Tag Archives: 70.3

My 2016 Year in Review – Topping My Charts

I have just returned from another fabulous Winter weekend in the Adirondacks to celebrate the New Year. While I was there I had gotten in some ample cross-training time skate-skiing, hiking and some photography. This outdoor time gave me a good amount of time to reflect upon the last year. I keep hearing others saying over-and-over how 2016 was such a horrible year, but for me, not so much.

Cascade Moutain – Lake Placid, Adirondacks, New York

You would think that as one gets closer to the big 5-0 that PR’s and things would become less frequent. But my 48th year was full of them. What is up with that? Perhaps the fact that I had well preserved myself well during my 20’s and 30’s may have something to do with that.

December(2015) was full of Winter cross-training in Banff National Park in Western Canada. They had gotten a good amount of early season snow there and Lake Placid had none. We hit the downhill slopes at Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, got some snowshoeing in on the Bow River and a ton of photographing the beautiful Winter scenery on the Icefields Parkway leading to Jasper.

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First Light on the Icefields Parkway

In January, we had plans to spend a week in the warmth of Sedona, AZ but that was cut short due to a blizzard that delayed flights for several days. We still ended up with an amazing, activity packed long weekend there. We got out for some amazing hikes and photography some beautiful scenery. I replenished my vitamin D store with the clear skies and bright sunshine. It was a great reset before turning my attention back to the long Ironman training season that lies ahead.

Chillin’ on the Bell Rock Vortex

In February I started up my official Ironman training season with Todd Wiley. I had gotten to know Todd over the last year or so through some of his workshops and Lake Placid training camp and really like his personality. He was a prior pro triathlete and has had a lot of success with some pretty high-level athletes over the years, so I thought I would see what he could do with this old, average dude. My goals for the season was to increase my IM run performance while maintaining my bike and swim and finalizing that with a sub-12 hour Ironman.

In March, I had my first official race of the season, The St. Pat’s Allentown 5k. While it is only a 5k, this would be the first test of my fitness to see what I had accomplished during the last two months. I would also use this as my Lactate Threshold(LT) test for my training. It did not disappoint. I finished with a 1 sec PR of 22:45(chip time) over my prior PR from 2013. 3 years older and getting faster.

St. Pat's West End 5k 2016

St. Pat’s West End 5k 2016

In April, I took things up a notch and competed in the local St. Luke’s Half Marathon which I hadn’t run in since 2013 when I ran with my wife. I was planning to run it in 2015, but got a stomach bug the morning of and had to bail. My current PR for this race, and half marathons in general, was from back in 2010 when I finished with a 1:46:41(chip time). I also had challenged my co-worker Steve, who is what I would consider more of a “runner”, to a duel for this race. It was a bit of a stretch, but I thought the extra competition would bring out a little extra in motivation for me. Although I didn’t come close to beating him, I did manage to eke out another PR for myself finishing in 1:45:10 after 6 years. 2 races and two PRs…not too shabby a start to 2016.

Next up was my first triathlon of the season, the French Creek Olympic Triathlon. I had never done this race before, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to. I knew it was a pretty brutal race with a very hilly bike and run, so you could not even compare it to any other Olympic Distance race. I obviously did not PR this race, but I did end up on the podium by taking 3rd in my age group. This was the first podium since my very first multisport race, the Belleplain Duathlon, back in 2008 where I finished 1st in my age group. So now 3 races and 3 top outcomes.

French Creek Tri Podium

French Creek Tri Podium

In June I traveled up to Syracuse, NY for the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse triathlon. Another race I had never done before, but was hoping for a good finish here given the prior results so far this season. The race started off well with one of my best half-iron swims and a decent bike leg where I felt I hadn’t “burned too many matches.” The run leg was a different story. The sun came out and the heat turned up towards the end of the bike and my body turned to mush. Reminiscent of the Ironman Couer d’Alene run I fell into a walk-run for the very hilly run course. Ok, you can’t have them all! So with no PR to be had this time, I took my setbacks here and turned it into motivation for the true goal “A” race of the season at Ironman Mont-Tremblant.

Finish Run Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2016

Hurtin’ for Certain – Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2016 – High Temps on the run left a little to be desired for this race.

July turned out to be a pretty hot month, so I gained some pretty good acclimatization to the heat while training. If Ironman Mont-Tremblant (IMMT) was going to cook me like Syracuse, I was now prepared. Well, as much as someone who does not like the heat can be.

August came around quickly and tapering was in full swing as we made our way up to Mont-Tremblant for the peak race of my year. When race day came I could not have asked for better weather conditions. It was very cloudy in the morning as I prepared to hit the water. A fighter jet buzzed us so close it brought tears to my eyes. Then the cannon blasted and we were off. The rain started during the swim and poured down all day! For me, that was perfect conditions. I was like a pig in the slop.

Ironman Mont-Tremblant 2016 Bike Rain

Terrential Downpours on the bike leg of Ironman Mont-Tremblant 2016

Due to some choppy lake conditions, my swim was not as fast as I thought it would be, but still one of my faster IM swims. My bike was one of my fastest so far but yet I still held back as I planned to save something for the run. The run was my best ever Ironman run. The rain came down and kept me cool while cranking out some 8:30-9:00 pace miles. I felt amazing the whole time. I blew away my sub-12 hour goal by about 14 minutes and coming away with an Ironman PR of around 50 minutes! I chopped off almost 30 minutes on my IM run time alone. Mission accomplished!

Ironman Mont-Tremblant 2016 – Finish

So now 5 races completed for this year and 3 of them were PR’s and 1 podium. What more could I ask for? A fabulous end to an epic season for sure. Proof that aging does not mean you get slower. At least not yet. Maybe by the time I am 50 I can qualify for Kona? 🙂

Usually with the last race of the season comes a little depression that it is all over for another year. I like to schedule something big for after my last race that keeps me on the up-and-up. Just when you think things can’t get any better we headed to Iceland for a two-week journey around the island in a camper.

Kirkjufellfoss – Iceland 2016

I let my body recuperate a bit and broke out my camera for an incredible trip. It was the perfect diversion for someone who has only thought about training for the last year. The scenery was out-of-this-world and it was a great end to all the hard work that was put in over the last 8 months. I have been working on a full report blog post on this trip which I hope to be published very soon. Stay tuned for that.

While you would think that was all for this year, I had to do one more race. I signed up for the local South Mountain 10-miler run which was kind of a birthday run for me. I had never done this race before, but it looked to be quite challenging. It starts not too far from the Lehigh Univesity’s Goodwin Campus fields and a makes it was up to the very top of South Mountain, turns around and heads back down again. It is very steep and a big slog. I ended up 40th overall and 6th in my age group. Not a great result really, but I maintained a 8:12 pace which is just a bit off my half marathon pace. It was more for fun so I am not too worried about that.

I concentrated on my photography a bit for the remainder of the year, which tends to play 2nd fiddle to my training. I made a couple trips to Lake Placid and a short trip to Salt Springs State Park(PA) for some photography sessions. I came away with some keepers and also started getting more active with my Instagram feed. I dug back into my photo archives and found some great pictures I had taken in the past that never made it off my laptop.

So now as we head off into 2017 and I set my sights on Ironman Boulder and the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid this year, I have great memories looking back on the amazing year that was 2016. Despite what many others have felt. I have so much to be thankful for. I can only hope that 2017 is even half as good as last year.

I can only hope that 2017 is even half as good as last year. Although, it is already shaping up to be a pretty full one. I have several races on the docket and plans are already being hashed out for an amazing trip to Croatia and Slovenia during post-race season. As for goals, Ironman Boulder should be a challenge in itself given the altitude so I am not putting any time goals on myself for that. Perhaps working on pacing myself would be enough. I think Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid may be my A race for the year and I would like to shoot for a half-iron distance PR there.

My other goal for 2017 is to get back to regular blogging here. I have fell off the wagon a bit over the past year so I hope to pick that up again. I have just “cut the cord” and cancelled my cable TV subscription, so besides saving money I plan on spending a little less time in front of the tube.

If you are reading this, I hope you had a great 2016 and a even better 2017 as well. Thanks for reading!

Ironman Mont-Tremblant 2016 – Feeling pretty relaxed after finishing and just coming back from my post-race massage.

Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2016 Race Report

Ironman 70.3 Syracuse was my “B” race for the year. This season has started off quite well for me so far, and I was looking forward to keeping that momentum going with a good performance here. I knew the course would be challenging, but I was hoping to get something around 5:30-6 hours.

Heading into the weekend the weather was looking pretty good. Sunny, mid-80’s and minimal winds. Mid-80’s is a little high for me but hopefully, I would be finishing by the time it got that high. My plan was to have a good swim, take it easy on the bike(~0.75-0.78 intensity factor), and then finish with a solid run in the 1:50-2 hour range.

Travel & Lodging

We headed up on Friday and spent the day in SkaneatlesNY. We were hoping to get out on the lake for some SUP time, but the wind was a little too brisk. I didn’t want to be out there paddling my ass off two days before my race. So we walked around town and did some window-shopping instead.

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The crystal-clear water of Skaneatles Lake

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Dewitt for the weekend. It was fairly nice hotel. It had been there for some time but was clean and well kept. The location was good for the race and was also easy drive to locations downtown

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Core Life Eatery Bowl

for dinner. It also close to the Erie Canalway path which is great for a short bike ride or run.

The Hotel also had a pretty good looking breakfast, but we opted for something a little better at the Rise n’ Shine Diner  in North Syracuse.  Really good breakfast! For a healthy lunch I would also recommend the Core Life Eatery in North Syracuse too. We have one of these opening near us and I am so stoked. I will be hitting that on a regular basis for lunch!

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Erie Canalway Path

For a really good dinner, head downtown to the Armory Square area to the Aster Pantry & Parlor.  Really good food, amazing service and cool atmosphere. So good we ate dinner here twice.

On Saturday, we headed over to the race venue to check-in and drop off my bike in transition. Temps were already heading past the forecasted temps I had seen earlier in the week, so I was already starting to suspect this was not going to be an easy race.

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Jamesville Lake Beach

Water temps were in the low 70’s according to the guy doing the Athlete Briefing meeting, which I overheard as I checked in. Pretty sure it would a wetsuit swim, but I was going to switch to my “john” wetsuit instead of full-sleeve. With the heat I generate, staying cool is priority one for me.

Pre-Race

I suspected a long line of traffic getting into the parking field at Jamesville Beach on race morning since it is only one road that all funnels into one entrance to a big field. We left the hotel at 5am for the 15-20 minute drive to the race, and it turned out to be not that bad. We only got backed up about 1/10th of a mile out from the entrance. The worst part was the traffic directors randomly decided to send us to the farthest point away from the race venue after parking everyone in front of us to the closest point.

I made my way over to transition to set up my small plot of real estate. I bumped into Megan, who had also did Ironman Coeur d’Alene last year and we both share the same coach. I was situated pretty close to the bike out, so it was pretty easy location to spot. Just to be sure, I hung my lucky Notre Dame golf towel next to my bike on the rack.

I then decided to walk all the way back to the car and drop my transition bag off at the car. I don’t know why I did this. It is a pretty long walk and I probably would have been better off just relaxing.

My wife and I made our way to the swim start and I got into the water to do a little swim warm-up. Little is not an understatement here. They had the swim warm-up contained within the tiny, roped-off beach section of water. It was packed with a bunch of wetsuit-clad triathletes trying to swim circles in this ridiculously small area. It was almost comical.

My wave was one of the last waves to start, so I had plenty of time to stand around waiting. Eventually, the yellow caps started congregating and I moved into the mix as they slowly made their way to the swim start arch.

Swim

I positioned on the far outter right-side of the group to give myself some clear water to swim. Or so I thought. I immediately became draped in seaweed. I felt like the creature from the black lagoon! I started trying to make my way back into the pack to my right, but the seaweed continued. Eventually, it did get better and the pack started to space out a bit. I kept sighting the pylons but they seemed like they were moving away from me.

I settled into a nice stroke rhythm and before i knew I was making the first right turn. As I made my way back I was right on the inside track going right next to the pylons. I felt like I was cruising now and even passing a bunch of people. Some from my wave and some from earlier waves too. I had a feeling it was going to be a decent swim, but I didn’t dare take the few extra seconds to look at my watch.

Eventually, I was nearing the shoreline as started to see the sand on the bottom. I swam past a few guys who stood up early. I always make sure I don’t stand up until my hand touches bottom. And then touchdown! I got up pulled my goggles onto my forehead and looked at my watch…34:5?? something….Sweet! By the time I hit the timing mat and pushed my lap button it was around 36 minutes and some change. Pretty happy about that.

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Swim exit – That’s me just heading out of the frame

T1

The race had wetsuit strippers and I was debating whether to use them or not. I decided at the last minute to use them which, unbeknownst to me, threw off my wife from videotaping me. She was apparently standing near the first couple strippers, and I hit the last ones due to my indecisiveness. They struggled a bit getting my wetsuit over my feet, so I had to pull my legs towards me to help them.

I then made a steady jog through the long aisle to my bike, spotting my old lucky Notre Dame(Go Irish!) towel. Shoes, socks, helmet, sunglasses and unrack bike. I was off…

Bike

The bike exit was all grass for about 10-20 yards and what seemed like a long little uphill jog until you reach the pavement where the mounting area was. I mounted my bike and headed out onto the road. I quickly came up to my on the side of the road wife taking pictures with her iPhone and gave her a wave as I cruised past.

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Out on the Bike…

The first 12 miles of the course is, well, uphill. There is short steep downhill at around 4.25 miles, which is followed by a sharp 90-degree right turn and then right back to climbing again. My plan was to put it in an easy gear and spin easy for the first 12 miles. I felt I did that pretty well too. There were guys flying past me, out of the saddle, and I just laughed to myself how that was going to hurt later. I checked my Garmin after the hills subsided a bit and I was at around 0.82-0.85 Intensity Factor(IF). My goal for the bike was to be in the 0.75-0.79 range, but the hill climbing would surely skew that higher.

Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2016-Bike Elevation Profile

Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2016-Bike Elevation Profile

The course then turned to long sweeping downhills and flatter sections. I switched into a bigger gear and settled into a nice cruising cadence. Speeds then ranged from 18-22+ MPH for the next 30 miles. There was an occasional hill here and there, but nothing like in the first 12 miles. There was one steep downhill where I reach over 48 MPH which was scary fast. The excitement was quickly squelched when the uphill that followed was just as steep.

Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2016-20160622013.jpg

Around mile 45 we hit some more longer, less steep climbs before the final steep descent into the transition. I really felt good heading into T2 and I felt like I succeeded in my plan to take it easier than usual on the bike. Looking at my IF on my Garmin showed around 0.75, which is right at the lower end of my plan.

The one factor I did not take into consideration at the end of the bike was that the temperature was starting to hit the high-80’s. It is not always very obvious when you have a 20 MPH wind in your face.

T2

I cruised into T2, dismounted and headed to my transition spot. I was feeling really good and remember thinking to myself how I thought I was ready for a good run. I put my running shoes, hat, sunglasses and bib on. Sprayed my shoulders with some sunscreen and headed out on the run.

Run

The first quarter mile or so was paved, a little uphill and headed past the finish line area. We then passed through a treeline  and out into the large field were the car park area was. We ran around the perimeter downhill and then it made two rights up a rather steep hill until we got to the road. This is where things started to take a turn for the worst for me. The heat eliminating from this field felt like it stole my oxygen or maybe just my “mojo.”(Not too groovy, Baby!)

The uphill part of the field, right before you got on the road, really sucked too. My legs started to feel like they were going to cramp which sent a wave of panic through my head. I decided to walk up the hill.

 

Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2016-20160622011.jpg

Not enjoying life right here

I eventually reached the road which was fairly downhill for a stretch. There was no shade though and the heat was baking the asphalt. I told myself to just keep a steady pace until my legs came around. I settled back into an 8:30-9:00min/mi pace. Not really were I wanted to be for a half-ironman, but looking at it retrospect I would have done well if I could have maintained that.

I hit the second aid station and loaded up with some water and ice. Things were starting to feel a little better now. Until…

Mile 2.5…My run took a turn for the worst. It was almost a mile of steep uphill. Not fun. Lots of walking. Just the view of this steep hill that doesn’t seem to end really played with my head.

Part way up the hill I heard a female voice from behind me say “I love Amrita Bars!” It kind of startled me at first and took me off-guard. She then said that she had 3 of them on the bike too. I was in such a world of hurt at this point I could barely get the words “Cool!” out of my mouth.

Once I reached the turnaround at the top of the hill I got back into a jog again downhill. I then decided to walk the aid stations in order to get liquids in. I also started drinking Coke. I usually save this for the end, so this was not good. But it did help.

My mind was dreading the thought of having to do this all over again. The temperature was getting hotter too. Probably reaching around 90 by now.

I came back into the turnaround, which the make you run right past the finish line. Thanks Mr. Race Director! I came upon my wife standing in one of the few shady spots near the finish line. I had my head down and told her I was not doing good. I was also about 20 minutes past the time I told her I would be back. She told me to “breathe” as I headed past her on my way for another 6 and whatever miles.

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Relieved to have the finish line in my grasp. The red glow is not from me overheating but actually the flow of the finish line decorations…I think?

I continued to walk the hills and aid stations. It was mostly damage control at this point. I remember somewhere feeling a bit dizzy from the heat. I was on my threshold of heat tolerance, but managed to push through it. I was dumping ice everywhere in my race kit and hat. Chugging coke along the way. I could not get enough liquids.

I started to get into a slow but steady shuffle for the last couple miles. I think the magnetic force of the finish line was pulling me to it.

I finally reached the finish line, relieved, and gave a half-assed arm wave as I made my way through the archway. A bit disappointed, but happy to be done.

I found my wife and met her at the fence while I collected myself a bit.

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Summary

This race felt like a smaller version of last years’ Ironman Coeur d’Alene, except I actually finished this one. I executed my swim and bike exactly according to plan. Unfortunately, the heat had gotten the best of me again on the run. I just don’t do well in the heat, no two ways about it. I also wasn’t really acclimatized to it yet since this was an early race.

One other thing I realized after was that I don’t feed well on the run. I always bring my beloved Amrita Bars, but I just have no desire to eat them or anything solid for that matter while I run. This happened during my half-marathon earlier this year too. I have always been anti-gel, but I think I may need to consider this for the run. I need something that is a quick shot of energy that will go down easier. Especially when it is hot.

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I am going to revisit this aspect of my run nutrition for the next couple months before Ironman Mont-Tremblant. I need to get more energy during the run and this is critical when I have to do a full marathon. Stay tuned on that.

This race has was a bit of a blow to my confidence. But, I need to leverage this setback to help push me harder for my A race. I have to acclimate better to the heat and improve my nutrition on the run. I think the swim and bike improvements are also a good step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading!

 

Ironman 70.3 Timberman 2014 Race Report – A Purple Patch Day

purple patch (plural purple patches)

  1. A period of excellent performance, where nearly everything seems to go right, work properly, and contrasting with a more general lower level of performance.
  2. An ornate or elaborate section of a written work, a patch of purple prose

– Source: Wiktionary

I was not sure how I would feel come race day at Timberman 70.3, having just completed Ironman Lake Placid only 3 weeks prior. I hadn’t trained much in between, but the little I had done I felt really good. Would it last? I had no pressure to perform well given my recent events, so I could just relax and enjoy the day. If I felt good, great, otherwise just enjoy the day and scenery.

I had a great nights sleep. I didn’t have any of the pre-race nerves that I typically do. My sleep schedule was on track since we had to get up early the day before to volunteer for the sprint race. I had a couple bowls of chia cereal with hemp milk to start the metabolic process along with a couple cups of coffee too. I had all my gear ready to go the night before so it was pretty easy morning. Just dress, eat and go.

Denise dropped my off at the entrance to Ellacoya State Park and then drove back to the hotel. I made my way to transition, getting body-marked along the way. Everything flowed pretty well. My transition spot, #701, was the 2nd row in from the Bike Out arch, not counting the pro racks. I quickly set everything up and just hung out watching everyone else while sucking on my Skratch Labs bottle and chomping on a Amrita Bar. Even got to watch Andy Potts get ready too.

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Andy Potts prepping for Timberman 70.3

I decided to head over to the porta-potty line. More for something to do than to really go the bathroom. The line was really long, but I had over an hour to kill so what the heck. It actually moved pretty fast, but when I got there I realized I didn’t have to go anyway. The worst thing was the guy before me WREAKED!! I was literally dry-heaving in there and had to pinch my nose to get control again. Nasty!

I saw my wife Denise walking across from the volunteer tent as I left the shithouse area. She had rode her bike back to the event so that we could easily get out of there later. We did not want to get our car stuck there or have to take the shuttle bus. This would prove to be a wise move. We chatted for a bit before Denise headed over to the beach to get in her kayak for the swim start. Our post-race plan was to make the short walk over to the Ellacoya Barn & Grille after the race for some lunch while the biking part finished. Denise instructed me that I could not dilly-dally after the race and that we had to get to lunch as soon as possible. It could be crowded and that we might throw off our appetite for dinner. Food is a priority in our house! So maybe I did have a little pressure?

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Timberman Pre-race transition

I headed back to transition and put my wetsuit on. It was just starting to rain a bit, so I covered up my bike and run shoes with a plastic bag. The ran started coming down pretty heavy so I stood under a nearby tree that overhung into the transition area. Not sure why I needed to stay dry since I was in my wetsuit ready for the swim at this point? The announcer guy directed us all down the beach to the race start as transition was closing. The rain subsided.

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Timberman Pre-race transition

I made my way over to the start line along with the mass exodus of others. I headed into the swim warm-up area and swam out a bit, treaded water for a little while and then headed back to shore. I didn’t want to get out the water since it felt a bit warmer than the air temperature. Eventually I headed into my wave as it neared start time.

I had told Denise to stay on the outside of the swim lane since I typically swim wide instead of getting beat up on the inside line. I had my Tyr USA-colored goggles on so I figured there would not be too many of those so she could identify me. As I stood in line I noticed a guy with the same goggles and same “john” style Xterra wetsuit! I told him the deal and we started talking a bit. Turns out he actually knew a guy that I played hockey with who he used to work with. Small world. He was doing his first 70.3 so he was a bit nervous about it.

The Swim

We were only the 3rd or 4th wave to start, so we were lining up waist high in the water pretty quickly. I was in the 2nd row on the outside which is probably a little eager for me. I stayed there anyway. We were given the start signal and off we went. I did a get a little beat up in the beginning, but eventually settled in to a rhythm in some more open water. I tried to speed up my pace a bit to try to get ahead of some slower swimmers. I was swimming in the middle of the lane most of the way out to the first turn.

I rounded the first turn buoy without much issue. Usually turns get a little crazy with everyone trying to cut the corner, but this wasn’t too bad. I was trying to check out all the kayakers as I breathed bilaterally the whole way. I saw one female kayaker that I thought was my wife and did a double breath, but it wasn’t her. I somehow drifted to the inner part of the swim lane and eventually got inside the buoys. I corrected myself and finally got on track again just inside buoy #2. Just as I did I noticed Denise on the outside of the lane far away from me. She was also pointed back towards the first turn but I tried to give a wave to her as I took my recovery stroke. She didn’t see me though. Bummer.

I made my way to turn 2 and then headed towards the shore. The water started getting very waving here and it felt like I was in the ocean. I started kicking a bit more here to get some blood in my legs and pickup the pace a bit. I hadn’t looked at my Garmin the whole time so I really had no idea how I was doing. It did vibrate a couple times but I wasn’t sure if that was for a certain time or distance. I always change those settings in the pool, so I never know when it going off.

I started to see the lake bottom come into focus in the very clear water of Lake Winnipesaukee now. I saw a few guys standing up already, but I swam right past them as I kept going until my hand touched the bottom. I exited the water, smiled for the camera guy sitting there and headed to transition. He apparently missed the smile shot.

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Swim Exit-Ironman 70.3 Timberman 2014

This was definitely one of my better swims. it was smooth and steady the whole way. I didn’t have too many other swimmers cutting in front of me, but when they did I adjusted and didn’t freak out about it. I felt my stroke cadence was good. I averaged 33 strokes/min which is a stroke higher than averaged at Lake Placid and Black Bear this year. Swim cadence is something I really want to increase next season to improve a swim time a bit.

I included the Garmin Connect version of swim so you can see my actual course deviations. Strava seems to straighten things out.

Swim Time: 00:36:25 (1:43/100yds)

T1

I made the long jog circumnavigating the outer chute to the transition area entrance. I was surprised to see wetsuit strippers lined up as I approached. I spotted a younger kid that was available and pointed to him that I was coming and to get ready. With my wetsuit peeled down to my waist, I walked right up to him and fell backwards on the ground and he quickly pulled the rest off using the slack top. I was off to my bike.

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Timberman Pre-race transition

I easily found my bike due to the Notre Dame(Go Irish! – new good luck item for all races) towel and the close proximity to the bike exit. I quickly slipped my bike shoes on, sans socks. Donned my speed hat( as Denise referes to my aero helmet ) and shades and was out the gate. Easy peezy!

T1 Time: 0:02:29

Bike

I headed to the far side of the mounting area and hopped on my bike. I was on my way down the long, banner-lined driveway out of Ellacoya State Park. Spectators lined the fencing, cheering away. There is a slight incline once you hit the road out of the park and I had set my gearing to a nice spinnable gear start off. A guy heading out at the same time did not do so and I quickly spun past him as he struggled with a harder gear. Once I crested the incline it was mostly downhill cruise for the next couple miles. We passed the Fireside Inn and made a left at the light. A few sharp turns and then we started some more difficult climbing.

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Bike-Ironman 70.3 Timberman 2014

Mile three to six was another climb. This one a little higher but more gradual. I got into my spinning mode and just kept a consistent cadence. I was being very conscious not to burn any matches this early in the race. It could be a little tough to do since you are usually feeling good at this early point in the race. The tendency would be to just rip right up these, but you have to remember that your are going to have to hit them again at the end since it is an out-and-back course.

image

We peaked out and then quickly descended again before hitting a bit flatter section. We made a couple fairly sharp left turns,  which took a few guys by surprise and almost missed them. Then we onto the steeper climb of the course which is listed as a category 4 and referred to as the “Marsh Hill Monster” on Strava. Once we crested the “Monster” it was a pretty long, fast descent down a really gnarly road. There were some major cracks, potholes and sections of uneven patching of previous potholes. With the speed you were going it was an all hands on deck, white-knuckle ride. I reached around 35-40 MPH in this section. I had heard after the race that Andy Potts had flatted and crashed, breaking a finger in the process. I would not be surprised if that happened here. It was bad.

From the long descent, it was a pretty steady, slightly downhill cruise on to the mid-way turnaround  point. The road was in nice condition and had wide shoulders. It was eventually apparent why the road became so wide when we passed by the New Hampshire Motor Speedway near Louden, NH. I really did feel like I was driving a race car too since I was just cruising along at a nice ~25 MPH most of the way. Git-R-Done!! This is where you can really get some good speed by just settling into your natural cadence with a big gear. I was mostly cruising along at around 200-220 watts.

We made a right turn onto some smaller local roads before turning back on the main road(RT 106). It was back to cruising again despite a slight uphill grade now for most of the way. I didn’t utilize any of the aid stations other than grabbing a half a banana towards the end. It was a last minute decision as I was going by and thought “hmmm…that looks yummy!” I had everything on board I needed. 3 bottles of Skratch Labs  for hydration and a mix of honey/maple Stroopwafels, Amrita Bars, and Chunks of Energy for nutrition. I just grabbed a small piece of whatever I got my hand on every 10 minutes when my Garmin 10 minute reminder chirped. It was kind of fun since I never knew what was I was going to get. The Stroopwafels are the big prize!

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On the road again-Ironman 70.3 Timberman 2014

There were a handful of riders who I would continue hopscotching the entire way. I love the people that just sit in the left side of the lane going at a mediocre pace with no one on their right. I usually make a point yelling “ON YOUR LEFT!” extra loud for them. Smile There was the French-Canadian fellow who blatantly sped up as I passed him and would not let me pass him. Really? Read the rules lately? Perhaps they don’t publish them French? Then, there was the 3-person drafting pace line that flew by consisting of two women and a dude. One of the women was decked out in a orange kit with a big Wattie Ink “W” logo on it. Perhaps she was trying to generate some advertising? Sorry Wattie…no tattoo for you! Ok…I am done bitching now!

When I reached the hilly section the course diverted off of the gnarly road onto some nicer back roads through more wooded areas. It was NOT less hilly at all, just less traffic and a nicer road surface. I spun my way through the hilly section and back to the final few miles and my legs were still feeling good. I was really just trying to keep a steady cadence and power output the whole time. No spikes if I can help it. Before I knew I was cruising back into the Ellacoya State Park entrance way. I didn’t check my Garmin until the end and saw it was going to be well under 3 hours. Sweet!! A PR half-iron bike split for sure. But would I still have legs to hammer the run too?

Bike Time: 2:46:57 (20.13 mph)

T2

I quickly dismounted my bike and made the short jog to my transition area. I ditched the bike shoes and put socks on and slipped my running shoes on. I exchanged my helmet for a run hat and my Smith “running” sunglasses. My running sunglasses don’t seem to catch as my sweat drips as my biking ones, but the running ones let a lot of air in on the bike and make eyes itch. I decided to skip the Fuelbelt and just take a couple Amrita bars in my jersey pockets. I was going to take a FuelBelt bottle of Skratch along in my hand, but I dropped it in the shuffle. Oh well. I took a few extra seconds to squirt some sunscreen on my face and arms. I had gotten burnt a bit the past couple races so I need to take care of that.

I was off for the run, but wasn’t totally sure where the exit was. I finally realized it was over near where we came in for the swim. Fortunately a volunteer was directing traffic over that way. I had been looking for Denise since I came into the park on the bike, but hadn’t seen any sign of her yet. Hmmm?

T2 Time: 0:02:19

Run

I headed out the run start archway and spotted Denise along the side. She yelled something like “You are kicking ass!” while she tried to snap my picture with her phone. I always give her a time that I will be at a certain point and then tell her plus or minus 15 minutes. Well, I was at the minus 15 minutes part of that range for once. Giddy-up!!! Smile

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Run-Ironman 70.3 Timberman 2014

imageMy legs were feeling pretty good out of the gate. I was running 8-8:20/mi pace for the first 4 miles and half of that was uphill. I hoped I could keep it up. I just concentrated on a steady leg turnover the whole time similar to how I did with my cadence on the bike. I pictured my feet being like a locomotive wheel and then long metal arm just turning over-and-over.

I continued a sub-9 pace for the rest of the first lap, despite a pretty long steep hill around mile 5. I passed Denise again and told her be ready for an “early lunch!” She seemed pretty psyched about my performance. I headed into the turnaround point and volunteer was directing us. There was a maze of cones which was very confusing. She told me to head down the grass to my left. As I headed there I saw the finish arch. Then a sign saying “To the Finish”. WTH?? This is not right! I turned around and started heading back towards the lady. An Ironman guy came down towards me and signaled me to keep going the way I was going. I was getting pissed off now since I was having the incredible day and now it was getting F-ed up because of this stupid maze of a run route.

image

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This ain’t right??!!-This is where I got mixed up at the run turnaround.-Ironman 70.3 Timberman 2014

So it turns out the run goes practically right up to the finish line and then turns off to he right and heads back out the entranceway of Ellacoya State Park. I was a bit wound up over the screw up there, so I told myself to put it behind me and move on. Which I did. I came up to Denise again who had moved a little further up there road now. She was kind of squatting with the iPhone pointing towards the lake on our right. She told me to “hold up a sec!” so she could get a picture of my running by with the lake in the background. LOL…Ok you want a pose? I will give you a pose!

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Strike a Pose! Timberman 70.3 Run

The lady running behind me started cracking up immediately. I didn’t think the picture would turn out with the bright background and it didn’t out of the camera. I managed to adjust a bit in Lightroom so it was at least usable. I probably lost a few precious seconds there, but it was worth the laugh and the photo too. Oh yeah, and I totally forgot about that little issue at the run turnaround.

My pace slowed down a little on the second loop. I could see that it was on my Garmin, but I didn’t feel like I was going slower. There first two miles after the turnaround were the toughest. They were mostly uphill, especially mile 12 which was the big one. I kept running the whole time and didn’t walk at all. I slowed a bit at the aid stations just to get liquid down. I had 2 cups of Coke at the last 2 aid stations that had it, which helped me power up the hills.

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Good to go!-Ironman 70.3 Timberman 2014

Once I crested the big hill it was go time. One more mile downhill into the finish line. I looked at my Garmin and saw something around 5:15 and some change. I was pumped! My fastest Half Iron distance was a 5:54 at Quassy and this was way under that. I turned it up for the final stretch and was back to a 8:27 pace for the last mile. I cruised down the finish chute passing one more guy right before crossing the finish line. I raised my arm and stopped my watch…5:24!!! 30 minutes faster than my previous Half-iron PR!!

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Always punch your competitors at the finish!-Ironman 70.3 Timberman 2014

Run Time: 1:56:31 (8:53/mi)

Finish Time: 5:24:41

Summary

It was an Epic day for sure! Pretty much everything was executed perfectly. When the whole run turn issue happened I dealt with it and moved on. Looking at my splits it really didn’t affect things much. My fitness, my nutrition and my head were all working together for the perfect day. I definitely owe some thanks to Tawnee Prazak and Lucho Wagoneer over at Endurance Planet for giving me the confidence to not overtrain in those 3 weeks in between Lake Placid and this race. I know I would have trained a bit more than I did had they not advised me. Also coming off a Ironman, makes a half seem so short. Not a total breeze though, but you can go after it a little more with the confidence to lay it out there a bit.

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PR Baby!!-Ironman 70.3 Timberman 2014

When I found Denise at finish line she yelled “What the F$#% was that??!!!” I said “that was a perfectly executed race, now lets go to lunch!” We walked around a bit and headed over to the Athlete’s food area. They had some pretty good stuff too. Pasta salads and some chicken for the meat eating folks. They even had some homemade ice cream which I gave to Denise. She said it was pretty good. Then we walked up to  Ellacoya Barn & Grille for my traditional post-race Pizza & Beer! And it wasn’t even crowded yet! I guess we beat the rush?

Well that is pretty much the end of my triathlon season for 2014. It was surely a great season and ending on high note like that really tops it off. I still have a trip to Italy and the MS City to Shore ride(click to donate!) coming up so plenty more to do this year. Then all focus will be directed to Ironman Coeur d’Alenems  for 2015. Stay tuned for another wild ride! Thanks so much for reading and sharing the journey with me! Hope you have learned some things from all my mistakes along the way too.

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.

Race Report: 2014 Black Bear Half Iron Triathlon

I chose the Black Bear triathlon this season since had a half-iron distance and it was close to home.  I like to do a half-iron distance in the beginning of June to test out my fitness in preparation for Ironman Lake Placid which is at the end of July. This year I was trying to cut back on my triathlon-related expenses so doing a race that I can drive to really eliminates a ton of travel costs.

Saturday Packet Pickup

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Black Bear Triathlon

Saturday was the packet pickup for the race at the Beltzville State Park. It was a pretty uneventful packet picket with no expo or anything to make it a real worthwhile trip. They did have a warm-up swim course available in the lake so I did take advantage of that since I was making the 40 minute drive up there and back. It was a beautiful day, so I really didn’t mind the drive at all.

After I got my race packet, I headed over to the beach and put on my wetsuit for a swim. The water was said to be around 65 degrees ( F )  and I found it to be the perfect wetsuit temperature. They had the sprint swim course setup with start line, and 5 buoys lined up at 100 yard increments. Each one was marked with the distance except for the last one. They were working on setting up the other distances at the time, but there was a large gap between the end of the sprint and the olympic turnaround.

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Black Bear Triathlon

I ended up swimming the 1000 yards of the course plus what it took me to get to the start line from the far end of the beach. I tried going past the end of the sprint course but the boat guy setting up the buoys yelled at me. It was a nice swim and I felt pretty good. On the way back it was pretty windy and the chop was making things a bit difficult.

I prepared all my race gear Saturday night and loaded my bike into the car beforehand. The less stress I have on race morning the better. I noticed that I had taken my old size ML “fat” wetsuit for the swim earlier since my newer size “M” was still in the basement. I was wondering why it was fitting so loose. I had a delicious pre-race dinner of  Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry with Green Peas and was in bed by 9:30PM.

 

Race Day-Pre Race

I got up around 4:45 am on race morning. I finished mixing up my water bottles filled with Skratch Labs Raspberry hydration mix and one bottle with UCann SuperStarch. I would then supplement with water on the course(see Race Nutrition Plan below). I finished packing up, said goodbye to my wife and my dog and headed north up the PA Turnpike. My wife has been working a lot lately and Sunday was here only day off that week. I told her she didn’t need to spectate this race. It is an full 8 hour day and it just isn’t worth her sitting around there all day just to see me whiz by for a total of 2 minutes during that whole time. It was a beautiful morning with the sun coming up and a low fog settling in the cooler low spots. And now wind! I so wanted to stop and take some pictures, but I needed to get there before 7AM. I fired up my Pre-Race playlist on my iPhone and jammed away for the ride up to Beltzville. I skipped ahead to Beautiful Day by U2, before I hit the exit at Mahoning Valley. That is my go-to pre-race song!

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Black Bear Triathlon

Pohopco Drive was backed up a little bit from the entrance to the park, but it moved pretty fast. They were filing the cars into the grass soccer field first and by the time I got in they directed me right up close to the lake, which is where I would usually park anyway. Sweet!  Sometimes it is better to be late I guess. I made a B line for the toilets by the beach to get that out of the way, then I could calmly get my stuff and setup transition.

I made the long walk over to transition, got bodymarked and setup my little spot. On the way to my rack, I spotted one of my Facebook friends Nikky. I had been Fb friends with her since the now defunct Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains when she was posting the water levels of the Delaware River, but I had never met her in person. It was nice to finally meet her in person. I wished her good luck and headed down to find my assigned rack. Most of the rack I was already filled up so I was forced to the end of the rack where the guys in there had spread out like kings. A British gent politely offered to push his stuff over to give me some room. I setup pretty quickly and then heard someone calling my name. It was my friend Kirsten who used to play ice hockey with my wife. Her partner Kim was doing the race as well and she pointed out that Kim was just a couple rows over. Kim had done the triathlon in Belleplain, NJ when I did my first duathlon, so we have always kept in touch on Facebook about our racing. Kim was doing the olympic distance race today. After setting up my stuff I headed over and talked to Kim and Kirsten for a bit.

I also saw my tri-blogging buddy Shanna from Swoon Style & Home on the walk to the swim start. We had been chatting about on each others blogs since last years’ NJ Devilman race, so it was pretty cool to finally meet her in person. She is getting ready to do her first Ironman Lake Placid this year and I really enjoy following her progress and journey. She has also been doing really well in her age group with local races, so I think she is well prepared for July 27th!

So, my pre-race consisted of a lot of socializing which was fun! I find that I don’t have pre-race anxiety like I used to. I don’t know if that is good or bad? I am curious how Ironman Lake Placid pre-race will be this year. At least I know what to expect this year.

Race Nutrition Plan

Activity Nutrition Post-Race Comment
Pre-Race water/skratch labs hydration
Vega Protein bar on arrival to venue
Bring spring water(throw away) bottle while waiting for wave start.
Swim Lake Water(hopefully no pee!)
Bike 2-20oz bottles Skratch Labs
3-1oz servings of Chunks of Energy Chia Chunks
1 Clif Bar cut into small chunks(White Choc Mcadamia)
1 bottle of UCann SuperStarch
on course water to supplement
Clif Bar was yuk! Try Amrita bar next time instead for variationDidn’t really drink much UCann. Other food was plenty. Better off with another Skratch bottle.Took one water from aid station
Run 2 8oz Fuel Belt bottles of Skratch Labs
1 Lemon Honey stinger Waffle(at start)
Aid station water
Hit many of the aid stations for water. It was very hot on course.

 

The Swim

I made one last bathroom stop before the swim and then waited on the beach watching all the early swim waves take off. My wave was the second-to-last swim wave so I had an hour to wait from the first wave. I cannot understand why they put the longest race last to start?? Why wouldn’t let them go first so they can finish a little earlier and maybe they would actually have some specators still around when they finish.

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Black Bear Triathlon

Eventually, the “powder blue” swim cap wave was on-deck and we swam out to the dark blue balls indicating the start line. I swam over to the far left side of the start and it was only about 15 seconds until they started us off. The swim went fairly well overall. I settled into a pretty easy pace and just enjoyed the ride. Every once in a while I would run up into someone, but would then quickly redirect to the closest open water area. I always seem to find these guys that zig-zag their way through the course. I really hate that because they just seem to come out of nowhere and run right in front or into you from the side. I tend to sight a lot because I am not the fastest swimmer. I figure the straighter I can swim the less effort I need to exert. Lifting my head up to see every 6 or 7 strokes is not a big deal to me. It is better than being one of those feckless meanderers that aimlessly swimming all over the place.

We swam down to what seemed to be the wall of the dam and made our right turn. My Garmin had buzzed at the 20 min reminder just past the 2nd right so I figured was on par for my usual time. I started seeing a bunch of the red-capped ladies from the wave behind passing me so the fact that I was getting “chicked” was playing with my confidence a bit. I soothed my soul a bit by telling myself they were young.

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Black Bear Triathlon

Sighting also became a bit more difficult after that 2nd turn since we were going right into the sun now. We also didn’t need to follow the bouys on our right and could go directly at the one yellow one that was our last left turn to the exit. The only thing is, it was far away and I could not see it. I just followed the red cappers in front of me and kept an eye on the buoys on my right. Seemed to workout out alright. My watch buzzed 30mins just before the left turn buoy, so now I was eager to get to shore. I tried to increase my stroke a bit. I was soon spotting the lake bottom getting closer and closer. I would not stand up until my hands touched it. Bam…I am up!

As I exited the water I started searching for my zipper cord. I heard my name being called out by a male voice from the spectators to the right. Is that me?? Then I spotted Kenrick Smith waving to me. Kenrick is up-and-coming triathlon pro and coach from my area and is also founder of the Bruised Banana race report website. I don’t how he could recognize me with my swim cap and wetsuit, but it was pretty cool to have someone like him cheering for you to start the race.

Lessons Learned: Need to keep swimming when zig-zaggers cannot swim straight in front of me. I keep stopping cause I get mad and I am losing time.

Swim Time: 37:21

T1

The first transition went pretty well with no major hiccups. I had socks out, but decided against them. My bike shoes are meant for no socks so they work pretty well like that. I put my shoes on at the rack instead of the flying mount stuff. That is usually more headache than it is worth. The walking of the bike to the mount area is a bit of uphill slog. Especially when all your blood is in your shoulders.  It was a long haul.  Time was not too bad considering that.

T1 Time: 2:39

The Bike

I fortunately left my bike in the small chainring and middle gear on the cassette which is perfect to start. I don’t think I did that intentionally, but was happy it was there. I was pretty thirsty after the swim, so I hit the Skratch Labs juice pretty quickly and often right from the start. Once on Pohopco Drive I tried to settle into as much a rhythm as you can on that roller-coaster of a road. It was a little better this time(as opposed to my previous ride) since there was less traffic about and navigating the poor road conditions and lack of a shoulder was much easier. Being familiar with the road is very helpful since you can predict your shifts in a much more timely manner. There is lots of shifting to be done.

Black Bear Half Iron Triathlon 2014-Bike

Black Bear Half Iron Triathlon 2014-Bike

I found myself being entertained by the Endurance Multisport guy with the disc wheel who would fly past me at the end of each descent and then I would then spin by him going up the ascents. He would always climbing out of the saddle which made my quads cramp just thinking about it. That could come back to hurt him on the run I would guess. The course was pretty much as expected from what I learned on the pre-scout ride I did before and I really didn’t have any issues. I managed to survive the out-and-back on Penn Forest Rd. unscathed. That is a totally nasty downhill section that is littered with potholes. It sucks and is an accident waiting to happen.

Black Bear Half Iron Bike Course Elevation Profile

Black Bear Half Iron Bike Course Elevation Profile

The only difference to the course was the change to accommodate the bridge out. Instead of making the right onto Owl Creek Road, we stayed straight on Deer Lane. This was a pretty nice downhill section where you could pick up some speed. I did run into a bit of a jam at the one little uphill section past Lakeside drive. The slower cyclist had decided to stay in the middle of the road and when I tried to veer left to blow by him there was a large crater of a pothole in the road!! By the time I saw it I had passed him so I was able to swing back to the right, which is where he should have been. As I did this I heard someone yell “Right!” I looked back to find two faster cyclist had decided to pass him on the right, which is illegal and obviously not safe. I had cut them off, but I didn’t care cause they were in the wrong. I expected them to say something when they passed me, but they didn’t since I figure they realized they were wrong.

We then made a couple sharp turns(there were a bunch of these too) and popped back out onto Pohopco Drive again crossing the bridge just before the park entrance. We then made a quick right turn onto Pine Run Road just so we could make a super sharp left to the hit the nice little steep section onto Jefferson St. Thanks CGI! We then circled back around to the park entrance and on for the 2nd loop. I remember thinking how daunting it was to have to do that again, but the second loop went pretty quickly.

Black Bear Bike vs 2013 Quassy comparison

Black Bear Bike vs 2013 Quassy comparison

My pace after the first loop was around 17.5, so I must have slowed a bit on the second since I ended up around 16.9 overall. I felt like I was going faster the second time and their was a lot less bike traffic. I did mis-navigate one of the many potholes on Penn Forest Rd. this second time and had a bone-jarring thud of my front wheel. I kept checking my front tire for a flat for a while after that. My aid station-provided water bottle almost fell out between my aerobars too and I had a hard time getting that back in while navigating all the other potholes in the road while descending. I didn’t want to lose that water since it was all I had until the run.

Black Bear Half Iron Watts/Power

Black Bear Half Iron Watts/Power

I finished up the bike wondering if I had given too much to the 5000+ feet of climbs and possibly hurt my run. My Garmin showed a Normalized Power of 204 watts for the 3:19 bike ride, which is pretty high for me given a 234 FTP. I raced the bike as strong as I could without totally dying and I still felt pretty good when I finished.

Lessons Learned:

  • More Skratch Labs hydration, less UCann Superstarch(for half-iron distance)
  • Skip the Clif Bar, more Chunks of Energy or Amrita Bar cut into pieces

Bike Time:  3:19:09

T2

While dismounting my bike, I knocked one of my water bottles off my X-Lab Turbo Wing. Not a problem. I sauntered down the hill to transition crossing over a very soft sand volleyball court. I didn’t remember that on the way up? It just sucked all the momentum out of my legs…kind of an unexpected thing? Found my way to my rack space and racked my bike. Switched to my running sunglasses, hat, put socks on. Ripped one of them trying to get them over my semi-moist feet. Sneakers…forgot to untie or loosely tie them…doh! Left shoelace knotted trying to untie it(of course)! Argh! Relax…be calm…deep breath! You cannot untie a knot in panic mode! Finally undid the knot and got shoes on. Squirted blobs of sunscreen up and down my arms and shoulders. Fuel Belt…check. Run bib belt…check. Lemon Honeystinger Waffle to-go….check. Yum! And we are off…

While exiting  transition and chomping my Honeystinger waffle, I hit a button on my Garmin. Apparently I hit two of them because a minute or so later I realized my watch was stopped, but it was in the Run mode of the Multisport setting. I smeared around the sunscreen as best I could on my arms, shoulders, face and neck after my little lemon snack. Apparently I didn’t so such a great job cause I got some weird sunburn around the edges of where my jersey armholes end. I wish they had sunscreen appliers at these smaller events! It was after this I realized the Garmin was stopped.

Lessons Learned: Untie or loosely tie running shoes in transition before race!

T2 Time: 4:05 Sad smile

The Run

The legs were feeling pretty heavy at the start of the run. No wonder because that bike was pretty challenging. The trail started out along the water and then turned right up some trails through the woods. This is were I started feeling like it was more of an XTerra race than a triathlon. At least it was shady here. I hit a short, steep little incline on the double-track going through the woods. My quads started to cramp up…NO!! I just passed Endurance Multisport guy with the disc wheel who was walking up it and started to walk a little until the cramping stopped. I settled back into an easy pace again by the time I popped out of the woods. Now it was all sun exposure as we circumnavigated all aspects of the Beltzville Dam. The first was was down the right side on a very gravelly dirt road. I could feel every rock and pebble that I stepped on. Everyone stayed in the narrow little track where the tires had pushed most of the stones out.

Black Bear Half Run Elevation Profile

Black Bear Half Run Elevation Profile

The trail then angled to the right and more swiftly downhill and the road became VERY loose stones which were hard to run on. I moved into the narrow grass shoulder to gets some better footing. The road got steeper at the end before it bottomed out onto sharp left turn to a cement road where there was a aid station. I filed up and took a couple splashes from the kids. They were really enjoying dumping water on us. I sipped on my 2 8oz bottles of Skratch Labs hydration evenly in between water stops so that the weight was always properly distributed.

First Lap on the run. Only 6.5 more to go!

First Lap on the run. Only 6.5 more to go!

After the water stop, I looked up to find the trail leading up a VERY steep wall of the dam. What?! Holy crap! It had to be 20-30% grade and it was large loose rocks. There were a couple volunteers stationed there I guess to help people up. WTF?! I didn’t even attempt to run this because it would not be worth the energy and I probably wouldn’t go any faster. From there it was a steady incline up to the top of the dam. We then went back and forth across the top of the dam. There was a shithouse at the turnaround, so I popped in there quick to unload my bladder. Must have been hydrated well if I am peeing at this point? The top of the dam seemed like eternity. I think it must be a mile and half both ways. Fortunately there was a tailwind on the way back.

Beltzville Dam The Wall Elevation

Beltzville Dam The Wall Elevation

We then took another gnarly stone/dirt road down the left side of the damn almost to the water then turned around and back up to make a right. I lady in a teal one-piece tri suit passed me very easily…chicked again! Oh she had a “30” on her leg, so she has got the whole youth thing going there. That’s my excuse! Ok the dam has been fully inspected now. And I somehow managed to do it without breaking an ankle! We then headed across a very flat open plain before going back through the woods we came in on.

Black Bear 2014 - Run

Black Bear 2014 – Run

I made the turn to the right to make my second loop of the run course. The left turn to the finish line looked so inviting! I actually felt good on my second lap. I tried to stay  present take in the scenery and not focus on how far I have to go. It helps. One foot in front of the other. I walked the steeper hills and a couple aid stations to make sure the water got down my gullet. The miles ticked off. I was now getting pretty familiar with everyone in front and back of me since the whole route consisted of out-and-backs. I tried to make ends meat of whether I was getting relatively faster or slower, but it was hard to tell. I did pass one guy in my age group on the last stretch of the dam, which renewed my will a bit.

I hit the 13 mile mark right before heading into the shady wooded section. Ahh! Home stretch. It is funny how good feel at this point. Why didn’t I feel like that 2 minutes ago? Running along the water, I angled to the left and stayed left into the finishing chute. It was pretty much empty with a few straggling fans along the fence. The announcer said something with “Alburtis, PA” in it and then announced my name as “Brian Schwind, with the wind at his back” lol! Not enough wind I thought! I crossed the line with a minimal fanfare except for a few golf-claps from the few remaining spectators. It was the most anti-climatic half Iron distance finish I have ever seen. Not a big deal. I got a bottle ice cold water and my very large finishers medal and walked around a bit.

BB2103

BB2103

BB2103

BB2103

 

 

Lesson Learned: Bring mountaineering gear next time for run course! Smile

Run Time: 2:06:51 (9:41/mi avg pace)

Overall Finish Time: 6:10:06

BB2103

BB2103

Post-Race Summary

I circled back to the finish line chute to cheer for some of the folks coming in behind. I didn’t want them to feel meager finish that I did. Having done a bunch of these it is not a big deal, but if this was someones’ first half or A race of the year it could be pretty disappointing.

I walked around a bit after my cheering time and I found that there was a tent with bags of food for the athletes. It would have been nice if someone told me that?? It was the most laid back finish experience I have ever had. They didn’t even put the medal around your neck, but just handed it to you. It was pretty heavy though. I sat down and chowed on my soft pretzel and a uncrustable PB&J which was pretty good.

I considered staying for awards, but they seemed a little disorganized there too so I figured I would not be getting one anyway. I ended up finishing 8th in my Age Group(of 33) which is alright. My actual finish time was my longest ever for a half-Iron distance, but given the course I am not that depressed about it. It is a good prep for Lake Placid and will give me some extra push to get faster. I really need to get my run speed up post-bike. I would really like to maintain a 9:30 pace at IMLP this year.

I have heard post-race that several folks were a bit disappointed by the course and the unsafe aspects of it. The road conditions are not very good and given the steep descents and still flowing vehicle traffic on the course it makes this a dicey situation. There many drivers in this area that are not cyclist-friendly and do give them the safe distance and passing speed that is necessary. CGI really needs to look into this a bit more before someone is seriously hurt. I am not sure if I will do this race again, but if I do that will play heavily into my decision.

Race Review: Ironman Muskoka 70.3–September 2012

This review is meant to be a little more focused on the race itself and less on my performance.

ironman-muskoka

Race Name: Ironman Muskoka 70.3

Country: Canada

Date: September 9th, 2012

Race Category: Male 40-44

Why did I do this race?

I wanted a late season race in September with a fresh water lake swim and cooler temps. Thought this would be nice time of year to take vacation in Canada and camp in Algonquin Park the week after(it was!). Smaller size of race entry was also appealing(~1500 entrants).

The Swim

A backwards “P” shape in a clockwise direction. Beautifully clear lake. Water was warm compared to air temperature. Last stretch to shore was shallow and it looked like I could stand up. Was my fastest 1.2 swim to date. Swim exit onto 18th green of a golf course.

The Bike

They call it the “Beauty and the Beast” for a reason. Gorgeous scenery but constantly up-and-down. Single loop. They also extended the distance to 58.4 miles(94k) with oil and chipped climbs in the last 2.5 miles. Hockey nets at aid stations to catch your empty h2o bottles was cool. Great volunteers! My legs were screaming at the end. ~3600 feet of elevation gain over 58.4 miles.

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The Run

Mostly out-and-back, except for slight deviation onto a walking path on the way back. First 3 miles were up-and-down, then a steady, uphill slog to the midpoint turnaround. Then downhill until reaching the walking path that parallels the highway through some fields and woods. Path eventually connects back to highway crossing and pack along initial route. Long downhill and running on shoulder of the road took its toll on my IT Band and I am still recovering. PR-ed the run from previous years’ IM 70.3 in Miami, but I think that was just due to better conditioning. Frequent aid stations. I only take water from these so not sure what else they had.

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Transition

T1 was a “bear.” The hill climb from the swim exit was steep and the distance to my rack was 0.34 miles total. It ended up taking me 5 minutes. It took the top pro males from 2:30-3:00 to complete as a baseline. T2 was pretty straightforward. The run exited out the back of the parking lot, opposite the bike in, and around the transition area. I started heading out the bike in until a volunteer straightened me out. My fault for not researching that better.

Race Organization

TriMuskoka is a top notch race organizer and it shows. Everything was well done and we stayed at Deerhurst Lodge which made race morning so not stressful. Volunteers are great and all the communities come out in full force to support the race. I was really hoping for Ironman Canada to come here, but it went west instead. Even still I would come back here again.

Top Tips

On swim, line up on the inside buoy opposite of what most people typically do. Because the outside buoy was in shallow water everyone lined up there and it was very crowded. I waded to the inside buoy and treaded water(over my head). There was hardly anyone there and I had open water the whole way out to first turn.

On bike, nice and easy. Save some legs for the run. Hard to really get any good rhythm on spinning with all the hills.

Stay at Deerhurst for a stress-free race morning and post-race. Worth the $$.

How did you do?

6:02:55. This was my 2nd completed half-Iron distance race(IM Pocono-DNF and IM Miami-6:08) and I accomplished everything I wanted to. Fastest swim so far. Wanted to finish under 6 hours, which I would have if the bike distance was the standard 56 miles. Wished I could have gone a little faster on bike, but I did save my legs to stay under 2 hours for run. Tore up my IT Band a bit with all the hills and road shoulder camber, which I am still recovering from.

Verdict

Great race! Will definitely consider doing it again. I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys beautiful outdoor scenery and a challenging course. Great community and Algonquin park is not far for any post-race camping vacation. Many good places to eat too with vegan options. Soul Sistas and Three Guys and a Stove were our favorites.

2012 Ironman Muskoka 70.3 Race Report-T2 & Run

T2

Heading out on the run--Ironman Muskoka 70.3I was so relieved to arrive into T2! For one the hills were over. At least I thought so. And two, I had not suffered any mechanicals. While walking my bike to the rack, I did notice that my tire was just slightly rubbing the frame. Can I use this as an excuse for my slower bike split? T2 went really well. I had my socks on already, so I just slipped my New Balance Minimus Roads’ on, grabbed my run hat and Fuel Belt and I was on my way. I did start heading out the bike exit and a volunteer quickly redirected me in the proper direction. I saw my Wife over, in what I thought was an out of the way area, but it all made sense once I headed out the run exit. She was standing along the chute that we headed out of. I swung over to give her a smooch, which I think surprised the shit out of her. Everyone around her made a loud ”Ahhhhhhhh” as I hit the exit timer. Time for a run!

T2 Result: Good
T2 Time: 2:14

The Run

Toronto HarborfrontWell the anxiety of what my legs would feel like on this years run was swirling in my head. I was ecstatic to realize I had some legs this year. This was most likely due to an increase in brick workouts this season, increase in sodium intake and also saving it a little bit on the bike. I went out with the intention of running 9:30-10:00 pace for the first 2 miles. I noticed that I was having trouble going that slow unless I was going uphill. After that first two miles the course was relatively flat and ran along the major roadway Highway 60 for a bit and I got into a nice cruise pace. My legs were feeling so good. Then we crossed the highway and headed onto Fairyview Drive. This is where the hills began.

The course seemed to be constant uphill from this point until the turnaround on Williamsport Road, with one very long uphill right before. I really don’t mind going uphill, except that obviously my pace slows down. When I reached the turnaround point I glanced at my Garmin and saw 57 minutes. I thought “Ok, cool under an hour, time to turn it up a notch!” All along I had been vaguely trying to calculate if I still was able to come under the 6 hour mark and thought I was most of the day. Even at this point I still thought I had a chance. The course should be mostly downhill or flat from this point on. The problem I didn’t anticipate was the toll the downhills would take on my IT band.

Toronto HarborfrontAs I was cruising down Muskoka Road 3, I could feel a tinge of irritation in my left knee. I knew instantly that it was IT Band issues which I had dealt with about a decade and a half ago on my right side. That time it also occurred running downhill. I tried to take it easy and eventually I made it to the flatter section coming off of Fairyview Drive. Instead of heading back down Highway 60, we then took a little walking path that ebbed and flowed through the fields paralleling the highway. This seemed to slow me down a bit. Not sure if it was my knee, my mind, or just that I was getting a little tired. I eventually reached a wooded section that seemed to motivate me a bit and the pace picked up some. A relay guy came by me and gave me some words of encouragement which also gave me a boost. With about a mile to go, I finally realized this was going to be real close for hitting the 6 hour mark. I then tried crank up the pace a bit more.

The small section down Cookson Bay Crescent was a push. A volunteer at the turn down said “Almost There”.  To which I replied “Almost Molson Time!”. The downhill stretch tested my IT Band some more and I hoped nothing disastrous would happen at this point. The climb out of Cookson Bay was a little killer of a hill. I even had to resort to the  Jens Voigt tactic of telling my legs to “Shut Up!” I even became vocal and I am sure the guy in front of me heard it, but at this point I really didn’t give a shit. It helped! As I turned onto Canal Road I blew past a bunch of people. I had less than 2 minutes and still had a half mile to go. It was not looking good. Then when I got to the Deerhurst entrance I realized I had to come in the back and all the way around the transition area. So there was no chance at this point. I was disappointed, but happy to be done and feeling pretty good.

As I came down Canal Road I was trying to spot my wife in the crowd but didn’t see her anywhere. All through the finish chute I didn’t see her anywhere. WTF?? As I came into the finish line there were two other pretty close in front of me, so in order to clean up there finish photos and mine, I laid back a bit. This gave me more time to scan for my wife, but still nothing. They held up the finish ribbon for me and I continued through the finish gate. Immediately greeted by volunteers and my finishers medal was placed around my neck. As the volunteer walked me back a bit and chatted I saw my wife running down from the road with a disappointed look on her face. She tried to catch me coming down the road and just missed me and then also missed me coming through the finish. She heard my name announced as she got up to the road. Thank God for pictures!

Toronto Harborfront

Run Result: Great
Run Time: 1:58:30(9:05 min/mile)

I finished and I feel like I finished strong. My wife commented that it looked like I didn’t do anything. I really had to take a leak as I had been holding it for most of the run for fear of losing precious time. I didn’t have the nerve to wet myself either, so l held it. Last years Miami 70.3 run was a 2:19(10:39 min/mi pace) and this year was a 1:58(9:05 min/mile pace). Chopping off 21 minutes is a huge improvement and I am very psyched about that. Especially considering the over 700 feet in elevation gain/loss compared to the bridge in Miami. All-in-all I am immensely happy with the way this whole season has progressed. I feel like I am making large improvements in every facet. I guess that is something that comes with the experience. Ironing out those mistakes every year.

Race Result: Great!
Race Time: 6:02:55(*for 72.8, not 70.3. I figure for 70.3 my time would have been around a 5:52:25)

Toronto Harborfront

Now it is time to relax! A week off camping in Algonquin Park is just what the Dr. ordered. Pretty soon I will be ramping up again to get ready for my race of races, Ironman Lake Placid.