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Race Report: Rev3 Pocono Mountains Half 2017

Redemption on the Pocono Curse

In 2010, I set out to complete my first half-Ironman distance triathlon at Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains. The day was pretty much a disaster from start-to-finish. Hurricane Emily had come through the day before and ruined any chances of a swim since the Delaware River was extremely high. The triathlon became a duathlon with a rolling start on the bike. The roads around Delaware Water Gap State Park very wet and slippery. I made it exactly halfway through the bike course when my left-crank arm on my, less than a year old, Quintana Roo Caliente tri bike fell totally off. DNF!

I walked my bike through the streets of East Stroudsburg to the care after getting dropped off from the long ride in the SAG van. I recalled the times I spent in this town before being kicked out of East Stroudsburg University about 20 years before. I also remembered my parents telling me about how I was kicked out of the East Stroudsburg movie theater at a very young age for making animal noises during the showing of a movie we attended. I have not had very good luck in this town and I had since referred to it as my “Pocono Curse.”

I signed up for the Rev3 Pocono race earlier in the year because I thought it would be a good training race for my A race the following month in Lake Placid. I had done a Rev3 race up in Quassy, Connecticut a few years ago and they do a very good job. While it was only my C race for the year, I wanted to have a chance to seek revenge on this curse with the hope of putting an end to it. And so I did.

Coming off of less than spectacular performance at Ironman Boulder 2 months prior, I had nowhere to go but up. I also had built a pretty solid foundation of fitness and for the 2 months before I could focus on building speed for the shorter distance race. The race organizers also had a practice ride of the bike course a month before, so I was able to get up and preview the course beforehand. I was glad I did. It was a really nice course and also challenging as well. I also got a lap of the run course in too, which I knew would be very challenging to do 4 times.

Pre-Race

I was very fortunate to that one of my friends and former manager from work owned a vacation home only short walk from the transition area at Split Rock Resort and Lake Harmony and invited me to stay with them for the race. This made the logistics for the race so easy. Their house was actually on the 4-lap run course too, so my wife could just hang out there all day and watch me run by.

We arrived at Split Rock on Saturday afternoon. I headed over to the lodge for the packet pickup but realized it was at the Expo Center instead. There was absolutely no signage anywhere indicating where this was it just said the name in the athlete guide. There was no map or anything tell you where it was and we walked around for a while trying to find it. Finally we located it in a large field near the waterslide area which was where the finish line would be.

The rest of the afternoon went more smoothly. I got my bike prepped and dropped it off in the transition area in the side parking lot at Split Rock lodge. I then headed over to the mandatory athlete meeting to get the particulars. There was a few course changes noted, so I was glad I went. They also said the water temperature was 77.9 F which was right at the 78F wetsuit cutoff. They said it would drop due to the forecasted overnight rain though and they were pretty sure it would be a wetsuit swim.

Rev3 Pocono Mountains Half – Bike racked and ready in transition

I then relaxed a bit on the beach and took it easy for the rest of the evening. I had my standard Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry over rice for dinner and then just sat out on my friend’s deck until around 9pm. I prepped all my race nutrition and gear and crashed for the evening.

I was up at 5pm to slug down my pre-made breakfast smoothie and some coffee. Got my stuff together and took a nice short walk down to transition. I set everything up and got my wetsuit on ready to take on the day. It was a nice morning with no wind and the sun just coming up before the swim start at 7am. The Olympic distance athletes were supposed to start at 6:30am but they didn’t go until close to 7am. We started rolling into the water, in sets of two’s,  a little after 7am.

The Swim

The half swim course consisted of a square that almost covered the entire lake. The Olympic course turned through the middle of the half course. We swan in a counter-clockwise direction keeping the buoys on our left side. The sun came up on the opposite side of the lake but didn’t really pose too much issue in sighting. It was just to our left swimming out towards it. I did get it in the eyes while breathing to the right after the second turn.

The swim started with every pairing up in two and rolling through a gate to walk to the end of a dock. They let two people off every two seconds. We had to sit on the end of the dock and roll forward into the water. It was VERY silty on the bottom and was very cloudy for the first 20 yards or so.

I settled into a pretty steady stroke rather quickly. We were all spread out quite well and I had a ton of open water to just swim. It was pretty nice. I didn’t have to navigate around people and sighting was pretty easy. I was able to really focus on a good stroke and catch which I think was key to getting a good result here.

I started to run into some traffic after the first turn, but nothing compared to some races. I moved to inside the buoys which was pretty clear. The only bad thing about this is you have to swing back into the main flow to make the turns. Fortunately, this wasn’t too bad. I did have a little sun blinding when taking breaths on my right side after the first turn. I made sure I looked further up and back and that took care of that.

The swim went really fast. I guess that is expected after the last race 2.4 miles. The friends we were staying with said they were going to be having Mamosa’s on the dock for the swim so I was trying swing closer to shore after the final turn to the exit. I couldn’t see anyone on the docks and the swim exit dock was approaching quickly. I had to swim back out to make the final right turn bouy before swimming to the dock. I reached the two ladders to exit onto the dock and hoisted myself out of the water.

70.3, Endurance Sports, Half Ironman, Me, Race, Sports, Triathlon, multisport, tri
Rev3 Pocono Mountains Half – Swim Exit

I looked down at my watch and it was showing 32 minutes and change…WHAT??! That is SUPER FAST swim time for me! I usually expect to swim 1.2 miles in 36-37 minutes. This was like 4-5 minutes faster. Holy crap! I hit the lap button before it could go 33 minutes. I started pulling down my wetsuit while trying to survey the crowd for my wife. Nothing. Hmmm… I made the left turn down the road and then heard my wife yell my name from behind. I ran back and gave her a smooch and then headed on my way to the bike. Apparently she was talking and almost missed me. I guess that can happen when you smoke the swim.

Swim: 00:32:51.523

 

T1

The first transition was pretty smooth. I ditched the wetsuit and stumbled around trying to put my socks on. There was a pile of dirt and stones near my transition area that I kept stepping in with my wet feet. I forgot a towel, so my socks were going to have a nice coating of stones in them. That may be a problem later.

The transiton areas are rally nice for Rev3. They have a nice slot to hold your rear tire and stand up your bike. There is a rectangular area next to it to put your gear bag and then layout your shoes and things just outside of it. There was also one No show next to me so that gave some ample room too.

I stashed my Quarq GPS monitor in my back jersey pocket. It was a bit larger than I expected and the pockets on my jersey were a bit strained having to hold it. I was a bit worried it would fly out when I went over a bump or something. They had belts for them, but I opted out. Wished I would have gotten one now.

I made my way to the bike out, taking about 3 minutes total in T1. Not too bad considering I had to run back to see my wife.

T1: 03:02

Bike

The bike course starts right out of transition with a short, but steep little climb. You had better have your bike in an easy gear in transition or you could be dropping a chain right off the bat. You then head out Lake Harmony Road, which has a few little. freshly paved, rollers until you make a left on Route 903. From there it is riding the fairly flat section on the shoulder while cars are whizzing by you on the left. Yes, not a closed course at all. Next, you make a right onto route 115 which is a gradual incline until just before making a left onto Long Pond Road.

You then make a right into the Pocono Raceway after a short way up Long Pond Rd. You then ride in a “Polish” lap direction before dropping down on the apron of the track and riding the twists and turns of the inner road course. You then head back onto the main track, in the typical direction, through Turn 2 and then out onto Long Pond again.

70.3, Endurance Sports, Half Ironman, Me, Race, Sports, Triathlon, multisport, tri
Rev3 Pocono Mountains Half – Bike on Pocono Racetrack

Next, is a couple out-and-back sections before heading back on 115 and 903 passing the entrance to Lake Harmony. This is the 25 miles that make up the Olympic course. It is mostly flat and fast. I  think most decent cyclists will complete this in the 20 mph range.

The final 31 miles is comprised of a large loop through Hickory Run State park, through White Haven, over the Francis E. Walter Dam and back to Lake Harmony. Heading into Hickory Run contains a few climbs. The climb from mile 29.5 to 31.5 is pretty decent but not super steep. The rollers beforehand are quickly forgotten after you hit the 3-mile downhill section in Hickory Run. I hit speeds of around 45 mph during this section.

Now that your muscles have all stiffened up during the fast downhill, you will pass the park office and hit a short but steep uphill section to wake them up again. The remaining 20 miles are mostly all uphill, although pretty gradual. The section on White Haven Rd. actually feels pretty flat and you can generate some good speed here. Get in a nice spinning gear and haul.

The Francis Walter Dam is quite a view. There is a small climb before it and then a doozy of one after. The section after that is fairly flat and protected by trees, so you can cruise through here as well.  Eventually, you will make a left onto Route 940 which kind of sucks. It is old chip-seal and has a decent amount of traffic. I just felt like I lost some ground here. Once you turn right onto Moseywood Drive you can get some speed going again. I thought this was the end but they threw in a little extra divergent section that was not in the original route. And it sucked too. We came up the back of Forest Drive which was really steep. I was not expecting this and it really hurt the legs. Be ready.

My Race…

The bike went pretty well for me. I had ridden the course a month prior, so I knew what to expect. Well, except for that last little surprise climb on Forest Drive. I ended up averaging about a mile-per-hour faster(~18.7mph) than I had during the recon ride. I finished the 57+ mile bike course in 3:01. Not too bad for a 3500’+ elevation gain.

I never needed to take anything from the aid stations. I had 2 bottles of Skratch Labs, a bottle of water, a couple Honey Stinger waffles and an Amrita bar. I feel this was pretty adequate fueling for me with no stomach issues and ready for a good run.

I maintained an Intensity Factor(IF) of 0.77 giving me a TSS of 180. I probably could have dropped back to a 0.75 and maybe gained a little more time on the run. A TSS of 150-160 would probably be more optimal.

Bike: 03:01:43.010 (57.1 miles @18.85 mph)

T2

The 2nd transition went pretty quickly. Ditched the bike and stick on the run shoes. Out we go in 1:32 …

T2: 01:32

Run

The Course

The run course consists of 4 – 5k loops for the half distance. Each loop is like a dumbell. Two loops connected by one straightaway. It is a tough end to a pretty tough bike, so you surely need to save some energy for this. You will only do two loops for the Olympic and 4 times for the half.

Exiting out of transition, you immediately start steeply uphill on Crest Drive. Then heading down and then two left turns onto Forest Drive which leads back up the steep uphill again. Next is the only real flat stretch of the whole course on Birchwood Drive, followed by a downhill stretch of Wolf Hollow and Corson Road. You then make a sharp right onto a short out-and-back section that was added in to add some distance. Once back onto Wolf Hollow you then take a left turn onto another even shorter out-and-back section which is comprised of packed shale. The next section is an even longer uphill grind before winding back to Birchwood via Moseywood Drive.

The course is either going up-and-down or out-and-and back, with the exception of Birchwood stretch.  You can never seem to get any consistent flow that gathers momentum. You are constantly digging for more. Strava shows a corrected elevation gain of 894 feet and Training Peaks is showing 728 feet. EIther way, it is a lot for 13 miles. For comparison, Ironman Boulder was around 650 over 26 miles.

My Race

My feet were pretty numb starting out on the run, but that is typical. The initial climb up Crest Drive hit me like a ton of bricks. Fortunately, my wife Denise and our friends Ted and Emi, who we were staying with were waiting for me on the climb and taking pictures, so I had no choice but to suck it up and grind through the hill. Right after, I dropped two gels out of my Amrita race jersey which I had to go back and pick up since I know would need them later. Some time lost there.

I also had rented Quarq race Qollector unit which I kept in my back jersey pocket. The unit was a bit bigger and heavier than I had expected. I was constantly keeping a check on it to make sure it didn’t flop out. It was about the size of a pack of cigarettes and about twice as heavy. Maybe more like having a iPhone in your pocket. I think if I ever get a waterproof iPhone that would be just as good. From a spectator perspective, everyone that was monitoring my race said that it did a really good job of plotting my race.

70.3, Endurance Sports, Half Ironman, Me, Race, Sports, Triathlon, multisport, tri
Rev3 Pocono Mountains Half – Enjoying the hills on the run

I thought that the 4-loop course would really get to me mentally, but I actually really liked it. One thing that may have helped is that our friends’ house was right on the run course on Forest Drive, so they all hung out in the driveway to cheer me on. Seeing them 4 times was surely motivation to push me through this tough course.

The race support was also amazing. The run aid station on Forest Road consisted of a bunch of young girls from a nearby camp. They were cheering their hearts out non-stop. My wife told them that I was coming by and they were even giving personal cheering. Pretty hard not have a good race when you get this on the run course…

 

I also met up with another racer, Kellie, late in the bike who ended up staying with the whole run. We kept passing each other and pushing each other on the hills. Kellie would walk the hills and I would try to run them, but she would then pass me later on the flatter stretches. I soon realized she was saving some energy by walking the hills that allowed her to run faster on the flatter stretches. I tried doing this a little bit on the last loop, but it was a little late at that point.

70.3, Endurance Sports, Half Ironman, Me, Race, Sports, Triathlon, multisport, tri
Rev3 Pocono Mountains Half – Bringin it home! Finish Line

Summary

Overall, I thought this was a solid race for me. My swim was probably one of my best swims ever, despite being a little short. The bike leg was also right on target for power numbers and time. The run was tough, but I kept pushing through the hills and ran them all except for the last one. Had a few hiccups on the run but didn’t let them get to me. I would do this again in a heartbeat.

Finish Time: 05:38:47.033

Results Link…

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Revving Up for Rev3 Quassy

This past week has been a scorcher. Temperatures were up in the high 80’s and low 90’s with brutal humidity. Thankfully, it is a race week and my training volume was a bit less. Although it may have been the fact that it was a race week that it was so tough. I always feel like crap during those easy weeks. Regardless I made it through and now I have a entire day off of training tomorrow since it is the day before Rev3 Quassy Half.

We made our way up to Middlebury, CT this afternoon. When we got on I-84 I spotted some heavy traffic further down the road and we detoured through the back streets of CT. It was pretty cool drive with the little towns and well forested land. I didn’t see any of the gross McMansion developments like we have at home. All the houses are well spaced out and each one is different.  One thing I noticed as we got closer to the area where the triathlon takes place is that almost every road had the word “hill” in it. And we drove up and down some nasty ones too. Should be an interesting race!

Quassy Amusement Park-Wooden Warrior
Quassy Amusement Park-Wooden Warrior

Eventually we got to the Quassy Amusement Park, which is ground-zero for the triathlon event. My wife and I were pretty excited to go and ride the roller coaster this weekend, but were a bit disappointed when we arrived and saw how small the place was. It is basically the size of a decent size carnival. The roller coaster is is wooden and pretty small. We parked the car and made our way to the packet pickup area and collected my bibs, stickers, and number tattoos. We then sauntered over to the pavillion area where they had setup the Rev3 gear store. I grabbed my swag bag which was basically just a visor and a couple of tickets to the park. I then purchased a new Rev3 “Purist” water bottle to replace the one I will toss during the race and my wife got yet another pair of Newton running shoes. I think we need to take stock in that company. They were 30% off and they gave her a free pair of socks and a hat.

Rev3 Quassy Gear Shop
Rev3 Quassy Gear Shop
Rev3 Quassy Transition-Very Nice!
Rev3 Quassy Transition-Very Nice!
Lake Quassapaug-Hope it look that nice on Sunday!!
Lake Quassapaug-Hope it look that nice on Sunday!!
Denise at Lake Quassapaug-Clutching her Newtons
Denise at Lake Quassapaug-Clutching her Newtons
Rev3 Quassy Swag
Rev3 Quassy Swag

 

We then headed up the road to Maggie McFly’s for dinner. It is a pretty cool Irish pub-style place with 2 floors and totally open in the center where bar is and all kinds of stuff hanging from the ceiling. We had to wait a few minutes and ended up getting this large corner booth. It was a bit weird sitting next to each other like that. I had some veggie pot stickers and veggie pasta dish which was pretty good. My wife ordered some vegetable medley side which ended up being a pile of corn with a piece of carrot in the middle. LOL! She sent that back for some asparagus which was just a bunch of it thrown on the plate. She also got a grass-fed burger which she said was pretty good. Place was pretty busy and you can spot all the triathletes coming in and out of the place.

After dinner we headed further west to Southington, CT to our hotel. I had originally booked a Courtyard in Waterbury, but later realized they had no refrigerator or microwave in the rooms. I then got on Hotels.com and switched it up for a Comfort Suites in Southington, which is a little further west. It is worth it to have some cooking facilities. The Comfort Suites had good reviews and they are pretty accurate. Place is very nice and clean and the room has all the goodies. Even have a sofa to chill on.

Well tomorrow is a big chill day. We are planning on hitting Hartford and New Haven with a stop back at the park to drop my bike off for transition and mandatory race meeting. I hate how those are right in the middle of the day! Anyway that is all for now.

You can also check out the Rev3 Live Update page for the latest Rev3 Quassy info.