Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vermont on my mind...

When I think about Vermont a few things instantly come to mind....

BEN & JERRY's Ice Cream

Beautiful lakefront sunsets watched from the porch

Landscape dotted with covered bridges (and mountaintop backgrounds)

Great races and training

I'm sure many other things come to mind such as skiing, hiking and General Store's. I'm sure that most people throughout the country were affected by Hurricane / Tropical Storm Irene in some way (either directly or through friends and relatives). At our house, we were somewhat lucky and spared of any major damage (although we were without power for about 12 hours and no cable/phone/internet for a couple of days). Most of the talk about Irene centered around the shorelines and major metro cities, but the tiny, landlocked state of Vermont was absolutely crushed by Irene. I've been glued to the web, just searching for updates, videos and photos of the towns, roads and people that I'm a part of every summer. My mind cannot comprehend the extent of this catastrophe. The photo below is a map published by VT officials showing all of the impacted (closed or single lane) roadways. Take a look, you simply "can't get there from here" anymore.

Eleven towns were completely isoluted by washed out roadways and bridges. A base lodge at Killington was dislodged from its foundation. There are 400 people "stuck" in the resort. In the town of Bethel, there are homes that lost the bottom two stories....simply swept away. The Silver Lake shown above breached it's outfall and washed the North Road out. Quechee covered bridge (and the Simon Pearce glassworks) is hanging on by a thread at this point.

Quechee Bridge & Simon Pearce Building

In one town that was stranded by closed roadways and power outages, there are photos of people standing in line at the one and only grocery store. The store decided to give all of it's food away because it was going to spoil without electricity anyway.

My sister in law and her family were supposed to spend the week after Labor Day up there and bring my son. They've decided to cancel the trip because they simply couldn't get there. Route 107 from Killington to Bethel is completely washed out as Route 4 from Killington to Woodstock.

Route 4 East of Killington

My heart truly goes out to all of the Vermonters. They're a tough bunch and if any state in the union could get through it, it's Vermont. Thankfully FEMA, the Federal Government and the Reserve Forces have recognized the extent of this distaster and are working feverishly to help out.

Hard to believe that just one week before, all of the talk in the multisport world centered around an incredible Age Group National Championship event which was held in Burlington, VT.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thursdays of late.....

The last few Thursdays have been a fun change. Two weeks ago I went out to the Thursday Night training series for some good high intensity training. It takes place on a closed one mile paved "fitness trail". Thirty laps, sprints for points every three laps. Good chance to see what I had and get some good Powertap data! The group in total was in the 40's or 50's. I had 4 or 5 friends in the field. It usually attracts some pretty fast pro's so my goal was more to hang on than aspiring to get any points.

We ended up finishing the 30 miles at nearly 26mph average! I hit a few peak power records and I averaged 222w for the entire ride.The next Thursday I put on a small cyclocross clinic / practice near my house. Six people showed up, three total newbies which was great! It was fun to put some laps in on the grass, hit some off camber turns and run some barriers. Hoping to get a Thursday night training series going in the next week or so, we need one. Cross is coming...only a couple of weeks until the first race.

We had a great mini vacation to the beach last weekend. Luckily for us we moved our typical trip up a week because of an early school start for Autumn this year. If not we'd be missing out totally due to the arrival of Hurricane Irene. Speaking of Irene, I was supposed to race a half marathon on Sunday which has wisely been cancelled!

Planning is rolling along for Town Hall Cross on 10/8. Cutters Bike Shop and Specialized have kicked in some great merchandise prizes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

LVRR Kids Run & Steelman Olympic Triathlon Race Reports

We had a great weekend last weekend. On Saturday we hit the final Lehigh Valley Road Runners Kids Run series event. The Lehigh Valley Zoo was set up with some animals. This porcupine was fun to watch! Joshua ran in the 3-4 year old division (1/8th mile) and Autumn ran in the 7-8 year old division (1/2 mile). The event was very well run and they both did awesome! They were slightly intimidated at first as there were 300 to 400 kids out there total, but they were sad at the end when we told them we'd have to wait until next year when the series starts again!
Autumn had a big smile as she made the turn for the finish line....
Two happy kiddos with their medals and ribbons! (Not to mention post race popcicles!)
Sunday was what has become an annual tradition...the Steelman Triathlon. It was my first tri in 2007 (I did the spring) and this was my fourth time doing the OLY. The race is very large (1000 people total) and very well run. Lauren was going to do it this year as her first tri...but she's on the comeback trail right now and had to defer until next year. She did volunteer though, which meant a 4:30am arrival! We spent the night at my mom's house on Saturday night, she's only 10 minutes from the race site. We drove to the site in the pouring rain...uggg!

By 6:30 or so the rain had stopped, I got all my stuff set up in transition and geared up for the practice swim. The practice swim was important to me....why? Because I hadn't swam since my last tri in June....oooppps! Luckily it was wetsuit legal (at 77.5 degrees) and I pulled on my super fast TYR Category 5 suit. This thing kicks butt! By 7am we were off. I immediately realized that my goggles were sealed in my left eye. After three brief turns onto my back to adjust them, I was in business. The first 800 yards or so my sighting was awesome. Sighting was a tough thing though, no sun glare but not much light...PLUS our wave wore ORANGE swim caps...and what color were the markers? ORANGE! Just as I did last year, I got off course...well actually I followed the markers...but they were off course. I made the turn into the dock and headed to T1.

25:56, my fastest split at this race and good enough for 73rd fastest time out of 380 20%, WOW for me!!
A quick T1 at 1:52 and I was off onto the bike. Man did I feel like crap! The choppy water had me taking on more water than normal and I was paying for it now. As we climbed the steep climb out of the marina my dreams were crushed even further as I was passed by a 55 year old guy on a road bike...OUCH! During my last tri I had some stomach pains that really slowed me down. My goal today was to just see what type of speed and power I could build into my legs. Since we were the first wave and the road was closed to traffic I got a good glimpse of how many people were in front of me. I would guess there were at least 25 people. The course is two laps on the closed road and the total elevation gain was about 1500'. As I approached the spot where the first turn around was supposed to be I realized that they had lengthened the course....likely due to wet roads. I was now steadily building speed but realized that the humidity was going to make this a tough day. I was really sweating and by the end of the first lap (half way) I had used up my bottle of EFS...and realized that the first lap was 13.5 miles! I typically don't even use one bottle in the bike leg of an OLY!

I decided that I would take a bottle in the drop zone...if I didn't I would be jeopardizing the race. As I started the second lap, the bike course filled up with sprint triathletes. I was steadily passing people and by now feeling much better. I grabbed the bottle and put my head down.

Into T2 in 1:10:47 for 26.9 miles....22.9mph and good enough for the 3rd fastest bike split.

My dismount was spot on and after a blazing 28 second T2 I was off onto the run course. The run course is a very nice two loop (for the Olympic) course on a paved path. The sun was now coming out and the run was turning into a SAUNA! Once I got going I was steadily catching runners and picking off sprint and olympic participants... It was tough to tell where I stood in my age group and overall but as long as I was still passing people I was happy. There was plenty of water so I kept drinking and dumping water over my head...putting one foot in front of the other. I had no Garmin so I had no clue as to my pace. I felt like a turtle, legs were shot and all I could think of was the finish line. And finally it came.

A 37:46 10K split, good enough for the 2nd fastest run split on the day!

I crossed the finish line in quite a daze, found a cold wet towel and sat in the shade...drinking cup after cup of fluid. After 15-20 minutes I was feeling better. I probably drank two or three times my normal amount and it was barely enough. I ended up 7th overall out of 380 finishers and first out of 43 in the 35-39 AG. Our club had a HUGE presence and claimed a bunch of podiums which was fun to see. I was happy with my effort, and combined bike/run was even better than expected. It was a great event, looking forward to next year!
Not sure what's up next.... I'd love to do another Half Iron this fall. I have two half marathons coming up which I've been training pretty hard for and I'm pacing the Wineglass Marathon on 10/2! Throw that on top of planning for the 2nd annual Town Hall Cross, putting on a cross clinic and oh yeah, the cross season....and this fall will be busy!