Monday, June 20, 2011

Wilkes Barre Duathlon Race Report

On Sunday I made my annual Fathers Day trek to Wilkes Barre for the 8th annual Wilkes Barre Duathlon. As I've said before this is a great race with a small hometown feel and a great hot buffet breakfast at the end. Also typically very competitive because there's a cash prize. It was my fourth time racing it so I was familiar with the course and layout.

I headed up solo this year, it's an early start (7:30am) so no family to cheer me on. My brother is on vacation so he missed the event this year. Rolled out of the house at 5am and arrived at about 6:15 or so. Great parking spot right across from transition and I headed to pick up my number and get transition set up.

The racks were numbered so everyone knew where they should be. When I racked my bike I noticed that the racks were a little unsteady, I was on the end so I thought I could control it and didn't expect any issues. I laced up my Avi Stoltz's and headed out for a 2 mi warmup. Weather was decent, low 70's and a little humid. Leading up to the race my running has really been feeling strong, but my bike legs have been eluding me. This being a "sprint" distance race, I knew it meant one thing...PAIN! The shorter races mean high intensity right from the start. My goal was to try to run up front in the first run, have a quick transition and get out on the bike ASAP.

I looked around at the start and I saw Sean Robbins. He and I have battled EVERY year! In fact, he's come in second six times and third once in the 7 years the race has been held. I didn't see last year's winner though :-) The gun went off and a few of us made our way out front.
There was a relay guy that was dressed in a running outfit that was a strong runner who seemed to want to be out front. I tucked in behind him and as we hit the first sharp turn at the top of the causeway and I could see Sean dangling a few seconds back. As we hit the 2nd mile marker a guy in a tri kit came to the front but was content to not push the pace. I didn't recognize him and all I could do was hope he wasn't a strong cyclist! As we crested the bridge and headed into transition area I slowed slightly in an effort to lower my HR for the bike. I had no idea of pace, I had my watch on but I never look down in the short races, I go by feel. Came into T1 a couple of seconds back, 16:19 for 3mi.

I ran right past my bike, but quickly turned around...helmet on, sneakers off, bike shoes on and out onto the course. Perfect flying mount and I was gone...and no one but the police car in front. "Here goes nothing" I thought and put my head down. The first 4 miles are tough w/ a lot of stinging climbs....down to 12-13mph....which I knew and just kept pushing. It was clear that my cycling legs weren't 100% with me, but I wanted to give my best effort. I hit the turn around on the out and back at mile 8 or so and I could see where I stood. Sean was coming, we exchanged waves and I put my head down. The strong runner from the first run was losing time to us so it was clear that the race was between Sean and I. Sean had beat me the first year I raced here, then he waxed me pretty good at the Steelman Triathlon in 2009 so I knew he was strong on the bike and event stronger off the bike on the run.

As I came down the last straight into town on the bike I could tell I was holding decent speed and there was no one close. Feet out of my shoes, nice fast dismount and then it I was racking my bike the rack fell down!! Luckily I was the only one in the transition and I could lay my bike down. Did lose some time there and as I exited the transition in 42 sec and I could see Sean was close. In a strange twist of events, I actually had the fastest bike split of the day and none of the fastest run splits (2nd in both runs)!

After nearly an hour being redlined I had no idea what my legs had in them. The sun was bright and it was getting hot. I mentally broke the run down into small segments and hoped I could hold it together. As we hit about 1.5mi a volunteer yelled "he's about 20 yds behind".. "GREAT" I thought, he's catching me! As we passed mile 2 I could tell I was redlined, but told myself I only had less than six minutes of pain left! With about a half mile to go we climbed the causeway one more time and made a sharp turn.....he was close and looking strong. My plan......get over the incline up the bridge and then open up my stride down the bridge and through the last city block. And that's what I did, the best sprint I could muster...and I hit the line a scant 17 seconds ahead after pulling off my fastest mile of run 2, a 5:31!
Sean crossed and we congratulated each other. And then I found out how cool a small race like that is when a couple of reporters came over to chat with me!! I caught up with a few friends and chatted with Sean for a while, then loaded up and hit the post race breakfast buffet. Did some searching today and found the front page of the sports section of one of the newspapers.....
Made it home before noon and had a great Father's day visiting and hanging out w/ family. Hard to believe the longest day of the year (IE: Summer) is hear already. Autumn just finished first grade and we're gearing up for our annual trip to Vermont.......

Here's some cool comparison always amazes me how consistent the human body is. This has been the same course with the exception of the bike in 2010.




RUN1 Time




RUN1 Pace












BIKE Time**
















RUN2 Time




RUN2 Pace














**NOTE: Bike course was >1 mi longer in 2010

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What would you do??

So I'm looking forward to late summer / early fall and I've got two things on my mind. I know I can't do both, so I've got a decision to make.

I've never really trained for a half iron as an "A" race, so part of me would love to see how fast I could go. But then there's the Age Group Nationals in my favorite state (VT). The other consideration (now I've gotta confuse things even more) is that my running is feeling better than it has in a while so possibly a fall marathon, but then there's the cyclocross season.......I digress......

AG Nationals consist of an Olympic distance triathlon and they're held late August in Burlington, VT. Half Iron distance races are hard to come by in the Northeast during the heat of the summer, but come September / October there are a few good choices fairly close to home. Can't go too far into October because I'm a wimp and hate the cold (see how complicated this gets..).

So the Half's I'm considering are:
  1. Rhode Island 70.3 (never done an Mdot race and quite frankly don't care to)
  2. Big George Half Distance Tri on 9/3. Beautiful section of New York, great timing and I'd get in on an inaugural event.
  3. REV3 Cedar Point on 9/11. REV 3, can't go wrong....BUT it's opening weekend of the cross season (and a 7+ hour drive).
  4. Half Full Tri in Elliott, MD on 10/2 Well, great people, great cause and REV3 times it. Smack dab in the middle of cross season, but fairly close to home.
  5. Pocono Mtns 70.3 on 10/2. Very close to home, inaugural event but again...COLD and Mdot.
So there you have it. A lot of choices (and I haven't even thrown any fall marathon choices in there).

What would you do?
Any other suggestions?

Oh and BTW...who's the wise guy that caught me resting up for the HALF at Quassy after I finished the OLY??

Friday, June 10, 2011

REV3 Quassy Challenge - DAY 2 - Half REV Race Report

Well, after a full day on the rides, some time at the indoor pool at the hotel and a great dinner I finally had some time to prepare my nutrition and transition bag for an early start on Sunday. As I mentioned in the OLY race report, the plan for today was to go for a "comfortably hard" catered training event, and of course to get some much needed swim "practice". Met up w/ my neighbors Randy and Mary who were doing the race and hopped a ride w/ them so the family could sleep. Rolled into the park, set up my bike / gear and headed to the bathroom to put my race number tattoo on. It was another chilly morning with temps in the low 50's, but the water was 69.5 degrees. No wetsuits for the pro's! I got all lubed up w/ Trislide and put on my sweet TYR wetsuit. I had my transition area laid out included a water bottle w/ EFS to sip on in transition and a second flask of EFS Liquid Shot for the run if I needed it. My bike was loaded up w/ a bottle of EFS in the holder and water in the aerodrink. I also had a chopped up Clif Bar and an EFS Liquid Shot in my bento box.

Headed down to get wet and watch the pro's start...
I remember looking out over the swim course thinking "damn that looks like a long way to swim" and before I got to the first sight marker my arms were talking back to me and I was wondering if I could make it. I had a decent rhythm and felt good for a crappy swimmer like me. Again, my sighting was really spot on (even going into the sun on the back leg) and I was happy with my 35:18 swim which was 57 out of 128 in my AG. Even better considering I had swam more in the past two days than I had in the past 11 months. Thanks to my TYR Category 5, I was actually faster than I was last year!
I had a harder time getting the wetsuit over my ankles this time, which led to a sluggish 2:39 T1. I was off and riding though. The sun was coming out and the temps were mid to upper 50's. Not too bad.
I could tell right away that my legs were pretty shot from yesterday. I knew I had to take it easy and not kill my legs on the climbs or the run would be BRUTAL. It was tough swallowing my pride and letting people pass me on the bike, but I stuck to my goals. As the race went on the day just got more and more nice. The scenery out on this course is incredible! Taking my time a little more also allowed me to talk to some other riders out there which was fun...and new to me! I made it past the sight of last year's flat tire without issue and by mile 30 I had to do something I never did before...stop to pee. What a freaking relief! I grabbed a bottle of water and refilled the aerodrink at the first stop. I sipped on my EFS Liquid Shot throughout the race and generally I felt fine nutritionally, just an absence of my normal legs likely from the hard effort I put out the day before.

I was comfortable on my bike the whole ride and I even picked it up the last 10 miles or so. Those last few miles of uphills and false flats can really kill you mentally, but it is cool to get a look at the pro's and your competition as they take to the run course and you're finishing the bike.
Off the bike in a lackluster 2:50:52 for 19.66 average (didn't forget Garmin today, says over 3700' of climbing). Got my feet out quick and easy and had a good T2 (but more mentally confused than normal) at 1:12. Grabbed a flask of Wild Berry EFS LS and I was off.
It was starting to get hot and I was looking forward to getting a check on the run legs and getting some shade. I felt pretty good in the generally downhill first few miles but I could tell this was going to be a tough one. I ran with one of the pro women for the first 7 miles or so, she was a great, consistent runner and we agreed we'd help each other out as long as we could. We were constantly picking people off, but the cumulative effect of those short steep uphills early in the race was hitting me. By the time we reached the base of the long steady climb at mile 8 I told her to go ahead. I had consistently been hitting sub 7's, but that was getting tough.

There were plenty of aid stations so I took advantage of them, hit the shade as much as possible and kept sipping the Liquid Shot to keep my body stocked up. I knew I had a decent few miles ahead before the killer hill at the end. It was hot, I was sweating and my "good" miles were in the low 7's, but I was running out of steam. As I hit the base of the last hill I felt some tingling in my arms and I decided to stop and walk. I walked for 90-120 seconds and started chugging along again, finally cresting the top and finally hearing the announcer in the distance.
I reached down to slide my number around and realized that I had tucked my belt into my shorts after I stopped to relieve myself...and subsequently pulled my tri top up to show some belly! As I entered the chute I saw Lauren and the kids. They were cheering and told me they didn't want to cross the line with I crossed solo. Run was 1:31:54, 7:01 average and less than a minute slower than last year. Garmin showed over 800' of climbing.
I was so glad to be done. Got the medal wrapped around my neck, a nice towel and headed under the tent to relax. Ended up 5:01:57, 27th/128 in my AG and just under a minute faster than last year. Considering that I had just bike over 82 miles, climbed over 5700' in elevation, run over 19 miles in 2:07 (6:35/mi avg) and oh yeah, swam 2.1 miles I was pretty happy!
I got some food, gathered up my stuff and took a little rest while the kids hit the last few rides. REV3 is nice enough to award my completion of the Challenge and said they were sending me something in the mail. Are they first class or what?

Overall just a great weekend. The whole family felt like they had the best weekend for their own reasons....great hotel, treated like a pro, seeing all the pro's, ton's of schwag, fun on all the rides and the list goes on. We'll be back next year!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

REV3 Quassy Challenge Race Report – Day 1 Olympic Rev

Well, a few months back it sounded like a good idea. Last year I had volunteered at the Olympic Rev the day before I raced the Half Rev at Quassy The whole weekend was such a good time I figured this year I would just race both of them! As race day(s) approached the idea seemed dumber and dumber. It’s not like these were flat and easy courses. And I had only managed to get in the water two times for a total of two miles of swimming prior to this….and now I had to swim 2.1 miles total on back to back days! Anyway.
We packed up the family and headed out on Friday afternoon. We were expecting a 3 hour drive but didn’t expect all the traffic we hit on I-84 near Danbury. 3.5 hours later we arrived at Quassy. It was about 6:00 so still plenty of time to pick up packet and rack my bike. Again, registration was flawless. Everything was very organized and I actually picked up my packets for both races and was able to use the same chip both days. Got my bike racked (with the REV3 pro looking name/number tag) and we grabbed a bite and some ice cream and headed to the hotel. This race takes place in such a nice, quaint area….it’s so refreshing to come back here. Plus the kids checked out the rides at Quassy (which added a cool new roller coaster this year) and they were excited to hit the park on Saturday (another great reason to bring the family to a REV3 event, free tickets to the park). The host hotel is great as well, they provided shuttles to the race so the families could get up at a more leisurely time and not have to be disrupted by driving their athlete to the race. My goal for “The Challenge” was to race as hard as I could on Saturday and then treat Sunday as a catered training day.
Up bright and early on Saturday and grabbed the 5:15 shuttle. By 5:30 we were at the transition area and gearing up. The air temp was chilly in the high 40’s, low 50’s but the sun was rising. Water temp was a warm 69 degrees so I was happy to get to use my awesome TYR Hurricane 5 wetsuit. I was concerned about getting cold coming out of the water on the bike, I actually had arm warmers set up in transition. I did my traditional little warm up swim to get the body and mind ready and then we were off. Our age group was the first wave just before 7am. I actually felt pretty good in the swim once I got my goggles tighten up and the water out of them (note to self: do not let the kids play w/ my goggles). The water was a little choppy and I took on a little more water than usual, but the lake was great and I was able to keep an eye on everyone around me. This was probably one of my best jobs sighting to date. I swam right on course and stayed consistent. Out of the water in 27:16, 16th out of 56 in my AG and 107 overall.
Thanks to all the TriSlide, my wetsuit came off without issue and I was on my way out onto the bike course. I hadn’t pre-ridden the course, but a good portion of the course was shared with the half which I had done last year. I felt great and stuck with my plan to really push this race. There were some good climbs but also some sweet downhills. I was passing people the entire race (a bonus of being a slow swimmer). With about a mile to go I finally was the one getting passed on the bike, one guy came by and passed me. Into T2 in 1:11:12 for 25.68 mi, 21.6mph and I was now 27th overall and 3rd in my AG. I was told there was >2,000’ of climbing on the bike course…wow!

I took a sip of my EFS in transition, threw my sneaks on and I was off. I knew portions of the run course that were shared w/ the half, but really hadn’t put much thought into the rest of the course. I forgot my Garmin so I don’t have any splits but the first two miles were mid 5’s. By end of the first mile I made a few passes including the guy that had just passed me on the bike. He was funny, yelling “you didn’t tell me you were a runner, no fair” to which I replied “you didn’t tell me you were a cyclist when you blew by either”! I just kept pushing forward and felt great. As we crested a small hill at mile three we were headed into the sunlight and all I could hear was an incredibly loud (over top of incredibly loud music) “GO TEAM TRAKKERS, GO CHRIS”. My vision was blurry and I could see a female in the distance…it was CAROLE, MOMMA BEAR!! Gave her a big smile and huge high five…only to round the corner and see a sign for “High Point Drive”. OUCH was all I could think! Mile 4 to 5 was a nice downhill after the “High Point” climb and I caught a few more runners. The last mile had the dreaded climb to the finish, but I was feeling good, happy and thinking I was in the top 15 or so overall. Through the awesome finish line chute in 37:00, now 1st in my AG and 15th overall! Looks like my bike was the 11th fastest of the day and my run was 5th fastest of the day, I'll take that!
And I've said it before...REV3 does it right. I received this awesome hand made award as well as all kinds of stuff from GU, AVIA, FUELBELT and Inside Triathlon. Now my race was over, it was time to go have some fun on the rides. The weather was beautiful by this point and we basically had the park to ourselves! The kids ran around hopping on ride after ride...and by 3:00 we were all worn out and ready to hit the pool at the hotel (well, Lauren snuck out for a run).
By the time we left the pool we had missed our dinner w/ the Trakkers Team (guess I should've brought my watch!) I did meet Kathleen Calkins and her son at the pool and we had a great chat. Not only is she an awesome athlete, but a real genuine person...and you know what, most of the pros deal with the same struggles we do. Finding time to train, keeping up w/ the house, etc. Thanks Kathleen and I hope your day went well on Sunday!

Before I wrap up (you'll have to wait a day or so for the HALF REV Race Report), I wanted to give a shout out to my daughter Autumn. She did her 2nd triathlon two weeks ago and she did awesome. It's a great, low key event that doesn't use a timer or anything. It's all about kids having fun. And that she did. After swimming 100yds in the indoor pool she headed out to the bike (and got some help in T1 from Daddy).
Two laps on the bike and she was headed to T2 for four laps around the parking lot! I love this shot of her below breaking the tape!
Joshua was sick the night before, so he missed out, but he was there cheering for sissy!