Category Archives: Local

Triathlon Strength Training Workshop

One of the things I love about triathlon is that you can be constantly learning new things and techniques. The sport is relatively young and very complex, so it provides for a wealth of new discoveries. I love taking new techniques, trying them out and putting them to the test. Every once-in-a-while you pick up a little “nugget” that really makes a huge difference. One past example for me was when I discovered Chirunning, which took me from struggling to run 3 miles to efficiently running 6-7 over a very short time period. I still utilize these techniques and they have forever changed my performance for the positive.

Well, yesterday I think stumbled upon another one. I know that strength training is import, but I struggle every year to maintain a consistent program through the season. I had the gym that I go to create a program for me for triathlon, which consistent of a few functional movement exercises and a bunch of traditional “body building” style muscle isolation exercises . While the functional movements were a nice addition, there was no explanation what they did or why I should do them. As I move through other isolation-style exercises(ie. db chest press, cable rows, leg extensions, cable curls and pushdowns), I struggled in my head to understand how they apply. I knew there has to be somthing better.

Sometime last year I stumbled upon a workshop in November called the “Ultimate Off-Season Strength Training Workshop” by Todd Wiley and Fernando Paredes in nearby Doylestown, PA.  I thought this may be the perfect thing I need to get on track in the off-season. Unfortunately the workshop was rescheduled for January 10th, so I struggled along with my previous workout until the date finally arrived.

On January 10th I drove down to the Fusion Fitness Studio near Doylestown, bright and early to attend the full day seminar. I met Todd and Fernando when I arrived. The “gym” or studio was quite different than I expected. There were no racks of free weights and dumbells lining the walls. Instead there were lots of bands, a large tractor tire, and a few cable-type machines I had never  seen before. I was the first to arrive and eventually others sauntered in before we started.

Todd Wiley, who is a former pro triathlete and currently well-known coach, gave some of his background and explained how Fernando’s techniques had basically revived his worn-out body after 25 years of training. He had basically given up training until going through this program. Fernando took over and went on to explain the theory behind what he does and why it works. He used great analogies too, to really help you understand the concepts. I was all ears. I instantly knew this was that different program what I was looking for.

One of the example Fernando used that really hit home was when he asked, “Would you use a football, golf, basketball or body-building strength training program for Triathlon?” Obviously we all replied “No”, but he pointed out that we were doing just that. Hmmm? He also went on to explain that we need to train the body as a full system how everything is connected. Therefore we need to train it that way. He stated that by making our body more efficient, we could than perform at the maximum performance we are all capable of. It all made a lot of sense.

We then moved on to each of us(about 20-25 of us) performing 3 parts of a Functional Movement Screening(FMS) test. The tests consisted of a deep squat while holding a bar above our head, holding our arms out and pulling each arm behind our backs and measuring the distance between our hands, and lying on our backs raising each leg individually up as far as we could. These three tests would be rated on a scale of 1-3, 3 being good, to indicate where are muscular deficiencies and imbalances were. The first step is to correct these items so that the rest of the body did not need to compensate. As I figured, my shoulders were my biggest imbalance(L-1,R-2) due to my past injuries. My hips also showed up as weak(1’s) which is also affected by the shoulder issues.

Endurance Sports, Race, Sports, Training, Triathlon, functional, movement, multisport, strength, tri

Different stages of a lunge push-up with bands

Next, Fernando split us up into groups based on how we scored on the test. Each group had a different corrective exercise to do to resolve their weak area. The shoulder group were also  given the hip exercises to do since they related. These basic looking exercises were actually quite challenging to do when done correctly. Fernando explained that by doing these each day we can correct our weakness and imbalances and bring the whole body into a more harmonious system.

The remainder of the morning we moved on to his core Restoration & Fitness routines for overall body strength. These are the typical routines you would do a few times a week as your strength training all season long. Fernando also pointed out that the word “core”, that seems to be thrown around quite profusely these days, is more than just your abdominal area. It is your whole upper torso or upper core and your legs or lower core too. It is all one big connected system. The exercises we did were so atypical from the traditional strength exercises we normally do. There was a lot of band and plain body only style movements. An open mind is surely required for those old-school weightlifters. But, I could tell that this stuff is effective by how it involved many different parts of your body and also your brain too. It is a very “Whole-istic” program.  I also found myself thinking that all of this stuff can easily be done in the comfort of my own my home and I could probably save a few dollars on the gym membership. We were even given set of bands to take home as part of the workshop.

Endurance Sports, Race, Sports, Training, Triathlon, functional, movement, multisport, strength, tri

Bosu ball Push-up with broomstick to maintain proper spinal alignment

After a lunch break, we went through some of the more advanced “Performance” routines that we could eventually progress to over time. Todd then spoke about bringing it all together and implementing this in with our overall triathlon training program and some other assorted tips.

Endurance Sports, Race, Sports, Training, Triathlon, functional, movement, multisport, strength, tri

Todd performs Leg Curl on the Ball

Endurance Sports, Race, Sports, Training, Triathlon, functional, movement, multisport, strength, tri

Todd performs Leg Curl on the Ball

Dr. John K Marino, a certified sports physician and Ironman, and his assistant Nikky spoke for a bit on injury prevention using foam rollers and lacrosse balls, which I personally do fairly regularly. He kind of lost me though when he dismissed Chirunning over Pose and other running programs, because it was too “out there” and “up on the toes.” It was pretty obvious he was not very familiar with Chirunning since it heavily stresses a midfoot strike and not being “up on the toes” as he stated. But whatever, not everyone can know everything about everything.

 

Endurance Sports, Race, Sports, Training, Triathlon, functional, movement, multisport, strength, tri

Derek performs Pull-up on TRX straps while Fernando assists

Finally, we wrapped up with a highly motivational and tear-jerking story by Derek Fitzgerald. If you haven’t heard of Derek, he had battled and survived cancer, suffered from extreme heart-failure, actually dying twice, received a new heart transplant and ended finishing Ironman Lake Placid 2013 only two years later. It is an amazing story. I had heard about him myself right after I had completed my first Ironman Lake Placid that same year. Derek, with the help of Fernando, has basically rebuilt his body from all the surgies and entrophy he had undertaken and is now a endurance machine that fully honors that person who donated their heart to him. He also has a plethora of endurance events planned for this year culminating in a bike across the USA, from LA to Atlantic City, to raise awareness of Cancer and Heart Disease. Check out his website at http://www.recycledman.com for more details and how to help him out.

After a quick Q&A session we wrapped up the workshop promptly at 5:30pm. It was a long day, but I felt I had a full toolbox to take with me. I think that these routines, done on a consistent basis, will give me a little more to eeke out some more performance improvements in my racing. Anything that will get me closer to that sub 12 hour Ironman I am all in. So, I hope to start implementing this immediately and I will try to touch on any improvement I see in my weekly updates heading to Ironman Coueur d’Alene. I will also be attending a Toddy Wiley Lake Placid camp this year which I think Ferndando will also be participating in too. So hopefully we will get some more information as we go.

If you are interested please check out Fernandos’ website at http://fusionfitnessandperformance.com

Thanks for reading!

Timberman 70.3 2014 Training Update-Week #2

The goal of this past week was to keep a somewhat active without getting carried away. I needed to keep reminding myself that I already have the fitness I need and that nothing I do now will increase that, but I can only ruin that by overtraining. I planned the week by doing two workout of each discipline. The weather last week was also amazing, which made it even harder to keep it short.

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TImberman Week 2 Training

Bikefie? Nice day for a ride PA Dutch Country

Bikefie? Nice day for a ride PA Dutch Country

I REALLY felt great this past week. Cycling especially! It barely feels like I am exerting myself and I am holding a 18 MPH avg pace on both rides. I am avoiding any longer climbs just to keep it light. Everything feels ready to go for Timberman 70.3.

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Timberman Week 2 PMC

Some Obstacles

If you have read this blog before, you may recall my dealings with getting stung on the bike several times last year. You can check out here and here for more on that. I was thinking the other day how I had not been stung at all this year, but that came to an end when I was cutting the grass the other night and I ran over a hornets nest in the ground. I got whacked on the hand and knee which swelled up pretty good that night.

I also cut my finger while trying to talk and cut peppers the other night. I am not a multitasker for sure. I cut right through half of my finger nail and my finger and it was hard to stop the bleeding. It eventually did, but my nail keeps catching on things.

Alburtis 5k

On Saturday Denise and I volunteered for our local Alburtis 5k race which we have done for the last several years. We usually help out with registration and packet pickup and then I take photos of all the runners which we sell to help raise some extra money for the Alburtis Area Community Center. Turnout was fairly decent this year and we had the timing done by Pretzel City Sports which takes some of the complication out of the process. The Alburtis Tavern was a big sponsor again and they provided drink coupons to any one participating or involved with the race.

Ironman Coeur d’Alene Update

ironman coeur d'alene

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have registered for Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2015. I had originally thought I would be taking a year off from doing any full Ironmans, but things change. I got the green light from my wife, so I wasted no time gettting on that. It feels good to have another race to look forward to and I am already thinking about what I want to do differently next season. I will be posting a lessons learned post from Ironman Lake Placid 2014 soon.

I have already purchased our airline tickets IMCDA since I thought they were fairly reasonable. I also have a place to stay in the works right now which I found on AirBnb. It is located about 20 minutes out of town and on the edge of the National Forest. It will be a good location for activity I think since we are going to be vacationing the week after the event.

I am planning using TriBike Transport for getting my bike out there.  This was recommended by Maria, from RunningALife.com, since she had used this service last year. I weighed the prices and pros & cons and this seemed like the best option. For $325 they will deliver my bike intact to the race location and return it back again. The only downside is that I have to drive it down to Cadence Bike Shop in Manayunk(near Philadelphia, PA) the week before the race and then pick it up again after. It is about an hour each way. Other options were cheaper, but required breaking bike down, packing it up, having somewhere to ship it and carrying it around with me. We will be staying out there for the week after and I really didn’t want to deal with that. The Quintana Roo rentals was another option, but it is almost the same price depending on the bike and you have no power meter and some bike you never rode before.

Well, next week will be another easy taper week. The pool I go to is closed for maintenance next week so no swimming until I get up to

Lake Winnipesaukee later in the week. I am planning on doing 2 rest days Monday and Thursday, with a couple light workouts in between. Looks like a long drive on either THursday night or Friday morning.

Round The Valley 2014 Century Ride Recap

Bicycling, Bike, Cycling, Endurance Sports, Pedalling, Sports, century, ride

Round the Valley Century Ride 2014-Pastures

I decided I needed to see some new territory on my long bike ride this week. This along with Longswamp Township decided to cover their entire road system in oil & chips, confirmed that I needed to get out of dodge. I searched around the internet for some century rides and came up with the Round The Valley century out in Lebanon County. It was only an hour and twenty minutes west via a easy drive on I-78 and the registration was a mere $30 + $15 for day of registration. The ride was described as scenic and challenging on the website, and it certainly lived up to that.

Bicycling, Bike, Cycling, Endurance Sports, Pedalling, Sports, century, ride

Round the Valley Century Ride 2014-Farm

The ride started at the Campbeltown Fire Station where i arrived around 7:30am. The parking lot was nowhere near full, which I was rather surprised. It was a pretty low key event. I went inside, registered and made a bathroom stop and headed on my way. They offered a vegetarian option for post-race food which I was happy to see. I also picked up some car window stickers displaying the 4 feet law for vehicles which I will gladly post in my back window.

I noticed on my drive it was quite windy, but it had seemed to subside a bit since arriving. The ride wound out through some beautiful farmlands and then ascending with a nice climb into some wooded mountainside. The roads were all well marked with an orange “V” with a circle around it with the pointy end of the V indicating the direction. The wind had picked up a bit but the ride was very well protected and it really did not cause that much issue.

Bicycling, Bike, Cycling, Endurance Sports, Pedalling, Sports, century, ride

Round the Valley Century Ride 2014-Mt Gretna Straightaway

The ride had a great variety of scenery as well as terrain.  We went through some tiny old Furnace villages, gamelands, and forests. My favorite part was the long flat stretch through the Mt. Gretna area. It was mostly flat, well-shaded and nicely paved large shoulder. I was able to get down in the aerobars for the majority of the stretch just cruise.

I was really surprised at the size of the shoulder on most of the roads on this ride. I really didn’t think that PennDOT knew what a paved shoulder was, but apparently they do in this part of PA. The majority of the roads were in very good condition on the ride with only a few that were a little rough. I only remember hitting one that was recently oil and chipped, but they must have swept up the extra chips because it was pretty nice. Apparently Longswamp Township does not know what sweeping up chips is all about.

Bicycling, Bike, Cycling, Endurance Sports, Pedalling, Sports, century, ride

Round the Valley Century Ride 2014-Cornwall Furnace Village

The rest stops had a good assortment of foods with water and Gatorade. Not quite the level of the Suburban Cyclists for the Nockamixon ride, but more than adequate. I actually skipped a couple of the stops all together since I brought my own race-day nutrition consisting of Amrita Bars, Skratch Labs and Chunks of Energy. There was also SAG vehicles monitoring the ride which was probably difficult since it was not very well attended by riders.

Bicycling, Bike, Cycling, Endurance Sports, Pedalling, Sports, century, ride

Round the Valley Century Ride 2014-Farm

I was frequently riding alone but would occasionally pass people here and there. It was reassuring to see others every so often just to make sure I didn’t miss a turn. On one wide-shouldered section of Rt 322 I came up behind 2 guys and a girl with matching kit going at a pretty casual pace. Instead of moving single file and letting me pass, the guy put his arm around the girl and started pushing her faster. What the hell is that? Then the third guy on the left, who had been riding just a foot or so behind them sped up and put his around the other guy. WTF? Is this a love-in or a bike ride? So they still would not let me by and the traffic was steady enough I could not get out in the traffic lane. They eventually caught up to another pack with similar kit on that was going even slower, so with no vehicles I was finally able to get out and pass by them. I really don’t understand why they could not let me by them.

Bicycling, Bike, Cycling, Endurance Sports, Pedalling, Sports, century, ride

Round the Valley Century Ride 2014-No Passing Love-In

I have to say this is probably one the best century rides I have ridden so far. The scenery and challenge of the course was extraordinary. I cannot believe this ride is not more well-known. If you have a chance to ride this course or do the actual ride next June I would highly recommend it.

Beltzville Lake High Bacteria Levels closes again to swimmers

It is not even two weeks ago since I swam 1.2 miles in Beltzville Lake for the Black Bear Half Iron Triathlon and they are closing it to swimming again due to high bacteria levels. So, what was the level when we swam in it? Or was all those triathletes peeing in the water that caused it? I guess since I was in the second to last wave it doesn’t really matter then.

This is just another reason in addition to the poor road conditions why I am thinking I am not do this race again.

 

America, Endurance Sports, North America, Pennsylvania, Poconos, Race, Sports, Triathlon, USA, United States, beltzville, multisport, tri

Black Bear Triathlon

Beltzville Lake closes again to swimmers | Regional: Poconos & Coal – Home.

 

Pre-Race Scouting Report: Black Bear Half-Iron Bike Course

I have the Black Bear Triathlon half iron distance race coming up in a week and half. It is a fairly local race for me, so I thought it might be a good idea to take a run up there and preview the bike course for my LSD ride for the week. I have been up to Beltzville State Park before to do some open water swims but haven’t really checked out all the roads in the area. I heard the race was hilly, but I had no idea how REALLY HILLY it was. Wild Creek Reservoir-Penn Forest Rd.-Bethlehem Water Authority

 

The half iron bike course consists of approximately two 28 mile loops around the area, so with a planned 4 hour ride today I thought I would do at least the two loops and then maybe a little extra to fill in the time. It was a very nice, partly cloudy, with a light breeze of around 7-10mph.

Here is the link to my Training Peaks Workout too…

I arrived in the main parking lot in the later morning, unpacked my bike, geared up, and started on my way out the main entrance. There were a few other cars in the parking lot with bike racks and triathlon related stickers, so it was nice to know there were others out there riding too. There was also another guy in the lot unloading a bike with a Endurance Multisport jersey on, which is a local triathlon club.

The Course

The route starts out paralleling Beltzville Lake on Pohopoco Drive, which is a bit of a rollercoaster ride to get started. A series of up-and-downs, some larger than others, that prohibits you from creating any bit of momentum throwing your legs into a tailspin. The last couple rollers before making a left onto Sheller Hill Road are the worst. When I first saw Sheller Hill Road, I thought “that can’t be the first turn”. I was wrong and my Garmin quickly indicated this by flashing a “Off Course” on the screen. As I turned around and now made a right onto the road, the Endurance Multisport rider was turning there too. We exchanged a couple pleasantries and then he filed in behind me.

Sheller Hill Road was gradual at first, but then jutted up to a short, steep little climb. I was then down to the intersection of the first out-and-back section on Smith Road. Smith Rd. was mostly downhill on the way out and then a mostly uphill starting at the lollipop-like turnaround and then back again. There is one steeper hill right before a descent back to Smith Rd. heading back again.

Wild Creek Reservoir-Penn Forest Rd.-Bethlehem Water Authority

Reaching Sheller Hill Rd again you stay right and then soon make a right onto Penn Forest Rd. You then head downhill for a good stretch, but the road is fairly beat up so you need to stay alert. It eventually levels out right as you pass a nice mountain lake(Wild Creek Reservoir) which seems to be a false flat area. Again the road is pretty beat up still. You eventually reach a new bridge right before it starts descending uphill again. I am not sure how far up the course goes before it turns around. I went half way up the first loop and all the way up the second time. It is a pretty steady climb. Then you turn around and head back again. The ascent up was to Sheller Rd again was not as bad as I thought, but it is another climb in easy gears nonetheless.

Next, is back down to Pohopoco Drive for another roller coaster ride. One big uphill and then make a right on what I think is Lakeside Dr. After a sharp left you come to a fork at Lovitt Rd. When I first saw this road and the steep climb I thought we could NOT go that way, but again I was wrong. This is yet another short steep section. There is a nice long quiet descent through the woods after though.

The course usually turns right onto Owl Creek Rd, which I did, but the road is marked closed and the bridge is blocked off further down the road. It is actually a nice little stretch that you can gain some speed and I was able to slip past some barriers and the large pile of dirt on the bridge to get through. Not sure what they will do for the race though.

 

Bridge Out! Road closure and bridge out on Black Bear course.There is one pretty steep climb after the bridge. I found myself saying “you’ve got to be kidding me” when I made the turn. The really were not bashful with this bike course. The rest is mostly flat or downhill to the park entrance before doing it all over again.

Course Summary

I heard this was hilly, but holy crap it was brutal. Granted I was doing a long, slow distance ride, it still kicked my ass. Last year I did Rev3 Quassy and I though that was a hilly course, but after checking my logs this course has almost 1000 more feet of climb over the same distance. It is 1000 less than the FULL Lake Placid Ironman bike course of 112 miles.

This is definitely not a course to go out like gangbusters. You could really cook your legs in a hurry and have a rough half marathon to run afterwards. The only solace is that the run does not appear to be quite as hilly. I ran part of the course for a brick run and it wasn’t too bad, but it was on dirt road and trails. I think this would be a good race to ride a road bike instead of a tri bike. There is a ton of shifting to do! Unfortunately, my old Cannondale road bike is NOT race ready. Oh well it is my B training race, so it will be a test of my fitness.

2013 Runner’s World Half Marathon & Festival Hat Trick

20131023-073501.jpg

There was a little bit of a void after coming off of my first Ironman with nothing new to train for. I heard about the Runner’s World Half Marathon & Festival that was coming up in mid-October which had a 5k and 10k on Saturday and a half-marathon on Sunday. They also had the “Hat Trick” which allowed you to compete in all 3 events. This sounded like a pretty unique test of speed and endurance and the timing seemed pretty good as well, so I signed up. It definitely put me back at ease to have some other event to look forward to. The event is also held in Bethlehem, PA which is only 30 minutes or so from my home.

We had returned from our fairly demanding little 14-day Haute Route trek through the Swiss Alps in mid-September. With a few days of recovering from that, I was left with about 3 good weeks of training to prep for the “Hat Trick”. I was still carrying a pretty decent amount of fitness so getting back to my previous fitness level was not too big a deal. The problem was I was carrying about 10 extra pounds of weight from my 2-week diet of cheese, some meat and beer left over from our little Swiss excursion too.

I didn’t have too much problem getting back to eliminating the meat from my diet again, but the cheese and beer were a little more difficult. I had regained my taste for pizza again and after finding a local Italian eatery that made authentic Italian pizza and even uses imported Italian flour, I was not able to wean myself off of that yet. The same place had a local Pumpkin Ale that was equally scrumptious to help me maintain those extra 10 pounds.

Anyway, the training had gone fairly well during the 3-3.5 half weeks leading up to the Runner’s World event. I was fairly confident that I could that at least post a PR 5k time, since I hadn’t run one in several years and the last PR time was done in the middle of a 100 degree day. My hope was to not overdo it for the 5k and 10k, and save something for the half-marathon on Sunday and possibly get a PR there. The other thing is that I thought if I could be at all competitive for the Hat Trick division, that I had more chance of gaining time in the half marathon given it is longer.

I got over to Bethlehem on Saturday morning around 7am and parked a few blocks up from the Steel Stacks complex at the recently refurbished Bethlehem Steel property. It was a pretty brisk morning with temps in the low 40s. I decided to keep a fleece on and head down to the race. After walking around a bit I was unable to locate any gear-check area, so I quickly jogged back to the car and threw my pullover back in the car. I tried to keep jogging to keep some body heat going. I made it back to the start line in plenty of time.

The 5K

They did the usual pre-race chatter and then the National Anthem was played by a violinist. It was pretty awesome! W were then escorted by the esteemed Bart Yasso down the street away from the starting arch to some other less obvious start line about 50-100 yards away. hmmm…Ok? We then got the start horn and we were off.

My goal was to just maintain a steady 7:00/mi pace for this. I thought this would give me my PR without totally wrecking my legs for the other races. We soon hit the ramp to the Fahy Bridge which started the hilly section of the course. We then ran around the Bethlehem library on the north side of town and then back over bridge again. Once over the middle of the bridge is was all downhill or flat until we made a right out to Daly Ave and headed up towards the Sands Casino before making a left back towards the Steel Stacks finish line. I averaged 7:16 for the race which I was pretty happy with. I willingly let off the trigger a bit on the last mile when I realized that I was pretty much going to PR at that point and I wanted to save a little energy for the next event. I finished with a 22:45 which beat my previous best time by over a minute.

The 10K

I had over an hour until the 10k started, so I had some time to chill a bit before the 10k.  I ran back up to the car to drop off my 5k finisher medal and refuel a bit. It was good to keep moving too so my legs didn’t get all stiff. I also threw on some clothes just to help stay warm. Before I knew it was time to head back down for the 10k.

I got back to the start line area in plenty of time so I could hit the port-a-john before the start. I walked around a bit and chatted with some other runners I knew from work. It was getting close to start time so I made my way to the start line. I lined up in the 8:00 min/mi area since I figured that was about where I was planning on running. If I felt good I may pick it up. We were then seranaded by a young, local girl with a amazing voice to “God Bless America.” And then we were off.

The 10k followed basically the same general direction as the 5k except that it extended out a bit. We headed up closer to Lehigh University on the South Side and then up Main St. on the North Side of town. It was a bit more scenic obviously than the 5k since there was just more to see. It went pretty well and I think I ran a relatively consistent race. My last 3 miles were a bit quicker than my first 3 which I was happy about. Some of that could be due to the more downhill grade of the last 3 miles. I missed PR-ing by around 40 seconds with a time of around 49:40, but I really wasn’t trying to PR anyway. I still had a half marathon to run tomorrow so I wanted to try to save something for the next day.

 The Half Marathon

I had a much better nights sleep on Saturday night before the half marathon and arrived back on the South Side of Bethlehem ready to run. It was another brisk morning in the 40’s, which was perfect running weather again. The half marathon started up by the large steel sign for the Sands Casino which was a bit farther away than the 5k & 10k start line at the SteelStacks complex. I started following the masses up the sidewalk, but then noticed the paved path through the Bethlehem “Greenway” on the other side of the street. I jogged over there and then jogged my way up to the start line. My bladder and started to feel ready to explode by the time I got up there and I was hoping there would be some toilets available. I eventually spotted them down a side street and the line was fairly long. While standing in line, two ladies behind were commenting about a couple of unusual looking porta-a-john’s over to the right. I thought they were handicap stalls, but turns out they had trough urninals on both sides. Awesome! And no lines too! The ladies were whining about it not being fair, but what the heck, you just gained a spot closer since I moved out of your line??

I then made my way over to the start line after relieving the pressure in my bladder. I stood around the 8:00min/mi pace area and eventually it started to get packed in as everyone assumed their places. The horn blew and we were off. It was a downhill grade for the first 3/4 miles so, so I was going a little faster than what I was planning on averaging for the run. I was hoping to average around 8 min/mi pace which would secure a PR for me. My prior PR was a 8:06 avg which was at St. Lukes a few years back.

We eventually turned left and headed uphill towards Lehigh University. From here on out it would be primarily uphill for most of the race. Somewhere I heard someone say it was mostly uphill until mile 8 and then it was all downhill. So I would try to hold 8 min/mi to there and then let it rip after that. I was trying to stay just ahead of the 8 min/mi pace group but they soon got ahead of me. I vowed to myself to keep them in close proximity so that I could easily get by them again. We crossed the bridge to the other side of town and made our way up Main St. The 8 min/mi pace group was slipping a little further ahead.

We then headed downhill towards the Monocacy Creek and flattened out a bit while flanking it on the right. We then hit Elizabeth Ave and Schoenersville Road and things got a little rough. It seemed like a never ending uphill slog and the 8 min pace group slipped further and further away. My 7:55-8:00 pace slipped to 8:20-8:24 and I my legs were screaming. The muscle soreness from yesterdays’ events decided to present itself. I was feeling a PR slowly slipping away with each incline. Every bit of flat or downhill relief was followed up with a nice energy sapping uphill. I could feel my mental state slipping into more negative self-talk. Not good.

I decided to just try to hold on as best I could. Mile 5.5 to mile 8 were brutal. My legs screamed for mercy but I just kept pushing as much as I could. I did slow down to a walk during one aid station just to get some water down without splashing all over myself. I figured what the hell, I am not PR-ing this now. Probably a mistake.

I finally hit mile 8 and thought “oh finally, all downhill from here!” Not! Yeah there was downhill, but also uphill too. The thoughts of hearing it being easy from here and it not really messed me up. Miles 8-11 were bad. I was struggling to keep my pace and actually was feeling nauseous too. I even had thoughts of packing it in and walking.

When I started approaching the Bethlehem Library complex, I finally realized the self-defeating thoughts going through my head. I started to mentally challenge those thoughts and reverse them into positives.  The course had now started downhill and flat and I began to pick up the pace a bit. Even though I thought a PR was out of the question, I committed to at least finishing strong and negative-splitting the last couple miles. I now began to pass people. I passed a couple people that had passed me earlier in the race which added to my motivation.

It was all flat through the old Bethlehem Steel complex and I only had one gradual uphill to go right before reaching the Sands Casino. I maintained a sub 8:00 pace held it through to the finish line. As I made my way down to the flaming arch finish line, I could see the time clock showing 1:46 and change. My stomach sank…My half marathon PR was a 1:46:41. I realized that I could have possibly beat that time. Ugh!

I crossed the line at 1:47:10! Only 29 seconds short of my PR. If only I wouldn’t have walked that aid station and maybe pushed a little harder on those hills? I was so focused on my average paces for each mile that I didn’t really take into consideration the overall time. 29 seconds is not much time over 13.1 miles. Oh well, it was not meant to be I guess.

The one factor I also forgot about was that I ran 5k & 10k the day prior and even PR-ed 5k, so coming 29 seconds off my best half time is not too bad considering that. All-in-all it was a great event and I would consider doing it again. Very well run and organized. It was also great for helping my push the boundaries of my running speeds too. One area I would really like to improve for Ironman next year.

Post-Race Recovery

The week after the Runner’s World Hat Trick I was extremely sore. I definitely recruited some muscle fibers in my legs that had not been utilized much before. I did not run at all the week after and gave those muscle ample time to recover and grow a bit. We can save those for Lake Placid 2014 and training for it. Next up, we are planning on running the Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge 10k on November, 3rd for my wifes’ and my birthday. It starts in Camden and runs back and forth across the Ben Franklin Bridge and then finishes up in Camden. There are usually about 4500 people in the event so it will be one of the largest events I have participated in. Not looking for any PR’s in this one I think. Just enjoy the day and the fact that I am another year old and still in the best shape of my life!

Thanks for reading!

 

Getting Ready for the NJ Devilman

As I sit here in bed at the Fairfield Inn in the lovely town of Millville, NJ, I am finding it hard to believe my first triathlon of the season is tomorrow morning. Although the gear laid out systematically around the room does remind me of it pretty regularly. Tomorrow is the NJ Devilman Half-Lite, which is something short of a half-iron distance with a 0.8 mile swim, a 40.3 mile bike and a 8.8 mile run. I do not have that nervousness and anxiety that I used to have in years past. Granted it is only my “C” race of the season, but that never mattered before.

I think the experience I have gained in the past few years has now given me a bit of confidence that I didn’t have back then. Tomorrow is a test run for me. Testing out my early season conditioning, what I need to work on and my first real run of my nutrition plan. I am eager to get all that worked out now so I can just get my mind and body ready for the big show in July. That is what really matters. If I screw something up or have some mechanical incident, now would be the best time to get that out to the way. I hope I am that lucky.

We headed down here around 8:30-9am this morning. Delayed a bit by a RV and truck fire on the PA turnpike for an hour we didn’t get to Cape May until almost 1PM. We headed out to Cape May Point for some lunch at the Cape May Point General Store and Restaurant. It was pretty good. They only had one vegan platter, but it was pretty good and I was happy. They also have smoothies, juices, and wheatgrass shots. Denise had a wheatgrass shot which was actually pretty tasty. Lunch was really good and it was nice sitting out on the sunny deck which was protected from the gusty winds.

After lunch we attempted to go the beach, but the wind was so bad we got sandblasted right off. We walked around some of the inner streets of Cape May for a while. We then made our way to the hotel in Millville to check-in which was an hour from Cape May. The hotel was back off the main drag in Millville which was nice since the town was mostly a conglomeration of every “big box” store you could think of.  The hotel was triathlon central with every other car having a bike mounted on it. It is always such the scene.

We settled into the room for a bit and then made our way out for dinner. We found two possible places to eat: a thai place and a vegan place, called Wildflower, further downtown. We went to the vegan place which was in a shady part of town and somewhat hard to find. It was a bit small and kind of a hippy-style place. There were 3 guys and a woman in the tiny open kitchen which was quite amazing how they could work like that. We had some veggie noodle soup, and black bean hummus burrito and a quinoa salad. All was pretty good. I topped off the meal with a peanut butter granola bar.

We headed back to the hotel after dinner and I started organizing my stuff for tomorrow morning. 5am comes around quickly. My cold has dwindled down to a little cough here and there, but overall I am feeling pretty good. I hope it goes for good tomorrow. My only real anxiety about tomorrow is the water temperature. It is going to be in the 40’s tomorrow morning, so it could be a bit chilly tomorrow.

Time to go racing!