It is amazing what can take place in the course of 365 days. Just last year my friend Eric Lagerstrom visited me in New York after he raced is last ITU race of his first professional season. Eric stayed with me for a few days as I was preparing to race in Kona for the first time. During this time Eric was contacted by United States Triathlon to be a part of Team USA at the World Championships in New Zealand in the U23 Championship. Almost 365 days later, many thousands of miles run, biked and yards swam he had one of his best performances to date in becoming the United States Elite Sprint National Champion. Yep, a National Champion. Ask him 365 days ago if this was going to happen he probably wouldn’t have been able to give you a good answer. However, his determination and drive would tell a different story. He took the steps necessary to achieve what he did at the Super Sprint Triathlon held in Las Vegas, NV. Simply put he followed his passion and did whatever it took to achieve his goal. All this in just 1 year…365 days. What’s more inspiring and refreshing than achieving a HUGE goal in 12 months? Anything is possible when you allow yourself to be completely and utterly devoted towards making something work.
Eric’s a good friend of mine and I’m glad I can share a brief glimpse of his story with you all. I am sure he will have his own thoughts up for you all to see very soon as well. The reason that I write of Eric’s story is to illustrate how things can take a 180 in 365 days. In my case the past 365 have brought me to the exact same place, at least geographically speaking. As I put these thoughts to paper (or wordpress paper) I am flying across the country on the first leg of my trip back to Kona for my second crack at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI. Last year’s race was an amazing experience for me. To experience the race and all that surrounds it was a unique and special experience. One that I was able to spend with my Mom, Dad, Brother and his family. I’d be lying if I said I was satisfied with my performance as I felt I had more in me. However, the fact is that I did what I did. That’s the beauty of the sport. No excuses, no corners cut, no adjustment of reality. All the training and work done in preparation comes down to a time XX:XX, that’s what your left with. It’s pretty great actually.
So here I am making the pilgrimage back to Kona once again. The goals are different, yet the same. With another year of training behind me, my fitness is at a higher level than last year and thus a better performance is to be expected. However, that expectation is purely based on training and the data from that training. What that expectation lacks is execution and execution is exactly what dictates whether my race day goes “Good or Bad”. Simple as that, the hay is “almost” in the barn as they say. I’ve got a few big training sessions left in my preparation for the race to get through along with the numerous other workouts that will be on my schedule. None are to be taken lightly as within a 3-4 week window everything I do can and does have a direct impact on race day performance. But enough talking about something that isn’t going to happen for another 3+ weeks.
What I really wanted to get across is that over the past year my own life has had a lot of change in it. Change that I feel I has been laying the ground works for quite some time, just as my friend Eric had with his. Change typically does not come from nothing. Instead it is the conclusion to a long process of foundation laying, brick by brick construction of a long term plan. In my case I feel that ever since 2010 and more so in 2011 when I left the world of public accounting that I was building towards a life that I wanted, a life that was extremely rewarding and equally challenging. For some that comes in the corporate world of business and trade…for me it comes with trying to be the best triathlete I can be. Ability aside, what it comes down to is that I love trying to push myself to the next level and achieve goals that I didn’t even realize were on my horizon when this all began. I don’t expect things to just happen or just happen quickly, but what I do expect is that I will stay the course, pursue the right steps and fight hard to realize my goals. I am EXTREMELY luck to have opportunities I have and to waste them would be a disservice to myself and those that believe in and support me.
Last year I was living at home in Penn Yan, NY with my parents on beautiful Keuka Lake. A really great place to be for most of the year, with the exception being the cold and bleak winter months. Luckily, last year I was able to skip town and head South for a quality training camp during February and March with a great bunch of QT2 Pro athletes. Since that camp my life has seemed to be on almost fast forward. Going from race to race in Texas, New Jersey, Connecticut and finally making camp in Lake Placid for the majority of June and July. It has really been an awesome experience. Through it all I have landed in Boston, MA, a place that has always been on my radar ever since deciding on which college to attend. I took a long round about path but I have finally made it to the home of the Boston Red Sox. I’ve got some great friends who have allowed for this move to happen and who have given me the opportunity to be sustainable. To them I can’t say thank you enough since without them this truly wouldn’t be possible. Hopefully someday, somehow I can repay them. I really mean it, you guys know who you are and your kindness and generosity is tremendous.
The move to Boston has really been great. Allowing me to be with the people I want to be with and progress in my goals. On top of spending time with those that matter to me, I have been able to find solid training here in Boston. Between the weekly group rides, runs along the Charles and miles of suffering in Brockton things are pretty darn good. The ability to train with those people who can kick my butt on a daily basis is priceless towards my own development. I just hope that my training partners are getting as much out of our workouts as I am.
So that’s a little update on what has gone on in the past year. In summary I’ve bounced around a lot, raced a bunch, moved to Boston, got a job working at Fast Splits, a triathlon specific store in Newton, MA, spent way to much $$ at Whole Foods and have seemingly acquired two news bikes I did not know I was in the market for. (SHAMELESS PLUG: I have two bikes a Trek Madone and Speed Concept for sale. Any takers? At a steal of a price!!) All this has led me to be headed to the same exact place I was last year…right on Ali’I Drive. Even though I will be at the same place, I know that I am definitely different in many good ways, and that difference will help dictate the course of events out on the Big Island. I can’t wait to toe the line again in Kona against the worlds best. My support system will be with me and that’s the icing on the cake. Because win or lose I know that someone will go pig out on junk food with me after the race!
This year’s IMLP journey started while I was spectating the 2012 edition. I was trying to decide on an Ironman for 2013 and after experiencing the energy that Lake Placid exudes on race week as well as race day I knew that I wanted to race this course again. Come Monday morning after the race I jumped on my computer and secured my 2013 slot.
In 2010 Lake Placid was my first Ironman and since then triathlon has evolved from simply a fun outlet to a true passion and way of life. Thus, racing the 2013 edition really meant a lot to me as it was a bit of a culmination of almost 4 years of hard work dating back to the summer of 2009. I’ve made decisions in my life and chose certain routes to allow me to make triathlon a priority and having something validate those decisions means a lot to me personally. So leading into this years race I really afforded myself the opportunity to train hard and train focused. I was able to have a solid start to the year in Texas and continued improving through May and June. After an early June race at the REV 3 Quassy half, the rest of the month was more or less spent in Lake Placid where swam, rode and ran a bunch. Getting to know the course on a very personal level…and also spending some quality camping time with the one and only Tim Snow aka “The Pride of Brockton, MA”. After the time in LP and a few solid weeks of busting my hump in Brockton, MA, I headed back to LP to prepare for race day.
Race week went by quickly with a few decent workouts to get the body ready to really put out on Sunday. Once Friday afternoon hit, it was time to eat and rest. Oh yeah, as you can see in the above photo from Saturdays “Big Breakfast” my buddies (The Strater Brothers) and I got the clippers out on Wednesday night and did some creative work on each others heads. Don’t worry though, my head is back to normal now.
After breakfast on Saturday I spent most of the day laying in bed along with the quick trip down to transition to drop my bike off. Sometime that night I drifted off to sleep until 3am. Race morning went by quickly and before I knew it I was laying on the beach listening to Mike Reilly give pre-race directions. With 15 minutes to go until the AG start I popped my Powergel and swam over to the swim start line. This year’s race incorporated a new rolling swim start whereby each competitor assembled into a line that was determined by their approximate swim pace. I made my way to the 60 minute and under group and started asking around as to what people were going to swim. I ended up being surrounded by 58-60 min swimmers. In reality it didn’t matter that much as there were only about 20-25 of us at the front of the swim start line, so once the gun went off I was in the water within 3 seconds. In fact I was taken by surprise since I thought I’d have a good 30 seconds cushion from when the gun went off and I’d get in the water. None the less I hustled in the water, running around a few people who were gingerly getting into the water and began my day. The first loop was nice. With the new rolling swim start a decent pace line of sub 1 hour swimmers was formed and we moved through the first 1.2 miles pretty quickly. Coming in around 29 minutes flat. The second loop ended up being a but slower due to the fact that we had caught up to the slower swimmers, who had entered the water about 17 minutes after we did. That loop ended up feeling like we were swimming through a minefield. Constant dodging and weaving to avoid the masses of people swimming. In the end I exited the water right around 59 minutes.
Swim: 59:22 – 8th in AG, 92nd Overall
Transition went by smoothly as I was able to locate my bags, change in a relatively clear tent and my bike was waiting for me as I ran through transition thanks to an astute volunteer. Once I was on the bike some muscle near in the vicinity of my butt was really agitated. Maybe it was a cramp or something…and it HURT! With 112 miles ahead of me I wasn’t to happy to find it hard to pedal at mile 1. I put down a couple salt tablets and drank a bottle as I soft peddled the first 4-5 miles. By the time I was climbing my way towards Keene things began to feel a bit better and I was able to start putting down some power. The muscle tightness never really went away all day but it got to a point where it was manageable to race, so it ended up being all good.
On the bike with the cramp more or less behind me I felt very comfortable. I knew that the climbing and descents were where I could really make up time. The first descent was a little dicey due to the wet roads and rain coming down. Glasses were a must to protect the eyes against the rain drops that felt like little pebbles hitting me. The glasses made it hard to see the road, so a little caution was used while going down the hill. Even backing off a little bit I was able to pass a few racers and even went by a couple Pro racers who had an 8 minute head start on me. After the descent it was onto the flat section towards Jay and Ausable Forks. During both loops this section was pretty quick as we had a slight tailwind, which was nice. Heading towards Ausable Forks on the out and back I was able to see where I was in relation to the pro field as well as where I was in the amateur race too. Since I started so close to the swim start (within 5-10 seconds) I knew that I was truly racing those in front of me for the most part. For reference on where I was in relation to the big guys, Andy Potts was coming up on the right hand turn to the climb up to Wilmington as I was stating the out and back section.
The first loop went by very well and I was feeling good and strong as I went through town. I held myself in check as I went through town among the masses of cheering people and began the climb for the second time. The descent on the second loop was much better as the roads had dried out and the rain had stopped. I worked the downhill as best as possible and hit the flats again. The last 28 miles coming back from Ausable Forks and along 86 which passes by Whiteface Mtn and finishes with the infamous “bear” hills definitely got a bit tougher and I had to dig a little deeper than the previous loop. In any case I knew I was in a good position overall and I wanted to get back to T2 and start running.
Bike: 5:06 – 1st in AG, 14th Overall
T2 like the first went very smoothly. Coming in when I did off the bike allowed me to have the whole changing tent to myself. I had two volunteers catering to my every need. After the change it was onto the run course to try and keep the good times rolling. The first loop was absolutely lovely. I felt great and for the first 8 miles I had the whole course to myself. It was really an awesome experience to be in the race and running solo along River Rd to the turn around. I was in the void between the PROs battling it out for the win and the Age Groupers chasing them. I knew I had a few AG’ers out in front of me so I was very interested to get to the out and back at mile 6 and see where I was. I ended up learning that I was in 4th place with 20 miles to go. A LONG TIME! Which was good and bad. Heading back into town the first time I was still feeling good, seeing more and more people as you get closer to town is a great feeling and really makes those hills not feel as steep. However, once I made the turn in town to head back out on my 2nd loop I knew something wasn’t exactly right. The best way I can explain it is that I was losing energy and just didn’t have that same pep in my step as I had during the first loop. It was right around mile 14 when Tim Snow, my training partner of late came by me. I had passed him on the second loop and been ahead ever since. It was definitely a motivating factor for me to try and stay ahead of him as long as possible since he’s a crusty veteran who can never be counted out when it comes to the run. I tried my best to keep him in sight as we made our way out onto River Rd., but eventually he turned a corner and that was that. I suffered a good deal on that second loop, the miles 14-22 were really rough. It’s something I have to work on in order to be truly competitive. Luckily, I will have another shot at 26.2 off the bike in a couple months.
Run: 3:14 – 2nd in AG, 16th Overall
I ended up finishing in 9:26 which put me in 16th place overall and 2nd in my Age Group. I accepted my Kona Qualifying spot and thus will be focusing on getting ready to compete in Kona this October. I can’t wait to get back to the big island and try for some redemption on the Queen K.
I want to take thank all those who have helped make this day possible. First off my parents for helping me along on this adventure. They support me fully and completely, always come and cheer for me and I absolutely could not do any of this without them. Next is QT2 Systems for all their coaching and support. In particular I have to give a big thank you to QT2 Coach, Tim Snow who ended up training me into shape during June and July. Also, all the QT2 Team Sponsors that allow me to train, race and recover with the best products possible. Normatec and their boots keep my legs and body feeling as fresh as possible, and I have to say that getting right in the boots immediately post race in Lake Placid has made a tremendous difference on my recovery. No cankels for this guy! Rudy Project for the sunglasses and helmets that keep me looking good (and safe) while training and racing. Pearl Izumi for our race day kits and all the other apparel for daily training. Dr. Sears Omega Rx Fish Oil for keeping all the inflammation in my body down. And of course Towpath Bikes for equipping me with some really fast gear.
Before I left Lake Placid I had to stop in to one of the nicest coffee shops in the world. This little place in the Alpine Mall (the one connected to the Golden Arrow) has one of the nicest views you can get while enjoying a delicious cup of coffee. Here, check it out!
I had the pleasure, and yes it was truly a pleasure to race my first REV3 event last weekend. REV3 is truly a class act and put on an amazing race, which was set among the hilly terrain of central Connecticut. The race, held at a local amusement park made for the perfect backdrop for a fun day in the sun. Luckily it was not the same heat as was present on Saturday in which the temperatures hit the mid 90’s. This made for an unpleasant bike check-in, but otherwise was relatively unnoticed as most of the day before race is spend inside with the feet off the ground and in my Normatec Boots and filling myself with CHO of course.
Race morning started around 4:15ish, at transition by 5:30 and awaiting race start by 6:30. The PRO’s went off around 6:50 which left me with a little under an hour until my wave started (@7:40). We started in ankle deep water which allowed for a few steps to be taken before a couple dolphin dives. I went out as hard as I could and found myself at the front of a large mass of under 30 year old men. It was at this point that I either needed to sit in or man-up and bridge to one of the solo swimmers in my wave that was ahead of me. I estimated that there were around 5 people ahead of me after 400 yards and with this solo swimmer about 15 meters ahead I went full gas and bridged up to him. It was one of my proudest moments as a swimmer when I made the gap and was able to sit in his draft until the first buoy. It was at this point when his pace slowed and I went by. The rest of the swim for me was a series of solo swimming and subsequently passing through large masses of swimmers as I caught up to the waves that started before me. In the end I posted a 28:58, which I was extremely pleased with and had me 4th in my wave and around 35th amateur. Not spectacular by any means but it was a swim that kept me in contention.
Transition once again proved to be a let down for me as I had a hard time locating my bike which was in the middle of 1,000 other bikes. I had a game plan for this and even had landmarks to help me but I still managed to mess it up. A bit of panic ensued and I even thought that some greedy triathlete must have taken off with my bike, laughing the whole way. In the end I realized there was a second row that I was not aware of and after moving to that “other” side I found my bike and was on my way. Riding through the waves ahead of me I found myself coming up to a yellow REV3 car loaded with cameras. I was moving along pretty well at that point and ended up with that car on my butt for about 20 minutes. It was hard for them to pass me as the course is very up and down and twisty so no real good places to get by me as I was also avoiding the other bikers on the road. So if you were watching the coverage at all you may have seen my backside for about 20 minutes, my apologizes if you were subjected to this. Around 15-20 miles into the bike ride the other two top amateurs in my age group were around me. The one that had led out of the water confirmed that we were the top three. At this point I just thought to myself, “well dude we’ve got 40 miles to see who has come to play”. The initial leader out of the water ended up falling back a bit, and the biker who rode up to me ended up sticking around me for the remainder of the bike. Every once in a while I would peak back and see him in the distance, me being glad that I was the one dictating the pace as I was where I wanted to be and did not feel any outside pressure. It’s hard to truly guage effort against your competition in the amateur race as your main opponents in the overall competition could be in different age groups that took off at a different start time. Thus, you really have no idea how hard you truly need to push…you end up basically time trialing the whole race at your goal paces and hope for the best. (which was exactly the case here).
The rider that was behind me in my age group came off the bike around me but shortly into the run he had faded back. At this point it truly was me against the clock. I wish I could say I ran really well, but for my standards I felt that I underperformed. Whether it was the hilly, technical bike course that took some extra energy out of me or just a lack of pop on the day I just didn’t feel truly explosive and had a hard time stimulating my HR to the point where I wanted it. Not to say I had a horrible run…because that’s not the case. I simply rolled the miles at a solid pace. I worried that it wasn’t going to be good enough for a top amateur spot but didn’t have much say in the matter as I was stuck in 4th gear unable to throw it into one higher. Luckily over the last mile or so I convinced myself (or should I say a really steep hill helped me) to move my legs a bit faster. I sprinted in to the finish line and gave a big shout as I crossed the finish line knowing that for me I executed the race around where I thought I should be…and that was good enough for me, independent of where I finished.
Here’s me charging hard toward the finishing line while going through a solid group of QT2 Systems supporters, and those Wattie Ink guys who know how to have a good time. Loved the cheering, really made for a great finish.
And here’s me crossing the finish line. Thanks to Rev3 for allowing these pictures to be freely downloaded from your website.
After 10-15 minutes of cooling down and chit chatting, my buddy Steve Rosinski (the 2012 Quassy Amateur Champ and now PRO) helped me use the REV3’s awesome big screen computers to check the live tracking feeds. It was then I learned I had won the amateur race, which for me was the goal coming into the race so that was nice. This was bolstered by the fact that the second amateur overall was my QT2 teammate, Jason Franks who finished just behind me with a 4:28 and the fourth overall female amateur was Kaitlin Anelauskas in her third 70.3 ever who is also a QT2 Elite. A huge day for the QT2 Systems Team as a whole! There was a lot of baby blue on the podium. Follow the link below for a full recap of the weekend on QT2’s website. http://www.qt2systems.com/qt2systems-rev3-quassy-70-3-2013/
The race as a whole put on by REV3 was amazing. I loved the challenging course as it really made each athlete work for a finishing time. It was not a fast course but it was a fair course as it exposed any weaknesses an athlete may have. REV3’s attention to detail from custom winner medals that attached to the finishers medals to create a GIANT medal to the free finishers photos was awesome…simply put, they just GET IT. I can’t wait to do another REVOLUTION 3 race.
Many thanks to QT2 Systems for all that you do for your athletes, myself included. Normatec for keeping my legs as fresh as possible, Rudy Project for protecting my dome and my eyes, Powerbar for keeping me fueled for maximum output and Pearl Izumi for keeping me looking good while both racing and training! Also, many thanks to Towpath bike for always keeping my bikes in great working order!
For the last couple of weeks in April I had the pleasure of residing in what could best be described as “Pleasantville”. Taking the chance to visit my friend Brendan who is in the Navy, I flew out to San Diego for a couple weeks. What better way to get through the remaining cold and nasty days of Upstate NY then by flying the coop and getting the heck out of dodge. Brendan lives in Coronado, a peninsula of sorts just across the bay from Downtown SD, accessible only by a long bridge…or a very long trip through Chula Vista. So, really Coronado is basically a private island of sorts for the wealth and affluent, as well as all those military types who are stationed at one of the many bases located on the island.
I had a great time in San Diego as the weather was perfect every single day. Sunny and in the 70’s; like clockwork. I was able to put in a solid two week training block without having to utilize the trainer once. It was a good trip that allowed me to focus on my training as well as connect with a long time friend and meet his new friends. I was able to take in a Padres game, see an ITU event in person and catch up with my buddy Eric Lagerstrom who is doing big things in short course triathlon as he works towards RIO 2016.
San Diego training was legit. As evidenced by my face here:
but it was also paradise as evidenced by the 50m pool just 1 mile from my friends house:
…or the coast line up by Encinitas
and of course catching a Padre’s game at PETCO Field.
Bidding San Diego farewell I left the perfect weather and went back to NY where I thought I would be facing the depressing rainy Spring season. I was delighted to come back to an Upstate NY that was in full bloom and felt like summer was already in full swing. I am extremely thankful as I would not have been in great spirits if the weather had been awful. Being able to get outside and ride and run very comfortably was a great way to knock out the last few training sessions before heading down to New Jersey for the Bassman Half-Iron.
Bassman Half-Iron Recap:
I headed down to New Jersey on Saturday after stuffing myself with pancakes, blueberry and sweet potato…an amazing combo. The carb loading continued as I made the 6 hour drive to Bass River State Park which is located near Atlantic City (you know the place with the casinos..and where Boardwalk Empire takes place). As a side note, if you do not own an “EZ-PASS” be prepared to shell out some serious coin as tolls run rampant down in that area. I have never gone through so many toll stops in my life!
I registered Saturday afternoon and headed to my hotel which was about 30 minutes away. It was a good bargain at $90 bucks and was really the only one within an hour that had rooms available. I was just staying one night so I needed everything ready to go at 5am when I was planning on heading to transition. By this time it was getting towards 7 and I wanted to be in bed by 7:30 since I had not been sleeping well in the days leading up to the race. No real reason..just restless. Well I got my stuff together and even sat in my Normatec boots for 30 minutes and was sleeping by 7:30…I was on pace for a GREAT nights sleep when disaster struck. At 2:15 the fire alarm went off. In my foggy state I wandered aimlessly around my room wondering why I was awake, trying to figure out what the noise was and searching for the bathroom since I had to pee. Well I eventually figured out what was going on and relieved myself. Let’s face it my room wasn’t on fire…so I took the chance to use the bathroom and put on some warm clothes. After some talking with the neighbors we heard sirens and decided that this alarm might actually have some merit. We headed outside and there we stood for the better part of an hour as the fire department made sure everything was safe. There are few things in this world that make me truly unhappy and those are not letting me sleep the amount of time I was told I would have to sleep and being hungry. Both make for a very grumpy Me. It was 3:30 when I finally crawled back into my bed. I closed my eyes and tried to get some rest. Soon enough it was 4:15 and I figured I should get moving as the earlier wake up call had messed my body up and my normal routine. I figured since I was still pretty much up at this point that I should just man up and get rolling.
I’ll conclude this section of the recap by telling you that I found out what happened and it was not cool! My buddy Gibbons informed me that right around 2:15 am he and his roommate heard young people screwing around in the hallway, most likely they were stumbling back in after a night out in Atlantic City, remember that the hotel was just a few miles from there. Gibbons could hear them being idiots and sure thing, the fire alarm goes off seconds later…weird…I hope they found out who it was and made them pay!
The race itself can probably be best summarized by two words Cold and Grind. New Jersey for some reason was not getting the heat wave that upstate NY was in the midst of. This made for a chilly start to the day. The water being around 60, as it was a small lake made for comfortable swimming, but this was nullified by the fact that once on the bike the 50 degree temps and chilling headwinds made for a tough day.
The swim was a 2 loop course which had 7 turns in total. My wave consisted of all males under 39, which was great because it meant that all the contenders to win would be in the same wave. I lined up next to Jesse Kropelnicki, QT2’s founding father and swam on his feet through about the 3rd turn. Being able to get that initial draft was great and help set me up for a good swim. After the 3rd turn I went in front of Jesse and returned the drafting favor for the remainder of the race. It looks like the swim course was a tad short as I exited the water right around 27 minutes. By my estimation the swim was around 2 minutes slower than normal..but hey I’ll take it.
The transition area was pretty small and allowed me to find my bike without the usual 2 minute escapade of running around looking for my bike in a fanatic fury. Once out on the bike course (a three loop circuit) I got cold. The sun was NOT out and the wind was UP. Even though it was a relatively pancake flat course the road surface, head winds and cross winds along with 50 degree temps made it an absolute grind. I was definitely feeling it in my legs and both my cadence and HR were lower than expected. However, it appeared that everyone was having the same issues as the multi loop course allowed for many points in the race where I was able to check on my competitors. As it turned out the #1 challenger was a fellow QT2 Teammate (and QT2 Coach) Vinny Johnson who was completely at home in the cold weather. He had put a couple minutes into me in the swim and I was not getting any of it back on the bike. After the first two loops I was still counting Vinny as being about 2:30 up on me. I tried to up my effort on the third loop in order to give myself a shot at running him down. It looks like I made up between 20 and 30 seconds on that last loop. Not a lot, but every second counts.
After dealing with the cold wind that never seemed to be a tailwind the run was a welcome challenge. After flying over my handle bars and making an amazing save while dismounting my bike (don’t ask..) I changed into my run shoes and got to work on tracking Vinny down. At this point it was myself and Vinny who were at the front of the race. The first few miles were a little rough for me as I had to make a couple visits to the woods. It’s not a pretty part of the sport but sometimes nature calls and you must answer. Luckily the run was completely in a forest, which made cover easy to find. After that was behind me I felt better and was able to resume my chase. The cold tough grind of a ride left my legs pretty smashed and I wasn’t exactly running fresh. This coupled with the HR being low, most likely due to the cold temps made really running fast a challenge. I liken running to shoveling coal into the furnace of a big old steam engine. You need to really get that thing burning bright to get the real speed and when your HR isn’t being stimulated its just hard to get the body moving at top end speed. It really took me quite a long time to load the coal into the engine on Sunday. Luckily I was able to manage well on the run and slowly built into it. Not the plan I had envisioned, which was to start off around a 6 min/mi pace and keep the pedal down the whole time. Instead my splits were as such:
So the run played out like this. Around mile 7 to 8 I began seeing the back of Vinny who had been in front of me all day. I was beginning to make up some decent time on him and around the 9 mile mark the gap was somewhere around 30 seconds. I thought I was going to make up that ground within a mile but Vinny was really making me work to bridge the gap. I kept trying to push the pace but my legs just weren’t going as fast at I wanted them to. Finally over the last 3 miles I just told myself that I need to put in a really good push because I was so close to 1st place. Its not everyday you get a chance to race for the win and I didn’t want to let the opportunity to slip away. It can be easy to just settle for second place, and your mind can trick you into thinking that its a perfectly good thing to do. So the tricky part is overriding your brains circuits and telling it to not settle, to go for it and try to be first. You’d think it would be an easy thing to do, but after 4 hours of racing trying to coax your body into its biggest effort is pretty hard, it would much rather go in cruise control and enjoy the last 10 minutes. In my case I was able to push myself just a little bit harder over the final 3 miles I finally gapped up to Vinny with literally a quarter mile to go. There was a slight incline where I caught him and then a sight descent (this is NJ so it was basically flat…but still a little downhill). I made the pass and put some space in between us. After a few seconds I looked back and saw that Vinny didn’t appear to be putting in a huge sprint. Whether he was being gracious or tired (I hope more tired because of the effort he put in to keep me off during the run) he didn’t come back to me and I was able to run across the line first. I’ve won a few races before, local sprint races but this was the first Half Iron distance win and it feels pretty good. It was a small field and the race was not a big WTC event but it was a damn good race. Having Vinny ahead of me all day was absolutely awesome. Racing WTC events you just don’t get this experience unless your in the PRO wave due to the masses of people that crowd the course. You can never really race head to head because a lot times the biggest competition started either before you or after. So in this regards this race really was great. If Vinny had not been in the race to challenge me or vice versa it would have been a much more lonely race for us. However, having someone to duel it out with really helped me get the most out of myself. I hope Vinny feels the same way. I had an absolute blast trying to track him down all day. This time I came away the winner but I am sure (and hope) we get to battle again. Overall, chasing Vinny down led to a swim PR (with an * due to course length), a bike that saw some one of my highest avg power days and a 70.3 run split PR. All these things weren’t exactly pretty and a lot of the times I didn’t feel awesome, but that’s why I deemed this race a COLD GRIND. It really made each competitor work for a finishing time….and truthfully that’s how every race should be. Each race should have aspects of it that test both the physical and mental fitness of the athletes.
Race Splits were (full listing below):
Swim – 27:05, Bike – 2:19 (Included transition I believe) and Run – 1:21 for a total time of 4:10.
My re-created finish line picture.
Final Results from the race:
Once the race was wrapped up I took off on the next leg of my East Coast journey and headed towards Boston to see my Red Sox take on the Twins Monday night. The drive to Boston for Bass River State Park, NJ was a story in of itself as the trip took about 7.5 hours due to distance and the amount of traffic within the NYC limits. I had never had the chance to experience NYC traffic and it did not disappoint. I was in huge traffic jams, I felt like I was in a nascar race at times and I also paid a $13 toll to cross the George Washington Bridge. Yeah, that was not a typo. It COST THIRTEEN DOLLARS! I am someone who understands that in this day in age things cost a good deal of money, but even Matt Curbeau draws the line at $13 per car to cross a bridge at 1mph…on the brightside I suppose I got my moneys worth since.
Anyways, I got into the city late Sunday night and had a pretty restless sleep. Between being a little fried from the race and wired from the drive, I was just out of sorts. Luckily I just hung out all day on Monday. Visited Whole Foods (AMAZING), found a shop to get a fresh apple, beet, carrot, lemon and ginger juice, and then rested up in preparation for the Sox Game. My buddy CJ, who I went to school with in London was able to drop by the stadium before the game and we had a couple adult beverages at the Bleacher Bar. (My post race celebration)
Where I got my juice!
The game itself was amazing. Baseball games often have the bad rep of being boring and anticlimactic at time, however this was not one of those games. Personally I would enjoy any game I was at, but the fact that this game went 11 innings, saw many lead changes, a Dustin Pedrioa BOMB! (he’s my favorite player, I mean just look at him…a short white second basement, he’s my idol) and a game winning hit just made it all the better. Fenway never disappoints. I can’t wait to get back to another one.
And the story does not end here. The epic adventure continued on Tuesday when I packed up my stuff and headed for home. I was about 20 miles into the drive home, just having merged onto the Mass Pike when my check engine light came on and my engine started making some pretty weird noises when I was accelerating. These noises were ones I had not heard before and they sounded serious. I pulled over, called AAA and shortly after a super nice tow truck driver showed up. We took the car to a Firestone shop and a couple hours later my car was diagnosed with a broken TurboCharger. I guess my epic weekend was just to much for my Subaru. The end result was that a new replacement part would need to be ordered and would be taking 1-2 days to arrive, plus the time required for installation (currently Wednesday afternoon and no word yet). Luckily, a huge mall with every cool store known to man was right across the street so that helped eat up about 4 hours of my afternoon. Then there was this blog which filled in the rest. All in all it was a jam packed afternoon and really could have been a whole lot worse. Imagine if my car broke down as I was going through the traffic jams of NYC or in the middle of my drive today where I would essentially not be close to anyone or anything. Thankfully, I have a place to stay here in Boston while my car is on the mend and I also have the amenities necessary to keep training uninterrupted and lets face it, I get to spend more time in Boston which is awesome! The only bummer that could arise is if I don’t make it back in time for my debut cycling road race at the Bristol Mountain Cycing Race this Saturday morning. Time will tell.
For now I will keep smiling and enjoy the adventure…and the extra days in the awesome city of Boston! Everything happens for a reason right?
Update: It’s now Wednesday afternoon, still no word on the car. On the bright side I got to have an amazing dinner at a REALLY COOL restaurant. For those of you who have been to Breathe Yoga Studio in Pittsford you will know exactly what kind of place. All freshly made healthy foods, I mean the place just smelled of fresh juices and healthiness. It was awesome, If I lived here I might eat dinner there every night. I had a hearty bowl of greens, lentils, tofu, sprouted legumes and brown rice. Topped off with a carrot, apple, ginger, cucumber and kale juice. Delightful right?!
Here’s a couple pictures from last night:
A most badass juicer back there….
Was informed that this unlabeled building is where all the worlds Junior Mints are made. Yeah Willy Wonka stuff going on. You could smell the minty greatness in the streets!
This was my third time racing the Texas 70.3, the other two being in 2010 and 2012. It is a special race for me since it was the first Ironman 70.3 I raced and always provides me with a good measuring stick as to my overall improvement as a triathlete. In 2010 my finishing time was 4:45 and in 2013 I am pleased to say I stopped the clock at 4:09… Well it was more like 5:49, but that was because my swim start was 90 minutes after the first wave of male pros went off. Here is the time splits from Ironman.com –> Race Splits
Race week started for me on Wednesday as I headed to Texas and met up with my QT2 Systems partners in crime. We found our house (in the posh section of Galveston) and settled in.
Thursday and Friday consisted of getting some final workouts in and race registration. Being able to stay in a house with a bunch of my friends and fellow athletes does wonders for me as I feel comfortable and at home. Plenty of opportunities to laugh and keep things light. Also we stayed in a location that had some good restaurants and activities around so it was a good way to unwind before Sunday’s race. I was even able to take a stroll on the “pleasure pier” for an evening Ferris Wheel ride. I also sank my first shot in one of those impossible carny styled basketball games; so that was pretty cool. A prize was won –>
As for the race things went well. The more I race and the more experience I get the less detailed my race plan is. I know that I have to swim as hard as I can, bike very strong – monitoring mostly by HR and perceived exertion, followed by a solid run. The more I race the more it becomes by feel, especially at the 70.3 distance where the level of competition really requires as my buddy Pat Wheeler says “full gas all day”.
The swim was pretty uneventful as usual. I started out strong and for the first time, due to my improvement in swimming over the winter I was not being overwhelmed by those behind me. I was able to get a good position in front and began to work. At the first turn buoy you make a left and essentially swim straight for a little less than a mile. It was here that for the first time I was able to utilize swimmers ahead of me as a slingshot as I drafted off them and eventually went by them as I gapped up to the next group. I did this for the remainder of the swim and exited with a 29 minute swim, a best effort for me. Transition was super long and felt like a full on sprint.
Once I got on the bike I immediately felt a huge cramp along my right calf towards the top. This freaked me out as I’ve never had this happen before, I knew that if the pain was real that I wouldn’t be able to finish the bike. But first I had to figure out if it was just a cramp or if I had hurt myself from the long transition run. After some fancy stretching over the first 5-10 miles the pain subsided and I was able to keep things rolling steady. The first half of the bike we had an ever so slight tail wind which gave me a 65 minute split over the first 28 miles. The course is a pure out and back and since the wind was a crosswind the way back was pretty much the same as the way out, just a slightly slower. I was able to bring my power back up over the final 15-20 miles and came off the bike with a 2:13, covering the final 28 miles 1 minute slower than on the way out. Funny story here is that as I jumped off my bike in transition my bike shoe which was hanging out to my pedal (I do a flying dismount) went flying off. I considered picking it up for a nano second but decided the 15 seconds it would take to go back and get it were just not worth it. So with the crowd yelling “you lost your shoe” I simply responded with “it’s cool, I don’t need it any more”…it was time to run.
After losing close to a minute because I once again struggled to find my transition spot among the sea of similar looking racks I began the run. The first 3 miles felt like one of the transition runs after a 7 hour bike ride. I felt. Little blocked and couldn’t get the legs moving as fast as I wanted them. With my HR strap rendered useless (on the bike too) I ran by feel and over the final 2 loops I began to open up a bit and feel good. This good feeling was not only because of my legs speeding up but because of the tremendous on course support from the crowd. The 3 loop course is great for crowd support and horrible on your feet with all the turns. However, the fact that my friends/teammates were both racing and spectating at this point really gave me some great motivation. Seeing my teammates go by at different segments was great and having Tim Snow and his posse at a strategic point really made me want to run as fast as I could around the loop so I could get back to where they were. I knew where the motivational spots were and used those to my advantage. I ran the last loop with a bit more “juice”…I passed the boss’s wife Chrissie who cheered for me during every loop just before the finish line and sprinted in for the finish. I am proud of my race and very thankful to have the support of my family, friends, my QT2 family and all other supporters who allow me to do what I am doing right now. It is gratifying to have a race on a single day provide validation for the efforts made on the many many previous ones.
On this day my efforts were worth a 23rd place overall and 4th place in my age group. It’s a funny thing that last year I finished 1st in the same age group with a time that was 11 minutes slower. That’s just how it goes, this year the heavy hitters showed up, and truthfully I wouldn’t have it any other way. I want my efforts to be stacked up against the best so I truly know where I am at. So for this race , 4th amateur is just fine with me and more gratifying than last year. It was a race that has given me added confidence in my training and continues the progression towards IMLP in July and beyond.
Thanks to all our sponsors on the QT2 Systems Team. Pearl Izumi for the great new race kits, Normatec for an amazing recovery system, and Dr. Sears for the essential Fish Oil which keeps my body inflammation free. I also have to personally thank Chris Boudreaux and the great team at Athletes Lounge in Portland as they always take care of me, theres nothing better than being decked out in some A Lounge gear…Chris knows what he is doing. So if your ever in Portland, OR stop in the shop and check ’em out. And finally a big thanks to Jamie and Scott at Towpath Bike in Rochester as they keep me riding on great equipment and have been with me from Day 1 when I was a complete newb.
This trip was just what I needed on many levels. It doesn’t get much better than playing triathlon with your buddies in sunny warm weather.
Let me preface the “Camp By The Numbers” chart below, as Jesse Kropelnicki would have my head if I didn’t. We as a group were able to achieve this type of volume along with the intensities they were performed at because of the environment which was created. It was an environment that fostered exceptional training and even better RECOVERY. Without recovery none of this would have been possible. Seriously, do not go out and try to do this on your own.
The environment that was created by Jesse and all the athletes was one that included a very structured training schedule. Around the daily training schedule we recovered at all possible times. Ultimately it was up to each and every athlete at camp to be accountable in regards to this. Personally, I took every word of advice on how best to recover to heart as I needed every advantage I could to make it through the 17 days of hanging on to the coattails of vastly superior athletes. I am proud to say that I did indeed complete every workout and this was ONLY possible because I was able to do the following:
-Supplemented with Dr. Sears Fish Oil, Multi-V’s from First Endurance, Endurox R4, Glutamine and Whey Protein. The scoop of protein was always consumed before bed to help bolster recovery.
-Ate like I was racing on the big days. Many of the training days were all day events (and pretty tough) so the less stress on my stomach the better.
-At least 4 fruits and between 2-4 Vegetables per day. Along with Juicing (beets, carrots, apple, lemon, kale and ginger).
-Proper regulation of Caffeine. Caffeine can really do wonders if used correctly, however the simple fact is that its abused by many (formally myself included…but boy was I awakened when I saw the cold hard facts). If utilized correctly caffeine can really boost key workouts and races. It’s a substance that you want on your side when you need it and if you abuse it on a daily basis it quite simply will not give you the needed boost when things are really on the line. See Jesse’s article on caffeine for more info.
There are other things that could be on this list like drinking enough fluid (water) outside of training itself and to that end, fueling correctly “in-training”. Thanks to our team sponsor Powerbar this was made easy as the products to get us through each day were readily available. An extraordinary amount of gels, bars and drinks were consumed. At one point during a big swim set I believe almost 2 boxes were emptied!
So that’s that. The point above is that Recovery is KING and crucial to executing the kind of volume we all put in over the 17 days. We swam each and every morning without fail, some workouts were hard and some were for recovery. You can tell by the numbers below that it usually revolved around 4 day cycle where 2-3 days would be hard and one would be for recovery. For someone like myself (whose biggest weekly swim volume was 10k) the benefits from swimming everyday with actual people around to boost the effort was tremendous. I have never felt better in the water and hope to continue this feeling throughout the 2013 season.
We biked most days and most days were big boy rides. They ranged from Individual Time Trials, Team Time Trials, single gear interval riding, race simulations, circuit racing and of course we had the customary 7 hour ride. Riding the amount we rode only heightens my respect from Pro Cyclists!
And the running, as you can see by my own personal chart below I ran every day! I did not realize it until the last day. Some of those runs were only 2 or 3 miles at 9-10min/mi pace, but the fact is that I ran every day which engages the soft tissue and builds durability. Around those “ez” runs we had some epic days. One such day came after we had done circuit style racing on the bikes in the afternoon. As we rode away from Jesse’s car he informed us that once we arrived back home to check our emails for the evenings run workout. Well 1.5 hours later we arrived home and were all shocked to see that our emails contained words along the lines of “meet at the Clay Trails. Bring enough fuel for 4.5 hours”. 4.5 HOURS! No one thought this was legit but we packed ourselves up in the Snow’s mini-van and went on our way. The night ended up being over a 4 hour run workout in which teams of two were made. Each team had to run 40 miles, with each person running half (20 mi). The pace of each mile had to be faster than the previous which made the workout even more mentally challenging on top of already being physically exhausting since we were all shelled form the previous ride. Anyway, it turned out to be a hell of a time and definitely something I will always remember. The night was made EVEN better due to the fact that right in the middle of the relay we were able to see the evening fireworks that were being fired off at The Magic Kingdom….that made my night!
So those are the spark notes from camp. It was a great experience and one that has provided me with a solid base to start the 2013 season. Training and living in the group atmosphere that we created is truly unique and if done properly one of the best ways to improve fitness. I stand by that…but it must be done correctly!
Lastly, and quite honestly the best part of camp was that I met a whole bunch of really cool people who I’m happy to now call friends, along with becoming even better friends with those who I already knew. Many thanks are in order to Jesse Kropelnicki (QT2 Head Coach) who organized this camp and who gave us our marching orders every day.
Be sure to check out this video compiled by Pedro Gomes (@krepster, http://www.pedro-gomes.com/). This depicts what most days were like. A swim at 7AM, a bike ride from 10:30 – 5:00ish and an evening run to finish things off.
I am currently training very hard down in Clermont, FL at the QT2 Systems PRO Camp. There have been about 20 of us total down here at any one time with a few staying for 10 days and the rest for the entire 17 days. It has been a very intense and focused training camp led by the master mind, Jesse Kropelnicki. When we are not swimming, biking and running we are recovering at the house. Recovering not only includes getting 8+ hours of sleep but also getting enough calories into the system, sitting in the normatec boots, juicing, consuming Dr. Sears FISH OIL, logging workouts, showering, cleaning clothes…and the list goes on. Some days there just aren’t enough hours to do it all. In fact one evening we did a 40 x 1 mile two person relay that finished at midnight, I suppose that is a triathletes version of partying until the brink of dawn. We’ve also done some circuit style bike racing, track running and of course 7 hours rides. Not to mention swimming at the NTC pool every morning.
All in all the camp has been a great experience for me as well as everyone who made the trip and the commitment to be here. I have been pushed to limits that I have never been pushed to before and have had my butt handed to me by chicks on a daily basis. (Bradshaw Rd. will forever be remembered as the “GRITTIEST” place on earth)
Here are the stats from camp volume as of today (3/27/13): 3/15 – 3/27
That’s is for now. I’ll be headed back north to New York on Monday where I will spend a few weeks preparing for my first race of the season which will be down in Galveston, TX on April 7th.
Pat & Matt’s Homemade Cooking The Snowman & I Natural Break
First off, I hope that you all are able to keep up with your resolutions and you are happy with your swim, bike and run totals that you have let us all know about. Thanks for that. Here’s my totals:
Swim – a little bit
Bike – A whole Bunch
Run – Enough
Here are a few tips that I’d like to share to those aspiring triathletes in the three disciplines:
A. The louder and more colorful your speedo is, the faster you will be. If you’re still slow at least people will think you are legit. Always have a sports bottle with you at the pool and when swimming with multiple people ditch the garmin watch and use the one on the wall…or just try not to get dropped by the other people in your lane. Either will work.
B. Shave your legs, wear a cycling cap, always wear sunglasses, always wear bibs and a jersey when training (sleeveless tops and tri shorts are made for racing only), socks should be crew length – no shorter, no taller, and when in doubt refer to “THE RULES“. Additionally, try your best to manicure the tan lines. This one rolls into tip C. for running being that you should only be running shirtless when the weather is above 90 and humidity is above 90% as well. Otherwise you are just showing off and nobody likes a showboat.
C. As stated above, keep your shirt on. Either you have a bit to much pudge to be topless, your way to ripped and should stop wasting your time at the gym doing Crossfit and put some more miles on your bike, or your like the rest of the triathlon world…to skinny without much to really being showing off. So just cover it up for the sake of everyone around you. With that said, if you’ve got the legs go ahead and keep the shorts short. Shave those legs and let the world see your beautifully sculpted calves. Other than that I don’t have much else to say about running. Everyone looks different when they run but the bottom line is how fast you can go when the gun goes off. Ok, I have one more pet peeve to share with you all. When training and especially when racing don’t be the dork looking at your watch every 10 seconds to check your pace and HR. Its annoying to see and frankly you should know your body a bit better than that. C’mon people!
Getting on with things. My New Years Resolution is to be brutally honest with myself and others with discretion for others of course. This means that I am not going to sugar coat anything nor make claims that simply aren’t true. I can tell you that this year I am devoting myself 100% to triathlon through July 28th, 2013 whereupon I will race IMLP and try to win the Overall Amateur Race. I think that so many people lack the gumption or “balls” to make claims that they feel they are capable of achieving…or maybe they just don’t actually believe in themselves. Well, I believe in myself and the path that I have taken. I have been blessed with a myriad of factors in my life that are currently making this endeavor possible. Over the next 6-8 months I will devote myself fully and completely and see what happens. At the end I will take stock and carry on with my life in whichever direction I need to go. I am highly educated and have a license in a profession that will allow me a job wherever I go if I so choose to do so. It’s a nice thing to have in the back pocket but it doesn’t assure me of anything at this point. Currently I have a couple grand to my name and most of that will be used up over the next few months while I travel to warmer temperatures to train and race my butt off.
So there you have it. Next month I will be heading to Florida for almost a month to train with a whole bunch of QT2 professional triathletes who are way better than me. I can’t freaking wait for this opportunity as the only way to get better is to train and live with the best. Not only is this exeperience going to make me “fitter” physically its also going to give me an insight into how the real PRO’s go about their business on a daily basis. What this means now is that over the next 6 weeks I need to be on top of my game. I need to be fit and ready to go if I want to maximize the rewards I can get from such an opportunity. Once camp breaks on March 4th, I will then drive back North train for a couple weeks and then again set sail in my subaru for the south. On April 7th I will be racing the Texas 70.3 in Galveston Texas. This will be my third time competing in this race. I will be going to this race with the goal of winning the amateur race. My time last year was a 4:20 and I have every intention of putting myself in a position to be near 4:10. If I can put this together over the next 3 months I truly believe I will finish where I want to be.
Is that real enough for you all? Triathlon has been everything to me over the last 3 years. I love the sport, the people and the competitiveness that I feel and see at every race. It’s absolutely great to show up to a race and see that everyone is sizing up everyone else around them. I used to get scared by this, but now I am finally beginning to feel at home with it. It’s fun to see who is at the race and how things will shake up. I absolutely love it, its something that I only felt during high school when athletics are taken way to seriously…but they should be taken that seriously in my opinion. It builds character and sets the foundation for that boy or girls future. What are they made of?
This has been my re-entry into the blogging world. I hope that I will be able to do a better job of keeping you (my followers) up to date and entertained. My advice to you all is be honest with yourself and don’t worry about what others will think. So what if you come up short, “It’s better to have loved and lost, than never having loved at all.”
Happy New Year!
ps – my next race will be at the Hearnish 10k in Rochester, NY. If your in the neighborhood come out and make it interesting. Last weekend I was beat by two high schoolers in a 5k that took place during a blizzard. It was an awesome time but I am itching for some redemption.