Lake Placid Trip #1 2012

As I woke up in another hotel room this morning I thought to myself “I wonder when the last time these sheets were laundered”.  Then I realized I was once again in the land of swim, bike and run which is Lake Placid, NY.  A cozy little town nestled in the Adirondack Mountains which every summer comes alive with triathletes from all over.  This trip marks that fourth summer I have come to Lake Placid to do some type of training/relaxing.  It all started way back in August of 2009.  Having just discovered the sport and promptly signed up for IMLP 2010 I needed to see what I was getting myself into.  The lasting memory from that trip was the fact that I was on a new TT bike and the first loop felt good…but the second was hell.  I am not sure how much has changed since then.  The second loop always hurts!

Lake Placid is a comfortable place for me.  I know where things are and the good places to ride, run and swim.  In the summer months motivation and energy are plentiful due to the sheer volume of athletes in town.  I guess that is one of the main reasons I enjoy it up here so much.  Sure, the scenery is beautiful and mountains are majestic…but really it is the energy from all the people that makes the most impact on me.  Its the same reasons that Boulder, San Diego and many other training destinations are so popular.  The landscape and scenery are a bonus but the thing that matters is the fact so many people are around for constant motivation.

So while I continue to get back into it training wise having a little extra boost will be great.  It’s funny just how much fitness I lost form taking about 10 complete days off after the Boise race.  I drove across the country (sat on my butt a lot), could have ate better, didn’t exercise and really just tried to chill out as much as I could.  The first couple days after Boise weren’t hard since my legs were a tad sore from the Boise run and the driving was paramount to me getting across the country as fast as possible.  However, once back East and recovered I definitely had an itch.  Luckily the fact that I had a wedding last weekend made the time go by quickly.

Now that I am back a it, I am just astounded at just how much you lose when you back off a bit.  I honestly haven’t taken that much time off since last November after Florida.  In the long run it will be good for me as I have a full schedule over the next 4.5 months…and that is what matters.  And now that the first few workouts back are done I am confident that things will start getting back to normal this weekend.  At least I hope they will as my long ride on Saturday won’t be much fun if the fitness doesn’t return 🙂

From Sippin’ Barista to Dunkin Donuts’: My Journey across the USA Part 2

I last left you with a recap from the weather shortened Boise 70.3  It has now been a little over a week since the race and I have since driven over 3,800 miles.  The first leg of my cross country trip back east after the Boise race was the drive to Penn Yan, NY (Home).  This journey in total was around 2,400 miles, but don’t quote me on that as I am purely making an educated guess.  I made the journey in three days of driving, stopping the first two nights at around 9:30 PM to get a mom-requested “good nights sleep” at a place other than my front car seat.  Rest assured mom and all those mom-types, I laid my head to rest at a Fairfield and Hampton in respectively.

The drive across the county was largely uneventful.  My days consisted of drinking water, stopping to pee a bunch, snacking and listening to hours on end of Adam Carolla’s podcasts and new book “Not Taco Bell Material” as well as listening to the classic book “The Great Gatsby”.  Listening to Gatsby was an absolute joy as it has been a couple years since I last read it and it seems every time I read/listen to it I pick up something new.  When I have time set aside for these types of drives (aka not having specific training to do) I really enjoy the alone time.  It is a steady straight drive and really allows for you to lock into the drive.  The miles went by quickly and before long I had made it back home to beautiful Penn Yan, NY, located on Keuka Lake.

Here are a couple photo’s from the drive:

Welcome to Utah Sign
Lowest price for Gas I saw. Must be made from Corn!

I spent a couple days getting things in order once home.  This mainly consisted of unpacking my car, organizing my bike stuff and clothing and then re-packing for the next adventure.

Home Sweet Home (On Keuka Lake)

Last Friday with great excitement I headed to Boston for the wedding of one of my best buddies, CJ who I went to school with in London way back during the spring semester of 2006.  I hadn’t seen him, his bridge to be or my other best bud from London, Joe in over 4 years!  Such a tragedy when life gets in the way.  Anyways, I finally was headed to Boston to spend time with them and see CJ get married.  It is a tribute to how good a friend CJ is that after all this time he still thought enough of me to share his wedding day with him.  My friend Joe let me crash at his place on Friday night and then on Saturday the festivities began.  The ceremony was in the city and following the saying of “I DO” we headed towards the cape for the reception.  Complete with bus transportation from the hotel to the party it made for a great time.  Lots of laughs and lots of dancing ensued.  I am sure some photos will surface soon and when they do I will be sure to share the good ones.  Even though I only knew a very small group of people at the start of the wedding I ended up having a great time with all the people whom I met for the first time.  Chuck, if you’re reading this man, thanks for having me!

Once the wedding festivities had ended and the hotel rooms cleaned up I packed up once again and headed to the shores of Connecticut.  But not before CJs mom presented me with my black jacket that was purchased in London and subsequently left behind in his dorm room when I hurriedly rushed to catch my bus to the airport that fateful May day in 2006.  The jacket had been in CJ’s closet at home since he returned home that same week in 2006.  I even made a trip to Boston in 2008 to see the guys and still managed to forget it.  Well last Sunday I was finally reunited with the jacket and yes it fit great, maybe even a touch large as I have become slightly smaller since then.  But fear not, my aptitude for forgetfulness did not disappoint as it turns out I left another article of clothing, a hat behind at brunch on Sunday morning.  I guess it just means that I have an excuse to visit CJ and his Mrs. in the near future…and I promise it won’t take another 4 years.

Plymouth, MA…you know, where the Pilgrims parallel parked the Mayflower.

That finally brings me to today.  Life is good here in Old Saybrook, CT.

The Monkey Farm, a sign that has been up for as long as I can remember

I am here for a few days visiting with my grandma.  Old Saybrook has always been special to me as it was one of the first “destination” vacations I can remember as a child.  I spend many summer trips here and I always get excited driving through town and making my way along the Long Island shore as I head to grandma’s house.  A lot has changed since I started coming here a long time ago but I still get the same joy I did as a young boy in the back of a jeep.

Tomorrow I will be heading to Lake Placid for the weekend where I hope to regain some semblance of fitness.  The week of last week has definitely left me feeling “soft” but it did feel good to get moving in the pool and on the bike yesterday so hopefully by the end of the week I will be back in the swing of things.

I will check in with you all from the Starbucks on Main Street in Lake Placid this weekend.  Until then, train hard and be safe.

Sippin’ Barista to Dunkin’ Donuts: Crossing the USA Part 1 of 2

Over the past week I have nearly driven from nearly the Pacific Ocean to the coast of the Atlantic, raced in a quasi half-ironman in Boise, Idaho, watched more television in the past four days than I have in the past two year, listened to Adam Carolla’s new book called “Not Taco Bell Material” and hardly exercised at all.

The plan was to come into the Boise 70.3 with a really good level of fitness and have a great day on the course.  However, mother nature had a different idea of what the 70.3 would become.  On race morning the temperature was cold, rain was pouring and the wind was blowing.  Some say that the race officials even saw snow on some parts of the bike course.  The end result was a shortened bike segment from 56 miles to just 14 miles, which was the distance from the swim course back into town where T2 was.  (It was a point to point race)  Even though I had pretty much everything I own in my car last weekend I was totally unprepared for the pre-race hours and just how cold and nasty it was.  You see, the point to point setup made it such that you would drop your run bag off in T2 downtown (where my hotel was and where the race would finish) and then drive about 20-30 minutes out to the reservoir where the swim would be.  On the way out to the reservoir I knew I was in trouble.  I did not have a jacket to keep me warm and after I would drop off my gear on my bike I would literally have nothing to keep warm in until when my race started at 12:50, which was fifty (50) full minutes after the pro’s went off, and it was still raining and extremely cold with temperatures in the mid 40’s.  Adding salt to the wound, in order to get up into T1 you had to climb a big hill that was nearly 3/4 of a mile.  The first time I ventured out of the cocoon of the warm Athletes Lounge Xterra I took my bike, put it on my shoulder and made the trek to my spot.  After debating how I was going to stay warm on the bike (at this point no change to the race had been made, for all I knew it was still the regular bike and regular race distance) which led me to making the decision that being warm for 56 miles was more important that having a fast transition.  I opted to put arm warmers, a long sleeve shirt, vest and gloves in my bag.  This ultimately would add to my dismal transition times.  But more on that later.  I will wrap up the pre-race drama by saying that after I put my winter apparel in my gear bag I made my way through the rain all the way back down to the car.  I then cranked up the heat and sat in front of the heaters until 12:05.  At that point I put on my wetsuit at the base of the hill and began to run up to the swim start.  This would couple as my pre-race warmup and the only way to get my core temperature up.  The only downside was that when I reached the top I still had about 50 minutes until my race started.  You see because of the weather I would soon find out that the bike was being shorted (swim and run stayed the same) and the race start was pushed back about 10 minutes.  This meant more time in the rain before the start of the race and a big wrench thrown into my race plan.

The pre-race period like I said was cold and standing in the rain for almost an hour while the other waves went off was pretty much as bad as it sounds.  Luckily the morning clothes bag van stayed until after the last wave went off so I was able to wear socks and shoes right up until the point when my wave began to be ushered into the corral.

Swim: 30:11 (7th division, 68th overall)

The swim was fantastically cold.  I thought that after spending almost an hour in the cold rain that the “warm” water at 52 degrees would feel like a bath.  However, I was mistaken as the water felt like an ice bath.  I was probably bobbing in the water for about 3 minutes before it was time for our wave to go off.  I can honestly say that is the coldest I have ever been in the water.  It took until at least the second buoy before I felt the effects of churning arms begin to warm me.  The swim overall went pretty well despite the cold temperatures. Really the main challenge was avoiding all the traffic from the waves of age groupers ahead of me.  After the first right hand turn I locked onto some feet and stayed with him for the remainder of the swim.

Everything good about the swim was quickly negated by the horrific T1 time I had.  It was an absolute cluster f*&% due to the fact that my hands just wouldn’t work.  My brain was telling them to put on my shirt, buckle my helmet and strap my bike shoes tight but the hands were so cold that all dexterity had been lost.  I literally spend 2 extra minutes in transition due to this.  I also decided that dropping my bike off the rack and onto the ground would be a good idea.  Ugh..it was brutal and ended up being the difference between an 8th place amateur finish and a top 5.

None the less I did my best on the bike to make up any time I could.  Since it was now only 14 miles the plan became, “go as hard as you can”.  I am happy to say that I was pretty much on par with most of the pros splitting just over 33 minutes.  This included a stop right after I went over the timing mats to tighten my bike shoe and a good deal of coasting due to crowded roads from the age groupers ahead of me.

Bike: 33:23 (6th division, 39th overall)

T2 was like T1.  I had a very hard time getting my sneakers on even with laces that didn’t need tying.  I was just really struggling getting the heal of the shoe over my own heel for some reason.  Again I gave away at least a full minute because of this.

Onto the run course I went.  Again since this race has been drastically shortened I really didn’t have a game plan as to what I wanted to do with my run.  While on the bike I figured that I would start out around 6:00 min/mi pace and go from there.  I covered the first mile in 6:00 minutes and felt pretty good, with the only exception being that my feet were like bricks.  I mean they were FROZEN.  It wasn’t until the second loop that I regained feeling in both feet.  Over the first loop I mainly chased a guy that came into transition right next to me (he was 24 and in an AG below me but we started in the same wave so we were racing for the same time).  He came into transition about 5 seconds before me and was out of transition a good 45 seconds before me.  Thus, over the first 5 miles I just kept looking at his back from a good distance.  I ended up making the catch at about 5 miles in and proceed to run side by side with him until mile 9.  We had a couple exchanges and finally at mile 9 I made some comment like “good racing man, whatever happens man thanks for the company”.  I am not sure if running with him for those 4 miles was a good or bad thing because my avg pace was the highest during those but they were also the most difficult in terms of exertion for me.  Its not the beginning so you are facing a bit of fatigue and it was still a bit far out to start giving it my all.  Whatever the case may be it got me through the 4 miles in a good place and with just about 3 – 3.5 miles to go I began to pick up the pace.  Things worked well for me after that.  I pulled away from my run buddy and gave a good 5k effort to the finish line.

…and then this happened.  As I was coming down the finishing shoot I happened upon the man in the blue tank, yeah the guy with the crazy face.  As I came up from behind him (I was running faster than him at that point as I was from a later wave start and I was just hustling to the finish line to try and get there as fast as I possibly could) he decided it was a life or death situation and rather than “fight” he was going to take “flight”.  It was as if he took personal offense to being past in the final 100 yards of a race.  I wasn’t really all about having a sprint off finish with some guy not in my AG who started at the very closest 5 minutes before me.  Despite my pained expression in the background I wasn’t really hurting all that much.  Truth be told I was a bit ticked off that this was how the finish ended up for me, but once I saw this picture all that was wiped away from my mind and replaced with joy.  Joy of making this guy look like that.  This photo is priceless and I hope you all can enjoy it as much as me.

At the Boise 70.3 finish line. Just look at that determination on his face!

Run: 1:20:27 (4th division, 31st overall)

All in all I was very pleased with my individual splits from the race.  If I had not screwed the transitions up so badly I would have been much higher placed.  For that I am disappointed in myself.  I should have prepared myself better for the situation at hand.  For instance Matty Reed, the eventual co-champion wore his wetsuit on the short 14 mile bike ride both keeping him warm and making T1 FAST!  It’s things like that I need to take into account.  And yes, I was pretty bummed the bike portion was shortened by so much since cycling has been a big focus this year.  It ultimately made the Boise race into a track meet.  I did have my PR at the 13.1 distance but did it on only 14 miles so I really can’t count that.  The bottom line is that some guys can pop off 1:11 – 1:15’s and that is what it takes.  I don’t have that speed in my legs yet, but there is still time.  If anything the fact that this race became a bit of a mess only adds fuel to the fire.  I am excited to get back to training and cannot wait for the rest of my races this season.  First up will be my hometown half ironman, The Musselman in Geneva, NY.  I have a lot of work to do as taking a week off from training coupled with driving a lot and eating sub optimally has left me feeling a bit “soft” to say the least.  Hopefully spending a few days on the Long Island Sound training and spending time with my Grandmother will get me back in the swing of things.  And even if that doesn’t I know that once I get to Lake Placid on Thursday it will be all business.

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