hear splits of 4 minutes, then 3.  I figured I was working my way back to him in a smart on controlled way and I was comfortable with that.  As the hills continued I thought I had to have been getting close and I would be able to see him sooner or later.  I also started getting excited as I started to see green arrows for the run, which meant the bike was coming to an end. 

Yes there are hills in Florida, busy hunting for Chuck.

Yes there are hills in Florida, busy hunting for Chuck.

 When I hit the out and back section I asked John where Chuck was and he told me I was 9 minutes back, which completely deflated me.  I was miffed on how I could lose 6 minutes that quickly! I then realized that the other splits I was getting probably weren't correct and I was losing time steadily instead of gaining it.  I then saw Chuck for the first time in about 3 hours headed the other way, and he looked like he was plugging along at a decent pace.  We shouted some words of encouragement to each other and kept on going.  I don't think he will admit it, but I think he decided at that point he was going to attack until the finish line and empty that tank to give himself as much of a cushion as possible going in to the run. While I didn't attack, more I did all I could to maintain my pace.  All I kept thinking after that was where Inaki was.  When I hit the turn around I looked at my watch to see what my gap was on Inaki but I made the next athlete I saw wasn't him, then I saw 2 more, but still no Inaki.  In fact I had no idea who was behind me and I had estimated I was now 15 minutes ahead of Inaki by the end of the out and back section.  I was actually quite worried because I know I shouldn't have put that much time on him in such a short period.  

The last 10 miles of the bike seemed to last forever.  I skipped my last bar at 8 hours because I just could not get another solid thing down.  I had been struggling to get anything solid down for the last few hours but I was able to force it.  Instead I started hitting my bottles of EFS every 10 minutes instead of 15 to make sure I was still getting a steady stream of calories as I knew I had just a few short miles to go.  I could sense I was getting closer and I was starting to get excited, in my mind I was almost guaranteed a finish now that I got through the first 2 days without any issues.  I started to get emotional as I came across the final turn to the finish and everyone was telling me to slow down.  I came into the chute a little hot and almost took down the whole finish line structure and landed in the grass.  I hopped off my bike and bounced it on the ground in exuberance as Steve had announced I had just ridden myself into 2nd place based on the last time Inaki was seen at a checkpoint. 

A little over excited at the day 2 finish line!

A little over excited at the day 2 finish line!

I grabbed my recovery drink from Erica, went to medical and got my massage.  It was then that I found out Chuck had almost gone down, and Inaki had gone down hard.  I had no idea that he had crashed and I felt really bad that I had gone by not realizing he went down.  I also found out that one of the female riders, Fiona, had crashed and gone down at that same spot effectively ending her race.  My heart immediately sank as I knew the time and preparation it takes to get ready only to have it ripped away more than halfway through. Shes in good spirits and is already talking about settling the score next year, and I will be following her journey when she goes back to conquer for sure. While we were getting our massages Chuck asked how fast I was going to run, and suggested we run together.  I slyly told him that I would run however fast I needed to to make up the 49 minutes I was behind, which really was my plan.  

Less than a minute out of 2nd, and 49 minutes out of first after 2 days.

Less than a minute out of 2nd, and 49 minutes out of first after 2 days.

a little overly emotional at the finish.

a little overly emotional at the finish.

When Inaki came across the line the standings changed again and I was back in 3rd place by 56 seconds, but now 49 minutes behind Chuck. I was still super pumped because 56 seconds could easily be made up over 52.4 miles of running, and while it would take some work so could 49 minutes.   I can't stress enough how important a good crew is.  Erica and the rest of my crew had done an amazing job keeping me hydrated well fed, and on course and I weighed in only .3 lbs less than the prior day.  I finished the day with plenty of energy and knew exactly what needed to be done to walk away with the win.  I am fortunate to have such a loving wife that understands my craziness and will even sign up for journeys like this with me.  We said our goodbyes and packed the car for the 1 hr drive back to Orlando.  I forced myself to eat anything I could get down as I needed to start fueling for a long run in the morning.  I stalked the Ultraman Florida facebook page for updates on the way home and once we made it back to make sure everyone made the cutoffs and there were no more crashes. I got my daily dose of Enduropacks and Forte and I was happy to see that everyone else made it and I continued my prep for day 3.  I learned two things today,  how to pee on my bike, and that Florida actually has hills.

Part 3 can be found here

Interesting Stats:

Calorie Intake: Roughly 3300, 

Calorie expenditure: 4891 (probably off due to 3 hours of 1/2 power output)

The Water Has Eyes...Ultraman Florida Race Report Part 1 /Pre-Race/ Race Day

Since Florida was a 3 day race I will be breaking my race report down in to 3 separate days which means that this report is probably going to have a little more detail, and be a little longer than my normal long reports. Enjoy! 

  

Wednesday, Feb 19th

With all the training in the bank I headed down with my wife on an early flight to Orlando.  I figured the early flight would allow us to check in and register for the race, get the bike inspections done, and do any necessary shopping for the week and leave us some time to relax before the real hectic schedule started on Thursday.  Our day started at 3:30 am and we didn't get to really relax until after 6pm once we were unpacked and all pre race chores were taken care of.  Upon arrival for check in at the hotel we had been notified that our shipment of Forte Gelato arrived just in time for dinner.   I was able to hand out gelato to some of the other athletes in close proximity to my condo which was a good way to get to know some of them, and who doesn't love awesome great tasting gelato?  We settled in for the night, had breakfast for dinner and gelato for dessert.

Thursday, Feb 20th 

Thursday Morning Pre-Race Meeting

Thursday Morning Pre-Race Meeting

We started out Thursday morning with a pre race breakfast and a LONG meeting.  At the breakfast we had a chance to mingle with the other athletes and their crews, and then after everyone was well fed we went over the courses in meticulous detail.  Once the courses were explained we got together for the obligatory pre race pics!

32 Athletes, 10 countries, 1 Goal

32 Athletes, 10 countries, 1 Goal

Team Forte Minus 1

Team Forte Minus 1

After the meetings and pictures I went out for a quick bike ride to see how my new bike was going to handle outside.  Yes I said NEW bike, I decided the week before the race that I was going to do the race on a brand new bike that I had never ridden outside and just bought AFTER my final long ride.  I made the decision after watching videos of me on both bikes and how much more comfortable the fit and power came to me on the new bike.  I went for a few laps up and down universal blvd and called it a day once I was comfortable with the handling and turning radius.  With everything in working order and everyone debriefed we packed the car and settled in for an early night and of course finished the night off with some Forte gelato.

Friday, February 21st

We got to the swim venue with about an hour to before the swim start.  The nerves and energy were high, and I was ready to get this race started.  I had spent the last 7 weeks with a pretty strict training regiment and I was all tapered down and ready to go.  The nice thing about the small field is that you can research your competition without it being too time consuming.  

I knew coming in to the race my biggest competition was going to be Chuck Kemeny, a super strong ultra athlete and Inaki De La Parra, who had won Ultraman UK.   I knew Chuck was a stud swimmer so I figured he would be out of the water first, but I thought I would be pretty close to Inaki coming out of the water because from what I could tell from my research we had pretty similar swimming abilities.  With about 25 minutes to go until race start they gathered us and had us take some start line photos, as well as a group prayer and the national anthem.  By the time all was said and done we had about 5-7 minutes to get ready get in the water and GO!

Everyone ready to go!

Everyone ready to go!

Game Face on and ready to go.

Game Face on and ready to go.

Swim 10k(6.2 Miles) Target 2:45, Actual 2:57

They sent the Kayakers out a few minutes ahead of us and I sent mine out with an extra pair of goggles a bottle of EFS and a EFS liquid gel flask which was about 600 calories, which I thought would be more than enough to sustain me for my target time of 2:45, but certainly enough if I went over for any reason.  I started right next to Chuck so I could keep my eye on him, but he quickly took off into the sunset and I had no plans on chasing him and blowing up my race so early.

       I quickly found my Kayaker, Bob, who I have known for years from the local running scene in CT.  Since he lives not too far away in Sarasota he graciously offered to come up and Kayak for me which was very much appreciated, thanks Bob!  The first few hundred yards were a mess with all the swimmers and kayaks jockeying for position and I had one kayak run in to me more than once.  Frustrated,  I sped up to get out of the way and I set my sights on the first buoy and just settled in to a rhythm making sure to take in nutrition every 25 minutes or so.  At my first nutrition stop Bob told me that we were the 4th Kayak, I could see #3 but 1&2 were way ahead. I determined that my new sighting strategy would be to use kayak #3 to sight off of since they seemed to be keeping their swimmer in a pretty good straight line.  

I felt really strong in the water, but 6.2 miles is a very long way to swim in a lake you have no idea about.  As the swim went along every once in awhile I could have sworn I saw the beady eyes of a gator staring me down, but I just kept moving and targeting the red kayak. The water was as smooth as glass and once we hit the bridge, which was about 5k in, it was really cool to hear all the cheers coming from the land crews and whatever spectators had come out to watch. I once again got a little freaked out as the lake got very shallow, and there was plenty of "lake grass" within reach.  

A strange thing happened as soon as we crossed that bridge though.  All of the sudden it was like my stroke had no power and I was no longer gliding along.  Bob who had been so good at being close enough to me that I could always see him, was seeming drifting away and the smooth as glass lake had started to get choppy.  I kept using the red kayak to sight off of and kept my feeding intervals, but it started to get more difficult.  This peacefully calm lake had suddenly turned in to a ocean-like body of water, with waves and a nasty current but without the extra buoyancy.  The one highlight of this section was when the photography crew came by and took some shots of us swimming, but I couldn't help but think in my head that the last thing we needed at that point was extra waves from boats.

fighting the current

fighting the current

I remember thinking that once I hit the next buoy that the current should subside and that it would be nice to be able to ride it back to the bridge, but for some reason it felt like it was just as strong, if not stronger in that section.  The battle against the current seemed like forever 

As we hit the last buoy to turn back towards the bridge I noticed that Bob was still having a hard time controlling the kayak and now he was running in to me while I was swimming. He finally started to stay a little further away from me until we got to the bridge so that I could focus on swimming in as straight a line as possible to get me home.  Throughout the swim I kept seeing the beady eyes watching me, and quite honestly I'm not sure if I was just hallucinating or if they were actually there, either way the lake grass under the bridge was a nice sight to see as I looked at my watch and saw that I was 5.5 miles in and very close to being doing with my first Ultraman swim.  

It was right here that I made my first rookie mistake.  I was about 2:15 in to the swim and I should have taken in more calories, but I neglected to and kept trucking on as I thought I had maybe 15 minutes of swimming left.  My brain must have been water logged as I started to fade and I couldn't figure out why I was suddenly losing momentum.  I fell from the 4th position back to 6th, and that last stretch of swimming seems like it lasted forever.  My stroke was labored and my shoulders were majorly fatigued, but I was almost done.  I just swam what was clocked as 6.5 miles on my Garmin, so of course I was going to be tired, but I could smell the finish and I wanted my first Ultraman swim to be under 3 hours, so I pushed until I finally hit the ground.  I came out in about 2:57 and headed out towards my bike, glad to be away from the lake that had been staring at me for the last 3 hours unharmed by marine life

Erica had everything laid out just like I told her which was a big help considering bikes were not allowed in to transition until we were well in the water. My nutrition that I asked for was waiting for me and she took care of my bike while another athletes crew member, Nat, who is another CT local who was down there, helped me strip off my HUUB wet suit.  I think my transition was under 3 minutes and I was off and riding, which is faster than some of my times at much shorter races!

Bike 93 Miles

Erica told me that the top guy had just gone through mile 10 when I was getting on my bike, and my thoughts were, holy crap how fast did he swim?  And then my mind immediately switched to predator mode.  It was time to go to work!   I knew I had faded to 6th, but what I didn't realize is that I passed the 5th place athlete, Brian, in transition.  As I headed out on the course I caught up to the 4th Place athlete, and 1st place women Julie, who was caught at the first light.  

As I attacked the first 10 miles of the course I was hunting for the 3rd place athlete and I finally tracked him down at the first out and back heading the other way.  I got caught at the light before the turn around, and almost got caught on the way back as well but timed it and I sprinted past the light just making it through as it was turning yellow.  One of the unique things about Ultraman is that you are required to stop at all traffic lights and stop signs, which can either help you if you are being chased, and lights are in your favor, or hurt you if you are chasing, and you are getting stuck.  Unfortunately for me for most of the day I kept getting stuck at lights.  

On a mission!

On a mission!

Throughout the first half of the bike I kept getting splits from the course officials that I was 3 minutes back from the next athlete but every time I got a split I ended up getting stuck at another light which started getting quite frustrating. I could see his crew so I knew he was still close but I had yet to see him since the out and back section. Once I finally got out of the busy "city" section and out on the course where there were minimal lights I started to make my gains and I started to feel really strong.  About halfway through the bike I could finally see the back of the athlete who I was chasing all day, Adam, and locked in.  As I passed him I shouted some words of encouragement and asked him where the guy in second place was, to which he replied "I have no idea".

Shortly before taking over 3rd place

Shortly before taking over 3rd place

I was hoping his crew was keeping tabs on how close he was to the next guy but that didnt seem to be the case. Erica had been an absolute rock star meeting up with me at the scheduled points and had become a pro at hand offs.  I continued to make sure I was fueling myself every 15 minutes and kept my planned nutrition on track.  I had more than enough nutrition on me so next time Erica asked what I needed I told her to go find 2nd place.  We were on a long straight stretch of highway with a pretty nasty headwind and she saw me battling to stay in a straight line so she didn't like the idea too much.

The next time I saw her I asked if she found him, or saw his crew, but she said she didn't and they were too far ahead.  From that point on I just continued to push on trying to close the gap as much as possible.  That being said it was a pretty lonely day on the bike, besides seeing Julie and Adam for a few seconds here and there I had not seen any other cyclists.  There were some stretches that were so lonely I wasn't even sure I was still on course, but there had been nowhere to turn off so I knew I had to be on track.   

The course itself was pretty rolling with some flat areas. While flat can be fast, it also means peddling all day with no breaks, and when there is wind there is no hills to break it up. Unfortunately for us we had a strong headwind for most of the ride and since it was one way to Cocoa beach we never really got a tail wind which made for some pretty challenging conditions. 

At one point we made a left hand turn on to a remote country road which seemed to last forever.  The pavement was nice and smooth, but the wind was still gusting and it felt like this road would just never end!  When I finally came to the end of the never ending road I was told I had a little more than 2 miles to go.  I made the final turn and I just hammered my way all the way to the finish making sure I got every second possible I could.  After it was all said and done I crossed the line in 3rd place roughly 37 minutes out of first, 33 minutes out of 2nd. and 13 minutes ahead of 4th.  

Once across the line I got my daily medical stats taken, as well as my massage, and started to fuel for day 2.  I ended the day spent, and super proud of Erica and the crew for guiding me through the day without any major issues.  As hard as it was to eat, I knew I had to force my food down and after downing my recovery drink, applying my enduropacks amino acid patch, and putting on my compression socks I was good as new.  We headed back for the long 90 mile drive back to our home base in Orlando, since we opted no to stay in Cocoa Beach, where day 2 would eventually start. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 which you can find here

its a good hurt.

its a good hurt.


Worked my way into 3rd place by the end of Day 1!

Worked my way into 3rd place by the end of Day 1!

10 Reasons I am Racing Ultraman Florida

With 30 days to go until my first race of the year and my most challenging race to date I figured I would share the top 10 reasons that I am attempting the ultraman distance next month. 

10.  It's Unique.  With about 7.2 Billion people in the world and millions having run at least one marathon and probably close to 1 million having completed an Iron distance race there is something special about ultraman.  Only 481 people have completed an ultraman 385 of them completed the ultraman world championships in Hawaii, 138 have completed ultraman Canada, and 22 have completed ultraman UK, which is no longer in existence.  42 of those athletes have completed both Hawaii and Canada and only 4 have completed all 3 of them.   The Florida race is new this year and it's 320 miles of racing will be sure to provide me with a challenge.

9.  It's Invitation Only:  Yes that means that you actually have to apply and be invited to participate.  With most races all you have to do is pay the entry fee and you are good to go.  With ultraman you have to submit and endurance race resume and the race director and their committee decide whether or not you are qualified.  That not only adds to the uniqueness but it ensures some pretty stiff competition as well.  This years race includes a past ultraman UK champion as well as some other strong ultra athletes, so it's likely to be a good race for the title.

8.  I finally got invited!  I've had this race distance on my radar since late 2007 and have even applied and been rejected more than once in that time span.  In a way I'm thankful that I haven't been accepted up until this point because I have had a lot of time mentally and physically to mature as an athlete.  I have no doubt that the extra racing experience over the last 7 years will help me immensely as I take on my ultraman journey. 

7.  It's an early season race:  While some of the winter training has been a little challenging I have been able to hit most of my sessions without issues.  A great benefit of the long training is that it will build a great base for 2014 summer racing, and should set me up for a great season.  Being properly trained for the race I don't believe race recovery should not eat in to my prep for summer and my goal of getting on Team USA once again for the 2015 world championships in Chicago. 

6. I enjoy the training:  while some days are obnoxiously long with 7 and 8 hour bike rides and 3 hour long swims and runs,  most of the training is "normal".  Getting to the start line has certainly been, and will be a process but so far it's been an enjoyable journey.  Don't get me wrong, I sometimes get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of some workouts, but the powerful feeling I get after overcoming those long distance sessions is second to none. For example I absolutely loathed my planned 10,000 yard swim this past Monday, I wanted to quit 2,000 yards in to it, halfway in to it I started thinking it wasn't that bad, and when I finished 10,000 I felt like I could go to 15! it's sessions like these that will make that finish line a beautiful sight. Plus after riding your bike for 7 hours you can justify eating pretty much anything without any guilt! 

5. It's a team effort:  Your success in this race is as much about your physical and mental preparation and training as well as your support crew.  You need to make sure your crew is well educated on what you want, what you may need, and what you absolutely need in advance of the race.  They are there to keep you on pace when you should be going faster, to slow you down when you are going to fast, and just make sure to keep you on your game overall.  They say to pick your crew wisely and for good reason.  There is no one I would rather have heading my crew team than my wife, sometimes I think she knows me better than I know myself.  

4. Strong Community:  The Ultraman races are based on the guiding principles of “aloha” (love), ”ohana” (family), and “kokua” (help).  I have asked questions of many former participants and many athletes competing against me and they were all very forthcoming in their willingness to help out.  From the research I've done and the stories I've read it's very common and you just don't get that anywhere else. 

3. Vacation: I get to go somewhere warm, and get a break from the winter here in the Northeast.  As much as I enjoy the change of seasons and running in the cooler temps it's always nice to get a little break midway through the winter.  By the time I get back from racing it will be close to March and the spring weather will be on it's way.  Not only that, I get to spend some time after the race with my Mom who lives pretty close to the venue, since I don't get to see her that often that is a huge plus. 

2. Front row seat for support crew:  After spending countless hours on the sidelines supporting me and never really knowing what goes on during one of these races, I'm happy to have my wife be able to experience it first hand.  Since the crew is following you around ALL day, and is responsible for your well being and support they get to see how and when the action happens.  No wondering how I am feeling, what place I am in, and where I am.  They get to experience it all first hand, which might not necessarily be a good thing, but another unique aspect of the race. 

1.  It scares me:   I will admit this is probably my number one reason for doing this race.  I have done roughly 177 endurance races which include 4 Ironman triathlons and a 50 mile trail run, but I have never raced something of this magnitude.  I like to be challenged and this race is certainly putting me out of my comfort zone, but not so much that I don't believe I can complete it.  I have total confidence that not only will I finish, but probably do quite well in the process.  The level of competition has elevated my training and I am going in to my last 30 days feeling stronger and more ready to compete than I ever have.  I'm up for the challenge and I can't wait to experience my ultraman journey! 

Winter Night Running Tips

With the shorter days ahead after turning back the clocks this past weekend if you want to get any mileage after work you are going to be forced to get it done either in the dark or in the gym.  Here are some tips to keep your runs safe and enjoyable!

1. Dress in bright reflective colors and dress appropriately.

You want to be as visible as possible so pick out the brightest clothing you have and possibly a reflective vest or any other reflective items you may have.  You should check the weather before and make sure you are dressed warm enough.  It's possible in the winter that the temperature will drop drastically over the course of your run and if not dressed warm enough you could end up uncomfortable and a long way from home!

Skora has recently come out with the PHASE X which can further increase your visibility during the night runs. In addition you should be sporting a headlight so that you can see in some of more poorly lit areas of your run and bring more attention to your presence Petzl makes a decent headlight that I have used for the last several years without any issues.  

reflective-running-gear.jpg

2. If possible run in well lit public areas.

Even though you might be dressed in reflective gear alerting your presence to cars you want to be as visible as possible and running routes that are well lit only helps.  Running in well lit public areas is also safer than running on poorly lit desolate roads.  

3.  Run familiar routes

Running at night can be tricky and while you may do your best to run in well lit areas, you might have to run thorough some areas during the course of your run that are as not well lit.  If you are on a route that you routinely run you are more likely to know where the dangerous areas and the pitfalls are vs. a completely new route.

 

images.jpg

4. Run Without Music.

Since you are already running with less visibility you need to be able to rely on your other senses to alert you to any potential dangers.  Leaving the music at home allows you to be alert to your surroundings and react to any potential issues that may come up quickly.

5.  Run against traffic

You want to see exactly what is going on in front of you.  With more and more distracted drivers these days you want to be able to jump our of the way of an oncoming car if need be.  You won't be able to do that if it's coming from behind and you can't see it.  Defensive running is what will keep you safe!

6. Run with partners

Running with a training partner can increase the safety factor for both of you.  Two or more bodies in reflective clothing will reflect more light to oncoming traffic as well as decrease the likely-hood of unexpected problems.

While not an exhaustive list these tips should get you started to have a great outdoor running season this winter. What tips can you share from your experiences? 

Keep Calm and Carry on.. ITU World Championships Race Reports

Coming in to these races I was feeling as good as I had all year, I had finally bounced back from the crazy racing I did in June and I was primed and ready to race on the world stage in London.  I had been training hard since late last year and I was ready to show off my gains.  The taper week was super hard this time around as I was starving all the time but I made sure to keep away from the extra calories and I weighed in at 166 right before I left which was the lightest I have been since I was 13 years old!   

 

Once Landing in London I got my first dose of reality when I had to fit myself, my fiance, my bike, and all of our belongings in a 150 sq ft room, that was including the bathroom!  The rooms in London were all small so it was a matter of just dealing with it and making the best of things.  Building a bike in such a small space is certainly interesting!  

The outside of the hotel, notice the cloud cover, that never really went away!

The outside of the hotel, notice the cloud cover, that never really went away!

After spending the day getting acclimated to the new surroundings and trying out what a full English consisted of we were ready to go to the opening ceremony in Trafalger square, which was supposed to start at 8pm.  I got an email from Team USA that the team picture was to be taking place at 6:30pm, but since we hadn't really eaten anything we decided we would go and just be there for the start and I would miss the team picture.  After all there was 650 athletes, and you can barely see the ones that are in the picture!  I have yet to be in one of these pictures, but maybe one year I will finally make it!

Full English, No Toast for me though!

Full English, No Toast for me though!

While we had intentions of making it to the ceremony on time, we ended up getting lost AND caught in the rain and arrived just as the ceremony seemed to be finishing.  Most of the Team USA members were leaving as we got there as it seemed they did not want to be wet and cold anymore.  Since everyone was leaving we left and found a nice Thai restaurant up the road and we ate dinner before heading back to our tiny hotel room and calling it a night. 

After a quick bike and run session on Thursday morning it was time to hand in my bike.  While racking your bike they also check your uniform as well as your helmet to make sure everything is legal and ready to go for the morning.  We had an hour time slot to rack and I got to the transition area right smack in the middle.  They wrote me up for having a 2 piece suit, as the ITU wants us to race in one piece uniforms, but it had no impact on my race since the US is one of the few countries that allow 2 piece uniforms. 

Waiting in line to be checked in

Waiting in line to be checked in

After dropping off the bike, we headed out to do some sightseeing on the Barclay bikes which were fun and a nice break from walking everywhere.  They didnt take much energy to ride and they were a quick means of transport.  We got some sights in and headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

Best way to get around London!

Best way to get around London!

While our first dinner experience was wonderful and had us wondering why everyone told us the food in London was pretty terrible, the second night we found out why.  We walked up to a little Italian restaurant in Notting hill about 1/2 mile from our hotel that advertised gluten free pasta.  While the night before we had ok service and great food, this was terrible service and terrible food.  It was definitely the worst meal we had on the trip.  We made the best of it though and headed back to the hotel to rest up for the morning.  It was hard to sleep as we were still on US time and hadn't quite acclimated yet.  I don't think I got more than 5 hours of sleep before having to wake up to get ready.

Race morning #1 came quickly and I was excited to get out on the course as I was feeling good.  The forecast called for temperatures in the 60's with a 30% chance of rain. Since we got caught in a storm with a 0% chance of rain we figured that meant that it was going to rain, and it did, just like every other day we were there!  It was a soggy walk to transition which was a little over a mile but it was humid and the air temp was comfortable, which made getting there a breeze.  

As I was setting up my transition area we were notified that the only thing that would be allowed in transition would be shoes, no towels, no bags, just shoes!  While this made for a clean and easy setup I am used to having my bright green mat in front of my bike to help me identify where it is.  As I was leaving I realized I left my bike bottle with Erica and I only had about 5 minutes to find her and pop the bottle in my bike before they closed transition.  I found her at the last minute, grabbed the bottle, ran in and ran out just in time!

Cutting it close!

Cutting it close!

After transition closed I still had about 45 minutes until my wave start so I did a quick warmup and hit the portolets one last time before suiting up.  Since it was hot I left my wetsuit top off until the last minute as we had to be in the corral about 20 minutes before our start. 

Waiting patiently for the start

Waiting patiently for the start

Swim:  .5 Mile 12:17 (12:12 Garmin) 1:21/100 yd

I was excited for my first pontoon start, they sent us down the line and had us all sit on the number and then get in 90 seconds before our wave.  The water was a little under 60 degrees which isn't terrible once you get moving, but sitting there can get a little cold.  Before I knew it they blew the horn and we were off, I started out trying to go with the main pack but I got dropped quite quickly, most of those guys are swimming in the 9 minute range, and I am usually about 3 minutes behind. However it's a world championship so there is no better time to test your limits!  After losing the pack I seemed to have pretty clean water and another big pack in front of me that allowed me to swim at a comfortable pace and I thought I was moving pretty well.  The course was super easy to sight and there was limited congestion at the turns so when I came out of the water in 12:17 I was a little disappointed.  I thought I had done well by sticking with the group I was in, but according to Erica there was 34 people out of the water before me, and that was only half of my age group since we got split in 2!

Out of the swim and in to T1!

Out of the swim and in to T1!

T1: 3:39 (3:42 Garmin):

Coming out of the water we had a long way to go, we had to run to the transition area, and then around it to our bike.  This added another .37 miles to the race for each transition.  I decided to run in my wetsuit and take it off when I got to my bike.  Stripped down and was on my way to make up the time I lost on the swim.

Headed out ready to rumble!

Headed out ready to rumble!

Bike: 34:29 (Garmin 34:29) 24.3 MPH:

I knew the bike was going to be a challenge on the walk over because the roads were going to be slick and with 3 laps around the park there were some very tight and technical turns.  My strategy was to take the turns easy to stay upright and power out of them as they were followed by long straightaways where you could maximize your speed.  Some people simply do not know how to ride when its wet, which was solidified when Erica saw 23 bike crashes in the one spot that she was standing in!  Fortunately I was able to keep myself upright for the 15 miles, and pick up some spots along the way! I was lucky to have another guy from the US team in close proximity and we were able to keep leap frogging and pushing each other until we got back to T2.  I came off the bike a little slower than I wanted to, but given the road conditions and the technical nature of the course I am happy with my ride.  I came in to T2 ready to run feeling great. 

T2: 2:44(Garmin 2.43) .37mi:

Again we had to run all the way around the transition area with our bikes before being allowed to go to the racks, this made for some long t2 times!

Run: 17:42 (17:44 Garmin) 5:42min/Mile

I came off the bike and started to push! I was running with the guy that I was biking with and I asked him what he planned to run, when he said 17 I knew I wasn't going to stay with him, but I sure was going to try.  He broke away from me after a minute or two and I sat on his draft as long as I could.  Soon he was up the road and I was on my own, but that did not stop me from continuing to run down other racers.  I kept moving and was surprised to see that my first mile was under 6 min given how "comfortable" I felt.  I continued to push as I knew I only had a little over 12 minutes left to go. At the aid station I went to grab a cup of water from the volunteer and he pretended to give it to me and pulled it from my hand at the last second, I could hardly believe that someone would be so rude.  I just kept moving forward and tried not to let it effect me, but clearly he had a family member racing or had something against the US.  Besides the volunteer debacle, there were some slippery areas to contend with in the rain but for the most part the footing was solid and allowed me to continue to run hard.  As I approached the final stretch I grabbed my USA flag from Tim Yount and headed towards the finish line with a new Triathlon 5k PR of 17:45 and in 34th place in the World in my age group.  I took it all in went to find Erica and went to grab some lunch. 

Finish: 1:10:49 34 Age Group/ 219 Overall

 

Saturday was a nice break since I'm used to having to go back to back days when I race twice in a weekend so not having to get up and getting some extra rest was welcomed.  I slept until my body told me it was time to get up and hit the road for a little opener on the bike to keep the legs fresh and primed for Sundays race. I felt great looping around the park and I was just about done when I noticed my front end felt funny.  Suddenly I noticed the tire was going flat.  I looked a little closer and I saw a huge shard of glass in the tire. Unfortunately for me this happened about 65 minutes before I had to rack my bike for Sundays race and it was a 20 minute walk to transition!  

At first I was calm as I was happy it had happened on my training ride and not the race, but once we got down to the expo and talking with the bike support they didn't have any tubular tires, patch kits or any way to fix it.  Now it's partially my fault for not traveling with any of that stuff, but I would expect the main bike shop to come prepared to a world championship event, with more than 8500 competitors over the 5 days.   Apparently I wasn't the only one who this happened to because he knew exactly where to send me to fix it.  The problem was I didn't have the time to get there!  

I went frantically searching the rest of the expo for anything that I would be able to fix it with.  I finally ended up at the specialized booth and after some begging and pleading got them to feel sorry enough to lend me a front wheel to race on as they did not have the ability to fix the tire for me either. We swapped wheels and I went from an 800mm front wheel to a Zipp 101, but I was willing to take anything at that point. Big thumbs up to specialized for helping me out, even though I showed up at their booth with a Kestrel!

Specialized Saving the day!

Specialized Saving the day!

So with the front tire debacle out of the way I racked my bike and headed back to the hotel. We found OTTO a place with gluten free pizza not to far from the hotel so we decided to check it out. It turns out that they have one of the best gluten free pizzas we have ever had, the real slices apparently are very good as well as we brought friends with us back the next night after the race.  In fact it was so good that we ate there every night for the rest of the trip! If you are ever in London you must check this place out! After that we headed back to the hotel and called it a night. 

2 Pizzas= Great race performance!

2 Pizzas= Great race performance!

Race Morning came quickly and I was feeling the best I had all week.  I looked at the temperature and I was surprised to see that it was 38 degrees!  I couldn't believe that it was so cold.  The last time I was at the world championships was in 2011 for the long course race and they canceled the swim because of the water/air temperature combination.  I was hoping that wouldn't be the case today as I wanted to race a true triathlon world championship.  I bundled up and headed down to the start, I was freezing the whole walk down!

Freezing before my warm up!

Freezing before my warm up!

I got my transition area ready checked my tire pressure and headed out for my warm up, I had roughly the same time to wait as on Friday but it seemed like so much longer because it was cold!  

Trying to keep warm! 

Trying to keep warm! 

While waiting in line for my final bathroom break I overheard someone say they shortened the swim because it was too cold.  I was happy to hear that the swim would be no longer than Friday's swim, which put me at an advantage since I would likely only be 2-3 minutes down out of the water instead of the normal 3-5 at the Olympic distance.  I know that is something I need to focus on for next year for sure!  But for this race I was super stoked, maybe the luck was turning in my favor!

Swim cut in 1/2 due to the air/water temperature combination.  Score for the non swimmer!

Swim cut in 1/2 due to the air/water temperature combination.  Score for the non swimmer!

Time to get in to the coral came quickly and I was one of the last in my wave to get to the start line.   While I opted to keep my wetsuit down on Friday to keep me cool, I opted to get in my full wetsuit as early as possible to keep me warm!  The ground was uncomfortably cold and  after waiting on the metal bridge to the pontoon many of us  could not feel our feet! 

A new 1/2 mile swim PR at worlds!

A new 1/2 mile swim PR at worlds!

Swim: .5 Mile 11:53 (11:49 Garmin) 1:18/ 100y

I was used to the pontoon from Friday but I was a little bit colder.  When they gave us the signal to put our feet in the water my teeth immediately started to chatter.  I was hoping to get in the water as soon as possible because the water was warmer than the air temperature at that point and I knew it would warm me up.  Once in the water I calmed myself down and got ready for the start.  I made the decision to wait a few seconds and let everyone go before starting myself.  This gave me clean water and allowed me to avoid an immediate heart rate spike in cold water.  As I eased in to my pace I started to pick people off left and right and increase my position.  I continued to pass people throughout the swim and unlike Friday when I got stuck behind the group I was constantly bridging to a new swimmer or group and getting stronger along the way.  I was super happy when I came out of the water in 11:53 almost 30 seconds faster than the same exact course on Friday!  My HUUB has done me well this year, hopefully next year I will be able to return the favor!

T1: 4:04 (4:08 Garmin) .37

I was so excited about my new swim PR that I had a brain fart on my way to transition, most people I talked to that raced Friday and had super fast transitions took their wetsuits off before making the run to transition.  I contemplated doing that the night before, but still made a game day decision. Unfortunately I was so unsure that I slowed down thinking about what I was actually going to do, and it cost me the hard earned :30 seconds I gained on the swim as my t1 was 30 seconds slower than Friday!

Riding my way up the field!

Riding my way up the field!

Bike: 1:03:24 (1:03:22 Garmin) 23.5 MPH

I knew I was going to have to work harder because of the shallower wheel, but this is the world championships, and I was prepared to race my hardest.  I came out of T1 on a mission and ready to ride.  I immediately started to pass and noticed my legs felt great and I knew it was going to be a good day.  I was riding strong and my wattage showed it, as it was continuously increasing up to the point I was at 4.26 watt/kg and holding!  That by far is my strongest showing on the bike all year, and there wasn't a better time for it.  While the bike course still had some tight turns it was turning out to a pretty fast course.  It was amazing being able to ride through the wellington arch to the mall and seeing Buckingham palace in the distance only to pass it on our way to Big Ben and parliament before heading through some tunnels on the way back to Hyde Park.  This was definitely one of the most beautiful bike courses I have ever ridden, and of course the history is unmatched.  While the race is not draft legal the course was extremely crowded and there were quite a few drafting packs out there.  As we headed back in to the park the first time I overheard a spectator yell at the Aussies "Hey Australia it's a not a drafting race", turns out he was right on my tail sucking my wheel.  

I had been going back and forth with this one rider for awhile and I couldn't seem to drop him, well of course I couldn't drop him I was doing all the work for him!  It seemed the officials were being really lenient and allowing a pretty hefty draft zone.  I didn't see many getting dinged for penalties, but I did hear of a few that did. The portion of the bike course inside the park slowed us up quite a bit with all the speed bumps and tight turns.  The park had also gotten really crowded the second time around with people from other waves starting to get on the course following their swim legs.  I just couldn't wait to get back out of the park again, since the fastest part of the course was calling me, and the elevated competition was making me ride harder and faster than I ever had in a triathlon! I was still sitting right around 4.26 w/kg and averaging over 25 mph. We passed through the arch and the palace again and I was moving I was on track for my second sub 60 minute 40k in a triathlon, and then somewhere along the stretch on the way from Buckingham Palace to Big Ben my rear tire went flat!  At first I didn't notice, but there is a sharp 180 degree turn once you hit Big Ben and I felt how flimsy my tire was as it almost rolled off my disc wheel.  

My feelings of joy and euphoria quickly went to darkness and despair,  how could this be happening to me?  I was in the best shape of my life, having the best race of my life, and my race was suddenly over. I had close to 10 miles left before I got off the bike, there was no race day support and I had no spare.  At this point I know most people would have dropped out, but i didn't fly half way across the world to quit.  Even though I knew I wouldn't be racing for a medal as the top US guys in my age group were capable of swimming and running much faster than me this year, I still wanted to be able to put out the best time I could.  I tried to keep the negativity out of my head and just pushed forward.  My speed dropped from over 25 to closer to 20, and my wattage dropped by over 40 as the rear wheel just wasn't rolling smoothly anymore.  I lost the group that was pushing me to ride hard and I suddenly was getting passed, a lot!  

Even though I was still riding as hard as I could I had to take the corners super EASY as to not fall off the bike,  I was fortunate since it wasn't raining and I was able to be cautious on the numerous tight and sharp turns that remained on the course.  Don't get me wrong I was still distraught, I spent lots of time just screaming profanities at the air, but I was trying to keep calm as I knew I could still finish.  I think on of the race officials might have thought I tourettes as I would randomly scream obscenities and just keep riding.  At one point I got passed by a woman from the US in the 65-69 division who was riding really strong, but I could not believe that I was getting pummeled in the one area of the race that I consider my strength.   

I have never wanted to be off a bike so bad! Riding it in for the last few miles with a limp tire was torture as I just wanted to be done.  Looking at the results of guys I usually have similar bike splits at other races and the pace I was on prior to flatting my guess is that the flat tire cost me about 4 minutes but there are no astericks next to race results so my time is my time.  I could not have been happier to see the entrance to hyde park and head on in to transition.  I ran around the loop put my bike up and headed out for a run.

 

T2: 2:50 (Garmin 2:49) .37 Mi:

Really uneventful, just got my shoes on and mentally prepared for 6.2 miles of suffering

Running Angry!

Running Angry!

Run: 37:54 (Garmin 37:55) 6:06min/mi:

I started off running and I surprisingly felt good considering I had to push extra hard to maintain my speed with the bike.  My best stand alone 10k had been 36:51 and I wanted to get as close to that number as possible.  When I hit the first mile at 6:00 and still felt good I knew I would be able to maintain or stay close to maintaining that pace for the duration of the race.  

I might not have been running that fast, but I was running by throngs of people.  I was also surprised at how many USA fans there were on the course.  I have never had as much encouragement in any race I have ever done.  It was great hearing go USA or go Logan every couple of minutes.  That coupled with people I actually knew cheering me on made for a great run.  

The run course was 3 loops of roughly 2 miles a piece, it was mostly flat with one "hill" on the back side of the park that we ran 3 times. I got passed a few times on the run, but not many, and I kept a nice steady pace throughout.  I struggled a little towards the end with mile 6, but otherwise I kept it nice and steady.  I rounded the final stretch and grabbed the flag and sprinted the final leg on the blue carpet with every last bit of energy I had before collapsing over the line with a new triathlon 10k PR of 37:55.  It took me awhile to get up but I eventually moved into the finish coral for a finish line shot and to meet up with Erica.  I was happy with my performance, but obviously bummed about my flat tire and what might have been.

Final: 2:00:04 67 Age Group/ 371 Overall

Sharing War Stories

Sharing War Stories

Post Race: While I am not happy with the fact that I flatted, I am extremely proud that during the most mentally challenging race of my life, I stayed calm and finished strong given the circumstances I was dealt.  It's not every day you have to deal with flatting both your front and rear tires before the most important race of the year.  I know what I have to work on for next year and I'll be taking my annual break before getting back in to some light training.  Thank you my SPONSORS for all the support all year, and I look forward to making next year and beyond even better.  Of course no race report would be complete without a sincere thank you to my biggest fan and supporter my Fiance Erica, without you this would not all be possible! 

2013 USA Triathlon National Championships Race Report

Going in to these races I was pretty worked.  I have been training hard for London and had no intention of tapering for them, but instead just racing through them and using them as part of my build for the championships.  I was so worked that I couldn't get through my bike interval session on Tuesday which left me with an uneasy feeling going in to the weekend.  That wasn't helped by the fact that I found out Wednesday afternoon I wasn't going to have the bike box I reserved when I had a 7 am flight the next day!  I am lucky enough to have a large enough network that I was able to find a box pretty quickly but that doesn't mean I wasn't stressed to the max worrying about it until my bike was packed and ready to go.  Other than that travel went quite smoothly so I will spare you the details and just hop into the race.

Swim: 23:51 1:27/100yd 617/2677

I noticed while waiting for some of the other waves to go off that Tim Yount was shouting out the top athletes in each wave as they were headed in to the water.  I told Erica that I was hoping he would call my name but when he actually did it lit a little bit of an extra fire under me. I was humbled to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the other guys since I had been racing and chasing them for years.  You get to know your competition by name even if not by face racing against the same guys year after year.  Shortly after I heard my name being announced I hopped in the water for a quick swim warm up.  

IMG_0017.JPG

After swimming the course on Friday I determined I was going to start way left and then swim diagonally to the first buoy to minimize the beating I would take by starting in the middle of the pack.  I figured I would be able to latch on to the group once we hit the buoy and headed under the bridge.  I seemed to have calculated it correct as I merged with the group and headed to under the bridge. The group must have picked up their speed because I lost them shortly after that.  I kept sight of them however, and pushed to keep pace.  

I was actually surprised that I had so much clean water to swim in after that point, with almost 190 swimmers in our wave I thought for sure it would have been super congested, but for the most part I was swimming alone from the bridge to the turn around.   As I eased in more to my swim I started to pass people as I was chasing the pack, I could tell I was not far behind, but I could also tell people were starting to get spit out the back.  I made my way closer and closer to the group which was getting smaller and smaller.  By the time I caught up with the pack again it was time to go back under the bridge.  Once I caught them I ended up swimming with them and then through them up to the finish ramp. I missed the ramp when I stepped down, but there were plenty of volunteers to help you up the steep slippery ramp.  I was a little disappointed when I saw my watch because I thought I swam a bit faster, but a 23:xx still kept me in contention for my Team USA bid.   

T1: 2:24

we had a little bit of a run to transition, but all went well, wet suit off, helmet, socks, and shoes on.  I really need to work on this before London as I see many t1 times about a minute faster than mine.  I'm not a fast enough swimmer to be giving up more time in t1! 

Bike: 59:30 25.1 MPH 121/2677  

Coming on to the bike I'm always on a mission,after doing damage control on the swim, this is where I pick up most of my time on the other athletes.  The one problem I have found with this strategy as I have moved up in the ranks, is that most of the better triathletes that are good swimmers bike and run extremely well also. After settling in I started to go for it.  I wanted to be under an hour for the bike and I knew I was going to have to work for it.  We had a little bit of a headwind on the way out so it took a little while to settle in but I was cranking in no time.   Once I hit the first turn around I was suddenly coasting going 35 mph without much effort. I was trying to keep my power constant, but with the tailwind it proved to be a challenge.  

IMG_0049.JPG

There was a nice stretch before we hit the Hoan bridge which proved to be the most challenging climb of the day, which was to be expected. The course was touted as flat but I still got close to 1000 ft of climbing according to my Garmin when it was all said and done.  Since we had a 15 minute break before our wave went off we had a pretty clean course. Coming down the bridge was a little iffy with the crosswinds but I stayed in the bars to maximize my aero position and speed.  The middle of the course was a pretty flat out and back section where I continued to pick up and pass other riders. I ended catching up to and riding the rest of the course legally with 2 other riders as we paced each other all the way back in to T2. I couldn't seem to shake them so we went back and forth for the final 5 miles or so.  I finally pulled away climbing the bridge and kept my lead for the rest of the ride.  I rolled in to T2 in just under an hour, which was my goal.  

T2: 1:00 quick and simple, nice and effective.  This could not have been any faster.

Run: 39:58 6:24 minute/mi 274/2677

I started out on the run feeling pretty good.  I knew had met my bike goal and I was slightly off on my swim, with 1:26 on my watch all I needed to do was run a 34:xx 10k to break 2 hours!  Since I knew that wasn't going to happen I started the run ready to push and see what I was capable of.  By this time I had caught the front of the W25-29 wave that started 12 minutes ahead of us and was looking to see how many 25-29 men I could catch that had a 22 minute lead on us.  Within the first half mile one of the guys I was going back and forth with on the bike Mike Sikorski, passed and dropped me pretty convincingly.  I was hoping my run legs would come around, but he seemed to be floating as he cruised past me at under a 6:00/mi pace.  I was a little disappointed to see only a 6:20 when I crossed mile 1 even though we were running in to a headwind.  I picked it up a little bit after the turn around and I hit mile 2 in 6:11 which would turn out to be my fastest mile of the day.  I have the habit of being too comfortable on my runs in Olympic distance triathlons, so I wanted to make sure I was pushing it.  I kind of faded in to a 6:30 pace for the rest of my run, but I continued to pass other athlete. The only time that I remember being passed was at the beginning of the run by Mike, with the exception of one of the girls that I passed early on the run who had a strong closing mile.

I closed the last .25 mile with a strong 6:07 pace managing to keep myself from throwing up in the process.  I crossed the line happy with my race and thought that I was a definite lock for a Team USA short course spot in Edmonton next year.  Considering I wasn't tapered and I had been working myself pretty hard up until the race I was thrilled.  I talked to Mike a little after and we were sure we both made the team for a 2nd consecutive year.  I was shocked when he told me about 30 minutes later that his 2:04 had only netted him 22 place in our age group.  I wasn't sure how many guys were in between us so I knew that probably kicked me out of contention.  

 

Running through the pain day 1

Running through the pain day 1

Total: 2:06:40  31/183 AG 205/2677 

When I checked my results and saw I was 31st I was a little disappointed.  Even though this was only a B race for me as London is my A race and so close I was still upset.  I wasn't even sure if I was going to go if I qualified but having the option is always nice.  I thought there might be hope with the age up rules, but I figured it was still a long shot.  

We went to the awards ceremony to see if I had in fact made it later that night.  When I finally got to view the roll-down list, I was not in the top 25 and I did not get a slot.  I was 1:38 out of contention!  Fully tapered I should be able to run a 38:xx and ride a bit faster, but I lost a lot of time in T1.  I suspect next year qualifying times are going to be even faster and the race is going to be more competitive since the world championships for 2015 is in Chicago.  When I come back I will be gunning for a Sub 2 finish!

After hoping in the Normatec boots for some recovery and getting back to the room to clean up and shower it didn't leave us a lot of time to eat before heading down to the awards, in fact we didn't get to eat our first real meal of the day until sometime after 6 pm, which surely effected my recovery for the sprint.   

 

IMG_0053.JPG

Race morning Day 2 was more of the same, get down there get out of transition by 7:30 and then wait.  There was no delay this time so I timed my nutrition as if I was going off on time at 9:18.  I don't really take in any nutrition during a sprint race so this is quite important for me.  As we were waiting on the dock to be the next ones in the water I could suddenly tell something was wrong.  People were panicking and the wave before us was told to get out of the water.  They started a search and rescue for a lost swimmer that we were told they could not find.  This went on for about 45 minutes until they finally found the swimmer eating breakfast somewhere.  Apparently he decided he did not want to race after getting in the water for a swim warm up and didn't tell anyone. 

While I was sitting there in my wetsuit waiting for instructions I started to have a slight panic attack.  I didn't really think about it but just sitting in it for close to an hour while waiting definitely made me sweat a bunch.  I pulled down my suit and went for a bathroom break to see if it would help my situation and it certainly seemed to.  After the figured out that the athlete they were looking for wasn't really missing they sent the wave before us back in the water. The problem was that they didn't allow our wave in the water for a proper warm up.  As soon as they sent the wave before us off we started complaining and they finally let us in with about 4 minutes to go.  I ran down the dock with a bunch of other athletes and dove in the water to get used to the water after sitting idle for an hour+ waiting to get called.  Even though I heard it the day before at a much bigger race it still felt good to have Tim Yount shout me out as one of the top athletes in the wave.  That's two days in a row!  It's nice to be recognized by the NGB!   

Swim: 12:38 209/1099

I started off in the same spot as the day before as it seemed to work quite well for me.  As the gun went off I went for it leading the pack from my side.   As I merged into the larger group I started to feel the panic strike again.  I haven't had one since my first race of 2012 so its been a while.  I quickly turned on my back to catch a few breaths and went right back to swimming, as I took a few more strokes I could tell it was not going away.  I pushed on my back once more to try and calm myself and then made my way back to my stomach.  I pushed through and eventually calmed down.  I eased back in and started to make some headway and pass some of the people that had swam by me while I was busy panicking, but the damage had been done.  I came out of the water swimming a slower pace than I had for twice the distance the day before.

IMG_0074.JPG

T1: 2:14 429/1099  A little faster than yesterday, but still slower than I would have liked!

Bike: 31:07 24 Mph 47/1099

I got on the bike upset with my swim and upset that I had a panic attack.  I immediately started to take it out on my bike. I was punishing my legs with an all out effort that saw me close in on the 400 watt range more than a few times.  I knew the bike was going to be a lot harder than the day before as we had to go over the bridge back to back which left little time for recovery.  I passed a lot on the bike and kept moving forward I could tell I was getting close to the front of my wave by the time we turned around on the bridge so I turned up the heat.  

As soon as we turned around it was like riding in to a wind tunnel, the headwinds coming at us made the climb back over the bridge extra difficult but I powered on as best I could.  I finally made it off the bike in about 31 minutes, which was slower than I had planned, but still having one of the top bike splits.   

IMG_0077.JPG

T2: 0:59 88/1099:

Almost exactly the same as yesterday.  Score! 

IMG_0089.JPG

Run: 19:45: 6:21 min/mile 148/1099

Coming off the bike I felt TERRIBLE.  I was pushing with everything I had left.  I was going to empty the tank one way or the other.  As bad as I felt I was passing people, a lot of people!  I couldn't believe how "slow" I was running for the effort I was giving out.  I knew I looked bad because every time I would pass spectators they would stand up and clap and cheer for me since they could tell I was ripping myself apart.  At the 1st turn around I could see the top guys in my wave and I realized that as bad as I was feeling I might have an outside shot at a podium finish.

I started to try and pick it up but my legs still weren't moving.  I couldn't figure out why I wasn't moving but looking back its probably due to a lack of nutrition and a slight dehydration from being in my wet suit too long. 

About 3 miles in I got passed for the first time on the bike or run, he was gliding along pretty smoothly and I was just hanging on.   I came across the line in 11th place in my AG and qualified for Team USA 2014.  That being said I should not be running a 5k at the EXACT same pace as I ran a 10k the day before.  With the Sprint triathlon world championships exactly a month from today I hope to get that rectified.  I'm guessing it was a nutrition/hydration issue and plan on avoiding that in London.  Even though I qualified to race in Edmonton next year, I will probably pass and focus on getting to Chicago in 2015!  

total: 1:06;45 11/55AG 89/1099 OA

 

Team USA Qualifiers!

Team USA Qualifiers!

IMG_0097.JPG
IMG_0003.JPG

The Power of Social Media

  Last week I was caught in a bind when the bike box I had reserved had found it's way out of the bike shop that I reserved it at, less than 24 hours before my flight to Milwaukee.  As you can imagine that is not the thing you wan't to hear when you are getting ready to leave for a national championship event.   In a sheer panic I posted to Facebook out of desperation asking if anyone had a box I could rent for the week.  I figured it was an outside shot that I was willing to take at that point.  

To my surprise I had multiple offers within minutes. Within the hour I went from freaking out that I wouldn't be getting my bike on the plane to having to choose what kind of bike box I would be able to use and how far I had to go from home to pick the box up. I am grateful that there were so many people willing to step up and help when I really was desperate.   It definitely helps to have a network of good people to rely on when things go awry, so thank you for being a part of mine!  

 

Next Stop: Milwaukee

With about 6 weeks to go until the ITU World Championships in London I'm getting into some of my most intense training sessions of the year, and building my fitness back up to where it was before I raced in Knoxville.  But tomorrow I'll be leaving for Milwaukee, WI to compete in both the sprint and Olympic distance age group national championships.  I've never been to WI so I'm looking forward to seeing a new part of the country with my fiancé, and racing in a new place.  These national championship events bring out some of the fastest triathletes in the country so it will be a good benchmark to see where I stand at this point in my training.  

Once again this year USA Triathlon is billing these races as the largest most competitive field ever. A total of 4,300 athletes are slotted to compete over the two days of racing which will definitely provide a much welcome challenge.  These two races will be my last two tests before the championships in London so I am hoping to come away with some valuable insight from them.  I view every race as a learning experience and these will be no different.  Training up to this point has been going well and my fitness has been increasing steadily since my mid season break.  I am excited to test myself against the best in the country and see what I can do. 

 

NJ State Triathlon aka NJ World Championships Race Report

When I had first signed up for this race back in early January I thought if I had a good day I would be able to end up on the overall podium.  After all the 3rd place finisher from last year only gone 2:05 and I was planning on going closer to 2 hours than to 2:10.  But as we know sometimes it's all about who shows up on race day.   You could have the perfectly executed race of your life, but if someone who shows up is generally faster than you chances are you are still going to lose.  I'm not talking about a minute here or there those guys are the ones you can and will finish in front of on your best days, I'm talking about the athletes that are capable of finishing more than 5 or 10 minutes faster on the same course.  After hearing about some of the athletes that had signed up to race after the race became the NJ state championships as well as the regional championship for the Mid-Atlantic region I was prepared for one of those days.  I once again signed up for the Elite division so there would be no aspirations of age group greatness, but I would be able to test myself among the best athletes in the race.  

Race morning I got up at 3:30 am to make the 2+ hour drive down to Princeton, NJ and I ended up getting to the race site and parked around 6:30 after all was said and done which left me an hour to get my race number, set up my transition area and get ready to race, unfortunately it did not leave me much time to warm up as the transition area closed at 7:15 but I was OK with that given the water temperature was announced at 89 degrees and I wanted save as much energy as possible before getting ready to swim in the sauna that was Lake Mercer. I wasn't going to wear a swim-skin fearing it might be too hot for one, but after talking to another athlete that opted out of it for the previous days sprint and regretted it, I was convinced it would be worth it.  I got my stuff together and headed down to the lake for some splashing around and before I knew it, it was go time.  

Swim: .9 Mi 23:51 (23:45 on my watch New personal best) 75/1070

2009:  26:16

Garmin Data 

We headed into the lake for the in water start and I seeded myself smack dab in the middle in the front.  I knew if I had any chance of a high placing I was going to need to hang on to the fastest feet I could for as long as I could.  Knowing the athletes that I was racing against I knew I had to limit the damage done on the swim.  Once the gun went off it was pretty much chaos, I hung on to the first group for a little while before backing off because the two people swimming directly next to me could not swim straight.  I decided to back off and let them swim in to each other while finding myself some clean water and a nice pair of feet to draft off of.  The nice thing about this course is the buoys are marked with numbers so you know exactly how far you swam, and exactly how far you have to go.  

When I caught a glimpse of the 600M buoy I couldn't believe how long it seemingly took to get there, especially being in a group for most of it.  The high water temperature coupled with the high exertion factor made the swim feel much longer than usual.  About halfway through the swim I started to make a move and found a group to swim with and I was able to stay with them the rest of the way.  I was off the back but they provided enough of a push to get me out of the water with new non wetsuit swim personal best! 

Out of the water with a new personal best!

Out of the water with a new personal best!

T1 2:42 (2:48 Watch)

2009 1:33

Garmin Data

Coming out of the water I was stoked when I saw my time, There was a decent run from the lake up to transition but I'm definitely not sure why it took me over a minute more than 2009 to get out of T1 and on to my bike.  Clearly there is something I need to work on here!

Bike: 54:42 (54:41 Watch) 24.7 mph ( New Olympic Personal Best) 27/1070

2009 1:05:36

Garmin Data

After finally being out of the water, I headed out on the bike on a mission as I knew there were a ton a people ahead of me after the swim and I was determined to catch as many of them as I could.  The course was a 2 loop course so it was nice to be able to be out on the course early without congestion at least for the first loop. Once I got going I was constantly passing the "swimmers" and each time I passed I would set my sights up ahead for the next target, this was fun and kept me motivated.  I felt like I spent the whole first loop constantly passing people, but I knew there was a bunch more when I hit the first out and back at the school. I was surprised to see at least 10 more people in front of me the way I was riding, I thought I would have been closer to the front by now! 

I was riding hard and I was still passing but I was almost on the second loop which meant I wouldn't really be able to tell who I was passing from my group and which athletes I was passing on their first loop.  It got a little congested on the second loop but most athletes were good about moving to the right to let the faster riders through. Even though I could no longer tell if I was making ground on the athletes in my wave I still was pushing hard and trying to pass as many athletes as possible and my motivation level remained high!  

As I approached the final hill and climbed back in to the park I was getting excited as I thought I was close to the front having just held 24.7 mph for the longest I EVER had, and also knew as long as I held on for the run I was in line for a new personal best.  

T2:  :59 (1:00 Watch)

Garmin Data

Run: 41:13 6:35 min/mile 46/1070

2009: 55:33

Garmin Data

As I started out on the run I noticed it was started to get a bit hot.  Fortunately it was a lot cooler than it had been over the past few weeks and it was overcast, but at 80 degrees with 80% humidity it was going to be a tough run with or without having to have bike and swim first.  I started off running and I curiously asked the volunteer at the turn how many athletes had passed.  I was in complete shock when he told me about 15!  I thought I was much closer to the front than that, he must not have counted correctly.  The first 2 miles of the course is out and back so I was going to be able to see for myself.  I started to count as I saw them coming the other way 1,2,3... I realized I was about a mile behind at that point and I was only running a 6:13 pace.  My last Oly race I was able to grind out 3 6 minute miles before slowing down, so the heat was definitely effecting me.  On top of that I hadn't seen the guys I knew were in front of me, Glenn and Mike who I thought for sure would have been in the top 5.  This amount of talent at this race was ridiculous as either one of them could have probable won the race outright on another day but now they were just another "also ran".

I eventually saw them inside the top 10 but there were still a few bodies in between us. As I approached the first turn around I saw Karim who seemed to only be 1 minute ahead of me which was a good sign even though he was in 14th place since he had been much further ahead of me in some other races this year.  At the turnaround I grabbed water to drink and dumped some on my head to keep me cool and keep my core temperature under control as much as possible.

 When I headed down the slight hill that we ran up at the same exact pace that I ran up it I knew I was going to be in trouble.  As I passed mile 2, I was also passed for the first time all race, even though I was passed it wasn't a really convincing one, I was able to hold on and keep pace with him for the rest of the run.  I think the pass might have deflated me a little and brought me back to my old running days when I used to be passed constantly after getting off the bike as I suddenly defaulted to his running pace. We cruised through the 3rd mile in 6:38 but that's where the wheels fell off, AGAIN. Lately I've noticed that I can't seem to finish an Oly race strong, so I thought If I upped the calories on the bike it would make a difference. I went from taking in 200 calories to 500 calories, and while it made a BIG difference on my bike, I realize I might need to take in calories on the run in order to stay competitive.  So for nationals next week I will definitely be upping the calories even more.  

Right around 4 miles I got passed one more time as my pace had dropped to a 6:45 , but that would prove to be the last pass for the day.  Mile 5 was the toughest mentally, as I felt I was pushing harder but going slower. I managed to pick up the pace slightly for the last mile and thought I was going to be able to catch the two guys within eye-shot but they both had the same idea.  Once we hit the 6 mile marker we all had the same idea, sprint to the finish, while I increased the pace for the last .25 to a 6:11 they were both too far gone for me to catch, even though I might have put some time in to them in that final stretch.  I was super happy to see a 2:03 on the clock even though I was the 15th athlete across the finish line.  

 

Total: 2:03:35 26/1070 (New Olympic Distance Personal Best)

2009: 2:29:55

I knew going into it that the race was going to be stacked with top athletes but I had no idea that it was going to be as stacked as it was.  I had my best Olympic race ever even with a poor run and I still didn't even manage to crack the top 25! My time would have put me in 3rd place overall last year and this year it was only good for 26th.  This was my last test before nationals and I am feeling good. I'm curious to see how I do since I won't be tapering as I am in the middle of my London build and I'm giving that priority. I definitely learn from each and every race and I am learning that I need more calories than I think when racing an Olympic.  I'm excited as this race puts me one step closer to my goal of getting under 2 hours.  I'm happy that I get to represent such great companies on daily basis and that they will be along side me on my journey to get there! 

Could not be happier with this finish! 

Could not be happier with this finish! 

Mid Year Training/Road to London Update:

I've been a bit quiet lately as July was a very busy month.  After racing almost every weekend in June, I had 3 races in 2 weeks to put on which really killed my energy as well as my training.  That being said as you can see below I am well on my way to hitting my mileage goals in all 3 sports!   With London only 42 days away and my most intense training block underway the mileage will decrease a bit for the July and August as I take advantage of the massive base that I built myself this year with early season training but I should not have a problem meeting them.  

 

This year I have also hit some other milestones including my first overall triathlon win, and my first Olympic distance under 2:05 a few weeks ago at the NJ state Triathlon which will be my next post.  I'm still searching for that sub 2:00 performance, and I might be able to get it if I have a perfect day in London.  I'm excited that I'm a little over a week away from Nationals and seeing how I stack up against the best in the country this year.  Last year I finished 178/1989 in the Olympic and 60/1026 in the Sprint, this year I am aiming to be in the top 100 for the Olympic and in the Top 50 for the Sprint.  

2013 Goals:

Swim: 250,000 yds

Bike:  4,500 Mi

Run: 1,500 mi

2013 Completed of 6.30.13

Swim:  161,300

Bike: 3,582

Run: 1,026

Finally a "W" Seaside Sprint Triathlon Report

Coming in to this race I was still hurting from the past weekends Rev3 double.  I had been working the overnight shift at work so I was getting in to work before 2 am and not getting more than 3 hours of straight sleep with the exception of Friday night into Saturday.  The lack of sleep coupled with me pushing my body to the max over the weekend brought on a cold which increased my fatigue and made training close to impossible.  I felt like crap all week and really had been questioning even showing up to the race.  

After getting a decent amount of sleep Friday night I went out for my normal Saturday morning bike ride.  At first I was struggling to maintain a decent pace but about 2 hours in to my ride my legs woke up and I started to feel really good.  I knew at that point that I would at least not be embarrassing myself by showing up to race which put my confidence at ease.

Beautiful weather on race morning!

Beautiful weather on race morning!

Before I knew it I was at the beach racking my bike and getting ready to race.  The weather for the race could not have been any better clear skies, not a lot of wind and limited humidity. I racked my bike the same exact place as last year and went for a quick 2 mile warm up run.  I was still a little fatigued and I wasn't sure what I was going to be capable of but I figured once the gun went off I would be pushed by the competition I knew that was around me.  Since it was open racking I had last years defending champion rack right next to me, which is probably why he did.  Last year I was 3rd place overall before a 2 minute penalty for not wearing my bib on the run dropped me down to 8th, and my teammate Chris who was 2nd overall had the same thing happen to him dropping him to 6th, Chris wasn't racing this year so Joe was the favorite to repeat.  

Swim .5 Mile 12:20

We headed down to the swim start which was at low tide.  I was excited to see how my Huub would perform in a ocean situation since all of my swims have been fresh water swims up until this point.  I started a little to the right of the group to avoid major contact which seemed to have worked.  I stayed with the main group until the first turn buoy, then I decided it was time to push, I gaped up to the chase pack and eventually swam through them, I was having a great swim.  I felt amazing and it seemed like I was just gliding through the water.   I couldn't see that many swimmers ahead of me so I thought I was at least in the top 5 or 6 which is a rarity for me.  As we made the turn to come back in to the beach I noticed some of the guys close to me had gotten up and started to walk.  I stayed swimming but the water was so shallow dolphin diving might have been a faster method of moving.  When I hit the beach I noticed that I never started my watch so I had no swim split.  I was completely shocked when coming out of the water I was told I had 12 in front of me, I'm used to being down out of the water, but not when I feel like I had an amazing swim.  Looking at the results I was 2:35 down from the lead swimmer and :52 seconds down on Joe.  

I'm down how much?  12th place really? 

I'm down how much?  12th place really? 

Bike 10 Miles ( 9.77 Garmin) 23:56 24.5 mph 306 watts AP/313 normalized

Coming out of the water I knew I had my work cut out for me so I focused on getting my wet suit off and on to my bike.  The nature of the course is and out and back so I would be able to see how far ahead everyone was at the turns and have it help me pace my race.  Last year I was a little too conservative and held back, this year I wasn't going to make that same mistake.  I shot out of T1 on a mission and started to pound the pedals  I passed a few guys I didn't recognize immediately and continued on the hunt.  When I got close to the first turn I could see the leaders coming the other way with Joe not too far from the lead in 4th place.  I was riding hard and determined to catch them.  By the 2nd turn around I could see I was gaining and by the 3rd I had caught Kyle and Zach who both had a shot at the win as well moving myself up in to 4th place.  Before hitting the final turn around I had moved myself up in to second place passing the lead swimmers in the process, right before the final turn I could see Joe on the other side in the lead and I shouted across "I'm coming for you".  I hit the final turn and sprinted back to t2 turning my deficit from nearly a minute to just a few seconds. 

Hammering my way to the 2nd best bike split of the day

Hammering my way to the 2nd best bike split of the day

T2: :22

Knowing I was so close on the heels of last years winner with both Kyle and Zach not far behind me and all 3 of them can run! my :22 second T2 was the fastest of the day! 

Starting the run 5 seconds down. 

Starting the run 5 seconds down. 

Run 3.1 Miles (Garmin 2.84mi) 17:13 6:04/mi

Within seconds I had caught Joe and was running on his heels.  I drafted off of him for about a minute and then I decided to pull ahead knowing the pace we were running might not be fast enough to hold off the others.  I picked up the pace and he went with me, we ended up running the first mile in about 5:54.  Shortly after that time I stopped hearing his breathing and footsteps.  I pressed forward knowing I would see how close he was at the midway turnaround.  We hit the turn and I could tell I had about a :15 second lead but I could also see that Zach and Kyle were hot on my heels as well. Even though they were so close I knew with the lead I had it would be hard for them to pick up more than a minute in a little over a mile.   Joe was still a threat so I had to stay on my game.  Once I hit the 2 mile marker I turned to see if he had gained but it looked like the gap had widened. I didn't want to take any chances so I picked up my pace putting in a surge.  When I was about a tenth of a mile away from the finish I turned one last time and I knew it was mine.  I slowed my pace to take it all in, after 9 years and 65 triathlons I finally won one outright! 

The thrill of victory! 

The thrill of victory! 

 It felt great to finally win a race after all my hard work over the years.  I have put a ton of work in this year especially getting ready for London and I could not be happier with the results.  My only regret is that my fiance Erica did not get to see me win.  She has spent countless hours supporting me and traveling with me to races to spectate and the one time I win a race she wasn't there. Her support is invaluable and I don't know if I would be able to do what I do without her.  Now I have to figure out a way to win another one so she can witness it!

As Always thank you to my sponsors Endurance Films, Forte Gelato, Pacific Swim Bike Run, Skora Running, and Huub USA

Apparently you get articles written about you when you win triathlons!

http://norwalk.dailyvoice.com/sports/norwalk-fairfield-triathletes-break-through-bridgeport

My Revolution Race Report, 102.5 miles of fun!

When I initially signed up for this back to back racing weekend I knew the courses were going to be tough.   What I didn't factor in was how much HARDER extreme weather can make them. The week before the race I was having unbearable pain in my ankles that made it very difficult to run and had me questioning if I was even going to make it to the startling line.  A few runs during race week gave me the confidence that I would be able to start, but the sudden heatwave that was projected for the weekend had me worried.  Since the races weren't targeted races of mine I essentially went into the weekend with no taper except for a light day of workouts on Friday.   After my last workouts I packed up my car and called it a night.  

Morning Sunrise over one of my favorite places to swim.

Morning Sunrise over one of my favorite places to swim.

Fortunately the races were less than an hour drive from my house so I was able to drive up each morning and sleep in my own bed each night making the logistics of the weekend pretty easy.  As I drove up Saturday morning for the first race of the weekend I started to go over my racing strategy and my pace targets for each leg of the race. Knowing how difficult the course was I was prepared to go slower than normal.  Once I got to the park I waited for them to open up transition, set up my area and then caught up with a bunch of friends I had not seen in awhile. The 30 athletes or so that signed up for both races were corralled in one area which was nice since we didn't have to move our bikes after the first race. I went for a quick 1 mile warm up run to determine how my legs were feeling and before I knew it they were closing transition and it was time to line up for the start.

The crazies got one bib # for both days

The crazies got one bib # for both days

Swim .9 Miles/(.94 Garmin)

Target 24:00  Rev3: 23:16  Garmin: 23:25

I positioned myself as far to the right as possible to minimize contact and next thing you knew it they were counting down for our wave to start.  Since we were the 4th wave of the day there was plenty of people ahead of us already swimming which meant lots of swimmers to sight off of.  3-2-1 and we were off I did about 4 dolphin dives before it was safe depth to start swimming.  My plan had worked as there was minimal contact and I had a nice draft, as we hit the first buoy I started to get comfortable and left my group behind.  I was surprised that we had already started to catch people from the wave before us that started 5 minutes prior.  Before I knew it was out-swimming my group and in the thick of the wave that started before us. The water was a perfect 70 degrees which meant I would not overheat!

As I hit the first turn buoy I made my first mistake of the race.  You could not see a thing as we were swimming directly in to the sun and they had the half rev course(1.2 Mile) already marked for Sunday.  I started to swim towards the wrong buoy!  Fortunately I realized rather quickly that the steam of swimmers that I had previously been swimming towards were all going in an opposite direction and i rerouted myself back on track.  I continued to follow the feet sling-shoting through the field.  By the time I had hit the turn buoy to head back to sure I was in the middle of the second wave.  It was a relief to make the turn to head back to shore as I was back to sighting myself and not having to rely on bubbles of others.  I continued to swim past people from earlier waves and I was feeling amazingly strong.  I could see some people from my wave were with me by the color of the caps, but we were all having a great swim.  As I approached the shore I was getting excited to get on the bike because I had so much energy, and I was feeling so great!  I came out of the water a few seconds over a PR performance thanks to my HUUB Archimedes.  If I hadn't swam off course I'm almost certain this would have been a new Olympic distance PR.  

 

Almost out of the water and ready to conquer the bike!

Almost out of the water and ready to conquer the bike!

T1: 2:05/ Garmin 1:59 .

We had a slight uphill 1. mi run into transition but nothing too bad,   I ran by a few people coming out of the water and easily slipped my suit off.  I grabbed my shoes and helmet and I was off!

Headed out of T1 on a Mission!

Headed out of T1 on a Mission!

BIke 25.69 Miles

Target 1:10/ 300 Watts Normalized

Rev3: 1:09:59 22MPH

Garmin: 1:09:53/304 Watts NP/ 22MPH

I started the bike feeling strong and with a confidence that I don't think I ever had in a race. I rocketed out of T1 on a mission and never looked back.  I continued my passing streak always keeping my sights on the next rider ahead of me.  I was riding uphill with reckless abandon and descending the hills without fear.  I was having so much FUN!  I was giving out encouragement to friends while pushing the pace.  I went through the first 5 miles at 24.1 mph and I was loving every minute of it.  

The next 10 miles were mostly climbing with some fun descents in the middle.  There were some spots that if you descended correctly the momentum would carry you up the next hill and some spots you needed to be out of the saddle to climb but I was up for the challenge and enjoying my day.  Somewhere around mile 15 I caught up to last years second place overall, Tim, who is a ridiculously fast swimmer.  I had never beaten him in a triathlon before since our bike and run times are similar but he is so much faster than me in the water.  That gave me a renewed boost of confidence as I knew I had to be nearing the front of the field.  

Between miles 15 and 20 there is a lot of descending including the most technical turns of the race.  Over this stretch I averaged over 26mph and I narrowly avoided crashing.  One thing I have to say about the Rev3 guys is that they have every dangerous corner marked and they make sure to tell you to slow down when you need to!  As I continued to move up in the field my confidence was growing, so much that when I came off the hard s turn I almost went down because there was a 90 degree right hand turn that I wasn't expecting that I came into at speed. As I slowed down to avoid crashing a few of the guys that were on my tail had caught up, but once I righted myself I was able to re pass and continue on.  

From that point on it is essentially a 350 foot climb for the next 5 miles before you get a  slight relief and some downhill. I eased up just slightly on the throttle and I came in to T2 exactly where I wanted to be and ready to tackle a very difficult run course.

T2 :33/ Garmin :38

Pretty quick transition here.  Out pretty focused and ready to run.   

Run:  6.2 Miles

Target 40:00

Rev3:  42:11 6:48 Mile

Garmin: 6.31 mi/ 42:16 6:42 Mile

I ran through mile 1 which was mostly downhill in 5:58 I probably should have pushed a little harder here knowing what was coming but I thought I was very close, if not in the front of the race at this point.  I was still feeling strong and the athletes that I could see ahead of me were very few and far between, but like the bike I focused on picking them off one by one, mile 2 was also pretty flat and I was able to hold steady with a 6:08.  Mile 3 starts off flat before you are greeted with a 1/2 mile 150 ft climb before a short 50ft descent leading you to mile 4.  Between miles 3&4 there is another 150 ft of climbing, but this time there is no flat or descent both these miles were tough and while I was only running a little over a 7 minute pace I still was catching people! 

It was good to see all the Mossman team manning the aid station close to the top of the hill at mile 4.   At this point I was hurting after basically climbing 2 miles but I asked if there were any under 35M that have gone through already.  When I heard yes my confidence took a beating for the first time all day.  It's also where the perfect race that I was having started to unravel.  As I was cresting the final portion of the hill I got passed for the first time all day by 2 guys running a pretty good pace.  A quick glance at the calf revealed one of them was in my age group.  I tried to respond but the heat had started to get to me and the legs just wouldn't move.  

At this point I could feel my body slowing down and not wanting to play anymore.  I maintained my pace the best that I could and mustered a 6:22 from mile 4-5 which was mostly downhill.  I could feel my body overheating but I knew I was almost done.  Coming up on the mile 5 aid station I had heard another athlete ask for ice behind me.  I  immediately grabbed the ice and held it in my palms while I ran.  The ice had helped me (or at least tricked me into believing) lower my core temperature because within a minute my running pace came right back around to where it should have been.  It's a good thing too because the last mile to the finish sports and almost 200 ft climb before you get a small bit of relief and the downhill to the finish line.  That being said it was still my slowest mile of the day at 7:26.  I came across the finish line in 2:18:04 which was good enough for 3rd place age group and 14th Overall out of 717.  

 

I came away from the race super pumped because I hit my swim and bike goals, and even though I missed my run goal, I finally had a decent race in hot conditions.  This was key for me going into the half rev on Sunday as I knew it was going to be another hot one, and I still have not gone that long in the heat without falling apart.  I stuck around for the awards and then headed home.  I made a quick stop at Sherpa to use their recovery boots and then spent the rest of the day doing normal Saturday chores and relaxing before dinner. 

3rd Place Age Group Podium

3rd Place Age Group Podium

Thanks to Sherpa for letting me use their recovery lounge post race!

Thanks to Sherpa for letting me use their recovery lounge post race!

Day 2 started with another 3 AM wake-up so that I could make the 1 hour drive up to Quassy in time for the 5 AM opening of the transition area after getting myself race ready.  I don't know what it is but I like to be at the race site as early as possible even when I know I'm just going to be sitting around and waiting.  I just think there is something comforting about knowing you are at the venue and its almost impossible to miss your wave start.  I got my transition area ready and sat on the back of my car watching the pros get ready and just trying to relax and focus so I could have another good day.  As calm and relaxed as I was I knew in the back of my head its really hard to be "on"  two days in a row.  While I was waiting I overheard the MC saying that this was the most stacked Rev3 Pro field ever!  It was sure going to be an exciting race I knew I wasn't going to be able to see what happened with the men until after, but I was hoping I would be able to catch a glimpse of the women if I could move fast enough.  Before I knew it we were getting kicked out of transition and headed down to the swim starts!

Most stacked pro field ever at Quassy! 

Most stacked pro field ever at Quassy! 

Swim: 1.2 Miles

Target: 30:00

Rev3: 32:18

Garmin: 1.3 Miles/ 31:58 (24:39/Mile) 1:23/100 yds

I positioned myself in the exact same spot that I did on Saturday knowing the line I wanted to take.  I was a little worried about swimming in a full suit as it was so hot the day before the lake temperature jumped from 70 to 72.5!  I told a couple of the guys about not being to see after we made the right and they all told me I was nuts for racing the day before.  3-2-1 GO!  I started off with a few dolphin dives the same exact way I did the day before and right into swimming.  There was a little more contact than I had the day before but nothing to crazy.  I was able to maintain my line, my form and get a decent draft so I was happy.  Either I started off too fast or I was feeling the ill effects of racing the day before early on but within a few minutes I started to feel like I might have to throw up.  Fortunately I calmed down very quickly and focused on the task ahead.  

By the time we hit the first turn buoy we had caught the wave that started 5 minutes ahead of us.  This is the point where the group started to really break up the faster swimmers were long gone,  This time I feel like the sun was stronger because I really couldn't see  a thing, once again I was forced to rely on the bubbles from other peoples feet and this time for a longer period of time.  This time I stayed on course and made it to the next turn buoy picking my way through swimmers on the way. Even though the course was much more crowded I was still able to maintain a rhythm.  Right before the turn buoy I started to notice the extra 2.5 degrees that the lake had increased. Which wasn't a good sign.

facebook_2086193946.jpg

After making the turn I could finally see and was able to carve my own path back to shore.  Even though I was hot I was still moving at a pretty good pace and I was back to feeling relatively strong after a shaky start.  I picked up my pace a bit and headed towards T1 with a head of steam.  When I came out of the water and I looked at my watch I was a little disappointed because I felt I swam really well but I put it behind me and my focus changed to riding my bike.  

In shock my swim took me so long, feeling as good as I did!

In shock my swim took me so long, feeling as good as I did!

T1 2:10/ Garmin 2:30

I'm not sure why it took me so much longer today.  I actually felt more fluid but the fatigue was probably starting to catch up to me. Or it could have been that I wanted to be sure that I had everything I needed for what turned out to be a brutally hot day.   I grabbed my second bottle, my EFS flask and my bib and I was off.   

Ready for 56 miles of fun.  

Ready for 56 miles of fun.  

Bike 56 Miles

Target 2:40/280 Watts NP

Rev3: 2:41:38/

Garmin 55.92 Miles 2:41:23/20.8 Mph 269 Watts NP

   Starting off the bike I could already feel my legs weren't happy with me however I knew that only meant I was going to be uncomfortable earlier than normal for this race.  As we initially headed out of the park I started to pay attention to my watch early to make sure  I wasn't going to blow my race early by pushing the pace like I did in the Olympic.  The first stretch had some of the same climbs and descents that we did the day before so I was familiar with them which was great, but I also knew that meant me having a few power spikes over 500 watts which wasn't the best thing to have to do.   

The first 5 miles is relatively downhill and calm and then you spend most of miles 7-14 climbing before spending 14-20 pretty much descending, none of the descents were technical so you could carry your speed.  I was passed by one or two cyclists early on that seemed to be riding way too hard.  I was focused on my race and keeping within my power goals because I knew it would otherwise be a very long day so I just let them go figuring I would see them at some point again.  Somewhere along the the first quarter of the ride I realized I was constantly around the same group of 3 or 4 riders.  We would take turns passing others and each other so it ended up being an unintentional "legal" pace group.  I've read some reports complaining about drafting but I did not see any all day with the exception of riders bunching up on the long climbs.  

From mile 23-32 is one long 700 ft+ grinding climb with very little relief. This course is unique in the fact that there isn't really any flat sections, you are either climbing or descending and the almost 4400 ft of climbing is definitely a challenge!  It was on this long climb that I started to catch some of the female pros that were having a bad day.  I was in shock when I saw my first P on the back of someones calf, but it reinforced that I was having a good day.  Even so, It was starting to get hot and there was nowhere to hide.  The climb was very exposed and the only relief from the heat was a very subtle headwind that would show its face every few minutes.  I was never so happy to feel a headwind before!  Even though I really dialed my pace back on this section I was still passing a string of athletes and I was feeling strong climbing.  I had one or two more athletes pass me along this section but staying within my power targets I was happy to let them go.  I was staying within my power targets and dumping bottles of water on my head at every aid station to keep cool.

Once we finally hit the top of the climb there is a short steep downhill with a nasty S curve which is probably the most dangerous descent on the course. I watched the course preview video a bunch of times and read several race reports that mentioned this area so I came in well prepared for it.  It was well marked by the Rev3 crew and I took it very conservatively.  So conservatively in fact that I could smell the burning carbon from my brakes rubbing against my wheels fighting with gravity.  Unfortunately this is also the point where I lost my pace group.  By this point I had ridden myself pretty close to the front of the race so it was pretty lonely stretch.  Fortunately there was an out and back stretch where I could see other athletes coming the other way so it kept me alert and in the moment as I knew I was going to have to turn around and climb the hill that I was enjoying flying down. Once I hit the final aid station I grabbed another bottle of water and doused myself to keep cool.  

For the next 10 miles or so there was a bunch of rollers and we ended up on a lot of the same roads from the Olympic race the day before.  I probably only passed one or two riders before I finally reeled in of the guys from my earlier pace group back in so I could at least see him.   I made it through the descent that I almost crashed on in Saturdays race without and issues and I was feeling good. Over the last 5 miles I passed another cyclist or two but I was generally conservative noticing the heat and knowing I had tough task ahead of me on the run.  With about 3 miles left to go on the bike I could see the Womens pro race unfolding on the other side as they were about 3 miles in to the run. What worried me was that no one that I saw running looked particularly good, and they were all running downhill!  I eased up a tad and picked up my cadence to get ready for the final run leg of the weekend.  

Only 13.1 Miles to go! 

Only 13.1 Miles to go! 

T2 :50/  Garmin :53 

Coming off the bike I felt good, I popped on my shoes, Grabbed another EFS 400 calorie flask and my salt tabs.  As I left transition I dumped every cup of water I could find on my head in preparation for what I knew I would be facing.   


Headed out for a nice 13.1 mile jog

Headed out for a nice 13.1 mile jog

Run 13.1 Miles

Target 1:26

Rev3 1:40:14

  7:38/min Mile

Garmin 1:40:20 7:45 Min/mile

As I was leaving the park I felt good but I had a feeling it wasn't going to last long,  I never have been good racing in the heat, and it was getting brutally hot.  I adjusted my pace from a 1:26 to a 1:30 and thought by slowing myself down I might be able to get the best of my body and keep any overheating issues at bay.  I ran the first mile in a conservative 6:47 and felt that pace was sustainable.  Coming into the first aid station I had to pee which was a good sign, I made a quick stop at the portolet and continued on my way.  Even with my stop I managed a 7:08 so I was still right on pace.  Coming out I grabbed ice and dumped it down the front and back of my shirt, in my pants and grabbed some to run with in my palms in an effort to keep my core temperature down.  This would be the theme at every aid station all day.  Keeping that core temperature down is key!

Despite being as hot as I was I was managing to stay right on target to where I wanted to be I was able to hold a sub 7 minute pace for the next 2 miles.  Then somewhere around mile 4 we got sent on to what I have heard as described as the dirt road from hell.  There was a 200 ft climb over about a 1 mile stretch that just never seemed to end.   I probably ran past about 10 athletes, including my whole pacing group from the bike, on this hill and I never once stopped to walk no matter how steep it got.  Although it was steep it was shaded.  Once you hit the top you get out of the shade and into some rolling hills but the area was completely exposed with no shade.  I hit the 1st turnaround and I felt great, but that greatness would prove to be short-lived.  I have nicknamed this 2 mile stretch the blast furnace.  I knew that once I hit around mile 7.5 the majority of the run would be a downhill stretch and I would be home free.  The problem was I wasn't sure I was going to make it to mile 6.5 without passing out!

Somewhere along this stretch is where my race unraveled I went from being strong and confident to weak and dizzy, for the first time on the course I was reduced to a walk and I was mentally broken.  As much Ice as I was using my core temperature just was not going down, I had stopped sweating and I was in a bad place.  I walked a good 3 minutes and took in some salt pills in an effort to compose myself and set myself up for a good second half of the run, hoping it would help. All of the sudden I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom and hit the portolet at the aid station, which would be the theme for the rest of the day.  After coming out of the aid  station I attempted to start running again I was able to hold my composure and run, but I did not feel good at all!

About 30 seconds later I was throwing up!

About 30 seconds later I was throwing up!

About mile 8.5 there was a right hand turn with a bunch of volunteers and cops I tried as I noticed them I could feel my stomach just start to revolt and empty.  I held it back and forced it back down in fear that my vomit coupled with the fact that I was likely weaving across the road would give them grounds to take me off the course.  I was starting to get delirious and paranoid but I was so close to finishing!  I was really fighting with myself over the next few miles running as fast as possible while making continual stops at every aid station to "drop the kids off".  The 95+ miles of racing over the last 2 days combined with the extreme heat had gotten to me and my body was not happy with me. The run by the park at mile 9 or so is just plain cruel.  You come within 500ft of the finish line, yet you still have to run another 3 miles!  The crowds around this area were great and they provided me with a much needed but relatively short burst of energy.   The last few miles of the run were pretty shaded but it was still hot and the damage had already been done.  I was shuffling along minding my own business when i saw Zach a local triathlete who I have a friendly rivalry with.  He had just come off the last turnaround and muttered something about me trying to catch him.  It was just the little spark I needed to get me going again.  I knew I had a lead on him, because he started before me, but I wasn't sure how much.  Even so it gave me something to shoot for.  As I hit the base of the last mile I had not seen him yet but I knew I had a long climb to the finish ahead of me.  I finally spotted him with about 1/2 mile to go walking up the steepest part of the hill however I was in no condition to make a move so i just continued my steady pace by the time I got to that same exact point where I saw him walking I was reduced to a walk as well but only for 10 seconds.  I decided I wanted to be done and I picked up the pace as much as I could and ran right to the finish line. While I didn't catch Zach I had a virtual 5 minute lead on him so I ended up with bragging rights for the day.  I crossed the line in 4:56:56 which was good enough for 8th Place Age group and 35th Place Overall.  I'm disappointed to have not hit my goal however I know I could not have gone any faster

Surprisingly finishing on my feet

Surprisingly finishing on my feet

I came across the finish line and I was a wobbly mess.  I seriously thought I was hallucinating when I saw Erica at the finish line.  She had to work in the morning and she told me she wasn't going to come because she didn't think she would make it in time but after finishing what I think was the hardest race I've done in my life, it was a wonderful surprise.  I had her help me get int the ice bath immediately and I literally sat there staring in to space because I didn't have any energy for anything else.  After sitting in the ice bath for a good 20 minutes I couldn't get up.  I struggled to get to my feet and when I finally did I think it took me at least an hour before I could walk straight. While I was initially upset with missing my goal time of 4:45 the last few days have proven to me that I pushed myself far beyond where my body wanted to go. I really liked the challenge and I'll be back to conquer the demons left on the course this year. I spent most of Monday not being able to talk and have been nursing a cold ever since.  I am finally back to a normal training schedule but there is just no pep in my legs right now. I'm hoping they come around for this weekends race or its not going to be pretty for me!

A special thank you to Erica for giving up her weekend with me so I can pursue my crazy passion that is racing and as usual dealing with me on a daily basis.  As always thank you to my generous sponsors Endurance Films, Forte Gelato, Pacific Swim Bike Run, Skora Running, and HUUB USA.    If you made it this far thanks for reading!

Exausted

Exausted

Providence Half Marathon Race Report-

  I only signed up for this race because Erica was going to be running her first marathon and I was going to need to run long anyway.  What better way to run long then with 1800 of my running friends?  Pre race stuff all went smoothly and Erica was ready to get her first marathon done with.  I spent the morning playing Sherpa and making sure she was ready to go for her big day.  With about 15 minutes left till race time we walked down to the start line and got her seeded where she needed to be.  Before I knew it she was out on her journey to become a marathoner.  I'm not afraid to admit that I got a little choked up as I saw her cross the start line knowing what she went through to get there and what she was about to go through to cross that finish line in just a few hours.  I went off for a quick warm up to see what I would have to give on the day.  Surprisingly my legs felt like they might have come around but only time would tell.

Race bibs

Race bibs

I started front and center to limit the amount of energy that would be wasted by weaving in and out of the mess that a mass start of 1800+ runners can become.  I figured after my warm up that I would at least be able to start fast and then if I faded I wouldn't get in anyone's way.  In talking to the athletes around me I knew I was in for a long day when they were talking about how fast they were going to be running in minutes.  Especially when they were spitting out numbers like 68 and 75!

971335_10151461170197950_845353737_n (1).jpg

The gun finally went off and we went out hard, I went against my better judgement and I was dragged by my competitive nature to run with the lead group.  The run started off downhill so it was a little easier to stick with the skinny guys, but when I looked down at my watch and saw that we were holding a 5:00 pace I backed off.  The initial burst was enough to get me in the clear but also had me questioning if I really was going to be able to race the whole time as the pain set in almost immediately where as in a normal half I at least get a little while before it becomes uncomfortable.  As we approached the 1 mile mark I was somewhere around 5th place and surprised that could still see the leaders as they went past the clock in around 5 flat.  I slowed down to hit mile one in about 5:45, way faster than I expected to be running.

At first my goal was to just finish and see what I could do but I found myself at the front of the field and my competitive nature forced me into seeing how long I could hold my position.  While I was uncomfortable I was now focused on the task at hand, finishing strong.  The next few miles went by pretty smoothly even though I was passed by a few runners.  I could hear that there was a group of runners hot on my tail both by the sound of their footsteps as well as their labored conversations.   I just focused on maintaining a steady pace and heart rate knowing that I only had so much that I would be able to give.

Somewhere around mile 5 I noticed that there was a bicycle following me and I was starting to wonder why.  After a few minutes I realized it was the escort for the 1st place female runner.  I was at a tough place at this point, probably more than at any other point in the race, I was uncomfortable, and I was mentally starting to lose it.  Hearing the bike actually propelled me to push and stay focused.  Considering the bike hung around longer than I would have liked it to, it seemed to be that I was losing time to both the lead female and the group running behind me.  I was using the cheering at the aid stations as a gauge and that only confirmed my fear.

 In talking to the guys before the race they said the course was hilly until about mile 7 or so and after that it wasn't that bad.  There was a long steady hill right around mile 7 where I decided to make my move.  I pushed up the hill hoping it would separate me from the group that was chasing, and once I hit that top I was happy to no longer hear any conversations or bicycle sounds.  While I might have broken away from the majority of the group on the back side of the hill I was hurting.   I pushed hard to get up that hill but I managed to lose 2 places on the way down.  One guy had been on my heels the whole race where as the other one came out of nowhere and seemed to be super fresh.  As he passed me he shouted out some form pointers, which I found odd at the time, because in all honesty who shouts out form pointers to another runner while in a race running a 6 minute mile? That being said I have actually incorporated his tips into my running this week and have noticed an improvement.  Go figure.  While the 2 guys passed me, they had not been able to do it in a significant way as I was still hot on their heels.

As I came into mile 9 in just under an hour I was looking at my watch and was in complete shock when I realized that even after last weekend I had a shot to hit a personal best if I just finished with somewhere around an 18 minute 5k.  I was ready to push the last 3 miles and see what else I could squeeze out of myself.  As I crossed the mile 10 marker it was showtime, I was ready to push out every last ounce of energy I had left.  I had finished long runs with a 5k tempo finish plenty of times in training so I was ready to go.  

I stopped caring about my pace and just started caring about my heart rate, if my heart rate wasn't 170 or above I wasn't working hard enough.  There were numerous times when I looked at my watch and I saw a number under 170 and yelled at myself to push harder.  I was pushing s hard as I could yet I only managed to eek out a 6:29 for mile 11, disappointed in myself I resolved to push harder for the next mile and was able to sneak a 6:15, but I knew that still wasn't good enough.  I unzipped my tri top to let some air in hoping it would have a cooling effect and allow me to dig a bit deeper.  The last mile or so I started to talk to, OK yell, at myself out loud. I kept on pushing.  I know we had an uphill finish but I was a little disappointed when mile 13 clicked off at a 6:24.  I asked one of the cops at the final turns how many ahead of me and he told me 8 or 9.  I  zipped up my jersey at mile 13 and continued to push, I didn't seem to be gaining or losing an ground so it looked like I was about to cross the line in 9th or 10th place overall.  I had the course clocked slightly long at 13.19 which gave me an average pace of 6:15 when I crossed the line at 1:22:35 which was good enough for 10th place overall and 2nd place in the M30-39 age group. Garmin Data

5.0 training effect means I could not have gone any harder!

5.0 training effect means I could not have gone any harder!

After the race I got a much needed massage and waited for Erica to finish her race.  I changed into something dry and put a windbreaker so that I wouldn't freeze.  I went back to the finish line with camera in hand getting ready to get her coming across for her first marathon finish.  For the second time of the day I teared up knowing that she would soon be accomplishing the goal that she had worked so hard for and I couldn't be happier for her.  She came across the line at 4 hours flat finishing strong, and happy to be done.

4 Flat Finish!

4 Flat Finish!

While I was initially disappointed that I wasn't able to get much speed in that last mile once I got home and downloaded the race data I was much happier.  There was almost 100 ft of climbing over the last mile or so to get back up to the finish line and because of that my normalized graded pace was a 5:51 which was much more indicative of my efforts at the time.  I was happy I was able to have so much to give a week after a really intense effort. My efforts landed me 10th place overall and 2nd place in the M30-39 age group.  I can't complain with my first podium finish at a huge half marathon.    I decided after the race to take off a few weeks from racing and focus my sights on the Revolution at Rev3 Quassy in June.  

Thanks to my Sponsors, Endurance Films, Forte Gelato, Pacific SBR, Skora Running and HUUB USA.  As always thanks for reading!

The fruits of my labor for the day!

The fruits of my labor for the day!

I'm here to win but..Rev3 Knoxville Halfrev Race Report

After a winter of countless hours of training which lead to numerous training and racing personal bests I headed down to Tennessee with one thing on my mind, a win.  Not an age group win but an outright win of the race.  Since the pro athletes would be racing the olympic distance it left the half iron open to the age groupers for the taking.  I headed down to TN I was in the best shape in my life which was confirmed by the 7.2% body fat reading that I got on my scale that i haven't seen since before I raced Ironman Lake Placid in 2008.  The weather predictions a few days out were as bad as could be, a high of 58 with a 90% chance of rain.   I was hoping that would change but unfortunately mother nature had other ideas.

Pre-race travel went smoothly.  I was able to get the bike packed on Thursday afternoon before flying out and the bike arrived on time with our flight.  Knoxville had to have been one of the cleanest and nicest airports I have ever been to.  On the way out there was a huge, well maintained fountain that went the length of the walkway that immediately put my mind at ease.  The hotel was just a short 20 minute drive from the airport and once we got there we called it a night.  

Fooling around in downtown knox

Fooling around in downtown knox

Pre Race Meal

Pre Race Meal

Before I knew it race day was here.  I was excited to put myself to the test and see what I would be able to do.  The day started out much like Saturday it was cold and raining, not ideal conditions to race in especially with a technical bike course like Knoxville.  After having my pre-race meal we walked down to the transition area from the hotel.  I did my usual pre race routine and got everything ready for go time.  Fortunately transition was in a covered garage so we were able to seek shelter before we made the walk down to the pier to the swim start.

Swim: 1.2 Miles (1.23 according to Garmin) 31:06 (30:38 actual swimming time 1:25/100y)  18/327 OA

I was excited to get my new HUUB Archimedes in open water for the first time.  I had great success with it in the pool so I could only expect the same when it came to open water and I didn't have to deal with flip turns.  The water temp was supposedly clocked at 58 degrees which really didn't seem as big of a deal to me as people were making it seem. As we jumped in the water to await the final countdown I had never been so anxious for the gun to go off, my feet were cold and I just wanted to get moving.  

I placed myself right in the front line hoping to be able to grab on to a faster pair of feet and see if I could limit my energy expenditure.  They finally sent us off and I was out in front seemingly by myself.  When I looked up to sight I saw two guys swimming at a decent clip but I decided the energy it would take for my to bridge the gap wouldn't be worth it so I was pretty much relegated to swimming by myself.  After swimming for about 5 minutes I was all warmed up and didn't think twice about how cold the water was.  In fact I thought it was quite refreshing!  As we headed out to the turn buoys the current was getting increasingly stronger.  I didn't realize how strong the current was until I made the right turn to swim across and I almost missed the second right turn buoy because I was being pushed downstream.

As soon as I made the second right turn it was like I suddenly turned in to Michael Phelps, I was flying!  The current that we were just swimming against was now at my back, my HUUB had me in the proper swimming position and I was moving fast.  I could see there was a bunch of swimmers ahead of me but I had no idea how many.  The current was still with us and I felt great but I was still behind.  Since swimming isn't my strength I'm used to coming out of the water behind and relying on my bike/run combo to get me back in to the race. Next thing I know I'm at the swim exit with a new fresh water swim PR. I hit the dock at 30 min flat but to exit the water we had to climb up and I totally misjudged how high I had to pull myself up and I ended up right back in the water!  I regrouped and pulled myself out getting ready for the .3 mile barefoot run to transition.  All that being said I can't really be upset with a swim in the to 5%

Transition tools of the trade

Transition tools of the trade

T1: 4:31 (5:01 Garmin)

After I got up on the dock I started to run and passed at least 3 people who came out of the water ahead of me, I knew every second from here on out was going to count, and I needed to keep myself in contention by making up time where I could.

Bike 56 Miles(56.06 Garmin) 2:39:04 21.2 Mph 8/327 Overall

248 Average power, 280 Normalized, VI 1.13

I rode this course a little more conservatively than I normally would since when we drove the course on Friday there were several points to watch out for when dry.  I promised Erica that I would be careful and not do anything stupid, I was here to win, but not at all costs.  Once on the bike I immediately went to work.    I passed a few guys within the first few miles and I never looked back.  I had a killer instinct and I was ready to go.  At this point I started to ask how many bikes ahead so I could get an idea of what I needed to do to move to the front.  I kept getting the same answer which was 5, and early on I didn't seem to be gaining any more ground, but I didn't seem to be losing any either.  

After the first big climb comes a twisty descent that was pretty sketchy with the rain, I got passed for the first time here,  and as the guy passed we both commented on how nuts what we were doing was.  I was being extra cautious and let him go once we hit the bottom of the hill I worked my way back and passed him on the flat.  This is how much of my ride would go.  I was actually being so conservative on the downs that I think I might have ridden some of the uphills faster.  The first 15 miles of the course was more of the same I had a few athletes pass me on the descents but I was able to make up the ground once I knew I was in a relatively "safe" zone.  At some points it was raining so hard you could not see more than 2 inches in front of you.  The roads were all slick and hydroplaning was certainly a fear.  Not to mention going fast when its raining that hard just plain hurts, it can feel like you are having pebbles thrown at you! 

Once I hit mile 15 I got back in the zone and started riding more aggressively as there were less problem spots.  In addition to dealing with the wet roads and flooding I had to deal with dodging a few random dogs. At least 3 of them left their yards to chase me and fortunately they only started to chase after I was already in front of them.  At this point when I asked I was being told there were 5 or 6 bikes ahead of me.  I could see one, and I never quite could get close enough to pass. No one passed me after that point and I couldn't see anyone anywhere behind me.   I felt great on the bike and had no issues besides being way too careful coming down some of the hills.  

Somewhere around mile 40 the course intersects with the Olympic course which is where I lost the athlete I was chasing.  There were a ton of athletes still on the course and the congestion made it hard to find him.  I started to weave my wave through the athletes still on the course looking for anyone with an H on their calf but I didn't see anyone.  I used the bikes on the road for motivation to keep pushing, sometimes it's so much easier when you see people on the course, especially on days like this.  It can be lonely racing up at the front especially when you don't see anyone for miles.  

I made it up the final big climb and eased down the descent making sure I was safe then I took off riding aggressively again.  I knew I was pretty much safe at this point and just wanted to be done.  I passed one more half athlete along with countless Olympic racers at about mile 50 as we headed back on to the highway and back to transition. I  I was in a good spot, and I was feeling good.  I only had 13 miles left to run and I was excited to see what I had left in the tank.  Somehow I managed to pace exactly how I wanted to with a normalized power of 280 watts, even though my average power was only 248. 

T2: 1:53( 1:52 Garmin):

I came in to T2 soaked to the bone and starting to get a little chilly, the temperature never really rose from the start and I never got the chance to dry off.  I was hoping the run was going to fix that!  As I dropped my bike off and got ready to put my shoes on I decided to ditch the socks I had on as well and ran sock-less for the first time.  I know... nothing new on race day, but you also don't train in torrential downpours either. Since so many of my SKORA teammates run sockless all the time without issues I wasn't really worried. For some reason I decided that I was going to run out the bike out exit, so I had to turn around and run the length of the garage, stupid mistake on my part that maybe cost me :20.  

Run: 13.1 Miles (Garmin 13.18) 1:35:30 7:15/mi Pace 10/327 OA

Starting to run my legs actually felt really good and I thought I might be poised for a good run.  I felt a little tightness in my hips from being aero for so long, but I figured they would loosen up like they normally do after a few minutes.  I ran the first mile in 6:33 which put me right on my target pace.  From my training I figured I would be able to run a 1:26 with some work, and my worst case scenario was a 1:30.  For the first 2.7 miles I felt like an absolute rock star running past all the athletes that were doing the olympic race.  Once I hit the turnaround I asked the guy how many were in front again confirming how many athletes were ahead of me.  He told me 5 and that the next was less than a minute ahead.  I knew from riding the course on Saturday the toughest part was to come as I hit mile 3. I caught the guy that was running ahead of me and I could tell he was cracking, he stopped to walk, but he heard me coming and started back up again until he eventually pulled off to the side as I passed by.  The roads were in terrible condition as most were flooded from the almost 2 inches of rain that had fallen during the race.  We were running through flooded roads, mud, and in some cases deeper than ankle water.  My shoes were soaked from the get-go so it didn't really bother me and I was impressed with the lack of hot-spots that developed with them being so wet, and me running sock-less. 

As I approached the hill on the course that many have named "the wall" I started to hear footsteps for the first time since heading on the half iron run course.  As we started to to run up the hill he asked if it was the bad one, and I replied yes, as he ran swiftly by me.  This was the first time I thought I might be in for a long day.  I backed off on my pace a touch as my back started to show signs of locking up.  The combination of the damp cold weather and the hills was starting to wear on me.  I dropped my pace to a brisk walk for the middle of the 100 ft climb to see if I could save myself, and then quickly resumed running never losing sight of the athlete that just passed.  As you come to the top of the hill you make your way out into a brutal neighborhood section that is nothing but rolling hills for the next 4 miles. 

As I made my way into the neighborhood I could still see the athlete who passed and I was looking on the other side of the out and back to see how far we were down from the leader.  I managed to hold a sub 7 pace(with the exception of the wall) until the turnaround.  I was halfway through the run and I started to feel my back really tighten.  As I approached the turn around the guy who I was chasing muttered something from the other side of the road, not really sure what he said, but I think it was meant to be encouraging.   Whatever he said he decided it was time to turn on the afterburners and somehow I never saw him again.

After the turn I got to see that I didn't have a big lead on the next athlete, and they looked super strong pounding down the hill as I was struggling to run up on the other side.  I did my best I feel like a rock star pose so he would think I was going to be tough to catch but I'm not sure how much he bought in to it.  I knew I was in trouble when I got to mile 7 and my back started to take over from my mind.  I looked back and I could see him gaining on me so I pushed through and stopped myself from walking.  I managed to hold him off until somewhere between mile 8 and 9 when we were almost out of the hills, but he eventually caught up.  When he passed I dropped back briefly and stopped to stretch my back, but I convinced myself I wasn't done. From his zoot kit I realized it was Brian, who I knew from a mutual friend was also looking to win the overall.  Knowing I was most likely out of contention for the overall podium I put my head down and made my way back to run with him, for what turned about to be less than 30 seconds.   My back was not happy and just not cooperating.

I dropped back again keeping Brian in sight trying to use him as a pacer but my back forced me to slow as mile 9 was my slowest of the day with an 8:08 and mile 10 a 7:42 as I was continuously fighting with my back up the mini rolling hills on the green way. Somewhere between mile 9 and 10 a guy with a 45 on his calf ran by me like I was standing still.   I knew once I passed the turn around I new I had 2 flat to rolling miles and I was determined not to let anyone else pass me no matter how much pain I was in.    Once back on the course with Olympic athletes and the half athletes going the other way it was easier to keep myself in the game mentally.  I don't care how good of shape you are in everyone is suffering in those last 3 miles of a half.  

I lost both Brian and the 45 year old around mile 10 and I was fighting an internal battle with myself to keep moving as fast as possible.  I managed to squeeze out a 7:19 for mile 11, but with the gradual incline back to the transition area mile 12 suffered at a 7:45 pace.  If you look at the link above you can literally see me fighting with myself to keep going several times over the course of that mile.  I was still able to run by the few athletes left on the Olympic course which provided some motivation of its own.

Once I made it back to the transition area I knew there was really only one more hill to make it up before the finish.  I rounded the turn and went under the tunnel that put us on the path back to worlds fair park.  The path was congested with Olympic athletes headed back to transition to pick up their stuff.  Fortunately they were very accommodating and most of them just stopped and made clear path for me to run by I hit the final turn and was finally running downhill.  My back was screaming at me to stop but I knew I had less than 2 minutes to go and I just pushed through fighting back the urge to throw up in the process.  I saw Erica waiting under the bridge and she ran with me until the finish chute.  I ran down the chute as fast as I could muster and crossed the line in 7th place overall with a time of 4:52. 

As soon as I crossed the line I was shaking uncontrollably for a few minutes as I had just given it everything I had.  I wasn't sure whether or not my stomach was going to empty either.   Initially I was disappointed but I know I could not have given any more on the day and for that I am proud.  You can only give what your body will allow you to on race day, and today I had to deal with some back tightness.  I thought I had at least won my age group when I crossed the line but the 45 year old guy that went flying by me had one hell of a run and ran himself into 3rd place overall and bumped the 30-34 athlete that was in 3rd down to 4th place and 1st place age group.  After doing some research on the guys that finished ahead of me I am excited that I was even in the mix at the top!  I'm motivated to continue on my journey and see what I can do at a similar race with (hopefully) better weather in Quassy next month!

I can't say thank you enough to Erica for being out there all day in the pouring rain supporting me, I'm sure it was not a lot of fun.  I want to also say thank you to all my generous sponsors, Endurance Films, Forte Gelato, Pacific Swim Bike Run, Skora Running, and HUUB USA for your continued support.

Headed out for a wet ride on a mission

Headed out for a wet ride on a mission

All Packed and ready to go!

All Packed and ready to go!

photo (5).JPG
Swim Start

Swim Start

Giving it every last ounce I have at the finish

Giving it every last ounce I have at the finish

Ready to go pre race!

Ready to go pre race!

My hard earned award

My hard earned award

Finding Motivation

As I head to Knoxville for my first triathlon of the season I have already had a great year setting personal bests on every distance from 5k-25k, while being in the mix to win some of the events.  While that may be great motivation in itself it's not always enough to get out the door day after day and push your body to levels it's never seen. However you can find motivation in the smallest things, you just have to search hard enough.   Sometimes it's little things such as a random Facebook post, or tweeted quote.

I came across this on Facebook yesterday

I came across this on Facebook yesterday

Or sometimes its something bigger like finding out your years hard work has been recognized by the national governing body of your sport.

After 9 years of racing I finally made All American! Top 10% in the US in my Age Group

After 9 years of racing I finally made All American! Top 10% in the US in my Age Group

Since I do 99% of my training alone it can sometimes be hard for me to push myself out the door for a run or a ride, but I always feel better when I'm done.  And more often than not they turn out to be some of my best workouts.  Finding motivation for me becomes most difficult for me when in taper mode since I know there is no fitness to be gained, and I am just waiting to unleash the beast (hopefully) on race day.    As I sit here 4 days out from racing a 70.3 mile race that I have been training for all winter I reflect on all those cold winter rides that I endured to be at peak fitness in just a few days.  I seemingly had no problem getting out there and riding in sub 30 degree temperatures for 3 hours but I struggled to get on my bike for my final ride yesterday when it was beautiful and 70! 

Frozen Bottle After a ride in Feb.

Frozen Bottle After a ride in Feb.

In 2013 I have had the great fortune of being able to work with several companies which also gives me motivation to keep going.  It's a special feeling each time a company agrees to have you as an ambassador for their brand.  It gives a feeling of accomplishment that a company trusts you to go out and advertise their product and be a spokesperson for them, after all you are now a part of their brand image.  The smaller the company the bigger impact you can have.  Because of my relationships with these companies I sometimes receive products in the mail randomly, which definitely provides a motivation boost.  There is no better motivation to get out and train then to get to do it with a new product!   

Care Package From Endurance Films

Care Package From Endurance Films

Lastly I find motivation from my athletes that I coach, including my fiancee, seeing them hit their goals is a constant reminder that putting in the work day after day is a prescription for success.  While Erica and I don't run together we have been doing our long runs at the same time for the last few months as she is training for her first marathon.  It sometimes would motivate me to run 20 miles instead of 18 because I knew she would be out there running with me, even if we weren't running the same pace.  There has been days when she has pushed me out the door, and there have been days when I have pushed her, that's been helpful to both of us.  Seeing my athletes achieve their personal bests all year has been great, and I know that trend will continue and continue to keep me excited to train as I get ready to compete in London in September.  

Where do you  find your motivation?

Staying on "Track" with the Treadmill

With the approach of spring most of us are headed out on the roads with our running and riding and that can only mean one thing, triathlon season is just around the corner.  Some early races have already come and gone but the meat of the season is still upon us. You probably are coming out of your base phase and getting amped up to hit the track and bust out a few sets of intervals, but that may not be the best course of action just yet.  

After months of steady pace running mileage and building that base you are going to want to hit those intervals hard.  Most athletes get over excited and want to push and see what they are capable of, instead of running within their capabilities. This is not only detrimental to their workout, but can hinder future training as it can increase recovery time needed for the workout.  

By starting your interval workouts on a treadmill you can easily control your effort and ensure you are running the correct pace.  Not only does the treadmill force you to start off at the correct pace to keep you from going too hard, it also forces you to keep your pace towards the end of intervals when you might have had the tendency to drop your pace due to fatigue.  What you get is an evenly paced set of intervals such as 8 x 200 @ :40, instead of a set that might look like :36, :42, :36, :45, :42, :45, :45, :39.  

Some athletes may look at the example and say well whats the big deal it's only a 9 second difference between the two scenarios.  However, as the intervals get longer the discrepancy between the pace that you actually should be running becomes more apparent.  So while 9 seconds doesn't seem like a big deal in terms of 200m repeats lets see what happens when we use 1000m @ 3:45 instead.  

Using the same exact percentages we would get 3:22.5, 3:56.25, 3:22.5, 4:13.125, 3:56.25, 4:13.125, 4:13.125, 3:40.375.  At these paces this athlete has spent almost a full minute pushing themselves, which is 25% more stress then they were supposed to get.  Doing 25% more work means the risk of injury is higher and workout recovery period is also going to be longer.  The less experience that you have with track intervals the more likely you are to have discrepancies in your pacing.  Using the treadmill as a pacing tool is a great way to learn what different paces feel like, and how you should feel running them.   

Since all treadmills are calibrated differently your best bet is to find a treadmill that you can use repeatedly, so that you are consistently giving your body the same stress and you can monitor progress.  As you get more comfortable with how your intervals should feel you will be able to transition your workouts to the track and learn how to pace more effectively while decreasing your risk of injury.  

Greenwich Half Marathon Race Report- Fighting to live another day

Initially going into this race I wasn't really sure how I was going to run it.  I accomplished my goal of breaking 1:20 at two weeks ago and I've been putting in some quality training time without much recovery since then. I knew I had not gained enough fitness to make a sizable difference time wise so I just wasn't sure how much I was going to be willing to give when it all came down to it unless I had a clear shot at winning the race outright.  Since It was only four weeks out from Knoxville, I did not want it to impact any of my training for the last few weeks.  I was already sitting at a negative -24 Training Stress Balance (TSB) and I knew doing anything stupid would have a big impact on my remaining training weeks.  To put things in perspective I was at a -3 going in to Savin rock two weeks ago, much more balanced.

When I went to go pick up my packet on Thursday and I was talking to the race directors about who was signed up and how many athletes.  They told me that  they weren't really sure who was racing, but someone will probably show up and run a 1:20 and win it.  In my head I suddenly went from running a Sunday morning tempo run to thinking that if I ran like I did two weeks ago I have a legitimate shot at winning.  However there is something special about races held at Tod's point in Greenwich, it doesn't seem to matter what kind of race it is, there always seems to be a big chunk of Fairfield county's finest athletes toeing the line!

We arrived at the beach somewhere around 6:20 for the 7:00 AM start.   Since we already had all of our stuff all that was left was the obligatory bathroom break as well as our warm-up runs.  Since I had such success with a minimal warm-up 2 weeks ago I decided to try and do the same and see if it stuck.  Unfortunately Once I started to run I was amazed at how shockingly terrible I felt.  My legs felt like bricks and my breathing was heavy as I was struggling to run a 7:30 pace in my warm-up.    I also saw a bunch of the guys I knew I was going to be be competing against and got a sense how the competition was going to stack up for the day.  This actually took the pressure off because although I knew it was still possible, I no longer expected myself to win.  

Inline image 5

I placed myself at the start right at the front in between the two guys who I thought to be my biggest competition on the day Mitch and Gus.  I've only finished in front of Mitch once, and still have yet to finish in front of Gus.    I figured since I was feeling like crap I would see how they would take it out and take it from there.  The start gun went off and it was like I was shot out of a cannon somehow I ended up leading the pack, which is exactly what I did not want to happen.  I looked down and my heart rate and pace were both lower than I expected so I just went with it.  I thought it was funny that someone shouted out just don't get us lost.  So here I was again at the front of the race but this time, it wasn't part of my plan.  I ran steady for the first 2 miles with a short lead as I could hear someone breathing down my neck and right on my heels.  I was sure it was Mitch or Gus but I wasn't going to waste the energy to turn around and find out which one it was.    

Right around 2 miles Gus decided it was time to make his move,  he convincingly sprung past me with a nice little surge.  As soon as he did he opened up a nice gap and knowing how I was feeling on my warm-up I decided to stay back.  It seemed that we put a big gap on the field early because I no longer heard any more breathing or footsteps. So I just stayed focused on trying not to let Gus get too far ahead.  As bad as I felt I was still having a decent run so I figured to see if I could at least hold my position for the next 11 miles.  Gus seemed to be slowly increasing his lead from miles 2-3 but in my mind I was still in striking distance.  He only had about a :15 second lead and 13.1 miles is a long way and anything can happen.  

Inline image 1

After leaving the beach area the course is slightly uphill and rolling.  I was still hot on Gus's tail until we got to the hillier section from mile 5-7.  This is where he made a big move and I lost sight of him.  There was a bunch of rolling hills and a steady climb that wasn't terrible but certainly shows my glaring weakness of being 172+ lbs and competing with guys that are 20 lbs lighter than me. I figured if I was still in second after mile 7 I would probably be able to hang on for 2nd place as 4 of the last 6 are rolling downhill, and the last 2 miles are on a beach/trail section that is hard to gain traction on.  When I lost sight of Gus it became quite a lonely run for awhile as there was no one behind me and now although I could still hear the police escort siren no one in sight in front of me.  As I was coming into the final climb one of the spectators told me I was about 90 seconds down.  Right around that point is where my race started to really unravel.  

There was a short steep downhill section just after mile 7 that was probably would have been fine any other day but for some reason effected me.  The pounding must have jostled my stomach a bit and I suddenly had a slight urge for a nature break.  I just tried to ignore it and soldier on hoping the sensation would go away.  I ran the next 2 miles getting more and more uncomfortable as time went on.  Initially I didn't realize it but It was certainly effecting my pace.  Around mile 9.5 I could hear that someone was approaching by the cheering at the aid station I had just passed prior.  I estimated there was about a 30 second gap without looking back.  My immediate thought was to actually slow down and let him catch me, then make a move and see if I could break, but once he caught up, we actually ran together for about .5 mile and chatted briefly. When I saw it wasn't Mitch I knew he likely wasn't far behind and I needed to stay on my game.  When he started to pull away as we hit the entrance back to the beach I had no response as I was growing more and more uncomfortable by the minute.  

So there I was with 3 miles to go sitting in 3rd and extremely uncomfortable,  I passed a Porto let near the gate house, but I thought it would have taken too much time to stop because Mitch was hot on my tail. I kept James in sight and was hoping that my situation would somehow miraculously relive itself so I would be able to make a final push.  Unlike two weeks ago when I was able to bury myself and just push the pace, this time I was in damage control mode and just trying to survive. Sure enough about 11 miles in I started to hear footsteps and I almost immediately knew it was Mitch.  He caught me about 11.5 miles shouted a few words of encouragement and went on his way.  He sailed right on by rather smoothly, there was no surge, as I couldn't respond while being as uncomfortable as I was.   

With a little over a mile and half to go I turned around and looked behind me for the first time and I noticed there was no one in sight.  I knew that if I was going to try and make a push to take back second or third it was going to cost me a bit of pain and probably a few days of training.  Knowing I wasn't going to score a PR, and I had the age group win in the bag I decided to shut it down and run it in easy.  I dropped my pace from roughly 6:11 to 6:50 and decided to just cruise in comfortably.  If anyone was going to challenge me for 4th I would respond, but I ran the last section as a cool down.  There was nothing for me to gain my running any harder, and I would likely lose valuable training time by pushing the pace so I am comfortable with my decision.     I was running a little too relaxed as I ended up missing the final right hand turn and I had to be sent back on course by one of the volunteers which resulted in me having a narrow age group victory of only 17 seconds. Gus blew away the field with a 1:15, and Mitch surged into second with a 1:20, with James hanging on a few seconds behind him for 3rd.   On a good day given the course I feel I could probably run a 1:18, but today wasn't that day, maybe next year! 

Inline image 2

One day later I couldn't be happier with my decision.  I don't feel run down and I can go in to a normal week of training.  Not only that, my TSB decreased slightly to -21 as I only worked out for about 90 minutes yesterday which was my shortest stint of the week.  That allows me to get in about 3 full weeks of quality training before dialing it back before Knoxville. Of course no race report would be complete without a thank you to the support of my generous sponsors Endurance Films, Forte Gelato, Pacific Swim Bike Run, and Skora Running and my lovely fiancee Erica who managed an 8 minute PR of her own! 

IMAG0416