Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'll Take It

Late August typically means cooler temps, the impending school year and Timberman 70.3 for me.

Well, this year, the weather was just about as hot and humid as it gets here in New England, I'm no longer a teacher so I don't have to worry about going back to school (too bad Michelle does!!!) but regardless, it was Timberman Time.

I made the trip up to Gilford with Michelle and Dean Phillips. It was smooth sailing up to Gunstock and registration and I had a blast seeing so many of my friends and fellow competitors once we arrived on site. I've hardly raced this year and had forgotten how exciting it was to be in that competitive environment. And competitive this year's race was: I couldn't believe the fire power that was assembled for this event; outside of Clearwater, this was the most competitive pro field that I had ever seen. I think that I counted 5 or 6 70.3 champs, a bunch of Ironman winners and some very fast international talent as well (i.e. Massimo Cigana who used to race for the pro cycling team Saeco-Cannondale).

Anyway, it was clear that this would be a very fast race.

Race day rolled around and we were greeted to a big line of traffic as we attempted to make our way to Ellocoya State Park. Not good. We abbandoned our cars out on the highway and ended up hoofing it down to transition so that we could set up shop and find some time for warm up. We managed to do so and then it was off to the swim start where I met up with Michelle who was carrying all of my swim gear. This was a non-wet suit legal swim for the pros, so I donned the BlueSeventy Pointzero3+ and spent some time warming up in the water and stretching out.

For me, pre race featured the normal mix of nervousness and that sickening realization of what I'd need to do for the next 4 hours of my life. I just wanted to race to start so that I could get to work and focus on my race. For Dean... his day started with what appeared to be a torn rotator cuff. He has been struggling with a shoulder problem all season, and right before the race, as he was putting on his skin suit, something POPPED. He was clearly in a ton of pain as he couldn't even raise his arm up to the side or the back. I felt terrible for him. But... being the soldier that he is, the guy gave the race a go anyway. I'm not sure if I'd chalk it up to unadulterated insanity or just an insane amount of courage (I think it's the later) but he more or less swam with 1 arm once the gun went off.

Anyway, back to my race... nothing much to report on the swim. The gun went off and I didn't go out as hard as I should of. I'm not afraid to admit that without the wetsuit, I was afraid of tightening up in the water so I didn't sprint out for the first couple hundred meters and, as a result, I was soon swimming by myself. About 1/2 way through the swim, I was caught by a female pro, so I worked along side of her and then caught a free ride once we turned the final turn buoy and headed for home. I tried to avoid tapping her feet but hit them a couple of times (sorry). She scolded me for doing so by increasing her kick a bit. My bad!

I came out of the water under 30 min. which pretty much tied my time from last year when I swam with a wetsuit, so the swim, although not very good by pro standards, wasn't a complete disaster.

Off on the bike and thankfully, the power was there this year. It took me a good 10 - 12 miles before I finally started feeling smooth, but by the highway, I was clipping off a steady 285 - 290 watts and feeling strong. I passed reigning IM Champ Chrissie Wellington shortly after the bike turn around and then set my sights on the next series of riders up ahead. Next up was a guy I respect very much, Mike Caiazzo. Mike was 4th at Ironman Lake Placid back in late July, and is always way up there in the mix at 70.3 events. When I finally caught and passed him, I knew what to expect and sure enough, it happened: He didn't let me go. Mike is a great competitor and he marked me for the next 15 miles or so. He remained at all times way back past the legal bike stagger limit, which I respect a lot. Drafting in the pro races is something that happens more often than you think, but Mike plays by the rules and rides clean and I appreciated that fact.

With Mike hot on my tail, I tried to keep the tempo high and we proceeded to pass a few more riders and roll into T2 in 9th and 10th place (or so) overall. I managed to beat him out of T2 but the legs weren't as sharp as I had hoped they'd be (too much IM training, No speed work!) so he caught me by the 1 mile mark. I had expected this as well, and accepted the fact that this was probably going to be the hardest 1/2 marathon of my life. The legs were already cramping a bit (the adductors to be exact) and Mike is a great runner. Combine that with the fact that we had been baking out in the sun/heat/humidity for the past 2+ hours and were now running in even worse conditions and, well, lets just say I knew this was not going to be a day at the beach.

At about the three mile mark, Mike started to fall off the pace a bit. Given the fact that neither of us were moving at our normal sub 6 min./mile pace, I knew immediately that he was simply still tired from IMLP which he had hit up just 4 weeks ago. I continued along and was feeling pretty good right up until I hit mile 6 and then suffered a MASSIVE hamstring cramp that stopped me dead in my tracks. It hit just as I passed my dad, Michelle and the QT2 athletes/coaches (watching on the sidelines) Tim and Cait Snow. I tried stretching but that didn't work. I tried walking and that didn't work either. The hammy was completely seized and I couldn't run. Mike went by me and I wanted to jump back on, but couldn't. So... since running forward wasn't an option, I decided to try running backwards for a while and thankfully, that worked. The hamstring released and I was able to continue on, gingerly. I was pretty pissed off in that I knew I had lost time and would had to shut the pace down for lap #2 or else I'd risk another major cramp that could very well end up knocking me out of the race.

A couple of miles later I caught and passed Mike again and was on my way. He was clearly way off his game, but I give him a lot of credit for having a go at such a tough race when he was only 4 weeks removed from an Ironman.

The remaining portion of the run was simply routine. I was on cruise control through the finish line and somehow managed to pass a couple more guys in the process (although I have zero recollection of doing so). I ended the day in 7th place overall. Given the field and cramping issue, I was pretty happy with it. I'm clearly NOT in top form yet as the body just wasn't nearly sharp enough, but then again, I haven't been training for 70.3s, so it's all good. If I could sum it up, overall, I felt "strong" but lacked those top end gears that I normally bring to the table when training specifically for the distance.

Dean: If a torn rotator cuff wasn't bad enough, he suffered 1 mechanical (bar end shifter broke) and 1 flat tire while out on the bike and then had to push his 195 lb. body through the heat and humidity that was hitting us all so hard. But.. he never quit. There were pros dropping out simply because they weren't having a great day, and here Dean was soldiering on despite a torn rotator cuff and about 7 or 8 min. of lost time on the bike. He would have definitely gone 2:06 or so for the bike split had he not suffered the mechanical and flat but as fate would have it, he was hit with a nightmare of a day. I've always respected Dean tremendously, but now I think that he's superman. I feel bad that he never had his chance to push that big bike split though, because it would have been right up there with what Bjorn Anderson turned in (and I have the power file to prove it - Dean's numbers were incredible).

So that's that. Another Timberman in the books. My left hamstring and SI joint are in bad shape right now, but I'll bounce back. Looking forward to the next race...

Sunday, August 16, 2009


First year triathlete and she makes her debut at the 70.3 distance with a 9th place overall finish/TOP OVERALL FEMALE AGE GROUPER at today's Lake Steven's 70.3 out in Washington!!!!

Goes to show what happens when talent, hard work and desire all come together.

Watch out for Crystal at Clearwater this year. I expect GREAT things!

Lake Stevens 70.3 Searchable Results

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Helping to organize and direct a race was about 10 x as hard as actually competing in one. I can't believe how much last week took out of me.

My training was close to non-existent for the second half of last week and I felt so weak and tired due to the stress associated with the impending race day that it was a struggle to push more than 200 watts at times!

Life got a lot less complicated as soon as Monday rolled around this week though, and I celebrated that fact by rolling out a 4.5 hour ride w/Dean (featured leading off the bike in the Gloucester Tri video below!) Monday morning and then following that session up with a distance swim Monday p.m. (in my fancy blueseventy point zero3+ speed suit). I followed those sessions up with my final long run of this Ironman progression: an easy 3 hour/25 mile run (Tuesday).

It's good to be back.

I'll take the next couple of days relatively easy (swim practice will not be easy tonight of course!), hit up some bike and run interval work between Friday and Saturday and then enjoy Nick Dufresne's wedding in W. Mass Saturday evening. Sunday will be one final long ride, executed out in the Berkshires, and then it's an easy week heading into Timberman; an event that'll serve as a tune up for the big day on 9/13. I do hope, however, that I have a little juice in the tank for Timberman as Chrissie Wellington was too close for comfort in '08! :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009


It's 4:20 a.m., Sunday August 9th... This is it: One year of planning and hard work all on the line.

Time to roll.

Pictures and race recap coming soon. Weather is looking perfect. I've been dreaming of this day for over 10 years.

Time to get back out on the course and finish setting up before 900 or so of my friends arrive :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Good Block

I've managed to chalk up a couple more good weeks of IM prep; not the BIG numbers the full time pros hit mind you, but pretty good for a guy who's working full time. Some of the "keys":
  • 17 hours (over the course of the week) in the saddle 2 weeks ago, but those numbers were largely due to the fact that I didn't do all that much running that week (save a 21 mile long run and a couple of lesser run sessions) due to my knee flaring up.
  • A really nice 3 day "block" between this past Saturday and today that included: A quick tempo/fartlek track workout on Saturday morning + an eventful MTB ride Saturday evening; My chain snapped mid ride and I sat there alone in the woods, swarmed by mosquitoes wondering whether I should run or walk the bike home. I was feeling too lazy to run, so I used my "MacGyver" skills and reassembled the chain using 2 rocks. I'll leave it to you to figure out how I did that (hint: It's something a caveman would do, so I shouldn't be bragging). On Saturday, I joined Dean "The Machine" Phillips and M50 - 54 year old national 1 hour record holder Mike Pavlov for an extensive 70.3 pace session. I knew I was in a bit over my head when I clipped through the first 25 miles @ nearly 300 watts, so the numbers dwindled a bit in the final hour or so, but not by much: 285 avg. between min. 60 and 90 and 284 between 90 and 1:59:xx. I covered 50 miles in <2 hours @ an avg. of 290 watts. Not bad. I had a bunch of Gloucester Tri related meetings this morning, so I didn't get a chance to train until mid day. I capped this 3 day block with a 30k out around the Cape course. Between the mid day sun, hills and lingering fatigue, I can't say that I was moving all that quickly, but it was another solid endurance session in the tank, and that's what matters most.
Okay, time for an easy day tomorrow: A couple of easy hours on the bike and then a fun open water swim in the p.m. It's game on again effective Wednesday though.

Looks like I'll be on the sidelines for the Gloucester Triathlon. Given the fact that I'm the co-founder and that I designed the course, I feel that it is my responsibility to MAKE SURE that everything is in place for the 800+ athletes who'll be pouring into my beloved hometown this Sunday. I don't think that I could live with myself if something small was overlooked and led to an injury out on the course. I'll be that guy with the head lamp on cruising the course @ 5 a.m. on Sunday morning making sure that everything is good to go. I'm very excited about the big day. In a way, it'll be awesome to watch the event unfold from the sidelines; although I'll be missing out in some ways, it'll be a blast to see so many of my friends, athletes and comrades tearing through the streets of Gloucester. Good times ahead.