Tag Archives: half

Race Report: NJ Devilman Half Lite 2015

The last time I raced the New Jersey Devilman Half Lite, it was a cold dreary morning. I vividly remember the “ice cream headache” I had gotten when I plunged my head into the cold, dark water of Cedar Lake. I ended up  with a decent result, but I remember thinking I would not be in any hurry to go back there again.

Well, turn the clocks ahead two years and now with a cold swim in Lake Coeur d’Alene ahead of me, I returned. This time armed with a new neoprene swim cap I was ready to tackle the 60 degree(F) black waters of Cedar Lake. I also figure an increased FTP and a couple Ironmans’ under belt, I could have a potential podium depending on who shows up that day. Hey, I did cut 30 minutes off my 70.3 PR last year.

Looking at last years results for my age group in this race, something under a 3:25 could get me a spot on a box of wood at the end of the day. My previous time was a 3:44 and looking at those times I could possibly shave off about 15-20 minutes altogether if I had a really good day. So I set out to do that.

Travel

I had booked a stay overnight at the Fairfield Inn in Millville, NJ as we did last time. It is a nice hotel and stashed out of the way in what appears to be a shopping mall that never came about. There are usually a lot of people staying there that are doing the race. We were not in a big hurry to get down to Millville this time, since there is not much to see except for strip malls and big box stores. From what I found there aren’t many restaurants with any healthy food either. Everything is chain restaurant junk food.  I think they have every fast food place imaginable. Sorry Quakertown, but I think they have you beat. The best option is probably the Kawa Thai Sushi restaurant.

So, we left later in the day and stopped in Manayunk at the Couch Tomato restaurant on Main St. It was really good. I had a Pistachio Pesto flat bread pizza that had baby arugula and a lemon aioli on it.  It was quite tasty.  Also, Arugula has a ton of Nitric Oxide in it, for a little cardiovascular boost.

We arrived at the hotel around 8pm and checked in. After settling in, I did my last minute race preparations, watched a little TV and then I was quickly off to dream land. I had a great nights sleep too. Last time I did this race I was so wound up I hardly slept at all. I surely do not get as anxious about races like I used to.

I recently read the book “Headspace for the Perfect Race: Create a Winning Athlete Mindset” by Carrie Barrett which had a tip about how to script out your entire pre-race morning plan in order to take some stress off of yourself. So, I created a script detailing everything I had to do, including brushing my teeth and going to the bathroom, and  how long it would take. Despite the constant ridicule of my anality by my wife, this took a huge amount of stress off of my morning. It was great. And my wife later admitted that she found it kind of helpful too since she could plan her morning “duties” without conflicting with me. It seems a bit extreme but I would really recommend it if you stress out on race mornings.

The breakfast at the Fairfield does not open until 6:30am, so if you are going to stick around for that you will be a little late to the race. They do have microwaves and fridges in the rooms which is great. I packed a frozen jar of my usual green smoothie this time and it was the perfect pre-race meal. My morning went smoothly and we were off to the race venue on time and with no stress. It was a gorgeous morning too. There were strutting gobblers(a male Wild Turkey) everywhere we looked on the way to the race.

I did not make the Saturday packet pickup so I had to get my race packet and get all my stickers on first thing. Piranha racing now has race tattoos for body marking so that takes a little more time on the part of the volunteers. Race number tattoos are better when you have mandatory day before packet pickup with more time to put them on.

I headed into transition and setup pretty quickly. Piranha also has marked tranistion spots which is SOOOO Awesome! It just makes things so much more organized and people aren’t cramming you into a little space like usual. Transition closes(7:30am) an hour before my wave start(8:30am), so after I set that up I have a whole hour to relax. I made one last port-a-john run and then I was good to go.

I ran into my Ironman blogger friend Shanna and her friend Amy while trying to locate my wife. I caught up a bit with them and then resumed my search for the wife. Turns out she migrated down to the lake with our friends Kim and Kiersten. Our friend Kim was also doing the race, so I met up with her shot the breeze until race start. Kim is preparing for her first Ironman at Lake Placid this year, so I have been trying to help her through the process. Nothing like the mystery of your first Ironman. Exciting!

We were both testing out our new neoprene race caps….Pretty hot huh?! 🙂

NJ Devilman 2015 Kim Swim Caps

Kim & I looking cool in our new neoprene swim caps. at NJ Devilman Half 2015

Swim

Before I knew it it was 8:30am and my wave was being called to the chilly 60 degree water of Cedar Lake. It wasn’t too bad after the initial rush of water into my wetsuit. My hands and feet could feel the coolness, but it wasn’t too bad. There were a bunch of guys in my wave and it was rather crowded in the small start area. It was only a minute or two before the announcer was yelling “GO!”

The swim start was brutal from the starting line to the first buoy. I mean it was arms, legs and bodies everywhere. I must have had two guys swim over top of me and I think I swam over a couple myself. If an Ironman mass start is worse than that I could not imagine it. About 2/3 of the way to the first buoy I got a mouthful of the scum water and starting choking on it . It was one of those chokes where you keep choking every time you breathe. I started breast-stroking until I could regain my composure again. I was talking myself back to calmness again and I was back on track by the time I reached the first buoy.

I quickly moved to the outside of the swim channel where there was open water after making the first turn. This allowed me to get back on my rhythm again. I then settled into a really nice stroke and just cruised through the swim. I checked my watch once after the first loop and I saw around 11 minutes. That is not too bad considering my choking incident. Now that the field had spread out I could really gain some speed. I really enjoyed the swim here this time. Before I knew it I was done both loops and heading for the aluminum stairway.

I checked my watch exiting the water and it read ~22 mins. So for a 0.8 mile swim that is around 1:36/100y pace which is really good for me. Also, my Garmin said my average stroke rate was around 70 strokes/min which is a little higher than what I have been typically doing in the pool. I have been really focusing this season on increasing my stroke rate to gain some more speed.

Unfortunately, the Devilman folks place the T1 timing mat at the entry into the tranistion area which is about a 1/4 mile away from the swim exit. This annoys me because it does not give an accurate representation of the swim. A quarter mile jog will really through off your swim metrics. I thought about it while jogging over there and hit the lap button on my Garmin halfway to the transition mat just so I could get more accurate swim stats.

NJ Devilman Half 2015 Swim Exit

NJ Devilman Half 2015 Swim Exit

Denise and Kiersten were standing right at the end of the exit plank as I ran by and gave them a thumbs up. I then heard Shanna a little further down the line and did the same. Considering the amount of fans at the race I had a good percentage of fan support! 🙂

Time: 0:24:26

T1

Transition went well. I skipped the socks for the bike and put them next to my run shoes. I purchased some spray on sunscreen this year, so I gave my shoulders and arms and good spray since they typically get baked on these races. I don’t usually wear tank-style shirts so my upper arms arm prime sun meat. The spray worked well.

Time: 0:01:44

Bike

The T1 exit contains the timing mat for the bike start and then there is a tenth of a mile jog with your bike to the mount area. Again, more transition time is added to your bike time. This kind of bugs me, can you tell?

This bike course is flat and fast. There was minimal winds this morning too, except for a very light breeze out of the North. This gave a little tailwind on the way out to the turnaround. Riding out at 20+ MPH you could hardly tell, but coming back was a little more noticeable.

Best Bike Split-NJ Devilman Half 2015

Best Bike Split-NJ Devilman Half 2015

NJ Devilman 2015 Best Bike Split Race Projection Details

I had peformed an race analysis for this event using Best Bike Splits web site. The site recommended that I maintain an average of about 213 watts over the course. I performed this using my last FTP test, which was done late last season. Probably not real accurate for my current level, but I never got around to doing one lately. So I ended up staying a little bit below that in the low 200’s. Regardless I was keeping a good clip and I was feeling really strong most of the way.

There was a lot of drafting going on in this race. There was one guy I was behind for a while that was going at my pace, but I tried to keep him about 4-10 bike lengths ahead of me. One guy came up beside me and told me stay behind him and he stay behind me. “Huh?!” I never had anyone do that before. I ended passing the guy ahead of me after he got too close and we hopscotched each other a few more times for the whole race. Eventually everyone spaced out and on the second loop I was one my own most of the time. I prefer that.

The 10 miles heading back was definitely a little more taxing on the legs. The North breeze was more of a headwind and it picked up as the morning progressed. I finished the first loop in about 43 minutes, which was a little faster than I had planned. I passed Denise and Kiersten at the turnaround and they were not even looking.

I finished a bottle of Skratch Labs hydration and nibbled on my chunks of Amrita bars the entire bike. I was starting to feel a bit full on the 2nd loop, so I cut back on the eating a bit. This isn’t an Ironman smorgasboard!

On the last 10 miles I was starting to question whether I went too hard on the bike. It is such a fast course that it is easy to get carried away. But, my legs were starting to feel a little crampy and taxed. Hmmm?

Training Peaks-Actual Bike Stats

Training Peaks-Actual Bike Stats

I finished the bike in around 1:51 at about 22.2 mph average speed. This was about 13 minutes faster than my previous attempt and over 2 mph faster. The average speed was probably a bit more than that due to the jog to/from transition to the bike mount/dismount area.  If you compare the actual ride stats to the Best Bike Split(BBS) race calculation, you can see that the projected time on BBS was 6 minutes slower and the power was 7-10 watts higher. A little off I’d say.

Would I have been better off at maybe around 1:55-6 and perhaps not feel as crampy in the legs? Most-likely.

Time: 1:51:26

T2

My second transition was pretty much business as usual. I took another spray of sunscreen on my shoulders and a shot in my face. I did close my eyes. It ended up burning a little so I had to use my towel to get if off my eyelids. I also had two Fuelbelt bottles, one filled with Skratch Labs hydration and another with some Perpetuem mix. I decided hydration was the more important of the two and I felt I was well fueled with my Amrita Bars, so I took the Skratch Labs hydration with me.

Time: 0:02:09

Run

I made my way across some ball fields and a driveway comprised of very loose sand onto the run course. My legs, particularly my quads, were feeling a little crampy from the start. It was like an octopus had its tentacles wrapped around my legs and it was squeezing. A sure sign I had pushed a little too hard on the bike. I stopped for a second while heading through the school parking lot to do a quick quad stretch, but when I did that I could also feel my hamstrings cramp up. So I pushed on. I have had this feeling before in the beginning of the run and I knew if I just pressed on, it would eventually go away.

I started out running about a 8:20/mi pace except for the 1st mile where I stopped to stretch. My plan was to run sub-8, so I was figuring the crampiness would wear off and I could pick it up a bit.

The majority of the out-and-back course runs across roads through very wide open farm fields except for the first mile that turns through some homes. The sun was starting to cook and there is no shade for relief. Fortunately, on the way out there was a slight headwind that helped to limit the heat. I dumped a cup of water over my head at each water stop to cool me down a bit.

I had my run shoes loosely tied in transition in order allow me to slip in them quickly. I knew I had to tighten them eventually, but I was putting it off as much as possible.  At around mile 3-4, my laces decided for me that I finally had to tie them and came loose.

Now that my laces were snug I could really kick it in now right. My legs were just not there yet. I had a few people pass me, but fortunately they were all younger age groups. I hadn’t seen many in my age group all day. Only 1 or maybe two on the bike too. EIther I was really doing well, or I was way behind.

I finally reached the turnaround point at 4.4 miles. Now there was a tailwind and it was really feeling hot. I saw a K-17 team Jersey coming towards which turned out to be Ashley Stumpp who is from my area and also did Ironman Lake Placid last year. I gave her a shout of encouragement and may have startled her a bit. She looked to be “in the zone!”

My run pace continued to decline during the second half. My crampy legs were still there, but were tolerable. The reprecussions of the heat and going a little too fast on the bike were taking their toll now. My pace slowed into the high 8’s now. I felt I was still keep a steady pace, but my watch indicated otherwise. Not my plan.

I passed a younger guy in the last mile, who asked if I knew Todd Hydock. He said “He wears that stuff too.” Presumably referring to my Amrita tri jersey.  I said I didn’t and he commented “that is probably why you are so fast!” I laughed and said “I am surely not fast!” Then after I was about 10 feet past him he picked up speed, past me and then slowed down in front of me. WTF?!

I then passed him again on the turn to the main road before turning into the school. I picked up my pace a bit so I would not have to deal with him again. I made the turn into the school, rounded the school and headed down the loose sand driveway to the ball fields to the finish line. My wife Denise and our friend Kiersten were there cheering as I past them. The younger guy I had previously passed twice, decided to make a last blast to the finish. Denise and Kiersten yelled to catch him and I just made a wave him by gesture. He wasn’t in my age group so I didn’t really care at that point.

NJ Devilman Half 2015 Run Finish

NJ Devilman Half 2015 Run Finish

A couple observations on the run…

As you can see from the run stats below, my heart rate continued to steadily increase over the run and was maxed out on the 2nd half. My HR was highest when my pace was actually slowing down. Surely a sign that the heat was effecting me. I haven’t really had to deal with much heat this season so far.

NJ Devilman 2015 Run Pace vs HR

NJ Devilman 2015 Run Pace vs HR

I always thought that the new Garmin Run Stats that come with their new HR monitor were a bit of a novelty. I happened to glance at these from my race and noticed a few things. My run cadence started dropping in the 2nd half of the run. My vertical oscillation, vertical movement while running, was higher on the 2nd half  and my ground contact time decreased. So I was apparently spending more time in the air than on the ground. That is most-likely not a good thing since my pace slowed and my HR was increasing. Perhaps something I should keep in mind when my run starts to faulter a bit.

NJ Devilman 2015 Run Stats

NJ Devilman 2015 Run Stats

Run Time: 1:16:46

Finish Time: 3:36:32

Post-Race

I crossed the finish line and headed right towards the race tent to get some shade. I was totally wiped out. I started feeling like I was on the verge of puking. Not sure if that was from just racing hard or something leftover from last weeks stomach bug, or maybe both. Denise and Kiersten came over and we started chatting a bit. Things starting to spin as I was talking to them. I decided I better sit down for a bit and eventually everything calmed down. I did end up getting a chill and some major goosebumps. Definitely some affects from the heat.

I think I left everything I had on the race course. Now I was wondering where I might have placed. I ventured over to the timing table to see. I finished 44th overall which was easy to figure out. Age group results were a little more difficult to figure out since the screen kept scrolling. I finally figured out that I was 5th in my age group. Technically, I was 6th, but the one guy in my AG was in the top 3 overall.

While I didn’t get a podium spot, I am still pretty happy about my result. Overall I gained 8-9 minutes over my previous attempt which is a decent improvement for a shorter race like this. Placement-wise I moved up 21 places in the overall standings from 65th in 2013 and 5 places in my age group(11th in 2013). I really did pushed my limits and now have a very good understanding of where those limits are right now.

That’s my only race before my “A” race at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, so it is back to hard training again. The biggest takeaway from this race is that I really need to concentrate on a mellow bike leg at IMCDA. I am talking 0.70-0.75 level intensity. I want to have a really good marathon leg and trying to push the bike under 6 hours would not be wise. I need to shoot for a 6:00-6:15 bike leg in order to have a great run.

I now definitely have a different perspective on the NJ Devilman race as what I had previously. I would defintitely consider doing it again. I learned a few things and feel like it was a good pre-cursor for IMCDA.

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.

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.

2013 Rev3 Quassy HalfRev Race Review

Race Name: Rev3 Quassy HalfRev

Race Location & Country: Quassy Amusement Park, Middlebury, CT, USA

Date: June 2 2013

Race Category: Male 45-49

Why did I do this race? Within driving distance(3.5hrs). Supposed to be a good prep race for Ironman Lake Placid, which I am doing 2 months later. Heard Rev3 races are very well down and organized.

The Swim

1.2 mile clockwise triangle. Fresh water lake swim. Very clean. Running start from beach. Wave start. 2nd leg was VERY difficult to sight due to swimming directly into sunlight. 3rd/last leg was had sun on left side breath, but eventually went behind trees. Buoys good distance apart. Had paddleboarders on inside and kayakers on outside provided helpful to keep straight when I could not sight buoys. This swim was a personal fastest swim for half-iron distance at 32:45 minutes. Also, I was in the very last wave of the race, which kind of sucked. Did a lot of passing all day long.

The Bike

REv3 Quassy Bike Finish

56 miles. Hilly to say the least. I think almost every road had the word “Hill” in it. I really like this course despite the amount of difficulty. I liked the variation of it. With the hills come some very fast downhills too, which you need to take full advantage of. I was a little cautious on some of them since I had not ridden the course before. The one downhill that ends near a reservoir, was a little tricky as it made a right turn at the bottom which forced me to take the turn a bit wide into the opposite lane. The course was not closed to vehicles too, so extra caution is required. There were 2 aid stations on the course the were perfectly placed distance-wise for my hydration needs. I definitely tried to conserve some energy on bike for the run, but still ended up with a 3:11 time(~17.5mph). Considering the ~6400 ft of elevation gain, I was ok with that.

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The RunREv3 Quassy Run Start

13.1 miles of more hills. This run course was brutal! Other than the first mile or two, it seemed to be up and down after that. The worst was the dirt road with what seemed to be an endless hill. This course took all I had and then some. I have not seen that many people walking since volunteering at IMLP last year. Temperature also did not help as it was humid and in the mid-80’s. It  was shady in spots and I am sure if you were either faster or in an earlier wave you may have gotten more of that. Aid stations were pretty much every mile to mile and a half. They even had salt tabs at some of them. They were also well stocked with ice which is usually out by the time last wave people like me come through. At around mile 9 you run by the finish at the park and then head out for another 3 or so miles. While this provides a little boost from fans, it is short-lived as you head away from the finish line. The hills continue too. For future reference, make sure you save a lot of energy for this run. I finished with a 2:05, which considering the terrain, I am more than happy with.

 

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Transition

Transition is probably one of the best I have seen. Each spot is marked with your name and bib # on the wooden framed “racks” on the ground. The frame has a narrow section to stick your rear tire of your bike and a wider section for your bag. Your race gear is then laid out in front of the wood box. It is very clear what real estate is yours and there is adequate room. I was 3 rows from the swim and entrance and run exit which was nice. Bike in/out was a bit of haul, but still not too bad.

Transition Setup

 

Race Organization

Race was very well organized. Venue was a good location base for race, although I had a bit higher expectations for Quassy Amusement Park. I thought it was more along the lines of Dorney Park, but it was basically just a more glorified carnival. Nonetheless, it provided ample room for race expo, registration, store and feeding area.

My one gripe, which is actually a gripe with many races, is the “mandatory” pre-race meeting. First off they are usually Rev3 Quassy Pre-Race Meetingin the middle of the day, which pretty much disrupts you for doing anything unless you are hanging out at the venue which we usually don’t do. The other thing is they are anything but mandatory. No one is checking off your bib # when you show up. I did get some helpful information, but stop with the mandatory crap.

Post-race food was good and they even had a good variety even for a plant-based vegan. Baked Ziti, salad, veggies and another veggie-pasta casserole was all you can eat. They even had veggie burgers, which I would not have know about if not for the girl behind me didn’t not ask. They also had burgers and hot dogs too, for the carnivores.

Top Tips

  • Wear polarized/tinted goggles for swim. Sun on second leg makes for difficult sighting. Use the lifeguards instead of buoys.
  • Be ready for hills. Spin easy gears on the climbs and bomb the downhills. Save your legs for the run.
  • Pace yourself on the run. Go easy, but consistent on the big, dirt road climb and remember there are more hills after that.

How did you do?

I PR-ed at the Half-iron distance with a 5:54:52 on what was an extremely difficult course, so I am pretty stoked about that. This race also gave me good confidence for my upcoming first Ironman at Lake Placid. It is a good test of your fitness for that race. During the run I felt like I was not doing well because it was so demanding, but when it was all over I was very happy with the result.

Rev3 Quassy Finish Photo

Verdict

Great race if you are looking for a difficult and challenging race. Good prep gauge for Ironman Lake Placid. Race is also very family friendly too. Family members are allowed to run down the race chute with you. Amusement park and beach provide additional things for kids to do and they also have other activities such as a glow in the dark 5k and adventure race. Rev3 is a class operation. Look out WTC!

NJ Devilman 2013 Race Recap

I’m On No Sleep, No Sleep!. You Don’t know What It’s Like In There…

Race morning did not get off to a good start. I hardly slept a wink the whole night and was tossing and turning trying not to look at the clock. I am not sure what if it was the large chai tea I had after dinner or just the excitement of the race. Maybe both. Regardless it was not a good way to start a race day. On top of that I had a pretty lame hotel breakfast of a bagel w/ almond butter and a Clif Bar. I had brought oatmeal, but forgot to bring a bowl to make it in. Duh!

I got dressed and packed up my gear, but didn’t give myself ample time for bib pickup and transition setup at the race. I really don’t know what I was thinking here. I should have gotten up earlier since I could not sleep anyway. On our twenty minute drive to the event we got behind some guy with and Endurance Multisport sticker that was going slower than shit. We had a line of cars behind us too. We feared passing him since we would probably ended up missing the turn and he obviously knew where he was going since he had obviously picked up his bib already.

We got there and I quickly proceeded to registration and got my bib, chip and swag(t-shirt). By the time I got to transition, I only had 10 minutes until transition closed. The thing that sucks was I had a whole hour to wait until I actually started racing. I just don’t get that! I managed to setup my transition spot and threw on my wetsuit pretty quickly and then it was down to the water to listen to the pre-race meeting, national anthemn and then watch the other waves start out.

The Big Chill

It was freaking cold and windy! The temp was around 43-45 deg F and the wind around 10MPH. I kept my sweatshirt on over my wetsuit and it was still chilly. Denise was anticipating me getting in the water so she could put my sweatshirt on over her DOWN jacket. We hung out waiting for my start for what seemed to be forever. I was a bit anxious to find out whether the water would be colder or warmer than what it was outside. As the previous waves started, the lifeguards were busy returning the many folks abandoning the race before the first turn buoy. Not sure if it was the cold or the muddy water at the start from everyone kicking it up. I did hear one girl say her wetsuit was too big for her and it was taking on too much water. She had never used it before…rookie mistake there.

Finally my wave(purple caps for men >40) was called. We were after the yellow caps and the pink caps. I made my way to the narrow aluminum ramp that took us into the water. It was not too bad really. The bottom of the lake was that really soft murky mud that just seems to hover over the bottom. That usually freaks me out, but it was actually kind of warm so I let my cold feet wallow in it with pleasure. I got into my spot a couple rows back from front and slightly to the right and before I knew it the race director was yelling “Go!” from the shore line. Yes, nothing fancy here like a start gun or cannon. He didn’t even have a bullhorn. The start was pretty typical craziness with feet, legs and bodies hitting you from every direction. The water was so thick with mud you could not see anything. It was total darkness in the water. Didn’t really bother me too much, but I could see how a newer triathlete could lose it. My face had started feeling a bit numb from either the coldness of the water or the cold air when breathing, not sure which. I did get used to it. The madness continued to the first turn and then slowly mellowed out until the second lap.

I kept burping the entire swim which was very annoying. Almost felt close to puking a couple times. Not sure what caused that: the bagel(which I don’t normally eat) or the caffeine-infused Clif Bar I ate. As I made my way onto the 2nd lap, I could see Denise standing on the shoreline and I gave her a quick wave with my right hand. I thought that was funny that I was waving during the swim. I settled into a nice rhythm during the second lap and before I knew it I was exiting the water onto the aluminum ramp. There were a few of us exiting at the same time and one guy in a yellow cap took the underwater railing right to the family jewels…Ouch! I looked at my watch and it read 23 minutes…nice! That caught Denise off-guard too since I told her 25-30 and she missed me again coming out of the water. I yelled to her as I went past and surprised the crap out of her.

The run to transition was pretty long and it tacked about 2 minutes onto my swim time. T1 went pretty quickly as I opted for no socks and wearing my bike shoes to the bike mount(as opposed to clipping them in and running barefeet). Another long run to the mount area and I quickly jumped on my bike and away. I was fearing the coldness on the bike with only a tri tank/singlet top and no socks but it wasn’t too bad. My toes were numb at this point so, the socks would not have made much difference anyway.

“Did You See The Size Of That Chicken??” 

I settled into a ~20 MPH pace on the bike which was feeling pretty good considering the stiff crosswinds. I found out later that the wind was around 10MPH at the start and increased to around 15MPH during the bike leg. Sometimes there were gusts that had to be worse. The course was 2 ~20 mile out-and-back sections. The 10 miles out was the worst wind-wise, but neither way was a cake walk. The course was extremely flat and if it wasn’t for the wind it could have been a mid-20 MPH average pace. I kept playing cat-and-mouse with one girl on the bike that was in severe need of a bike fitting. Her seat was way too high and her hips kept rocking up and down. It was amazing she could maintain that speed with such an aweful-looking pedal stroke. I would try to pass her and get far enough ahead of her that she would not pass me again, but eventually she would and then she seemed to slow down right after she passed me. I even took some time to ease up behind her just so I would not have to pass her again. Eventually she disappeared. Not sure if she got ahead of me or behind though.

The first loop of the bike course was pretty good. I was averaging about 200 watts on the bike and my legs were feeling pretty good at that point. The wind seemed to have increased towards the end of the first loop and the out portion of the second loop was tough. I could feel it in my legs and was wondering if I was going too hard. I was still pulling 200 watts but my speed had decreased a bit. I held it steady and figured I would easy spin when I got a few miles from the bike finish. There was a water bottle exchange at the turnaround and the girl out there handed me a water bottle that was still sealed. So I am trying to remove the cap and plastic from the bottle while I am riding. Kind of a pain.

On what I believe was the second loop, I was approaching a long dog-leg turn in the course where a police officer was blocking traffic from the side street. I had a slight tailwind so I was cruising around 22MPH when all-of-a-sudden came a cackling black mass 2-3 feet in front of my face. It was a freaking turkey! I never even saw it coming and it quickly put up out of the aerobars, which I needed. two hours in the aero position gets a little rough on the butt and lower back. The turkey came from the side of the road near the cop, so I am sure the officer had a bit of a laugh over that. So not only did the wind slow me down, but that turkey set me back another few seconds too. So much for the time I gained with my carbon fiber wheels and aero helmet.

“I can’t feel my toes! I don’t have any toes!”

I cruised into T2 and had a pretty good transition. I had a little trouble with my socks since I still could not feel my toes. Heading out of transition I made way across several baseball fields and then through very sand driveway gate. The sand was the really dry deep stuff that just kind of sucks you in, making you feel like you are going no where. I tried to avoid it as best I could, but it still sucked my momentum. Then we looped around the school and out the road. My wife was standing out by the driveway so we exchanged some quick comments as a breezed by. Then it was out some flat country roads on route to the ocean.

Time for a little jog...

Time for a little jog…

The run route wound through a quiet little neighborhood and then out some long flat roads flanked on both sides by some very low standing crops. No relief from the wind at all. And now the sun came out to heat us up a bit during the run. I did manage to get a little tailwind on the first half of the run which helped, although the way back I felt the business end of it. There was one small section of woods along the way the provided a little respite from the wind and sun, but it was less than a 1/4 mile and did not last long.

I managed to keep a 8:10min/mi pace on the way out and had aspirations of going under 8 on the way back. That actually ended up going the other way with the headwind. There was one guy a bit ahead of me in my age group which I could see stopping and stretching every so often. I was slowly gaining on him and had hoped I could pass him at some point. One guy came up to me and I stayed with him for a while and we chatted a bit. Slowly he crept away from me and the other guy in my age group must have collected himself since I never got close enough to pass. I tried to pick up the pace a bit in small intervals, but just could not maintain it for a long enough time.

When I hit the 1 mile-to-go aid station, I felt a bit of spark in my step as I knew I was almost there. The biggest thing in my head was being able to take a nap on the drive back home. I looked at my overall time on my Garmin for the first time and it read ~3:36(hrs). I was a bit surprised since my goal time was around 4:00(hrs). I had no idea how I was doing since this was the first I had looked at my overall time all day. I knew from the previous season that under 4 hours would put me in the top 10 of my age group, so I was pretty psyched about that. This helped my pick up the pace a little more now.

I made the turn into the school driveway and as I approached the school I ran up on another guy with the same age group number on his calf. I decided to run just behind him and wait until I got closer to the finish before I made the pass. If I went too early I might peter out and he could then overtake me again. As I ran with him I could tell he was running on fumes and as soon as we made the last turn around the school I went for it. I hit the soft sand again and I could hear someone coming up on me. Fortunately it was someone else in another age group. I hit the finish line at 3:44:12.

Are We There Yet?

I had totally forgotten about being sick the past few days and as soon as I stopped after crossing the finish line I started coughing! Ha…first time all day. I walked around with Denise for a bit to keep the blood from pooling in my legs. I checked out the food and the only thing I could eat was some veggie hoagie thing which looked lame with the hoagie roll. We decided to hit the Thai restaurant near our hotel instead. I also bumped into a guy that did the Troy Jacobson Lake Placid camp with me last year, so I chatted with him a bit. I then collected my stuff from transition and we made our way home. We stopped off at Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting too and stocked up with some frozen, organic berries and other healthy things.

Overall, I think it was a good race in the fact that it showed my overall early-season fitness is good. I still have a long way to Lake Placid, but I think I am on the right track here. One more half-iron distance race at Rev3 Quassy to go and then it is all Ironman training from there on out. My training plan for next week is not skipping a beat either with a 13 hour week to follow. Fortunately I am feeling good post-race and I am recovering very quickly too. I will attribute that to the plant-based diet.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

 

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.