Monday, December 21, 2015

Run Focus Paying Off

As the tri season came to a close this year I felt that my run had become my biggest limiter. The swim is actually my weakest area, but I feel I'd have to put in a ton of pool time to see some small gains. I decided to attack my run and focus for five or so months on becoming a better runner, and so far, it seems to be working.

In September I began to slowly increase my run volume, going from around 35 mpw up to 47 by the end of the month. I was looking towards a November half marathon and a December 5k, so I needed to balance both speed and distance work. October was a pretty solid month of running, and I wound up with a total of 222 miles.

In mid-October I visited my folks on Nantucket and ran in a half marathon there. We had actually planned on visiting them on the previous weekend, but wind prevented the boats from running. When I realized we'd be there on the week of a half marathon, I quickly signed up. I ended up winning the race in 1:24 and took home $100. About 5.5 miles of the race was on dirt roads, definitely slowing things down a bit.

October was also a month of lots of leaves, and I also ended up spending some time working on Jackson's Halloween costume. He loves Thomas the Train, and I decided to make his costume. Initially, the plan was to spend 3-4 hours. By the time I was done, I'd probably put in the same time on his costume as I did running in October, over 20 hours! Jackson loved helping clean up the leaves as well!

After the race on Nantucket, my focus shifted to another half marathon six weeks later. I ramped up my volume and got in a few weeks right around 60 miles, before a relatively easy week heading into the race. I was hoping to use this race as a qualifying race for the NYC Marathon, as they allow half marathon qualifying times. In the race, I think I went out a little bit too fast, and went through the first 6 miles in around 36:30. The race, which was around 50% on hard packed dirt trails, had two loops, and I began to fade a little on the 2nd loop. My finishing time ended up being a little over 1:21 (off a PR by about a minute), which should be good enough to get into NYC next fall - at least that's the hope - and I can try for that sub 3:00 marathon that's eluded me thus far.

Following the November race, I pushed the volume a tiny bid higher, finishing November with a total of 245 miles, and getting back up to 60+ mile weeks. Training this fall had been a bit of a balance for half marathons, but I had also signed up for a 5k in December, so I needed to be doing some speed-work. Each Wednesday was intervals on the treadmill, and by mid December I was feeling pretty confident that a PR was in sight! Based on training, I thought that a time in the 17:20's was a feasible, which would be a solid improvement on a 17:45 PR from three years ago.

Race morning for the 5k wasn't ideal in terms of weather. The temperature was great - low 40's - but it was very windy - 20+ mph, with higher gusts. My first mile was 5:33, and I felt pretty good. Mile 2 had a few rolling hills, and was quite open and windy. I also lost some focus a bit, and I hit 5:48. I was upset and raced the last mile angry, hitting 5:36. The final sprint finished in 5:16 pace, and I crossed the line in 17:33, a 12 sec PR. I was a bit upset that I didn't get into the 17:20's, but can't be too down. My run focus has definitely translated into some solid run gains.

The next goal is a sub 1:19 half marathon in March. I feel this is attainable with a bit more run fitness gains, as well as a bit better diet and resulting weight loss. With the increased run volume, I'm hoping to be running mid 1:2x off the bike in three planned HIM's in 2016. The plan is to continue with a emphasis on running through January, and begin incorporating more biking and swimming after the new year. The first race on my 2016 schedule will be 70.3 Florida in April. This will be a fun get-away race, and lots of other NEMS team members will be racing as well!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pitch Pine Olympic Report

While I had hoped to close out the season with a race in Hawaii, a small race in New Hampshire had to suffice. Three years ago I won the sprint at the Pitch Pine Challenge, and based on results from the past few years, I felt I should be able to win the Olympic distance race.

It's been a month since Tremblant, and I biked a total of five times and swam a total of four times in that month. I'd been running around 5x a week, so I felt that my run fitness was still decent. I'd also gained around five pounds, which certainly wouldn't help on the run.

The Olympic race only had around 50 folks racing, and the race had to be delayed close to an hour due to thick fog on the lake. Once the swim started, I felt ok, but my pace was a bit slower than what I swam at IMMT. I came out of the water in about 25 min - not swimming much is certainly detrimental!

After T1 it was on to the bike. The bike was two loops, as opposed to the sprint distance, which was one loop. For the most part the bike course was flat to rolling with a 250 ft hill thrown in the middle. I figured that I should aim for around 10% less power than usual for an Olympic, and ended up with 283 AP and 295 NP. My bike time was right at 1:02 for the 26.3 mile course.

As there were no out and backs, I wasn't sure if I was in first place or if there was anyone ahead of me. As it turned out, there were two people ahead of me. Some young 22 yr old from Montreal laid down a 17:25 swim and backed it up with a decent 1:06 bike split. Why drive all the way from Montreal for a small Olympic???

On the run I felt pretty flat and only ran a 6:55 first mile. After that the legs came around and I was right around 6:20's for the rest of the run. I passed one person but wasn't able to close the gap to 1st. I squeaked in under 39 minutes at 38:59 on the slightly short 10k course.

Overall time was 2:09:53 - I was a little over two minutes back from the Quebecer who won. Having not done much since IMMT I wasn't all that down. The only thing that I was a little disappointed with were the prizes, or lack thereof. OA winners got new Sketchers shoes and I got a sweet glass mug for 2nd!

Katie did the sprint duathlon, and she was real excited to finish. After having a miscarriage a week before IMMT, this race was a good thing for her and I to focus on over the past five weeks. I helped out a bit with her training over the past month, and we saw each other in the transition area after the bike, which was fun!


With the tri season officially over, it's time to begin planning for next year. My real goal over the next several months is to put in a big run block. My run has really stagnated, and I think that with a 4-5 month focus I can make some solid gains. I feel that I can maintain swim and bike fitness with around 1-2 sessions per week - probably alternating weeks (2 bikes & 1 swim one week, then switch the next). I'll be looking to run 6-7 days a week from now until the end of January, hoping to be at 200+ miles each of those months.

Northeast Multisport is going to be having Ironman Florida 70.3 in April as a destination race, and I'm trying to convince Katie that it would be fun to go. If I end up racing there, it would mean switching over to more of a bike and swim focus in February and March, while probably running 5 days a week.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mont Tremblant Race Report - How To Blow a KQ

Step 1: Spend close to three hours trying to figure out why your darn power meter won't calibrate hours before bike check in. Never got power meter calibrated prior to race.

Step 2: Forget HR monitor at condo on a hot and humid day, when having HR as a 2nd metric would have probably been very helpful. Katie got the HR monitor for me out on the run course, but it was probably too late at that point.

Step 3: Wear a sleeved black suit on a hot and humid day, when there should have been a 'Plan B' if the weather was not ideal. Not change into running gear at T2.

Step 4: Get injured during training and miss three weeks of running. Pool running and the elliptical machine simply don't replace real running.

These are things that I'm thinking in hindsight that led to my second failure to KQ. In 2013 I was oh so close to qualifying, and I felt that this time I would be better off, knowing the course, and having learned from the past. However, it was not to be.

IMMT 2015 was my fourth time racing at Tremblant, and I felt this was a big advantage. I knew the course, the transition zone, the area, and felt it would play in my favor. I was feeling as good in the water as I did a few years ago, and my bike felt even stronger than in the past. I had a bit of a running setback in early June with an Achilles injury that forced me to take off three weeks of running, but after that I had eight solid weeks with good running. I also made the point of nailing down a specific nutrition plan and felt like it was my time and my race.

The day began with the a unappetizing breakfast of 3.5 cups of unsweetened applesauce, a scoop of whey protein and 1/4 cup of raisins all mixed together. This was my second time with this breakfast, and by the 5th or 6th spoonful it's fighting a gag reflex to down it all. By the time I was done I was hoping finishing the breakfast was the hardest thing I'd do that day.

In my three previous Tremblant races we've stayed in the village, and had a very short walk to the transition area. This year Katie's folks were coming and they got us a timeshare condo just out past where the run course heads onto the bike path. We saved a good chunk of money, but looking back, I think this was detrimental to my race. Each time we went into the village (packet pickup, bike drop off, day of race drop off) I had to walk a good deal farther than was ideal. All of this extra walking in the hot conditions probably wasn't helpful. If I race IMMT again I'll definitely stay in the village.

Katie and I left the condo at 4:50 and she dropped me off right around 5:00. I got into transition, dropped off my special needs bags (wouldn't end up using either one), then loaded the bike with nutrition and my bike computer. The Powertap still wasn't calibrating, but it was giving me power numbers. I was a little concerned, but couldn't do anything about it.

The walk to the swim is quite long - around 1/2 a mile, and I chatted with a teammate on the way over. The porta-pottie line was very long, and I only had around 15 minutes after getting out to pull the wetsuit up, toss my morning clothes bag into the back of a dump truck, and get down to the start. I had a few minutes in the water to take a few strokes, then headed to the start.

Other than a few points of contact, the swim was pretty uneventful. I found a few folks who were swimming at a similar pace to draft off at points. My open water swims had been going pretty good of late - 1:22-1:25 avg pace, so I was hoping to be in the 1:03-1:04 range, but I only came out of the water a few seconds quicker than two years ago in 1:06:28. I know it wasn't a big deal and quickly had the wetsuit off curtesy of the strippers, then headed to T1.

I tried to be a little quicker than two years ago, and was able to be out on the bike in a shade under 5 minutes. I settled in and let just about everyone fly on by, keeping power under 240-250, even on the first few hills. I was using Best Bike Split to guide me, but as the time went on, the intervals seemed way off. For those who are not familiar with BBS, it's a website that factors in weather, course, bike, rider, etc to predict a time. You can also download the ride and it tells you what power to target for each segment. In my case, the entire ride was broken into 161 segments, but they were off and the ride 'ended' at mile 103 with some beeping and a congratulatory message. Not quite! I hit 'start' and rode out the remainder of the course.

Anyway, back to the first portion of the course. IMMT is a pretty hilly course, but there are only a few real steep sections. Nearly all of the course can be ridden in the aero bars, and I tried to stay as aero as possible throughout the day. BBS had predicted a time of 4:53 on 244 watts. As I didn't have my HR monitor, I decided to be a bit more conservative, and targeted around 10 watts lower for the first loop. Once I got out to route 117 there was a steady climb for a few miles before a steep descent. After the descent it was essentially a pretty flat out and back to the base of the hill that we just went down. Again, I let folks go on the hill, knowing they'd come back to me.

Eventually, I made my way back past the transition zone and realized that I was going to have a pretty fast first loop. Going up the steeper stuff I was glad I'd opted for the 11-28 cassette and was able to keep power at or just above FTP on even the steepest grades. After the turn around I ended up finishing the first loop right around 2:24. I was pretty shocked with the time as my average power at that point was around 232 watts. I was feeling pretty good and taking in hydration and nutrition. I realized that a bike time of around 4:50 wasn't out of the question.

The second loop got quite a bit warmer, and I made a point of taking a bottle of water at each aid station, spraying most over my body, then taking a few squirts before tossing it. My power was slightly lower on loop two, but I knew it was getting hotter, I didn't have my HR monitor, and I didn't want to overcook things. I still felt like I was being smart and riding well within my means. As I neared the end of the second loop I was still feeling good and knew I was near the front of the AG. My A goal had been coming off the bike right around six hours, and it turned out to be 6:02 when I entered T2, riding a 4:51:01 bike split on 228 AP, 235 NP. I was 3rd in my AG.


My legs felt just ok as I ran to the transition tent. There was only one other person in the tent with me, and I was out and on my way in just under two minutes. Immediately, I knew that my run legs weren't happy. In my race two years ago I felt great off the bike and averaged around a 7:35 pace for the first six miles, but made the mistake of taking in no nutrition. This time I was targeting a 8:00 - 8:10 pace for the first six miles and taking in nutrition. I wasn't feeling great, and had to stop to massage my left hamstring right after the first mile. My pace for the first five to six miles was where I wanted, but it didn't feel like a jog. I knew I was still in a good position relative to the AG and began to think that if I could average 8:00-8:10 I may be ok. However, having this mindset so early on in the race and 'hoping' to simply maintain what should feel like a real easy pace was not a good thing.

I began thinking about my uncalibrated power meter and wondered if I had actually put out a higher wattage. I was making a real point of staying on top of nutrition and hydration, but it didn't seem to make me feel any better. The run plan was to have a Cliff Block every two miles and a gel every 45-50 minutes with a Saltstick, as well as 4-5 oz of Gatorade at each aid station. It was around mile seven to eight that I began being passed by folks in my AG. It was demoralizing to see them running off at a pace that should have been easy for me to hold. Maybe it was the heat getting to me, simply not having the running miles that I needed due to my injury in June, over biking, but I was feeling like complete garbage and just not mentally there. I made it back to the village for the end of the first loop in 1:48. Again, I told myself that if I doubled that I'd run around what I ran two years ago, which was still a crappy run time of 3:35.

However, things continued to go downhill and my pace crept up towards 9:00 miles. I tried to think of all my long runs, where I felt great and where 7:30 pace felt like a walk in the park, but it did no good. The second loop was the typical death march where I simply went from aid station to aid station, walking the aid stations. The one positive thing out on the run course was my family. On the second loop I saw Jackson and he had a huge grin and was waving at me - it picked me up for a bit and Katie said I ran off much faster than on my approach. Moments later I simply wanted the race to be over and get back to the finish area.

The last 4-5 miles were run around a 9:30 pace. I crossed the finish line dejected, but glad to be done, finishing with a run spilt of 3:50. My total time was 9:54, good for 13th in the AG, 69th OA, and actually a two minute improvement on two years ago, but still not remotely close to what I expected. Had I been able to hold an 8:00 pace I would have finished 2nd in the AG. In the finish area I sat down and tried to have some chocolate milk. This was not the best idea, as soon I was feeling nauseous, and soon had medical staff around me. I ended up throwing up, and was taken into the medical area. I was weighed and blood was taken to check sodium levels, but everything was fine. I was worried that Katie wouldn't know where I was, and had one of the medical staff text her. Eventually, Katie figured out where I was, but couldn't come in. After around 1 1/2 hrs I was released and hobbled out to see her. We gathered my stuff, got my bike, then walked out to a location where I could wait. She rode her bike back to the condo, and around 45 minutes later was back with the car to get me and my gear.

                      Trying to look good for the camera around mile 23, but felt horrible.

As I mentioned at the start, there are many things that I did that contributed to my failure to attain my goal of a KQ. The power meter will be a question in my mind. All of my long rides, and I did six rides of 100+ miles, were done at 235-245 watts AP. 228 watts should have been an easy ride, and my only thought is that by being unable to calibrate the power meter I was actually putting out more watts than was displayed. Combined with the heat and humidity, wearing a black suit, and not knowing my HR, I could have been over doing things, and didn't really feel it.

Two years ago I had a 5:06 bike split on 232 AP. I'm just wondering how I was able to go 15 minutes faster on lower watts. Yes, I made a few changes to my bike and wore an aero suit, but to go that much faster I'd think I'd have to have a higher wattage. In 2013 I had no injuries and was more consistent in my running. However, I don't think this would have led to such a drastic slow-down on the run. I averaged 30-35 miles per week of running for a good chunk of time. However, maybe I need to increase this a bit in the future to have a better run split.

My thoughts going forward, are to tackle shorter distances for the next few years, maybe taking on another IM when I age up into the 40-44 in three years and am the young guy there. I need to become a better runner and am thinking I'll target PR's in the 5k, 10k and half marathon over the next year or two. Next year I'm thinking I'll race two HIM's, possibly Patriot and Timberman, as well as a few Olympics and sprints to work on my overall speed.

Lastly, I'd like to say a huge thanks to my family for their support. Katie has been very supportive of my racing and training. The long Saturday rides are very hard, being away for so long, and I'm now looking forward to having lots more time to spend with Katie and Jackson. We are actually headed off today to Europe for a week, visiting Ireland, Spain and France, and staying with Katie's brother in France for four nights. It should be a fun end to the summer before the school year starts up again.

I'd also like to thank Colin Cook at Peak Tri Coaching, who believed in me and crafted a training plan that put me in a good position to get to Kona. I simply didn't execute on race day. Leslie Why was also very helpful in creating a nutrition plan and race plan for me to follow.

It's now time to rest for a bit and rise another day. I still feel like I have a KQ in me, it'll just have to wait a few years.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Seconds Count!

In my last crack at qualifying for Kona I came to realize that seconds matter no matter the race distance. I won a sprint tri a few years ago by three seconds and I missed a KQ by seven seconds two years ago at IMMT. This time around I'm going into the race with the mindset that every second matters. This means everything from setting up a clean, aero bike to dialing in how and when to take in nutrition.

I've grown in the past two seasons since what I deemed a failure in 2013 at IMMT. My goal for that race was very simple - qualify for Kona, and I felt that based on training it was a forgone conclusion. However, Ironman is a very long day, and little mistakes can have big consequences. I came off the bike in 2013 feeling great, so great that I neglected to take in any nutrition for the first six miles. I was running my goal pace and feeling awesome. However, between mile six and eight I quickly realized that not taking in calories was not a wise decision. I ended up with a run that was 15-20 minutes slower than what I was capable of. That will not happen this year.

I'm working with Leslie Why, a nutritionist who is a coach with PeakTri Coaching. I've altered my diet over the past several months and have a nutrition plan laid out, starting with race week nutrition and correct carbo loading. Race day breakfast and a clear hydration and nutrition plan for the race are mapped out. I really feel that this is my missing link that I lacked two years ago.

I spent a lot of time after IMMT two years ago thinking about those seven seconds. There are so many ways to save time over the course of an Ironman, and it took me quite some time to get over my 'near miss.' I feel that I have planned for this race much better than in the past. I plan to be at least one minute quicker in overall transition time. I won't rush, but will be deliberate and have absolutely no down time. I took a little over seven minutes in transition two years ago, while the top AGers were around 60-90 seconds quicker.

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I've made several changes to the bike, which should result in big time savings. These include: lowering my front end about an inch, adding a TriRig front brake, getting a new saddle, changing out my aero helmet, getting a sleeved race suit, removing my cadence sensor, and changing my BTA bottle and Garmin mount. Of course, the engine has to do most of the work, and I've been feeling very good on the bike. The goal is somewhere in the 240-250 watt range on race day. All of this should result in a faster bike split than in 2013 (dependent on race day conditions, of course).

As coach Colin frequently says, "Swim and bike for show, run for dough." He has done a fantastic job of embodying this saying, and I aim to join him. I plan to be smart on race day, and know that based on previous results that a time around 9:30 has been 2nd in my AG the last three years. I plan to be conservative on the run, and will target a pace in the 7:40-7:45 range for the first half of the race. This should put me in a good position to finish the race strong and be near the top of my AG. I also hope there will be no need to make a porta-pottie stop late in the race (90 seconds there at mile 19 two years ago!).

An Ironman is a long day for everyone, be it near 8 hours for the top pros to 17 for the midnight finishers. Regardless of time, seconds do matter. I aim to save as much time as possible on race day be being smart (not rushing) so that I can look back at my race and be pleased with how I executed my plan.

Friday, July 24, 2015

13 Watts, 13 Minutes

IMMT is now just over three weeks away and I have one last weekend of heavy training before the taper begins. I'm feeling strong and pretty confident about how my training has gone. For this post however, I'm going to focus primarily on the bike, which is my strength, and where I feel I underperformed two years ago at IMMT.

In 2013 I biked a 5:06 on 232 watts. My goal for 2015 is to bike 4:53 on 245 watts - 13 minutes faster on 13 more watts. If it was strictly the same setup as before, this would be hard to attain by simply pushing 13 more watts. However, I've made several little changes that I feel will add up to a significantly faster bike time on only 5% more power.

A few things have changed on my bike that should make me a bit quicker. I've changed out my front brake to a TriRig OmegaX, which has a smaller front profile. I've swapped out my Adamo saddle in favor of a Dash one, which is a savings of around 300 grams - nothing aero there, but, with climbing, any weight savings help. It took me close to three months to adjust to the minimal padding of this saddle but I now love it. I've also dropped my bars by about an inch, slightly lowering my frontal profile to get a bit more aero.

In terms of clothing, I'm wearing a PI Octane suit this season and have gone from the Lazer Tardiz helmet back to the Giro Advantage2 helmet. My flat kit will be split in two parts - the tube and levers jammed under my seat and CO2 and inflator in the tail of my helmet. My bike will be free of most crap that people throw on for an Ironman - as aero as possible. I'll also be running latex tubes inside my Continental GP 4000s tires.

On race day I've decided to use the on-course nutrition for the bike, which is Gatorade. I'll start the bike with two pre-mixed bottles so that I won't have to visit an aid station over the first 30+ miles. I'll be taking SaltStick caps due to the lack of extra sodium in the regular Gatorade - I keep them hidden behind my BTA bottle in a M&M's mini container that's velcroed to my stem.  I'll be concentrating gels in a small watter bottle that is in a cage zip-tied under my seat - again out of the wind and as aero as possible.

Based on riding a 2:18 on 275 watts at the 70.3 WC at Tremblant I feel that 30 less watts should result in a time of around 4:53 - about eight minutes slower per lap. I've also used Best Bike Split, and, depending on wind, temp, and other conditions, the prediction on my time is in the 4:53-4:55 range. One thing I'll be doing is printing out and taping a piece of paper behind my bike computer that simply says: STAY AERO! I'm amazed how many people don't remain in the aero position during an IM. I've noticed that I tend to come out of aero around 16-17 mph when starting to climb - if I can remain in aero down to 12-13 mph it can pay big dividends come race day.

Finally, I've decided that on race day I'll be shaving any exposed hair. This means in addition to the usual legs I'll also be going smooth on the arms. Videos posted by Specialized regarding time savings ( have shown that simply shaving arms can be good for over one minute saved during an IM - if eyebrow shaving would result in time saved I just may do it. Overall, I feel that all of these small changes should result in a big chunk of time saved.

Pushing 13 more watts is a decent change from two years ago. I've had longer rides this year than in 2013 and am feeling very strong on the bike. Just yesterday I did a 3 1/2 hr ride and averaged 264 watts: The middle 2 1/2 hours were at a average of 272 watts, and my HR was only 143 for the ride. 245 watts is a number I'm capable of and I should be able to have a strong run to follow.

Finally, I'm feeling pretty good in the water of late. I had a swim this morning in Echo Lake near Jackson, NH, where I did 5 laps of the small lake. The swim resulted in 4600 yards swam in 1:03: If I can have a swim close to this at Tremblant it will be a good start to the day!

Nantucket Triathlon Weekend

This past weekend I traveled to Nantucket, where I grew up, to do the weekend double of a Saturday sprint and a Sunday Olympic. It was nice to see my family, and my brother, who lives in SF, was home as well. I got to the island on Thursday morning with Jackson and Katie came on Friday evening. On Friday evening NEMS members doing the race had a nice pre-race dinner together - Jackson did a decent job and managed to stay in his highchair for nearly 2/3 of the meal!

The sprint is a much larger event, with 750 racers this year. The Olympic generally only has around 150 participants. Having not done any short course racing in nearly two years I didn't know how things would pan out. Overall, the results were what I expected: solid swim, good bike, no speed on the run (plus an odd cramp on the Olympic run).

The swims are in salt water at Jetties beach with a rather long run to transition (~300 yards). I feel that I had decent swims in both events. On the bike I was hoping to have the fastest times, but came up just short on both days to Lucas Pozzetta, another NEMS member who is looking to lay down a real fast time at AG Nationals in a few weeks. Power was 315 watts (26.4 mph) for the sprint and 295  watts (25.9 mph) for the Olympic. The Olympic was the first race I've gone under an hour on the bike (57:56 was my time). The sprint run was decent (6:05 pace), but during the Olympic I had a nasty side cramp that forced my pace close to 7:00 for the first 2.5 miles. By the time I was able to recover I had a hard time making up lost time, and finished with an avg. pace of 6:44. I nearly caught the guy ahead of me during the last 100 yards, but lost out in a sprint.

Overall, I placed 6th in the sprint and 5th in the Olympic, winning my AG on both days. Times were 1:08 for the sprint and 2:09 for the Olympic. For the middle of IM training, I consider these decent results and look forward to getting back to training. It was also fun to catch up with other NEMS members doing the race and to chat with Coach Colin about pacing at Tremblant.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

IMMT Training

Ironman Tremblant is now six weeks from tomorrow, and I'm feeling quite strong. I just finished my longest ride of the year on Mount Desert Island, ME. The ride was 5 1/2 hrs, 110 miles and had 8,500 ft of climbing, including going up Mt. Cadillac, and was followed by a short 30 min transition run. I was on the bike at 4:50 am, and able to avoid most traffic. This was my third 100+ mile ride, and I have two more 5:30 rides scheduled leading to IMMT. Both of those rides will be done at home, and should have a lot less elevation!

As I was nearing the in-laws house I was a few minutes short of 5:30 for the ride, and decided to do a very short out-and-back. Turning around on a hill, I somehow managed to end up falling on my left side, having lost momentum. No real damage was done, save for a little lost skin. At least there was no traffic and I don't think my graceful fall was witnessed!

I'm very happy to say that my Achilles seems to be back to normal (knocking on wood!). After getting the three EPAT treatments in May and June I eased back into running, and have been able to get in two longer runs over the past two weeks. The run on Sunday of last weekend was done in the basement on our treadmill due to real nasty weather, and I was able to knock out 14.3 miles in 1:45 with zero pain. Tomorrow I have a 1:50 run after an easy hour on the bike. This run will be done in a portion of Acadia Nat'l Park, and goes along some very picturesque shoreline areas.

My swim still needs a bit more work over the next several weeks. There are times in the pool where it seems to click and I can knock out some good sets, and other days I feel very 'blah.' I had a decent OWS yesterday morning in Echo Lake, getting in about 4000 yards in 1:01 - two loons welcomed me to the lake! (It's hard to make out the 2nd one - right where the tree shadows meet the water) I think that with some quality swimming over the next month I should be able to have a similar swim to IMMT in 2013, where I swam 1:06. Coach Colin feels that my swim is fine and that putting in the extra time in the water wouldn't be worth it - that time should be spent on the bike or run.

Baring any further setbacks on the run, I feel that if I can execute a strong race at IMMT. With good conditions, I know that a sub 5:00 bike is realistic, and I should be able to have a much better run than two years ago, when I didn't take in any nutrition for the first 7 miles of the run. I'm working with a nutritionist, and feel that I now have a plan for the run. In previous years, I kind of 'winged it' on the run, but that doesn't fly at longer distances. I'll be using the on-course nutrition for the bike and Cliff Blocks and gels on the run. I just need to execute the training leading in to IMMT and I know good things will happen!

I want to acknowledge that my training has been very hard on Katie and Jackson. She allows me to put in the training hours and be away from home for long hours on the weekends. I'm really looking forward to when the season ends and I can sleep in and spend weekend hours with the family. However, it would be kind of nice if the season didn't end until mid October ;) If I do qualify for Kona, I'm thinking that the training won't be as intense, especially with the school year beginning two weeks after Tremblant.

Katie, Jackson, and I are heading off to France a few days after Tremblant to visit 'Uncle Ted.' We have a 12-hr layover in Dublin, which should be fun. We fly in to Barcelona, and will be away for a week. We are really looking forward to this trip right before the school year begins again.

I'll end with two pictures - one, a gorgeous view on a hike Katie and I did up in Acadia, and another of Jackson with a yet-to-be-determined superhero name - any ideas???

Friday, June 12, 2015

Challanege Quassy & Beyond

On June 7th I competed in my first Challenge event. It was well run, and I enjoyed the day. The race, which used to be a Rev3Tri event, was held at Quassy Amusement Park in Waterbury, CT, and was a great venue to bring the family to. Jackson, who is now a little over two, had a blast on Saturday during packet pick-up, bike check-in, and a brief swim I did. We were also able to get a few rides in on Sunday after the race.

Going backwards a bit, training had been going very well up until about a month ago. I had built up to close to two hour runs, and was getting in rides near 100 miles on Saturday mornings. However, after a longer 17 mile run, I noticed that my left Achilles hurt a bit. This was the same place that I had an injury four years ago, and I didn't want to take ~9 weeks off from running, as I had in the past.

I immediately called my foot doc, Neil Feldman, a 2x Kona qualifier, who is currently training for the Leadville 100 run. We started up EPAT shockwave therapy, and after three sessions the Achilles felt much better. Four years ago I went through 8 weeks of Graston Technique - that was quite painful. I'm happy to say that I've begun running again over the past week, albeit only up to 35 minutes, but so far things are fine. This coming weekend I have an hour run, and I hope that goes without any issues.

So, at Quassy I decided to forgo the run, essentially making the race an aqua-bike. I could have switched to the official aqua-bike, and would have won that by around ten minutes. However, the change fee was $25, and I felt it wasn't worth the cost. I chatted with Coach Colin, and suggested a short transition run after the bike at IM pace. I ended up doing 3 miles off the bike around 7:30 pace.

On race morning, Katie dropped me off around 5:15, then headed back to our hotel. She and Jackson were able to get about two hours of extra sleep, then return to watch me come off the bike.

I opted to start in the elite wave, which, in hindsight, probably wasn't the smartest thing considering where my swim currently is. There were 12 guys in the elite wave, and I came out of the water in around 9th, swimming 34 minutes. Last year I had my swim down to 31, and need to put in some good volume over the next two months leading into IMMT. Without anyone to really draft off I was pretty much on my own. After the 1st turn buoy I had a hard time sighting directly into the sun, and probably lost a little time there. I had been hoping to be maybe two minutes faster, but it didn't happen. I was passed by quite a few fast swimmers from the wave behind me as well, so coming out of the water, I wasn't where I hoped I'd be.

This season I picked up a PI Octane suit, feeling any extra speed would help with a KQ. Upon taking my wetsuit off I quickly realized that the 'male' side of the zipper on my Octane had torn off - awesome! I spent 2-3 minutes in transition just standing there trying to fix it - time I shouldn't have wasted, but I knew I wasn't doing the run. Still, not the best decision. As it stood, the open top was probably less aero than my old suit.

Onto the bike, I was shooting for a NP of around 300 watts since there wasn't going to be much of a run. However, I found that on such an undulating course hitting that wattage was very hard. I also had a strange pain in my left glute that bothered me for the ride - that needs to be resolved soon!

 For the first hour or so I was around 275 watts AP, but close to 290 NP. I was hitting a little over 300 on all of the climbs, but having power drop on the downs. I decided to not target a certain wattage, but to just ride the hills hard and let the wattage be what it was. For those who haven't raced Quassy, it's a pretty hilly course, with very little flat terrain.

I ended up at 260 watts AP and 274 NP, quite a bit lower power than what I usually ride for a HIM. However, the lower than expected watts resulted in the 2nd fastest bike split of the day. 2:31 sounds like a slow bike split for a HIM, but I was four minutes faster than a few people who have out-biked me in the past, and only out biked by the overall winner.

Arriving in T2, I was in 6th overall. Once off my bike I handed my timing chip to a Challenge staff member, and got ready for a leisurely run. It was quite commical as I headed out - I took a right to avoid going onto the run course and I had 10-15 people begin screaming I was going the wrong way. Without a race bib I thought it was obvious I wasn't racing anymore, but I had to explain I was nursing an injury.

After my run I was able to find Katie and Jackson and spend a little time on the rides before packing up and heading home. I'd love to give Quassy another crack in the future when I'm fully healthy. I feel that this course caters to my strength on the bike, and I think that a time close to 4:30 could be attainable.

Looking forward, I have just over nine weeks until IMMT. My bike fitness is where it was two years ago, so I feel confident in my ability for a sub 5 hr ride. I've made a few tweaks to my bike and equipment in hopes of being a bit more slippery to the wind. As mentioned before, the new suit should help. I've also gone back to the Giro A2 helmet, which I feel is probably faster than my Lazer Tardiz. This week I installed a TriRig Omega X front brake - not a big change, but everything adds up. With a 2:18 bike split at the 70.3 WC at Tremblant, I feel that going under 5:00 should be a reasonable and attainable goal.

I'll need to increase my swim volume over this time period. I think my swim fitness is there as I swam a PR of 5:32 in 400 yds this week - I just need to ramp up the volume to make that IM swim feel relaxing and be ready to come out of the water to have a strong ride.

The real question mark will be my run. Can I bounce back and get some quality long runs in over the next two months? I'm doing everything I can to help the Achilles - lots of calf drops, rolling with TP tools, and using KT tape. Fingers are crossed that the Achilles will be happy and training will be uninterrupted heading into IMMT!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April Musings

It's now April, and tri season is rapidly approaching. The crazy amount of snow that we accumulated over the winter is finally beginning to recede and the thought of actually riding a bike outside is no longer a wishful thought. My run fitness is slowly beginning to return after the long bout of ITBS I had last season. It's not quite back to where it was two years ago, but the goal is to get there within a few months.

2015 Race Schedule & Goals

The two main races of 2015 will be the Quassy Half on June 7th (which is now run by Challenge), and IM Mont Tremblant on August 15th. Quassy is a challenging course with lots of hills, and it will be a good test of my overall fitness in a little over two months. I will also be racing the same weekend double (sprint & Olympic) on Nantucket that I did last year in mid July. Several teammates will also be heading out to the island, and it will be fun to be racing on home-soil.

My overall goal for the season is quite simple - get a spot for Kona at IMMT. However, I really feel that I have a shot at an AG win there, and will be gunning for the top spot. Based on my bike time at the 70.3 WC at Tremblant (2:18), I feel that I can go well under 5:00 on the bike course and back it up with a solid run.

Early Season Racing

I've done a few recent events that have tested the fitness I've worked on since I began working with Peak Tri Coaching in January. Colin has given me quite a bit more biking than I'm accustomed to at this time of the year, but it has paid off, as I feel that I'm stronger than I've been at this point in previous seasons. 

Three weeks ago my run training was put to the test when I ran a half marathon in New Bedford. This race is notoriously fast, with close to 200 runners each year running under 1:20. I knew I wasn't quite in 1:20 shape, but figured I could aim for a 6:12-6:15 pace. As it turned out, I finished in just over 1:23. A headwind over the last 3-4 miles derailed my chances of finishing around 1:22. Given what happened at this race last year (ITBS flared up and I didn't even finish), it was a step in the right direction, with room for improvement over the next few months. 

My bike improvement was shown recently at the TriMania event, held at MIT, where I came in 2nd overall in the 10k indoor TT. The heat I was in also had Julie Dibens, who was the key note speaker at the convention. I was hoping I could beat her, and it came down to an uphill sprint finish, where I eeked out a .02 second win in the heat. At the end of the day I was beaten by 15 seconds by a rider in the final heat. My power was also higher than in previous years at this event.

Colin, Julie, Me, Dave & Karin after our heat:

A day after the Multisport Expo Katie and I headed down to the south shore to Cohasset to run a 10k that we've done several times. Although a pretty hilly course (nearly 300 ft of elevation), it's the course I set my 10k PR on a few years ago. My goal was to set a PR, but a slightly different one. I was running with our little guy Jackson (who just turned 2) in the Chariot, and the goal was to break 40 min.

Heading into the race I e-mailed the RD, checking if a running stroller was ok. She was cool with it and on race day I headed to the front, but all the way off to one side. I got quite a few 'looks' from other runners, but knew times from previous years warranted starting near the front. As usual at the start of any road race, about half the runners in the front went out far too hard. At the .5 mile mark I had close to 100 people in front of me. By mile 2 I'd passed 70 or so of them, often getting a double look as Jackson and I went on by.

A bit after the half way point of the race the course swings inland and has a series of little punchy up and downs. I quickly realized that pushing close to 50 pounds pretty much sucked on the up hill sections. On the downhills all I could do was hang on, hitting 4:30 pace on some downhills. In the end, we nearly went under 39 min, finishing in 39:07, good for 15th overall. Without the stroller I feel I would have come pretty close to my PR of 36:34 from a few years ago. Still, it's a stroller PR!

Happy, post-race with Jackson and Katie, who set a PR in 49:08.

Between now and Quassy my sole focus is increasing my overall fitness. My swim isn't where it needs to be, but with the school year winding down, I'll be able to increase my two swims per week to three or more. I have high hopes for this season and look forward to what I can accomplish.