Sunday, September 23, 2012

Vegas, baby!

Two weeks after our venture to Vegas, I can now look back and reflect on my experience at the 70.3 World Championships. It's said that Vegas has a dry heat, but 100 degrees is still 100 degrees, and while we were there the humidity was higher than usual (in the 30-35% range).

Katie and I arrived in Vegas on Friday morning, going to pick up my race packet, checking in to our hotel in Henderson, then heading over to the T1 area for the welcome dinner. I also squeezed in a quick ride before dinner.

On Saturday morning I went back to T1 for the practice swim, and followed that with a quick 2 mile run. Later in the day we dropped off my bike (back at T1), then dropped off my run gear at T2. Dinner was at Olive Garden, and I was in bed by 8:30.

Race day arrived, and I was up just before 4 AM. Our hotel opened up breakfast for racers, so I headed down for a bagel, oatmeal, OJ, and coffee. Katie and I were then off to T1, and she dropped me off around 5:20. It took a little time to set up my bike and borrow a pump to inflate my tires.

My wave (#7) didn't start until 7:00, so once I left T1 I waited along Lake Las Vegas with others from my wave and chatted until it was time to get in the water. My goal for the swim was around 35 minutes. I had felt good in the practice swim and swam 1/2 a mile in 14 minutes, which I felt would translate into a 35ish swim. It may have been the hot water (84 degrees), or maybe my choice to take a direct line to the first turn buoy instead of drafting, but I ended up swimming just over 38 minutes. Here I am coming out of the water, and realizing how slow I went.

 On to T1. There was a run around the end of the lake (T1 is pretty much across the water behind me in the pic where you can see the port-a-potties). It is never a good sign when it's very easy to find your bike, and mine was one of only a handful on the M30-34 rack. I grabbed my bike, and headed up the short hill to the mount line.

My goal for the bike was to average 275-280 watts, which I hoped would translate into a time of around 2:25. I had averaged 278 watts at Tremblant 70.3, so this goal seemed reasonable. However, the heat seemed to get to me. At Tremblant my HR averaged 154, but by the one hour mark my HR was in the low 160's and I was averaging right at 270 watts. I knew that at that HR with the heat I'd have a longer than planned day. I decided around the turn-around to dial back the power and go more off HR. Even though this translated into a slower bike time, I really feel it helped me have a decent run.

The majority of the biking at this race took place in the Lake Mead Park, which is pretty much a desert with a road running through it. My Garmin 500 pegged the average temp during the bike at 92 degrees, but it was definitely hotter than that near the end. To combat the heat I went through seven bottles of water plus a 500 calorie bottle of Infinit. I also took 8 salt caps on the bike.

By the end of the bike leg my power average was down to 241, 10% lower than what I was expecting, and my bike time ended up being 2:31. Again, a bit off of what I was hoping for. It wasn't time to dwell on the negative, though, as I arrived in T2.

Having been to T2 a few times for registration and T2 drop off, I knew about the hills and layout of the 3-loop course. After putting on my hat, shoes, and FuelBelt, I was off. The run course never really felt overly steep, but it's pretty much a constant up or down. The first mile was down, and I felt pretty solid, coming in around 6:40.

My goal was to aim for around 6:40's on the downs and 7:40's on the up portion. After the turnaround just after the first mile, it was two miles up, then two down, two up, two down, two up, and one down. In all there was around 1300 ft of climbing, and the heat was climbing, peaking at 100 degrees a little after I crossed the finish line.

There was never really a time when I felt bad, but the heat just kept slowing me down, little by little. I just couldn't get my legs to turn over at the rate that I wanted. I was actually passing quite a few people, but just not at the speed I was hoping for.

Going into the race, I knew that the heat would slow me down, and I realistically thought that a time around 4:40 was reasonable. However, during each leg I was 3-5 minutes slower than my 'A' goal, which translated into a run time of 1:36 and a finish time of 4:52, good enough for 199th overall. I wasn't really pleased with the time, but I soon realized that a lot of people were much slower than their goal.

It wasn't until I actually stopped that I actually felt the heat. I guess while I was moving it didn't seem quite as hot, but stopping made the heat feel truly oppressive. I went into the food tent, but only felt like having a few pretzels. Eventually, I found Katie and got a massage. After that, we went down to pick up my bike, and headed back to the car. All in all, it was a good experience, albeit very hot!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Loooooooong overdo update!!!

Well, here it is nearly the end of August, and I haven't done a blog update since mid spring. Here's a quick rundown, race wise, of what's happened in the past five or so months:

Boston Marathon: It was hot! Not summer scorcher hot, but hot for April, and not what 90% of the runners had been training in. At 10:00 AM, when the race began, it was already close to 80%. Expectations of going sub 3:00 were long gone. I went through the half-marathon at 1:32, still on pace to squeak in with a BQ, but the heat got to me in the second half, along with the hills, and my finishing time was 3:12. Even though it wasn't what I was looking for, it was a fun experience.

Nantucket Daffodil 5K: Katie and I traveled down to Nantucket two weeks after the marathon, and did a 5k there. With only 150 or so runners, I was able to take the win in 18:07. My legs weren't back to 100%, but it was still fun to take the win.

Nashua Tri: My first tri of the year was also my first overall win - by three whole seconds! My swim still sucks, but my bike time was solid and my run time was decent. Fun day, and a good way to start off the tri season.

Mont Tremblant 70.3: This race took place a week after school ended. Katie and I drove the seven hours from the Boston area to Tremblant on Friday. The venue was gorgeous, and staying in the pedestrian village meant we didn't have to move our car for three days. The race went pretty well, and I qualified for the 70.3 World Championships in Vegas (cough - Henderson, NV) by placing 6th in my AG and 40th overall. I didn't have the run I felt I was capable of - 3rd place in my AG was only one minute faster, so I feel like I really should have had a better result. Still, qualifying for the world championships was cool, and Katie and I are going to Vegas in September.

Mass State Tri: This was a race in July that I was training through. I didn't taper and placed 3rd in my AG and 12th overall. I had the fastest bike split of the day, but didn't seem to have much left on the run.

AG National Championships: We traveled to Burlington, VT this past weekend for what I felt would be a race of redemption. I did this race last summer, but was very sick with a sinus infection. I went over seven minutes faster this year, and moved my overall placing up over 300 slots and my AG placing from 55 to 24. I still didn't feel like I had a great race - the swim was choppy, I didn't seem to have the legs on the bike, and I only got into a good rhythm in the last two miles of the run. My time of 2:09:45 was good for 158th overall out of around 2000 racers. 

Next up is the 70.3 World Championships in Vegas in a little over two weeks. Training has been going well. I've been averaging around 15 hours a week over the summer, and should be close to 20 hours this week. I've been putting more of an emphasis on running, as I'm doing the NYC Marathon eight weeks after Vegas. I'm not really sure what my goal should be for the world championships - it will definitely be hot (the average high for 9/9 is 98 degrees!), so that could play a role. I'm thinking that going sub 4:40 on the hilly course is something to shoot for.

Now, hopefully I'll do a blog update sooner than five months from now!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Taper Time!!!

It's hard to believe that a month has gone by since Katie and I spent a fabulous week in Utah during our school break in February. During that four-week period, I raced in a half marathon and a 5k, and racked up 264 miles of solid running. I also had a few little minor injuries (right calf, right adductor, left hip flexor) that cropped up, but have since healed. It's finally time to start my taper, and I feel like I came through 16 solid weeks of marathon training in pretty good shape.

The half marathon, which was the Hyannis Half Marathon, was run under very windy conditions on Cape Cod. Winds were 20-30 mph with higher gusts. I trained through the race, but I still managed to PR by about 45 seconds in 1:24:36. Three weeks later I ran a 5k in Somerville, again training through the race, and finished 4 seconds off my PR in 18:19. I was really hoping to be under 18:00, but it just didn't happen. I feel like I could have gone quite a bit faster in both races if I was doing more speed work, but I was still pleased with my results.

Over the course of my training, which started in December, I have run about 950 miles, and adding in my three taper weeks will put me around 1100 miles. I did miss 11 days of running at the end of January and early February due to a mysterious injury to my left foot that eventually healed itself. It hasn't bothered me since then (knocking on wood!). I'm feeling confident about breaking 3:00, especially after my longest training run yesterday. I started in Hopkinton, ran to the top of Heart Break Hill, then ran back to Newton Center, for a total of 22.64 miles. My average pace was 7:15, and I ran miles 15-21 at goal pace (6:45ish).

The plan for the next three weeks is to reduce my mileage from 74 last week to 56, 43, and then 32 the week before the marathon. I have a 10k next weekend, and I'm targeting 37:30 as the time I'd like to shoot for. This is a race I've done the last three years, but it is in Cohasset on the south shore, and can be windy. The forecast a week from now looks promising, but a lot can change in New England in a week. After all, it was in the 80's last week, but this week is forecasted to only be in the low 50's or upper 40's.

In terms of fundraising, I'm nearly at my goal of $6000. Donations to the Museum of Science can be made through April 6th, which is now less than two weeks away. I need $700 more to reach my goal, and I'm hoping I can get there.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Approaching the Home Stretch!

Somehow the months have flown by, and Marathon Monday is just over seven weeks away. That means four more good weeks of training, then time to start tapering. The mileage over the next four weeks should be between 65 to 70 miles per week, and that's kicked off with the Hyannis Half Marathon tomorrow morning. My half marathon PR is 1:25, and I'd love to break that. However, I'm not sure that will happen with the time I took off to heal my left foot. I'll just see how I feel tomorrow and go from there. 

I've been nursing a slight tightness in my right hamstring that cropped up this week, so I didn't run yesterday or today. I did get in a 23 mile bike ride in 25+ mph wind today. It almost seemed like an obstacle course, dodging all of the branches that had come down from the high winds. Because of the higher winds and temperatures in the low 40s, there weren't that many bikers out, which was actually quite nice.

Yesterday, Katie and I returned from a fabulous trip to Utah. We flew into Las Vegas, then drove to St. George, which is in southwestern Utah. While there, we visited Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, and we also had an awesome day of skiing at Brian Head. The scenery was spectacular, and puts our New England 'hills' to shame.

While in St. George, I ran along a series of bike trails near the Virgin River. On Monday, I got in my third 20 miler of my marathon training. The run went by quickly due to the amazing scenery and fresh mountain air. I was actually expecting the altitude to have somewhat of an effect on my training, but my pace and HR were the same as at home.

I'm happy to say that I'm over 2/3 of the way to my goal of raising $6000 for the Museum of Science! With about six more weeks of fundraising, I'm confident that I can reach my goal.

Here are a few pictures of our trip.


Bryce Canyon:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

9 Weeks to go till Marathon Day!!

With just over nine weeks until Marathon Monday, my anticipation of my first 'Boston' is building! I recently had a slight issue with my left foot and had to take ten days off from running, but I'm getting back on track. I initially feared a stress fracture, as the pain was pretty severe. I ended up getting three x-rays, but no fracture was seen. The diagnosis was either a slight connective tissue strain or shoe laces too tight, compressing a nerve on the top of my foot. Either way, my foot is feeling a lot better, and I ran 40 miles this week. The coming week is a rest week in my plan, and I hope to build back into the plan for the remaining eight weeks.

While not running, I supplemented my training with some cross-training, including some pool running. While quite monotonous, it will help me not loose fitness and maintain my running base. Heart rate when pool running is about 10% lower than regular running, but the perceived exertion is much higher. Therefore, it feels a lot harder for the amount of time put in. I did about 2 1/2 hours of pool running this past week, along with three hours of bike riding.

Two weeks ago my triathlon team put on an indoor time trial at Goodale's Bike Shop in Nashua, NH, and it was a great success. The event sold out, and each heat went off on time. We had a lot of great sponsors on board, and I had a fun time helping bring in sponsorship. Some of our sponsors included Shimano, Tifossi Optics, FuelBelt, Infinit Nutrition, H2O Audio, and Road ID. I ended up placing 3rd overall in the TT, just 30 seconds back of the overall winner. It was a a great day and a fun event to help put on.

Katie and I are heading to Utah for our school vacation week, which is just one week away. While there we hope to go hiking in the National Parks, and also get in some downhill skiing. At the end of our vacation week I'm scheduled to run in the Hyannis Half Marathon. My goal prior to my injury was to shoot for 1:23. I'm not sure that's realistic, but I'll see how things go over the next two weeks. I may just use the race as a chance to test out running at marathon pace with other runners around. It could also be good practice for taking in nutrition at race pace.

My fundraising is coming along nicely, and I'm more than halfway to my goal of $6000. I've had a number of people sponsor me for a mile. My parents have sponsored miles 19 and 20. My Uncle Todd and Aunt Janet have sponsored mile 21 (the downhill after Heartbreak Hill), and our friends, Dave and Jenn, are sponsoring the last 385 yards to the finish line on Boylston Street.  Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to The Museum of Science and my Boston Marathon!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January Warmup

It's January in New England and it feels more like spring time! Yesterday the temperature got into the 50's and Katie and I enjoyed a nice bike ride. The skier inside me wants cooler weather and snow, but I'm also loving the fact that Mother Nature is allowing me to continue running outside. The ten day forecast doesn't have any snow, and it looks like temperatures will still be above normal.

My training is going very well, and I'm completely injury free. That's a big change from this time last year when I was dealing with an Achilles injury and didn't run at all during January or February. Last week I logged 66 miles, including my first of five scheduled 20 mile runs.

Yesterday morning I met up with the Marathon Coalition Team in Newton and I ran Heatbreak Hill for the first time! We ran ten miles in all, hitting all of the Newton Hills. I felt nice and relaxed and took it easy. Heartbreak Hill isn't actually at that big - .4 miles long and 88 feet of elevation gain, but hitting that after 20 miles of hard running will be an experience!

This morning I had a very successful marathon-pace run. I ran 18 miles in all, finishing with 10 miles around my goal marathon pace. As my overall goal is to go under three hours, that equates to a 6:52 pace. The average pace for the ten miles today was 6:41, and I felt quite relaxed at that pace. My heart rate was right around where it should be, so I'm feeling very good about my training so far. A good test will come at the end of February, when I'm doing the Hyannis Half Marathon. I'm targeting a 6:20 pace for that race, which would translate into a time of just under 1:23. With a PR of just over 1:25 last spring, I think this is quite attainable.

I now have three sponsored miles from donors. My parents have sponsored miles 19 and 20, which includes Heartbreak Hill. Todd and Janet Zimmerman have sponsored mile 21, which Uncle Todd says is his 'favorite mile in the world of running.' Many thanks to these 'mile' sponsors!!!