Friday, November 30, 2007


Today I turned 32... just a number, but then again, a stark reminder of just how quickly time passes. I'm thankful of the fact that "I'm where I need to be" heading into 2008, and as such, have no problem with the fact that I'm one year older.
31 and 2007 were both great "numbers" but I'm looking forward to finally stepping into the main arena and going toe-to-toe with the guys that I've been reading about for years on end. It's a great feeling to know that I'm approaching the pinnacle of my 25+ year athletic career. Lot's of hard work still ahead, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

A quick shout out to Amanda Russell for the "Happy Birthday" email this morning! Thanks Amanda!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This time next year...

If I haven't found the final gear that will ensure success at Clearwater next year (i.e. a sub 3:50 performance on race day), looks like I may be heading west come November 2008, but then again, Florida has treated me pretty well the past couple of years, so maybe it'll be another trip down south...

Given my physiology, I know that IronMan is, unfortunately, the distance that I'll have the most success with. I'm going to have to step up to the plate one of these days. I'll make the call on my end of '08 season plans after Timberman next August.

In the mean time, 4 more days of R&R left before it's time to start slowly building into my 2008 base phase training.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

2007 Recap/Looking Forward

This past week has been pretty interesting. After completing what has turned out to be the most successful year of training & racing that I've ever had in my life, after accomplishing every single one of the objectives that I had established for the 2007 season, and after winning an overall amateur world championship title, I've felt pretty "down in the dumps." I'm still trying to make sense of exactly why I'm feeling this way. I suppose that a big part of my post season "let down" stems from the fact that it has become pretty evident that, with the sport of triathlon at least, unless you can climb to the VERY top rung of the competitive latter (i.e. top 3 overall at Hawaii, Clearwater, etc.) life isn't going to change very much, if at all, regardless of the fact that your athletic performances begin elevating you to the national and even world class level. The other issue that I'm facing is this: In order to up my game to the point where I can go 3:45 for the 70.3 distance or sub 8:30 for the IronMan distance, I'm going to have to take a calculated risk, leave a job that I love (teaching physical education and health at Manchester-Essex Middle/High School) and train even harder than before. If I were 24 or 25, I'd jump at the opportunity that I have in front of me, but with my 32nd birthday just 12 days away, stepping out of my financial comfort zone to chase a dream is a little disconcerting.

However... I draw strength from the fact that I have accomplished everything that I set out to do to date:

At the end of 2001, I decided to launch my own coaching/training business. I dreamt of the day when the first thing that I'd do in the morning would be to get up, grab a cup of coffee, turn on the CPU and then start responding to athlete emails and writing up training schedules. Although many questioned if I'd be able to make a career out of online/consultation based coaching, here I am, six years later, with over 30 clients and a burning passion to help my fellow athletes achieve their personal goals. It's a dream come true. To me, it's hard to even consider coaching "work." I live and breath athletic preparation, and love the challenge of coming up with, and helping someone execute a training progression that will help them to get from point A to point B in the least amount of time possible. Although coaching is in fact my first and foremost source of income, teaching physical education and health has allowed me to take a somewhat lax approach towards the business/financial side of my operation. Heading into 2008, it's game on once I leave my teaching gig and I'm going to have to approach the financial side of my business practices with a much more serious attitude if I want to stay afloat financially.

Athletically, I knocked off every objective I had for the 2007 season. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that this is the first time in my life that I've ever strung 2 years of consistent training together as a multisport athlete. I began competitive running at the age of 7 and experienced quite a bit of regional and national level success as a Jr. Olympic runner. I placed 7th in the nation in the 1 mile as a 13 year old (running a 4:52 that year) attended the Hershey Track & Field National Championships (an all expense paid trip by Hershey!!!), won many regional x-c and T&F titles, etc. However... Once I hit my sophomore year in High School, I began resting on my laurels. Ten - twenty miles of running per week just didn't seem to "cut it" for some reason (I wonder why?!) and my performances plateaued. Although infrequent bouts of intensive training throughout High School did result in what my x-c coach, the notorious Dave Dunsky, called a few "flashes of brilliance" (top 10 overall DI x-c state championship, 1:58 half mile PR, 4:27 1 mile PR) I left High School feeling as though I probably didn't have what it took to be an elite level runner. This lack of confidence stuck with me right into college where I ran a few seasons of track and x-c at Umass Amherst when I wasn't too busy coaching the local middle school cross country team or racing bikes for the Umass cycling club (a new found passion!). In retrospect, I should have realized that running a 4:20 mile or 8:45 3k on only 4 - 6 weeks of intensive training did in fact mean that I was blessed with some natural ability, but I never had the external or internal sources of motivation to inspire me to embrace this realization.

My lack of confidence continued to rear its ugly head right up through my mid to late 20s. My multisport results were all over the map after college; I'd struggle in a local sprint and then shock a stacked New England field by winning a half I.M. in 4:05. Bottom line is that I didn't have a clue when it came to training. I was desperately in need of some help here, but the $600 per month that the top regional coach informed me that he charged for his services was something that I couldn't even come close to being able to afford (I keep this in mind when young, talented athletes approach me for help with their training these days).

Fed up and burned out by one failure after another, I quit triathlon in my mid 20s. The time away from the sport had inspired me to research training practices, experiment with training protocols and theory, attend a number of training related courses/certification programs, and learn from the results that my early client base began turning in. Watching guys like Phil Wong rise through the ranks and begin winning major cycling events under my tutelage gave me a sense of confidence in my abilities as a trainer. It was a great thrill to watch my athletes ripping it up, and with each victory and personal PR, I became more inspired and confident.

Soon-there-after I began running again, not on a very serious level, but with the intent of running a marathon or 2 in a respectable time. Clipping off a 2:35 at the 2005 Cape Cod marathon on only 40 - 60 miles per week of running got me to thinking about the possibility of returning to triathlon in 2006.

And then it happened: I'll never forget the time that Michelle and I were out for a walk and bumped into one of my young triathletes, Liam O'Connell. Liam was completely engrossed in his new found triathlon career and very excited about his race and training exploits. Although I was happy for him, I felt as though I was personally stuck on the sidelines while everyone else was out on the field and part of the action. To be honest, I grew very angry, and vowed to Michelle that I would return to triathlon and fully commit myself to doing it "right" this time around.

So... here I am, 2 years later: Amateur 70.3 world champ and soon to be Pro/Elite triathlete. I've had a good run, but am in no way completely satisfied. I'm making up for lost time and know that I'm in my prime as an endurance athlete. This is it. No time to waste. No time to second guess my abilities or my direction. I know that I have 5 to 6 years, max, to cap what I started a quarter of a century ago and am willing to take a calculated risk and go for broke in order to see just how far I can go as an athlete. I have no plans to continue on with competitive athletics once my run as a Pro triathlete is up, as I'm looking forward to pursuing other interests such as rock-climbing, hiking and camping and travel some day. But for now, it's on: Full time long course focus. My long term objectives: Top 10 overall finishes at the Hawaii IronMan and 70.3 World Championships.
The following T.S. Eliot quote sums up my feeling on what it'll take for me to have a shot at truly realizing just how far I can go as a triathlete:

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."

Words to remember when times get tough and I begin questioning my decision to go for broke...

Happy holidays everyone!


Monday, November 12, 2007

IronMan 70.3 World Championship

Well, that’s it for the 2007 triathlon season and my amateur triathlon career. For those of you who don’t know, I wrapped things up by taking the overall amateur title and setting the new amateur course record at this past weekend’s IronMan World Championship 70.3 in Clearwater, Florida. I finished 19th overall against a stacked international professional and age-group field, but to be completely honest, I’m a bit deflated at the moment. Although I accomplished everything that I set out to do this year, I’m fairly disappointed with the state of long course triathlon these days. Between the horror stories that friends Kevin Thomson and Christina Robeson (who went 10:02 at IronMan Florida on 11/3!!!) passed on to me after their race at IMFL and what I witnessed this past weekend, I’m starting to think that just about every race out there should feature a course profile similar to the hell on Earth that I went through when racing the Nutmeg State Half Iron Triathlon down in the CT Berkshires. Mandy Braverman, the Nutmeg race director, certainly designed one incredibly challenging course, but when the dust settled, there was no disputing the fact that you had undoubtedly completed a true INDIVIDUAL test of willpower, speed and endurance.

I am 100% proud of the performance I laid down on Saturday first and foremost because I raced my own race. I went hard from the gun, overcame a sub par swim, rode my bike as aggressively as possible, and raced clean: No drafting. Just put my head down and went like hell. I lost a good 1+ min. on the bike thanks to the packs of riders that I had to navigate through while trying to shake the 10 – 15 cheaters who marked me and sat on my wheel for a good 1/3 of the bike leg. Fortunately, this motley crew of international “athletes” was nailed by a heads up martial who handed each one of them a 4 min. penalty for drafting behind me for so long. I still can’t get over the fact that people would deliberately cheat like that.

Thankfully, as the miles passed, my continued attacks and aggressive racing style finally managed to dump the posers off my rear wheel and I sailed into T2 ready to do what I do best. The legs were firing fast once out on the run course and from there on in it was just a matter of managing my discomfort and fatigue levels. I clipped through the first 7 miles at sub 5:40 per mile pace feeling very strong and in control throughout. Once I knew that I had the age group title wrapped up, I hit cruise control, played it safe (I was worried about my SI joint/sciatica causing problems in the final few miles thanks to the day’s effort) and capped the season, and amateur career, the way I had hoped too.

As you can tell, I’m still fuming about the behavior displayed by so many of the athletes last weekend. Many of the age-group results you’re seeing on the results sheet are about as phony as they come.

To the pace lines and peletons that I blew by (or had to shake off my rear wheel) on Saturday: You guys should be ashamed of yourselves. You weren't only cheating the other athletes who were racing clean, you were cheating yourselves and your performances are meaningless and empty.

To the athletes who raced clean and played fair, like my friend and great rival from Maryland, Philipe Kozub: I’m sorry if your race was disrupted in anyway by what went down on Saturday, as it was a crying shame.

So that’s that. I’m looking forward to some much deserved R&R and the holiday season. I will gradually begin preparing for my assault on the 2008 professional long course triathlon circuit immediately after Thanksgiving, but need to prioritize some mental and physical recovery before I start back in.

I have quite a few people/organizations to thank for all of their support and help this year so don’t be offended if you’re not listed below as I’ll express my gratitude personally when we meet up face to face in the near future.

To Dean, Marty and Mark at Fit Werx 2 in Peabody, MA: You guys have helped me to take my cycling to the next level. Your expertise in the fitting department, gear selection and bike maintenance is unparalleled and I’m thrilled with the services you provide.

To my long time sponsor PowerBar: Your products work and I stand by them 100%.

To my athletes: I derive more inspiration from you then you can imagine and keep all of your athletic exploits in the back of my mind while out there on the course. I do my best to lead by example and to practice what I preach.

To my friends, family and training partners: Your words of encouragement, honest feedback and constant support are the cornerstone of my motivation and inspire me to see just how far I can go with this sport.

To Michelle: None of the success that I’ve experienced over the past 2 years would have been possible without you.

Happy holidays everyone. I hope to see you all soon.


p.s. Keep your eyes open for the February "Triathlete Magazine" edition as they just conducted an interview with me last night.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Okay, time to shut the CPU down for a few days. I'm ready to roll and looking forward to hitting the road.

It'll be another whirlwind:
  • Up at 5 a.m.
  • Drive to Logan
  • Eat
  • 8 a.m. flight
  • Arrive in Tampa by 11:36 a.m.
  • Grab the rental car and load it up
  • Eat
  • Drive to Clearwater Beach/Pick up packet before registration closes at 2 p.m.
  • Check into the hotel
  • Assemble bike
  • Shake Out (bike, run & swim)
  • Shower
  • Eat
  • Stretch
  • Sleep
  • Wake up, eat, stretch, shake out, race...

Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Race Week

Today was my first day off in over 5 weeks. Thank you taper week!!!

It felt good to eat pizza, watch the Patriots beat the Colts, and celebrate my dad's birthday (a belated birthday party - he turned 69 on the 1st!). I also hooked up with Pilates guru PJ O'Clair for a little overview on how I'll be able to effectively incorporate Pilates into my 2008 progression. I'm very excited about the prospects, but more to come on this in the near future.

This weekend provided yet another grim reminder of just how precious our time here on Earth really is and helped to keep everything in perspective. Ryan Shay, former Division I All American (x-c, T&F), and US Marathon/half Marathon champ, died during Saturday's US Olympic Trials Marathon in NYC. I won't speculate on the cause of death, but he collapsed 5.5 miles into the race and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

I never take anything in my life for granted and am extremely thankful for all that I have. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to continue training and racing the way that I currently am, but I'm doing my best to soak up every last drop of it while I can.

I can't wait to get back down to Clearwater and am looking forward to seeing many of the familiar faces that I've bumped into at some of the bigger events that I've attended this season.

Maryland's Philipe Kozub, 31, should be in top form and provide one hell of race next Saturday. Philipe finished only 2 min. behind me at Eagleman and was the only other amateur to crack the top 10 and 4 hour barrier that day. I hope that he has a great race and am keeping my fingers crossed that we'll be able to find each other on the field of battle at some point. If so, I expect that the duel will help us to both elevate our performances to the highest level. However... Philipe is a strong swimmer and cyclist, so my engine better by firing fast or else the only place that I may see him will be in the finisher's tent once the dust has settled!

I'm excited to watch Pro triathlete Lara Brown in action next weekend. Lara has the ability to place VERY high in the Pro race and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll be her day.

My comrade from CT, Max Wunderle, who just recently knocked off a sub 10 hour performance at IronMan Hawaii, will be in attendance at Clearwater. Max and I first met at the 2006 Hammerfest Triathlon in CT, and have since raced each other at the 2007 Eagleman and 2007 Nutmeg State Half Iron Triathlon. I'm hoping that Max's legs are fully recovered and ready to roll.

Local triathlete Alex Martinelli will be down in Clearwater, and although we've communicated via email all summer, I've never met the guy in person! I'm looking forward to our hanging out post race and making the most of the Clearwater Beach "watering hole" scene.

First year triathlete Amanda Russell, one of my newest athletes, will be gunning for a top performance next Saturday and I'm itching to see what kind of damage she'll be able to inflict on the amateur race! I expect great things, and look forward to hanging with her and her husband Matt post race as well.

Lastly, I'm deriving a bunch of inspiration from the INCREDIBLE day that fellow "Gloucesterman" Christina Robeson had at IMFL this past Saturday. Christina won the women's 30 - 34 year old age group, placed 3rd overall among amateurs and went 10:02!!! I tracked her race online and was SO excited for her. She accepted her slot for the 2008 Hawaii IronMan World Chamionship, so it's back to the big Island and another go at the biggest triathlon in the world for Christina next year.

So, regardless of what the day brings next weekend, I'm just happy that I'll have yet another opportunity to see so many of the people that I've been so fortunate to meet thanks to this wonderful sport and lifestyle.

I am fully prepared to "bleed" once that gun goes off next Saturday, and am going to give the race everything I have, but the 4 hours that I'll spend competing is just one small piece of what will make next weekend so special. Best of luck to everyone who'll be racing! Drinks are on me in the finisher's tent (your choice: Gatorade or Coke).