Sunday, December 28, 2008


With a nice 20 mile run today in 2:26 I hit 250 miles on the nose for the month. Mileage this week was 75 and it felt great. A little tired but no joint issues, soreness etc... One blood blister on a toe is all I have to show for my effort.

Total time running 30hrs, 52 minutes (averages out to a 7:25 or so pace). Some faster runs of 8-10 miles were done right around 7 minute miles, 'recovery' runs were done just under 8 down to 7:30, depending on how I felt that day. The increased mileage along with weight reduction really helped the pace. However instead of feeling drained/tired the fine folks at QT2 had me losing weight AND feeling great and energized for every workout thanks to their custom diet plan.

Now I get to enjoy the taper time, make sure I stick to my diet and two weeks from now I will put all the work to the test at Disney. Until then I feel like superman having ran so much and feeling so great. Josh agrees with me that Daddy rocks!

Friday, December 26, 2008

200 and counting.

So while I was at first worried about getting to 200 now I'm past that and am pushing towards 250. I'm at 224 right now with an easy 45 minute run scheduled for tomorrow so I should get around 6 miles in and a 20 miler scheduled for Sunday. That would land me on 250 on the nose, with three days to spare. I know I can get 250 by December 31st so my new goal is to hit 250 by Sunday the 28th. With taking the 1st of December off that will have given me 27 consecutive days of running and 250 miles in those 27 days. That will also give me close to 75 miles for the week, which is huge for me.

Two more days to go....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

25 miles to go.

Ran 68 miles this week, that gives me just over 175 miles for December with taking December 1st off. That works out to 175 miles ran in 20 consecutive days. Funny thing is my legs feel better than ever. They are tired, but there are no joint issues and or soreness that I would have thought would come with running so many days in a row.

I should easily pass the 200 mile mark this week, in fact I should be able to hit close to 250 now by the end of December. 1 more big week then the taper for Disney starts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

1/2 way to 200.

Week 2 of the 200 mile in December challenge is done. Another good week:

Monday easy 7 miles on treadmill, varying incline, 50:35 for a 7:14 min/mile pace.
Tuesday run outside in rain/slush. 7.2 miles in 52:11 (7:21 pace)
Wednesday crappy out, 9 miles on treadmill, tempo run. 1:04:30 (7:10 pace)
Thursday easy run outside. 6.9 miles in 52:54 (7:40 pace)
Friday crappy out, 7 miles on treadmill easy, 51:30 (7:21 pace)
Saturday still bad out, 8 miles on treadmill in 58:40 (7:20 pace)
Sunday freezing rain outside. Long run, treadmill, 16 miles in 1:55:50 (7:14 pace).

Total mileage: about 61 miles for a total of 107.5 for the month so far.

Runs are starting to feel a lot easier. There was a little more treadmill running than I would have liked but unlike last year all runs are done with the machine set to random incline instead of a constant flat run.

Today's long run was also done differently. At coach J's suggestion my pacing consisted of 1 mile warmup (8 min pace), 7 miles at race goal pace + 30 seconds which equaled a 7:30 pace followed by 8 miles of goal race pace which was just a touch under 7 minute miles. I was surprised how easy the 7:30 pace felt and the 7 min pace was a little more work but still felt easy.

Two more weeks to get some big miles in before Disney on Jan 9th.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Road to 200.

A goal has been set by John and I to have a big running month in December. This will allow me to build a nice big base for prep for the Disney Marathon Jan 11, 2009.

Also, it will be a good way to keep fitness up and weight down during the holiday season. As an added incentive I have signed up for the Slowtwitch challenge to run 200 miles in December. This is nothing more than a group of anonymous people that have banded together to challenge each other to meet this goal.

The winter conditions have made for an interesting first week of running. After taking Dec 1st off the rest of the week has looked like this on the way to 200 miles:
Tues: 6 miles in 45 minutes on treadmill, random incline. (7:30 pace)
Wed: 8.75 miles of rolling hills, one big long climb, 1 hr 7 minutes. (7:43 pace)
Thurs: 7.1 miles, first 3 uphill w some steep trails, 51 min, 36 seconds (7:16 pace)
Fri: Easy 6 miles on treadmill, 48 minutes. (8 min pace)
Sat:13 miles of rolling hills in blizzard conditions. 1hr, 43 minutes (7:58 pace). 20 deg temps.
Sun: 5.75 easy miles in 48min (8:20 pace). Near white out conditions, roads not plowed.

Week 1 total 47.3 miles. Legs felt good for all runs, recovery seems to be quicker too.
Now only 152.7 miles to go!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving day 10k

Thanksgiving 2007= Sleep in then eat, eat and eat some more.

Thanksgiving 2008=Get up at 6 am, smoothie for breakfast. Drive 45 minutes to Erie PA to run in the 2008 Erie Runners Club Turkey Trot around Presque Isle Peninsula.

Run first ever stand alone 10k in 41:34.

Go home, eat some recovery food, drive back to Erie for turkey dinner and relaxation.

Was hoping to go sub 40 minutes, but right at warmup I knew it wasn't going to happen. Legs were tired from all the running over the last week. Just went at a good hard pace but tired legs only let me push so hard.

But it was still a good, fun run, and made the huge slice of pie at dinner taste a little less guilty.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


The Past

2008 is just about done. Another good year with some mixed results.

  1. DNF at the Kinetic Half, but with the pain in my knee on the bike I knew after 1 mile of running that there was no point in continuing.
  2. TTT Stomach issues. Whatever I had after the first race Saturday would not let me eat so I had 0 energy for the very hard half on Sunday.
  3. Missing my goal at WV Half by almost an hour. I went 5:17 in 2007 and was confident I would be under 5 hrs easily but a flat tire, rain and finally some nutrition issues made for a long miserable day.
  4. IMWI was not a total disappointment, but I was 27 minutes off my goal of sub 11. Riding 20-30 minutes before realizing I had a tire going down plus the time to change it plus the wasted energy trying to gain back time really hurt me the 2nd half of the run. Still a 20 minute improvement over last year but not what I wanted.
  1. 20th place at the spring 12.5 mile time trials in Erie. 25.8 mph avg, just missed going sub 29 minutes by 2 seconds, but still a 50 second pb.
  2. 3rd place overall at the Butler YMCA sprint race.
  3. 5th place overall at the Savageman Olympic tri just 2 weeks after IMWI.
  4. Breaking 20 minutes in the 5k. This was done after a week and a half of basically doing no swim, bike or run training at all.
The Present:
  1. Enjoying spending family time now that I'm not trying to squeeze in 20hr weeks of training.
  2. Ramping up the running for the Disney Marathon in January. Best of both worlds, a mini family vacation and a marathon. Everyone wins.
  3. Learning how to eat and fuel for workouts correctly courtesy of the fine folks at QT2 systems. I now have a better understanding of diet and will be a lean, mean racing machine next year.
Plans are for no Ironman race, but a lot more races. 1 Marathon, 1 half, 4 half IM's, and lots of sprint races and olympic distances. 2009 is the year for me to build speed working on the shorter races. Still a lot to plan but so far I've got:
  1. Disney Marathon on Jan 11.
  2. Strong Like Bull training camp in Southern Spain Feb 5-15. 9 days of sun, mountains, snowcaps and lots of riding. Should lead to a good bike base for 2009.
  3. VA Beach marathon weekend March 22. Probably just doing the half, family is going again and doing the saturday races.
  4. The Dam Tri on June 28. Ok, so this one I'm one of the race directors so I won't be racing, but it will be a good fun weekend and lots of work.
  5. Savageman at the end of September is my only other definite race. This time it will be the Half though. Lots of other races will also be done this year, probably including WV Half, maybe the Kinetic Half, Edinboro Olympic, Presque Isle Sprint and so on.
There's still a couple of 5k's and 10k's to be run this fall, but for now it's time to start looking ahead to spring/summer because we all know what's coming:

Monday, September 22, 2008


This weekend was the Savageman International and Half distance triathlon in Deep Creek, MD. I decided to do this race after feeling OK a few days after IMWI and only because my friend Dave has a condo 2 miles from the race start so I had a free ride and room and board if I wanted it. Since it was so close to IMWI I opted to just go do the shorter Olympic (International) event for the fun of it.

The 2 weeks between the end of IMWI and this race consisted mostly of rest, eating and a few light workouts. In the couple of bikes and runs I did following IMWI my legs felt ok but the energy levels were low so I had no idea how I'd do for the olympic event.

For those that are unfamiliar with the event it is billed as the world's toughest half, and from what I saw on the shorter race they are probably right.

The olympic race started after the participants for the half went off and was in two waves, with my race the first wave off. Overall there were about 165 (100 male/65 female) racers in the olympic plus a bunch doing the race as a relay teams.

Swim 1,500 m: 24:41 (7th fastest male ind)
Felt like a long swim, just tried to take it easy after going out hard the first couple of hundred yards. I thought I was further back but I think there were at least 1/2 dozen relay swimmers ahead of me besides the 6 individuals. Lake was perfect temps and for a freshwater lake was pleaseantly clean and clear. Very little contact and not much else on the swim.

Bike 40k: 1:12:51 (20.4 mph/7th fastest ind male)
Bike was a rolling course with a few decent hills and one really steep short hill. This hill is where the olympic participants earned their savage titles. I passed a couple of people from the olympic leg and a few stragglers from the half in the first few miles. Then after a decent climb the half and olympic courses split. From that point on for about 10-12 miles I didn't see any other riders so I figured there must be a small lead group from the swim that I never saw. I had no idea how many were in front of me. About halfway or so you hit the one really steep climb of about 1/2 mile or more. I was definitely glad for the 27 tooth rear and got up the climb without too much effort. On this hill I caught one cyclist doing the bike leg of a relay team and at the top came within a hundred feet of catching a guy walking his bike up the hill (yes, it was that steep and Dave who started in a later wave told me he saw a lot of people walking). I followed the 'walker' for a few miles and would gain on him each hill until I got passed by a guy doing the race solo but he was not in my ag so I let him keep going. I caught the 'walker' and he had an R for relay on his leg so I knew he was no threat to individual or ag placing for me. The last 5-6 miles are gently rolling to downhill so you can make up some time and the 'walker' and I went back and forth over this period. At the pre-race meeting they warned all participants a lot about the dangerous and technical downhills so I took things real easy on them. Had I ridden the course before I would have definitely gone harder on some of the downhills. Overall I was really happy with the bike as I just tried to go nice and steady and not blow up if I was still a little tired from IMWI. This is an elevation profile of the olympic course:

When I reached T-2 I was pleasantly surprised that there were only about 7-8 bikes total in transition and none on the rack for my age group. I followed the 'walker' out of T-2 as apparently he was doing the bike and run leg of his relay team. When we went by the finish line for our run loop the announcer stated his name and what place his team was in and then said there goes Kristoph Kocan from Meadville PA who is currently our 5th place individual. That was a nice thing to hear and very unexpected!

Run 10k: 48:09 (7:45 pace/9th fastest male ind)
This was not a fast run course. Only one individual male got under 40 minutes, and not by much. At first I was disappointed with my time until I started to see the times of others were not fast either. The run course profile shows it's anything but flat!

I followed the walker guy out of t-2 and stayed about 10 seconds behind him. The first mile was flat along some trails by the water and then up a couple of small hills to the main road. Went easy and did a 7:15 first mile and felt pretty good. The next mile seemed all uphill through a campground road and around some campsites. It was over 8 minutes and I was a little discouraged, but I was still the same distance behind the walker and when I made the loop only saw one guy coming into the loop behind us, but he was flying. Between miles 2-3 the guy flying caught me but he was doing the run leg of a relay so I didn't really care that he blew by me and the walker. I saw the leaders headed out as we did a little out and back and mile 3 was flat to downhill and close to 7 minutes flat. Mile 4 was rolling and near the end you came to the fire tower hill. This was a 1/4 mile climb straight up a dirt path to a turn around and then straight down. The walker and I reached this climb with him about 10 seconds in front of me and when we headed down the path it was only at the bottom that I started to see any other runners headed up the hill. I figured I had a 2-3 minute lead on them and hadn't been passed by anyone other than a relay guy so I should still be in 5th place overall. The last mile was all uphill with three good little climbs and then ended with a quick fast downhill into the start area and a short 100yd run along the path by the shore to the finish line. The walker guy pulled away from me the last mile but I coulnd't see anyone anywhere near behind me, and the last mile you pass the runners on the way out to the fire tower road and I didnt' see any from the second heat that looked like they were within 5 minutes of me.

Finsihed in 2:30:05 for 5th place overall and won my ag by about 7 minutes!

This was definitely not a fast course, and if the bike was hard the run was even harder. The half participants do the same run only twice with a slightly longer loop in the campground, so I was really glad I was not headed out for another loop of that course.

Afterwards they had free massages for the athletes, free french fries and barbecue sandwiches and best of all free ice cream from a local ice cream shop that was really good. This is definitely a top notch event. Deep Creek is a really nice area with lots of great roads for biking. The half course includes a hill so steep that they offer a way around it and if you make it up without stopping you get a brick in the hill with your name on it. After that you have a 7 mile climb up big savage mountain and then a hill after that called killer Miller that is just described as cruel. (At the pre-race meeting the course architect described the half course and his only comment on killer miller was "...and then you come to killer Miller, and, uhm, well sorry.")

The fastest bike split by a pro, Bjorn Andersen, was 2:36 and change and this is from a guy that flirts with 2hr splits on other courses. For anyone interested here's a page describing just why this is billed as the world's toughest half and here's the bike course elevation to back that up:

For awards the winners and age group placers got nice framed pictures of the Savageman logo. And the winner and winners of the age groups got a bonus in that our pictures were all individually signed by Dave Scott. My friend Dave finished 9th overall and got top male master so we both walked away with signed awards.

Next year we are definitely doing the half, and for anyone looking for a great year end race on a great course in a super location should look no further. This race is a must do for many, many reasons and I look forward to coming back next year for the half.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

IMWI by the Numbers

A comparison to last year with some hard numbers and details on the day.

Swim with overall placing and ag placing:
2007 1:03:36 (244 oa /41 ag)
2008 1:02:44 (267 oa/ 45 ag)

Instructions were to take the swim easy, and that's just what I did. Just like last year there was a ton of contact and jockeying for position for the entire first lap. Just when you would get in a rhythm someone would try to climb over you or you would get to a turn and things would get all bunched up and go to hell again. Looked at my watch after the first lap and was at 28 minutes and change so I just cruised the second lap trying to mentally prepare myself for the day to come. Finished with a faster time than last year but a few spots lower in the positions. But I definitely had an easier swim this year and did not push as hard as I did the previous year as I was trying to set myself up for a good day.

2007 6:47
2008 6:34
This is deceiving as I was faster this year, but I was smarter too. Last year I ran up the helix as it was hard not to with all the people lining it and screaming for you. Then you change (in my case put on shoes/helmet) have a 2-300 yard run to your bike and then another long run to the mount line. This year I went a lot easier up the helix, got my bag, threw on my helmet and carried my shoes to my bike rack. I saw a few people doing this last year and a lot doing it this year. You can run a lot faster and easier carrying your shoes on the concrete parking deck then running with your shoes on. So I went easier up the helix but carrying my shoes saved a few seconds but more importantly my exertion was a lot lower.

2007 5:53:43 (295/66) 19.00 mph avg.
2008 5:53:10 (366/79) 19.03 mph avg.
This is what hurt me the most this year. I lost a lot of overall spots and ag spots compared to last year despite having an almost identical time.
The bike started out great. I went with water only for the first 20 minutes to make sure my stomach settled and then started out on Gatorade Endurance. I started the ride with two cheap bottles, one water, one G-Endurance, and just replenished them as needed at aid stations. This worked great and was simple and efficient. Started on gel from a gel flask at 1 hr and took a 'hit' of gel every 30-45 minutes. Things were going good and it seemed like I was passing a lot more people than passed me for the first half of the ride. I hit the timing mat at about mile 41 and my avg speed was just over 20.5 mph to that point and the ride had felt easy. Temperature out was ideal and I had pretty much not even broken a sweat to this point. I was cruising the few flat sections and spinning the hills. The bike course is a real tough course, lots of hills and turns and a couple of nice big steep climbs lined with cheering fans. We rode the IM Louisville course last weekend and I have to say after doing both back to back I think IMWI is much harder. Things were really falling into place well and I was still at about 20.5 mph avg at the 56 mile point.

Then things got funny. The wind really started to pick up for the second loop and I started to get passed. I then started to ride a little harder as I soon started to really get passed by people one after another. At first I thought the wind was slowing me down but then I could not figure out why I seemed to be the only one dropping off the pace. Then I thought I might be bonking, but I did not feel out of energy. I tried eating some sports beans and taking a power bar but I was still getting passed and I was now in a zone that I knew was much too hard for an IM race but it was all I could do to just keep people in site as they zoomed by me. Miles 60-70 or so were really a dark place and I was beginning to wonder if or how I was going to keep this effort up or if whatever was going on was going to even allow me to finish. Then, at the top of a climb on a 90 degree left hand turn my bike acted really loose in the front as I made the turn and I then finally realized I had a front tire with a slow leak and had been riding for who knows how long on really low psi's.

I was furious, with both my rotten luck and my own stupidity for not realizing what was going on 30 minutes earlier. This was the third flat tire this year in a race and I was so mad I pulled over and tossed my wheel over a ditch into a cornfield and was ready to quit right then and there. Those thoughts only lasted a second so I hopped the ditch and grabbed my wheel. Took a few seconds to find a stick or reed to shove down my valve extender to let the rest of the air out, changed my tire in under 5 minutes and headed off down the road. I had stowed the bad tube under my seat with my bungies (I only carried a spare, CO2 and Microflate under my saddle bungied to the rails with no bag or anything) and 30 seconds later the bungie came loose and everything fell. I wasn't about to leave it on the road (especially with a draft marshall right behind me) so I had to turn around, go get the tube and CO2 cartridge and get off the bike and re-attach them. All in all I propably lost 10 minutes dealing with the flat, 5-10 minutes riding on a low tire but more importantly I had spent too much energy and dug too deep riding too hard for the time my tire was low and that's what hurt me the most.

Once on a properly inflated front wheel I found it easy to maintain 20+ mph for the rest of the ride but I did so by trying to ride as conservatively as I could to try to recover from the extra effort I had put out on the bike. But even with the flat, more wind and riding on a lower effort I was still able to beat, just slightly, last years time so I tried to take that as a positive from the race.

2007 4:54
2008 5:34
Nothing much going on here. I used traditional laces instead of speed laces as I find some of the speed laces uncomfortable on the top of my feet on long runs.

2007 4:36:18 (497 oa/112 ag final position)
2008 4:19:49 (398 oa/78 ag final position)
The run was disappointing, but compared to last year it was an improvement and I only lost 31 overall places as compared to 102 the year before and actually gained one final spot in my ag as compared to losing 56.
I started out ok, but I knew the short hard effort on the bike was going to bite me in the end. The first mile came and went in 8:15 or so. Next two miles were between 8:15 and 9:00 with walking the end of the third aid station included, so I was happy with the start of the run. In 2007 I was barely able to run aid station to aid station and walked each and everyone. This year I was skipping every other aid station or just getting water and taking gatorade and coke at alternating aid stations in between. The first lap came and went pretty uneventfully in just a tad over 2 hours. I was feeling ok energy wise and had no stomach issues, but the legs were starting to cramp a little. I started salt tabs towards the end of the first lap and the second lap was a cramp fest where I was able to run aid station to aid station but was hurting at each one and trying to stretch out. I also was not able to run a couple of the hills that on the first lap I had done a slow trot up but I did not walk them. Finally finished the second lap for an overall time of 11:27:51. I even got into a little mini-sprint with 3 of the runners who I had been playing leap frog with for the last 4-5 miles and was able to outkick them!

My goal was sub 11 with a 1 hr swim, 5:40 on the bike and a 4 hr run. That left some time for transitions thrown in there. I think I was really on pace for a great bike and would have been sub 5:40 or right on my goal with out much effort had it not been for the flat. On the run I was defintely paying for the extra hard stretch on the bike, especially during the second loop.

But I still took almost 20 minutes off of last years time with much more wind and a mechanical issue so that was definitely a positive.

For anyone thinking of doing this race it's a great venue in terms of crowd support. The crowds coming out of the swim and up the helix are incredible. On the bike the crowds in Cross Plains and especially Verona are amazing, and riding up Saulk Pass with the road lined with spectators is crazy. On the run there are very few spots where you don't have a cheering section, and running up and down State Street with the crowds lining both sides of the road is a great motivator.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ready to Roll.....

After going down to and watching IM Louisville it is now time to focus on IMWI. Louisville was a great weekend, had a good ride on the bike course and coach J ran his way to a top 10 pro finish, which was awesome.

Got back, started packing and got the ride all decked out and ready to go. Now I just have to drive 10+ hours....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Better now then on race day....

The assignment from my coach seemed easy enough. It's taper time, go out Saturday and do a 3hr ride at 'just riding around pace'. After weekend upon weekend of rides from 4-6.5 hrs, sometimes on two consecutive days, all at a decent pace or with a specific goal, this was going to be fun. Just riding around for 3 hrs. I remembered the same type of ride last year before IMWI and I remember how much I enjoyed being able to look at the scenery, wildlife, creeks, streams etc... on that ride and to enjoy everything knowing that I had put months of hard work in and was able to do what a lot of 'normal' people can't do or wouldn't call easy, and that was to go out and do 50-60 miles on a bike without putting out a lot of effort. Also, I guess most normal people would not consider a 3hr ride short either, but then again I'm learning there's not a lot of 'normal' people that do Ironman.

For this ride I decided to ride with the local roadies. They leave every Saturday at 8 am for a longish ride at a relatively moderate to easy pace. The group can vary between 4 to 8 people. My plan was to sit in, not push any climbs and just hang out and enjoy the ride and day. About 8 of us showed up, some wanted to go long (4 to 4.5 hrs is their idea of long, I silently chuckled) and a couple were limited to 3 hrs which was perfect. We started out at an easy pace, I sat at the back and talked with two other triathletes for the first 20 minutes. We came to the first hill, a good 2-3 mile climb that has a pretty steep section for the first 100 or so yards so I put it in the easiest gear and started spinning. Unintentionally I ended up leading the group up the whole climb as I sat up and spun comfortably. Nobody was really pushing it, however the other two riders on my wheel seemed to be breathing a lot harder than me and we dropped the rest of the group. We reached the top of the climb and the two roadies sprinted the last few yards for bragging rights then we waited for the rest of the group while they struggled for breath and I chatted to them about what a nice day it was. The rest of the group caught up and we continued on, again I was enjoying the day until I felt my front tire going down.

This was the 4th or 5th flat this year. Different wheels, different tires, some in training, 2 in races. I went all of 2007 with no flats. Pulled over and the group stopped with me. Tire off, tube out, checked tire for glass or punctures, didn't find anything, new tube in, tire on and
3-4 minutes later I'm ready to inflate. Hook up CO2, and hissssss large 1/4 tear in the tire with glass in it that I somehow missed. OK, now I've used my one and only spare tube but I get one given to me, borrow some CO2, put a dollar inside the tire to cover the rip after removing the glass and go to re-inflate and hisssss now air is coming out from another missed cut on the opposite side of the wheel. Repeat above steps again, by now it's been 15 minutes and the group is getting antsy, tell eveyone if this doesn't work to go on and I'll call for a ride. Ready to inflate for the third time and hisssss another leak, this time it's a faulty tube an it's leaking from the base of the valve stem. Defeated, I tell the group to carry on. They wait until I get confirmation that my wife is on her way and then head down the road on a beautiful Saturday morning while I am left to wait for a ride in the middle of nowhere in a church parking lot.

I then proceed to e-mail my coach telling him that despite his guidance and training me for the last 9 months I am not worthy and can't even finish a 3 hr ride. Following is evidence of the events described above.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The final push to IMWI

Since I am too tired to blog, thanks for pointing that out Coach, I will simply reflect on the last 2 weeks. Also in looking back over the last several weeks I have not had a weekend off since I can remember and have done at least one 4-6 hour ride every weekend with several back to back long bike days. The numbers look like this:

Week of 8/4
Monday: Off.
Tuesday: Swam 2,200 in the am, rode 36 miles of hill repeats with a group in 2:14.
Wednesday: Ran 16.5 miles in 2:15. Legs were tired from hills.
Thursday: Went to swim, pool was packed, felt like crap, bagged it after 1,500.
Friday: Swam 2,700 at noon, ran 9.9 mile in 1:19 in the evening, felt tired.
Saturday: Went to swim 4,000 time trial, felt dead, only made it to about 2,500. Had no legs.
Sunday: Race simulator. Planned on 120 mile ride at race effort with 3-5 mile brick. Was going along good on new ride, got rained out at mile 106. Felt good to that point, took just over 5-1/2 hours to get to 106 miles.

Week of 8/11
Monay: Instead of off day, ran since I didn't run day before. 6.5 miles in about 49 minutes.
Tuesday: Swam 3,000 in the am, felt better. Rode 39 miles on hilly course in 1:58. Felt pretty good.
Wednseday: Ran 17 miles in 2:23. Not fast but it was a HILLY route. Made sure I didn't walk any hills. Miles 10-17 were all basically up hill with a couple of short steep climbs. I was more focused on maintaining form and running up hills than overall pace of run. Tough run though.
Thursday: Swam 3,200. Feeling better on the swim. Still no legs to kick though.
Friday: Swam 3,800 in the am. Felt pretty good. Went for my 90 minute run in the pm. Legs felt like toast for the first 1-2 miles, then next thing I know I set a pb on a hilly run that has some steep trails, short steep hills, grass paths and a good climb 2 miles from home. Time was 1:32 for 11.6 miles.
Saturday: Swam 3,500 steady. Legs a little tired (wonder why?).
Sunday: Planned for 4 hr ride/2 hr run. Ride went well, very hilly and very windy. I was trying to save for the run but still managed 75 miles in just under 4 hours. Run started out and, yep, legs felt tired after the last two weeks. Made it to 5 mile mark and was surprised I was cruising along at just under 8 minute miles. At 7 mile mark ran into two triathletes that were trying a potential 10k course for a race we are putting on next year. Decided to run with them although they were headed the wrong direction. They were running a 10k pace but I was keeping up with them just fine. Got to the end of their run that put me further from home than I cared to be so I called it a day and hitched a ride home with them. 9.5 miles in 1:14 and it felt EASY, which is a huge confidence builder.

#'s for the year to date (last 8 months, not including last years time spent in October-December):
300 hours training.
151,500 yds swam.
2,600 miles ridden.
610 miles ran.
16 miles x-country skiing.
320 miles raced.
Three colds, one stomach bug, one case mild pneumonia.
Two crashes (on same ride)

Finally, some comparisons between last year and this year in prep for IMWI.

Longest run:
2007- 16 miles (1 time)
2008- 20 miles (2 times in March), 6 runs over 17 miles last 8 weeks.

Most miles ran per week:
2007-34 about 6 weeks out.
2008-45 about 3 weeks out.

30 + mile run weeks:
2007-2 total.
2008-7 total (4 over 40).

Longest bike:
2007-115 miles.
2008-120 miles.

100 + mile rides:
2007-4 total.
2008-6 (all in last 8 weeks).

200+ mile bike weeks:
2008-5 total.

Largest bike week:

Finally, this is the first race I feel ready for. Going back to IMWI last year something seemed to happen that hindered my last week or two of training before the taper for IMWI '07, the shamrock marathon this spring and the Mountaineer earlier this year. Each time I ended up not meeting the last week or two of training and inadvertently started my taper a week or two early. This time I nailed every workout up until the end and reached my taper having hit my plan as best I could.

IMWI 2008, bring it on!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

1 ride, two crashes.

Both were my own dumb ass fault too! Saturday was a planned 125 miler. Rode 30 miles at 6:30 am and then met up with the local roadie group ride at 8 for some company. They were planning a century but only 2 guys showed up for the ride instead of the usual 4-5.

Crash #1, mile 80.
It was at the top of the biggest climb of the day. I was about 100yds ahead of the two other guys and when I reached the top of the climb I was coasting and twisted around to see how far back they were. When I turned myself back around and put my right hand back on the aero base bar I missed and my hand slipped off the bar sending my whole right arm and upper body quickly down past the bars. This violently turned the wheel to the right sending me over the top of the bars. Luckily the bike had veered enough to the right that I flipped over off the road and into the gravel of someone's driveway. I landed on my left knee and shoulder, some how twisted quickly on my back and my head snapped back hard enough to crack the back of my helmet and embed it with pea gravel. I was having a good ride up to that point and my first reaction was to lunge for my bike to hit stop on the computer because I did not want the time I was not moving affect my avg speed or time for the ride! Collected myself and stood up. Bike looked ok, shifters were a little scratched up and the left armrest pad plastic was cracked. Minor road rash on my left knee/shin, my back was scratched up and my head rang for a minute or two. Oh, and my blackberry pearl that was in my back pocket got broke. The roadies caught up to me standing by the side of the road and asked if I was stretching/cramped and only after seeing my bloody left knee did they realize I crashed. I think I was only doing 15 or so mph at the time, so I was a little stiff/sore but decided to press on. About 5 miles later the roadies had to get back to town so they bailed and I continued on determined to get 125 miles in. I think riding again right away also helped to keep me loose and not tighten up because once the ride was done my right hip got really sore/tight.

Crash #2, mile 110.
This was a much more spectacular crash, at least to look at I think. On this route there is an amish run store that I planned on stopping at to get some fresh water for the ride home. I was going about 15 again and pulled into the gravel parking lot. Apparently they recently re-graveled this lot because as soon as I hit the lot my front wheel buried and came to an abrupt stop. Again I found myself going over the bars, although this time I was holding on to the bars tightly so me and bike did a whole front flip in the middle of this parking lot. This time I landed on my right knee/shoulder and got a small gash in my right knee and sore elbow. I tried the "get up as quick as possible hoping no one saw that" maneuver but it was too late. The amish storekeep saw everything and came running out to see if I was ok. I mumbled something and told him I was just stopping to buy water. Cool thing was he felt bad for me, I think, and gave me free two ice cold bottles to top off my supply and I sheepishly went on my way.

By now I was counting my blessings that I wasn't more hurt and my bike wasn't more messed up so I made a bee line home and finished with 118 miles. Today woke up sore with a stiff neck, two sore elbows and a sore right shoulder. Took some ibuprofen,waited for an hour then headed out the door for a 100 miler and set a PB and luckily made it home in one piece today.

In better news, the 'stat's' for this week's big base week were:

Monday off.

Tuesday swam 3,300, bike 38.5 miles of hills in 1:58.
Wednesday ran 17 miles in 2:17 (8:03 pace)
Thursday swam 3,200 yards.
Friday swam 2,200 (had to get back to work early), ran 11.2 miles in 1:30 (8:02 pace)
Saturday biked 118 miles of hills, and crashes, in 6:29 (18.2 mph avg)
Sunday biked 97.5 miles in 5:05 (19.2 mph avg), ran 6.5 miles in :52 and change (about an 8:10 pace).

Total time was 21+ hours, including 250+ miles on the bike and 34+ miles running. Overall legs feel great, especially after back to back big days.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Butler County YMCA Sprint Race Report

Finally, some good results!

This is a race I did 2 years ago as my second ever race and I remembered it as a small, short fun event so I signed up for it again this year in hopes of a high finish and or placing in my age group, the ever competitive male 35-39.

The race is billed as a 1/4 mile swim, 7 mile bike and 5k run, but we later found out the run was changed to a 3k instead of 3.1 miles! I was also surprised that there were a lot of people here. Quite a few were not serious racers or on mountainbikes but there were still well over 250 starters, which is bigger than I'd remembered.

I was in the second wave as all males up to 35 years were off 5 minutes ahead of us. This kind of made me mad as it was going to be hard to see where I was in my ag/heat once we started catching the racers in the first wave. They did not mark ages on calves so I figured I'd just go as fast as I can and hope for the best once I lost track of who was in what heat.

Swim 4:52. I had the 4th fastest swim overall I think. It was 100 yards or so out to the first buoy, turn left go 200 or so yards then turn left at the last buoy and come the 100 yards or so back into shore. I went fast to the first buoy and got there first in my wave, made the turn with one guy wide to my right and 3-4 on my feet. The last few races I've done have all been longer races so I was used to going hard to the first marker then settling in. I did this and a couple of people got along side me then I realized this was a SHORT race and no time to settle in so I picked it up and came into T-1 with 2 other guys right beside me.

Bike 21:09. I had the 3rd fastest bike overall, the fastest only 39 seconds faster than me. I remembered from 2 years ago this was a rolling course. What I didn't remember was just how rolling and or twisty it was. There was literally only 2 stretches of road where you could be on your aero bars. With all the short steep climbs, fast descents and sharp turns a road bike would have been the way to go and the top finishers all were on road bikes. I definitely made a mistake with the tri bike and with a disc. I only got passed by one guy, the eventual winner, at about mile 3 just before the turn around. He had started next to me in the swim but was older than me so not in my age group. I had passed 10-15 people from the first heat and when I saw the leaders of the first heat coming back I noted where they were and my time. I knew I was at the time in second in my heat and wanted to know if I was gaining or losing on the people that started 5 minutes ahead of us. I was glad to see that when I got to that same point the split was about 4 minutes, so I knew at that time I had gained on all the people in the previous heat and as best I could tell I was in second place overall! I finished the ride, came into T-2 on the pedals, rode the bike right to the mat and had a good dismount.

Unfortunately, my string of bad luck this year would continue as running to my rack in bare feet I stepped hard on a piece of gravel in the parking lot that was being used as transition. I landed square on my heel on this small rock and it hurt bad.

Got through t-2 quickly, and headed out on the run prepared for a 5k.

Run time 9:30, about 10th best run. So the run was somewhere between 1.6 and 1.8 miles, as best anyone can tell! I started with a guy right beside me but he was someone I'd caught from the previous wave. The run is an out and back on a rolling paved bike path. Up the little hill out of transition I was easily able to drop the guy beside me and set my sights on the 2 runners about 50-100 yards in front of me. At this point I was pretty sure I was still 2nd or 3rd at worst overall. My heel was really pounding from the rock I landed on and I know it held me back a little but I just kept trying to keep gaining on the guys down the path. I hit the first 'mile marker' at about 3 minutes flat, so I knew something was wrong and maybe thought it was supposed to be the 1/2 mile marker. About a minute later I saw 2 younger guys from the first wave coming back already and thought, damn, if this is a full 5 k they are way ahead of me but I noted where they were and the time on my watch. About this time a tall, lanky guy from my heat was gaining on and caught me. Next thing I know about 5 minutes in we hit the run turn around! By now the guy that passed me is about 20-30 yards in front of me as I later found out he hit the turn around and gave it hell. At that point I did the same and went as hard as I could back trying to gain some distance back on him. I couldn't gain much on him, but he wasn't pulling away. I did however catch 2 more guys from the first heat and when I got to the point where I had marked the leaders of that heat only about 3 minutes had passed so I was pretty sure I was ahead of everyone in heat 1 and was pretty sure that put me in 3rd overall. I still am not sure how long the run was but I know we were going at a decent pace. My goal was a sub 20 minute 5k and I think I would have been easily on pace for that. One thing I thought kind of odd was that the guy that passed me for 2nd on the way back the run course was shouting to people that it was a really short run to pick it up! I thought 'hey, we didn't have that luxury, why are you telling people that now!" because I know had I known how short the run was I'd have gone out even harder to the turn around.

Finished the race with a good sprint with one guy from the first heat and we finished neck and neck, although it was nice knowing I was really 5 minutes ahead of him!

I was right ended up 3rd overall out of 233 finishers. I was just hoping for an ag placing and ended up with an overall podium spot, so I was really happy with that. Including me, like 5 of the top 10 finishers overall were in my 35-39 ag.

After talking to the guys that finished 1st and 2nd overall I was glad to hear that they do short olympic and sprint races mostly. The second place guy said he had really been training for short fast stuff. Given I'm still training for IM Wisconsin and haven't done a lot, if any, of short speed work I was really glad with my finish. Got a nice little trophy too! My heel is still sore and I have a nice black and blue spot where I landed, but otherwise 15 minutes after the race I barely felt like I'd done anything.

In retrospect I definitely could have rode a lot better on a road bike. It would have been easier on the short steep climbs, fast descents and maneuvering through the turns. For the run, obviously it was so short I should have gone harder and also not landed on that damn stone.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Meltdown in Morgantown

June 29th was not a good day to race. I did the Morgantown HIM last year as my second every 1/2 and went 5:17 and change. I had been looking forward to and training for this race as one of my A races this summer and was shooting for sub 5 hours, hopefully close to 4:50 as I was in much better shape and had more training than I did at this point last year.

Two weeks before the race I came down with a cold/sinus infection and sore throat which screwed up my last week of training before the taper. I took things easy, felt better, had a good taper and felt great the day before the race.

The swim was uneventful. 29:36, about 40 seconds slower than last year but I felt like I went a lot easier. I was 3rd in my age group, 27th overall whereas last year I was 41st overall so I was happy with the improvement. Also, last year's swim may have been short. As a side note I again felt great in my Xterra wetsuit.

The bike started out great. Felt good, went steady on the flats and spun up the two hills. I only got passed by a couple of riders and only one in my age group I think through the first lap. Rode it in 1:17 which was my goal, and was 3 minutes ahead of last year. There was some rain and more wind than last year also, so I was definitely having a better ride. But then about mile 35 I hit a pothole, hard, and flatted my front. I lost about 8 or more minutes changing the flat and got passed by a ton of people. I then rode too hard for the next 10-15 miles trying to reel back spots and could feel a dreaded blow up coming so I tried to soft pedal and really take the last 6-8 miles or so easy but the damage was done. I coasted in to a 2:47 bike, about 10-12 minutes slower thand I wanted.

On the run I knew instantly it was going to be a bad day. Fought through two massive quad cramps, the first time ever, the first mile then things started to just shut down. Worst half marathon ever and if there was ever a picture to tell a thousand words of disappointment the following does so:
Yep, that's me finishing about an hour behind the time I wanted and about 35 minutes slower than last year! (The clock shows race time and my heat was about 15 minutes after the clock started, but still a bad day).

Later I learned my coach, John who was racing the pro division, had a bad day also and had to DNF after the first lap of the run.

Got home and felt lousy for the bad performance and felt like an idiot for taking the bike out too hard after flatting. Still couldn't stop coughing for the next day or two so I finally got to the doctor on Wednesday. Turns out I have a double ear infection, sinus infection and walking pneumonia, whatever that means, and have probably had it the last few weeks. So I'm now sure that had a lot to do with the blow up and lack of energy at the finish. I'm now on lots of antibiotics and medication and should be ready to go again in a week or less.

Friday, June 13, 2008

MS 150 Escape to the Lake

Ok, so it's not a race but a 2 day 150 (or 170) mile charity ride from near Pittsburgh to Lake Erie for the MS Society. The plan was to do the 100 mile option they give you instead of the normal 80 on Saturday at a good pace. The ride started in Cranberry PA, just above Pittsburgh and took mostly back roads all the way to Allegheny College in my home town of Meadville just about 1.5 miles from my house.

Two years ago I did this just to get back into some semblance of decent physical shape. A buddy of mine and I did it and even with stopping at every aid station (about every 10 miles) Saturday's ride of 80 miles was brutal and Sunday's wasn't this much better. Now, two years later it felt EASY...

I was riding for team Armstrong Cable. There were a couple of decent fast riders on the team (James and Peter) who did most of the Saturday 100 mile ride with me and there were also some team members that were simply out to survive the weekend's ride. It was pretty nice to have someone to ride/pace with for Saturday, plus we got some really nice jerseys. Here is Team Armstrong Saturday morning ready at the start.

We didn't make the first wave of 200 starters so we started bout 5 minutes later as part of wave 2. This made it a little interesting as for the next hour or so we constantly had people to pass and or catch up to.

One of the great things about the MS ride is the range of people doing the ride. You will see single speed fixies, serious mountain bikers, people on 20 year old department store bikes and $7,000 racing bikes. But this guy takes the cake. The picture is lousy as I was riding by him in low light at the time and trying to use my cell phone but he was chugging along on his big wheeled antique bike. Rumor has it he's a bike shop owner from Pittsburgh that does the ride every year on this bike. They let him start an hour or more early and he just chugs along, walking up and down hills when he needs to.

We rode the first 30-40 miles pretty steady. Peter, James and I were joined for much of the ride by a couple of other riders here and there. By about mile 30 there was very little traffic although we knew some of the serious riders from the teams, including the UPMC team, were probably well up the road. James and Peter stopped at the 30 mile aid station and I kept going to Grove City for lunch at the 40 mile station. Two years ago I think we got to this station sore and tired at about 11:30 or later. This year I was there at 9:40 and was contemplating skipping it but decided to stop and wait for Peter and James. They stopped, we ate, and then headed on. The rest of the ride is pretty hilly, with the hilliest sections coming at about mile 60 and lasting until the end. At the 72 mile station we didn't follow the normal route and went ahead with the turn for the extra loop for the 100 mile ride. At the only aid station on this loop Peter stopped (we had dropped James on the super steep hill that someone decided would be fun to put about mile 85) and I kept going. The last 10-15 miles are on a loop I ride a lot in training but they are all uphill and this day were all into the wind. After about 80-85 miles my avg speed for the ride had been about 19.5, but the wind and constant hills of the finish were really pretty tough, and I rode this last section without ever seeing another person until you get back on the 80 mile ride for the last 3-4 miles. Finished at Allegheny College in 5:22 minutes for an avg speed of 18.4 or so. I felt pretty good and not tired/sore despite the heat, humidity, headwind and hills of the day.

I decided to change the strategy for Sunday's ride of 70 miles (actually it's really about 65) from an easy up and back to a hard one way effort on the tri bike with no stops. This day was going to be a little more serious. To make a long day short I simply rode hard and steady for the whole way up, only stopping once for a few seconds about halfway after making a wrong turn to ask for directions back on course. The fast guys from the UPMC team and a couple of other teams stopped about a third of the way up at a rest stop and I got ahead of them, then they got ahead of me when I made the wrong turn. Other than that I was constantly passing people, including people that obviously started way before the 7:30 start time and also passed several small groups of 4-5 riders trying to work together. Every time I came upon a small group like that I made sure that my speed/effort was good and strong so that I went right around them at a pretty good clip. As stupid as it sounds I pictured myself as a missile coming up on riders and then I was a high speed train as I barreled by them. I re-passed some of the UPMC guys about 15 miles from the finish when they were changing a flat then 4 guys got back in front of me about 5-10 miles from the end. One guy blew up but the other 3 stayed about 30-60 seconds in front of me until the finish. Total ride distance was just over 66 miles and my time was 3:03 and change for an average speed of 21.4 mph. I had been shooting for a 22mph avg but the last 30 minutes or so were near Lake Erie and the wind coming off the lake was absolutely brutal and straight into you.

I was tired and hot, but the legs actually felt pretty good after close to 170 miles in two days. It was only when I got in the car for the ride home did I realize just how hot the day was, as shown by the car temperature gauge. So given the heat, humidity and wind again on Sunday and the fact that I did a good hilly 100 the day before I was very happy with the weekend's rides. Plus it's for a good cause to boot.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

TTT Race Report

Short version:

Met some great people, the water was cold, the course was hilly, the run is insane, my stomach is still effed up, I'd do it all again....

Longer version:

Got hooked up with RROOF through the Slowtwitch forums to race as a team. Rod ended up g
etting a cabin from One-Lap (Donald) who posted he had an opening. Ended up staying with Rod, Donald, his friend AnneChristine (one tough chic!) and Joe Bonness. Everyone was great cabin company, although we spent more time zoning out in the cabin than anything between races. But the beauty of the internet is I was racing/rooming with a guy I never met before who had us staying with someone neither of us met before and their friend along with a legend in the sport.


This was a blast. After training for long distance racing what does the TTT do but make you go all out in a super sprint 25 minute race! The
water was cold, but after a while it wasn't too bad. I was using my new Xterra Vector Pro 2 wetsuit for the first time and absolutely loved it. The swim was a TT start and it was a mad dash with everyone sprinting like crazy into the water, out of the water and through transition. The bike was basically an up then down course and it looked more like the last few miles of a road race than a tri, as people were passing and riding all over the place, which along with wet roads, made things interesting. Then after another mad dash through transition sprinting a mile was another new experience. The race was over before it seemed like it even began and I was OK with my time of 25:30 +/-.

Later I learned in our cabin that AnneChristine had some nitwit cut her off and take her out on the bike. Dude didn't even stop. She was banged up an
d scraped up too, but Dr. Rod being the traveling ER that he was had everything from good meds to the second skin stuff in his Dr's kit and our cabin looked like a hospital room while he treated AnneC. But she did finish the race and go on to race the rest of the weekend despite being banged up. Also met Tribodyboarder (Jay) at dinner and talked to him for a while.

Sat am Olympic:
Another TT swim
start. I was seeded #58 and felt good in the water. Again, my new wetsuit feels awesome with no shoulder fatigue at all. Exited the water in 19:30 according to my watch and headed to transition. Bike course was tough but fair, some hairy downhills but they had plenty of warnings on them.

The early start combined with the cold water meant my hands/feet were cold for most of the bike. I went sockless which was a mistake as my toes were cold
until halfway through the run. I took the bike easy until Rod caught me then tried to hang with him (not allowed to draft yet) and came in around 1:20, pretty slow for an olympic but the course was not easy. Started the run feeling ok and this was my first look at the infamous dirt trail run course. Like everyone says, it's hilly. Just concentrated on holding back and saving energy for the next race(s) and ran a comfortable 52 minute run for a total time of around 2:35 or so.

Went back to the cabin and relaxed. Got some food in me early and then just tried to stay hydrated until the second race of the day.

Sat pm Olympic/team T
This was a new format as most know by now,
bike, swim then run. Rod and I started off and early on I knew something was up with my stomach as I started to get some bad pains/heartburn. Tried to keep getting Infinit down but it was definitely hurting, and not in the usual way the stomach acts up/shuts down when going too hard and your nutrition is screwed up. This was just plain pain in the stomach. I had gotten sick a few weeks ago and ended up in the ER the next day where they were convinced I had appendicitis. Several hours later and multiple tests and a catscan and the doctor told me it was most likely food poisoning or something I ate. Was fine until the Saturday before TTT when I got sick again and didn't eat at all Sunday or Monday and only had a little bit on Tuesday leading up to the TTT. Anyway, this same pain/nausea was now back in full effect less than halfway through the bike leg of the second race. Rod and I shared pulls on the flats averaging a pretty good clip but I was hurting on the hills. He finally left me on the last hill to get to T-1 ahead of me to start changing into his wetsuit for the swim. I got to T-1 and he was almost changed, used the plastic bags (which worked great) and got into my wetsuit and we both headed off to the swim. By now the rush to the water and through transition from just a day ago was replaced by the most part by a comfortable walk and wade. On my second lap of the swim the people in front of me literally waded all the way out to the first turn buoy until they were into water about up to their neck before swimming. No dolphin diving/rushing just a lets get it over with kind of mosey along. Swim went ok but my stomach was screaming. The first lap went by way to fast and the last buoy came up again too fast on my second lap as I was dreading the run. T-2 was a hoot as a lot of people were cramping bad coming out of the water. The guy next to me was literally sitting down cramped so bad he couldn't move 2 feet to get his stuff and had a guy next to him hand him some endurolytes. Started the run and right away knew I was in for trouble. Every time I ran for more than a few minutes my stomach was into my throat and I felt like I needed to hurl, but couldn't. I'd run until I couldn't stand it then walk to let the stomach calm down then run again. Coming up the big climb after the turn around I saw Donald and AnneC. I knew he had his camera with him so I hollered hey Don, get a picture of me falling apart, which he was kind enough to do.

I suffered through the longest 10k of my life with continuing stomach issues and finished the second olympic around 2:55, or 30 minutes slower than the first.

Hung out afterwards an
d tried to eat as much pizza as I could to get calories in my for Sunday. Sat with Tribodyboarder, Rod, Joe B and met his wife (SupportCrew) and daughter. Great company once again, and man for a little dude Jay sure did put away a lot of pizza at dinner. For me every bite was an effort to simply get calories I knew I was going to need the next day. Went back to the cabin where we chilled out some more and tried to recover.

Sunday Half:
We all got up at the crack of 6am, or 1 hr before race. Tried to eat some breakfast and then headed to the race about 6:30ish. Everyone was moseying around and at 6:55, or about 5 minutes prior to the start I would say 90% of the people still hadn't donned their wetsuits. It was cold, about mid 40's, and that combined with the fatigue I think caused the athletes to stage a mini-protest until the sun at least started to peak over the hills. Finally the race started about 15-20 minutes after 7. The water was cold, but felt good after a little while. I just tried to swim steady and keep a good pace. Again, coming out of the water and going in for the second lap no one was rushing. Came out in 32 or so, but already was feeling stomach cramps. Got on the bike and headed out for the 2 course loop. I was froze, as I imagine most were, and spent the first 30 minutes trying to warm up. Good thing is there was a huge long steady
hill early on that helped to keep the speed down and get you warmed up. It was a pretty awesome climb on a neat fire road with beautiful scenery. Spun up it best I could and tried to keep things on the bike under control. I had tried taking only water for the first 20-30 minutes on the bike to settle my stomach before I started on Infinit. Again, knew I was in trouble as every drink of Infinit hurt and did the whole bike with my stomach in my throat. Not being able to get nutrition was really starting to take it's toll as I had little or no power going up the many hills so I just spun and did my best to not totally blow up. To add insult to injury about mile 20 or so when crossing one of the patches in the road I blew out my rear tire. I then had the pleasure of trying to change a tire with hands that were still pretty much frozen. It was damn frustrating trying to get the tire off and then back on the wheel when I couldn't even grip the tire. It was like trying to change a tire with 10 frozen sausages for fingers. I got passed by a ton of people, most of whom were kind enough to holler to make sure I had everything I needed. Finally after about 10 minutes I got the tire change done and headed back to the bike. I caught Jay about 2 miles from the turn around who had passed me when I had my flat and he said he was feeling good and saving something for the run.

The bike course is totally unsupported so you put any bottles you want/need on a table at the start/finish so you can get them for the second loop. I had an extra bottle of Infinit and a bottle of water waiting, but due to my stomach I had only taken in about half of what I planned on so I didn't even pick them up. It was funny though riding through the bike turn around as it looked less like a race and more like a rest stop for the local charity ride. There were people hitting the port a pots, moseying around the aid station and there just seemed to be an overall lack of urgency, but after 3 hard days I don't blame them and felt like stopping myself but by that point I just wanted to be done.

I knew I was in for a long day before I had even started so I didn't even bother starting my watch as I didn't want to be discouraged. I think my bike time was around 3:30 or more, or almost 1 hr longer than my time on a 'normal' course, but then again nothing about this race is normal. The second loop was pretty uneventful, I just pretty much spun as best I could and tried to force myself to drink Infinit whenever I could. I ended up taking in less than half of what I had planned on for calories on the bike though.

The run was a complete suffer fest. My legs did not feel bad at all but any length of running jostled the stomach like crazy. It was 2 plus hours of run for 2-3 minutes, then walk until the stomach settled. Jay caught me about mile 2 holding a nice steady pace. I ran with him for a mile or less than told him I had to back off due to cramps and wished him luck. I finished the first lap and as I did they announced that someone was just heading out on the bike for their second lap and I literally wanted to cry for that person! The second lap was more of the same I was now only drinking water as that is all I could handle as the gatorade in my fuel belt was killing my stomach and the Heed was doing the same, so I literally got 0 calories in on the entire run/walk. Donald and AnneC. caught me near the last climb before the downhill to the turnaround and told me to run in with them but I couldn't. About 5 minutes after they passed me I had a fleeting moment where I felt good and ran as fast as I could on the last mile or so and caught back up to them at the turn around before being brought back down by more stomach cramps. I did a good part of the run with another guy that was hurting too, #61 I think, Dan from Chicago. I'm not sure who was hurting worse, he or I, but we both had bad a day. By the time I got done it was all I could do to force myself to 'run' the last 1/2 mile which is back into the spectator area of the start finish and then it was finally over. Final time was a god awful 6:48, or 1 hr slower than my first ever HIM which I did a couple of years ago and was totally undertrained for at the time.

I got a little food in me but not much, sat in the creek with Rod, Donald, AnneC and several others then headed to the cabin, got ready and headed home. Stopped in Portsmouth at DQ, saw another guy there with his family on his way back to Columbus and as I was leaving I think St'er Jodi and her partner (he was still in his tri-suit) came in. Apparently DQ is big for triathletes after a 3 day sufferfest. For me, the DQ was a huge mistake as I spent the 6 hr ride home suffering more stomach pains and popped more tums, pepcid and ginger ale than someone should be allowed. Afterwards I don't feel too bad as my legs are tired, but not shot, but I'm still fighting something with the stomach so I'm off to the doctor's this week to see what the hell is wrong with me. Overall it's pretty frustrating as I've always had an iron stomach but whatever I have combined with such a hard event literally wiped me out.

Other than that it was a great weekend and great to meet a lot of St'ers and finally put faces to some of the names.

Rroof is one fast dude and super nice guy, Donald (one-lap) was a great cabin mate and AnneChristine is one tough woman for grinding it out after crashing. Oh, and Joe B. is a really great guy in many ways beyond triathlon and it was great talking to him about many things. I only wish I'd just had to deal with the course/races and not the added problem of a bum stomach all weekend. Anyone that finished or has done that race in the past is awesome because it's an entirely different experience from any race I've done to date. Congrats to all.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Up next....

Is the American TTT triathlon in Shawnee St Park, Ohio. Not sure why, but based on the buzz about this race I think I'm as nervous or more nervous than when I did IM Wisconsin last year. The common theme among most internet forum posters when referencing this week is that no one is trying to race it and everyone is 'looking forward to their good long training weekend'.

Basically it's 4 races over 3 days in what sounds like a very hilly area. It all starts Friday May 23rd with a really short sprint. 250 yd swim, 5 mile bike (apparently straight up a hill then straight down) then a 1 mile run. Saturday morning is another race, this time a standard Olympic distance race, again on what sounds like a very hilly course. Saturday afternoon the real fun begins with the first 'team race' where you and your teammate, if you have one, do a team time trial style race where you are allowed to draft off each other. Only deal is you start on the bike, then struggle to get into your wetsuit for the swim then try to run a hilly 10k after swimming. And then there's Sunday. Again, another 2 man team event. This time it's a standard 1/2 ironman distance race. Only again, very hilly. Everyone says to figure 1hr longer than your 'normal' 1/2IM time. Every race is a time trial style start, and by the end of Sunday you will have done more than 140.6 miles of racing. At the start my teammate and I are ranked #57 and 58. I can't wait!

In other news 2 cool items. First my new wetsuit arrived and it seems awesome. Went with the Xterra Vector Pro X-2. I didn't get to swim in it yet but it already seems way more flexible than my old entry level suit. Hopefully no more tired shoulders early on in the swim. Thanks again to coach John for the sweet discounts.

Secondly, I am now on the Achilles Running Store team! They are a running specialty store that just opened up here in town and are catering to local school athletic teams and serious runners. There are some really fast guys on the running team and I am the only 'triathlete'. So if you need to buy running stuff in NW Pennsylvania, go there first.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Presque Isle TT, a new PB.

Today was the spring time trials at Presque Isle state park in Erie PA. The race is a flat 12.5 mile time trial on Presque Isle Peninsula. Shannon, Zack and I got up early this morning to head out to the race. Got there about an hour before and took our time getting ready and warming up. It was Zack's first race ever and Shannon was there to take our pictures and cheer us on.

I had only been focusing more on the bike the last few weeks, and haven't really done any speed work and or many intervals other than strength progression sets on the trainer. So I felt good, but I didn't know if I would be able to beat last spring's time when I had been working more on the bike in the spring. My goal was sub 30 minutes, or avg of 25mph.

I always get a kick out of how serious the roadies are in these races. Yeah, every second counts but some people are going out at barely over 20mph with skinsuits and shoe covers on looking like tour riders! I was going to rock it triathlon style with a singlet, tri-shorts and my funny one-strap tri shoes. I even considered starting with my feet on top of my shoes and pretending I was taking off out of T-1 but didn't, and because it was cold out I skipped the singlet and used a simple UnderArmour long sleeved top.

One great thing about short TT's is that you get to strip your bike to it's essentials. In IronMan training you spend so many hours on the bike working on pacing and fueling and your bike is often laiden with 2 or more water bottles to keep you going for 6 hr rides. Add in a seat bag for spare tubes, tools and CO2 and it's like your taking a Ferrari out for a family vacation. With a short TT it's the bike, race wheels and that's it. No water bottles, no tools/spares, nothing but your bike and you. Pure speed, hopefully.

I was #159 out of 185, so I was starting near the end. The finish line is just across a wooded strip from the start line, so many people were roaring across the finish as we got ready to start. Started out good and found my legs right away and settled in. Here I am holding perfect form just about 200 yards from the start :)

The first 5-6 miles are traditionally downwind or with no wind. It's only after you make a big sweeping turn and get on the road closer to Lake Erie that you start to catch any wind. This rang true today and the first 5-6 miles were all at 26-27 miles per hour. It's a cool feeling to look at your bike computer and see 26.5 mph and to see the indicator with a down arrow indicating you are going slower than your avg speed for the ride. Made the turn and of course there was the wind as we got closer to the lake. I continued passing riders (never got passed) and was struggling to hold 24-25 mph for miles 7-10. Once I hit mile 10 put my head down and gave it everything I could to keep the momentum up to the finish. All the while I never had my bike computer showing anything but speed and distance. I knew my speed was going to be better than my past personal best of just over 25mph average wich resulted in a time of 29:58 last year, but I had no idea by how much.

Saw the finish line with about 1/2 mile or less to go and kept the speed at about 27+ for the last 1/2 mile. Crossed the line and hit my computer and saw 29:02 for an average of 25.83mph. Almost a 1 minute PB! I have no idea what my HR was as I didn't wear my monitor, but I know it was definitely an all out effort. Given that I have done little or no training for a race of this type I was thrilled with the result and came in 20th overall out of 180+ riders. Here's a good pic of the finish. I've noticed from coach John's web page pictures that you have to make 'angry face' to go fast. I was doing my best JH angry face impression here at about 200 yards to the finish.

Definitely a good result for all the more biking I've put in. Plus through all the IM training sometimes it's just fun to throw all the pacing and strategy out the window and just go ride fast!

Zack also had a good day and despite not doing much riding all spring other than trips around the block rode a respectable 41 minutes for the ride. He defintely had fun and will be back for more racing in the future.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Kinetic Half Race Report

Headed to Lake Anna VA early Friday morning for the Kinetic Half Iron race on Saturday. Drive was not too bad, and I was meeting my coach and another CREW member, Joe, there Friday afternoon.

Got to the race expo about 2:30 after stopping off by the cabin John had rented us for the weekend. Some cabin, this thing was a beautiful house in the woods. Private drive, rustic looking but brand new house, path to the lake and so on. Yeah, this is going to be roughing it!Heard from John and Joe that they were running late. I hung out at registration. Took the bike out for a 10 minute spin, then decided to test the water. Last year apparently the water was so cold they shortened the swim. It was a nice surprise then to see the water was up to the low 60's and felt perfect for a wet suit swim. Hung out for a little while longer then John and Joe finally showed up. They registered, we did another short ride followed imediately by a short 5-10 minute run. We ran the last 1/2 mile or so of the course which was down a wooded path. Running downhill recently has been aggravating for my knee, so that had me a little worried.

Went back to the cabin, dumped off some gear and headed out to find food. Ended up driving for about 30-40 minutes then finally found a small pizza shop. Got or pizzas to go, went back to the cabin and chilled/ate then went to bed.

Slept fine, no anxiety, after all this was just to be a training race. Got up, had a bagel and peanut butter, some Gatorade and a little coffee and it was off to the race at about 6:30. This race didn't start until 8, which was awesome!

Set up transition, got ready to go with about 1/2 hour to spare then just relaxed.

SWIM TIME 31:55.
The swim started off bad. Joe and I were in the third wave, 6 minutes after the first wave, and we were just kind of standing around waiting for the countdown when all of a sudden the horn goes off. I sprinted into the water while trying to put my goggles on and dove in, getting a good lungfull of lake water right away. Not how I wanted to start. By the time I recovered and got into a rhythm the lead pack was about 20-30 feet in front of me. I tried to settle in and find some feet but I was kind of in no-where land. I hooked up with another couple of guys from our wave about 3/4 through the first lap then just staid on their feet as we began catching lapped swimmers. Got out of the water to run the beach to start lap 2 and realized in the confusion I had never started my watch. Oh well. Swam the second lap kind of on cruise control and just stayed with the other 2 swimmers from my wave. When I got out of the water I saw 37:40 on the race clock. Taking 6 minutes off for our wave I put my swim time at high 31's, about 3 minutes slower than my PB. Afterwards John commented that his swim time seemed slow too, so then I didn't feel too bad.

BIKE TIME 2:45:58.
I was supposed to take the bike easy and work on a good run. This was hard because the bike course I thought was pretty fair and I knew it could be a fast course. My plan was to ride 18 miles really easy, 20 miles a little harder but not too hard, and then take the last 18 miles really easy. That's pretty much what I did. I rode around the same 4-5 riders for the first 18 miles. Then, for the next 20 I pretty easily pulled away from them and spent the next 20 miles cruising/passing folks. I think I only got passed by a couple of people in that stretch. Then took the last 18 miles really easy. During the bike however I noticed that on any little incline if I tried to put any power down my right knee started to hurt a little. Therefore at even some of the smallest hills I just stood and spun over them as best I could without putting any strain on my knee. Finished the bike feeling pretty good and got ready for the 13.1 mile run.

Coming into T-2 you had to dismount and run down a steep little grass incline. That kind of hurt my knee so I knew I was in trouble. Took my time in T-2, got my shoes on and headed out for the run. The race director at the pre-race meeting had reminded everyone that the first mile or so was pretty much up-hill. With that in mind I took the first mile out at what I thought was a reasonable pace but not too hard. I passed a couple of runners, one guy walking already and got passed by a guy going along at a pretty good clip. All the while my right knee seemed to get more sore with each step. Came to the first mile marker at about 7:40, so I was happy that the first mile being uphill and at a reasonable pace was sub-8. I then tried to pick up the pace a little and that made the knee hurt even more. As I approached the first aid station at about 1.5 miles I decided to stop and see if stretching the knee would help, it didn't. A volunteer came over and offered me some ice for my knee, and at that time I decided to call it a day before I screwed things up with my knee and ruined my season.

Hung out at the aid station for a while then decided to hoof it back, with ice pack on the knee, to see if I could catch the race finish. Saw the lead male then a bunch of other fast looking pros/age groupers but I could not tell who was on what lap of the run and what division. John came through about 3.5 minutes down on the leader. I just missed the mens finish, but I saw a lot of people suffering on the hill as I walked down it. Afterwards got with John, told him what happened and he agreed I made the right call not to aggravate things. We hung out for a little while and caught Joe's last lap and finish (a PB for Joe too, congrats) then waited around for the awards ceremony. John got a sweatshirt for finishing second (also a PB).

Went back to our cabin, chilled out, ate the remaining pizzas then watched some bad TV.

All in all it was a decent training day, but a disappointment to not finish. Yet just two days later and my knee is already feeling much, much better, so I know I made the right call. It's definitely a fun race though, well run, good course and will be worth doing again next year.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

1st Tri of the year in T-minus 42hrs.

Heading to VA, Lake Anna to be specific, for the first triathlon of the year. Swimming feels a little less than where it was at this time last year, but the bike and run is way ahead. Last year I had almost no rides over 3 hrs this early in the season. In fact it was July before I hit 200 mile weeks. The last two weeks have been just under 200 miles on the bike, plus a couple of solid 3 hr rides on Saturday's followed up by 7 mile brick runs and then long (5+) hr rides on Sundays.

Plus, the run is way ahead of last year. In training for the Shamrock marathon did numerous 40+ mile weeks. Bigger than any run weeks last year and had a couple of weeks just under 50 miles. Since then run has backed down to about 30mpw, but still getting a good long run in on Wednesdays, some hills on Fridays and then the brick on the weekends. During a long run two weeks ago I 'tweaked' my right knee a little from going out too hard (7:10/mile for the first 6-7 miles of a scheduled 2 hr easy run). It was too hard too fast and too close to the marathon I ran on March 17th. The knee is about 90-95% now. It's sore/tight when sitting but once I get moving it gets much better/looser. Hopefully it does not become an issue Saturday.

Coach JH has me under strict orders this weekend. I'm to go out hard for 100-200 yards on the swim then find a group and or some fast feet and cruise the rest of the way. Then I'm supposed to take it REALLY easy on the bike. Let them pass will be my motto. For the run then I'm supposed to go out fast and get faster each loop.

Since this is the first race of the year I'm not too keen on setting goals other than to shake the rust out, but for a general guideline I'm looking at:

Swim 30-31. My personal best in a half is 28 and change, but the water is going to be cold and my swim has been down from the past year due to all the biking.

Bike 2:45. This is pretty variable as I don't know the course. Last year on a hilly course I did a 2:40 in my only half, and I feel faster/stronger on the bike right now. I think I could go 2:35 but I have my orders so I'm thinking conservatively.

Run 1:40 or less. My only two HIM runs were disasters. I have yet to break 2hrs! Yet I've done a ton or running since last year, my achilles that hurt all last year is good to go and if my knee holds up I think I'll be fine. PB in training is a 1:30:08 half marathon time, at the Shamrock my split at the half way was 1:35 something and most of my 2hr runs are at an easy 8 min/mile pace. If I can go 1:40 or so then I will be happy.

Either way, it is looking like a good weekend, should be fun.