Friday, December 15, 2017

Five Years Ago

Exactly five years ago on a Friday I was sitting in a professional development meeting at my school when I got a text alert about a shooting. Unfortunately, having gotten many of these alerts over the years, I didn't think all that much of it. However, as the day progressed and information came out that it was at a school and we learned of the atrocity that took place in Sandy Hook, it hit me hard. I'm an elementary school teacher, and I couldn't help but picture myself in the massacre that took place. By the time I got home I was pretty much a wreck, and had been thinking about what I would have done had it been my students in that situation. At the time, I was not a parent, but my wife was pregnant, and we were expecting our first child four months later, so I was also looking at it from the view of a parent-to-be.

As a history major in college, I spent a little time learning about the the Constitution, and knew that in the coming days after what took place in Conneccticut there would be a discussion about the Second Amendment. Over the years, the NRA, and gun proponents have taken it to mean that everyone has the right to have a gun. However, in my mind, the exact wording doesn't exactly imply that:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

We don't exactly have militias running around, do we? We have a free country, and the 'Right' has twisted this statement into something that I believe it is not. As a result, gun laws have become extremely lax in many parts of our country, and death from gun violence is the result. Compared to other first world nations, the number of deaths as a result of guns is astronomical. The often used line is 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people.' Well if this were the case, wouldn't there be an equal number of people being killed in some other first world countries? There isn't!

I honestly, thought that having an entire classroom of first grade students along with several educators killed could be a turning point in the 'gun debate.' I was hopeful that our country could turn a tragedy into real change. However, since Sandy Hook nothing has taken place in terms of gun control. We've had many other tragic massacres since then - Virginia Tech, Orlando & Las Vegas - and the only thing happening is that this is almost becoming the 'new norm.'

It doesn't have to be this way. I'm not against having a gun for hunting or even for personal protection if it is stored and locked properly. But all too often we hear stories of kids finding loaded guns and either shooting themselves or other kids. Background checks seem like common sense, and the majority of Americans, even those who own guns, feel this way. Mental health screenings would also add a layer of protection. Ultimately, the best way to prevent more tragic events like Sandy Hook from taking place is to severely tighten gun restrictions and ownership. Semi-automatic assault riffles do not have a place in our society.

On this anniversary of Sandy Hook, I am guardedly optimistic that we, as a nation, can make change. These are deaths that can be prevented. The US is on pace to soon have gun fatalities surpass the number of people killed in motor vehicles. The car industry is doing everything they can to make cars safer and limit fatalities. Shouldn't gun manufactures and our government do the same?

This isn't my typical blog post, but I felt like I had to put this out there as an educator, parent, and someone who cares about our country. We can make America great again by lessening the thousands of senseless deaths that occur each year due to lax gun regulation and the NRA lobbying for less stringent gun laws. This honestly seems like common sense, and I can't understand (other than $$$$) why this can't be done. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Fall Training - Run Focus

After finishing up my race in Tennessee I decided to shift the focus back to running for a little while. I know I will need to have a strong run at IMLP to meet my goals, so I decided to put in a little block of run focused training to lead into the winter. I signed up for a mid November half marathon - signing up for a race always helps me have an end goal, and gives me a little kick in the but motivation wise during training.

I built the run mileage up over two weeks to around 50 mpw and held it at 50-57 for eight more weeks. Just before Halloween my Mom came to visit for a weekend when Katie was signed up for a local 10k race. The race nearly goes right by our house, so with my Mom there we decided to take advantage of her help watching the kids, giving me a chance to run as well. I did a harder track workout a few days prior to the race, so didn't really know what to expect.

This was the same race that I was leading last fall, but missed a very short out-and-back, ending up in a DQ from the race. This year I finished up third OA in 37:34, which is exactly one minute off my 10k PR from five years ago. I was hoping to be a bit closer to 37 minutes - I guess I'm always hoping things will go a little better than they usually do. High expectations are a part of who I am.

Leading into the November half marathon my legs were feeling good, but I didn't really feel like my fitness had improved much over the past nine weeks or so. My goal was to shoot for pretty even splits, then try to have a strong finish. We visited my folks on Nantucket the day before the race along with Katie's parents, making for a long day of travel. Getting home Saturday night the forecast wasn't looking stellar for the Sunday race. A windy, rainy day was forecasted for Sunday.

I got up around the normal time - 4:30ish - had a quick breakfast, then was off just after 5 am. The race was in Cambridge, MA starting and ending at the CambridgeSide Galleria Mall. I parked in a lot, got my race bib, and then had around 90 minutes until the race began. I ended up doing around 2.5 miles of warming up, then tried to stay in the lee of some buildings before lining up for the race. This race was only in its 2nd year had a field of 5,000+ in the first year. There were nearly 50 people under 1:20 in the first year, so I assumed the same this year. I think I ended up self seeding myself too far back at the start, and, as a result, did a ton of weaving through slower folks over the first two miles. This two miles were both around 6:10, but I felt I could have been a bit quicker on the same effort without all of the weaving about!

After getting to the Charles the course started a switch off from paved trails to dirt trails. This continued for the middle portion of the race, and several of the dirt sections were quite muddy and slippery, definitely causing my middle miles to be a bit slower than I'd hoped for. As a result, miles 3-11 ended up averaging around 6:20 pace. The return section of the race along the Charles after recrossing the river had quite a bit of headwinds, and were very exposed. I was running with a few other folks, but could feel them fading. I ended up pushing on by myself and was able to finish pretty strong. The very last section, turning away from the river, was on a dirt path that was pretty much completely submerged - good times!! I didn't run xc in high school, but I feel that a few sections of this race had a xc feel to them.

In the end, I was able to sneak in under 1:23 in and official time of 1:22:49, which is about two minutes off my half marathon PR from four years ago. Surprisingly, my legs felt great after the race. I guess the higher volume led me to be able to run pretty consistent splits - maybe my speed didn't improve much over the nine weeks, but the endurance seemed to get a bit better. One positive takeaway is even though I finished 77th overall, there were only four folks older than me who beat me. 

I'm toying with the idea of registering for a February marathon to test the fitness, but not looking forward to the longer runs of around 20 miles. I'm hoping that this time will get me into the NYC marathon (which allows half qualifying times) for next fall. I guess I'm leaning towards not doing a marathon, but continuing with run mileage in the 50-60 mpw range with the hopes of getting down near 1:20 in early spring - possibly a March race - before IM training kicks into full swing!

In terms of general training, I've been averaging 10-11 hours a week. With a run focus, it's meant 2-3 rides and about one swim each week. The rough plan is to slowly begin ramping things up around February, and at that point I'd switch over from focusing on the run to bringing in more biking and hopefully two swims a week. I feel like I'll need to be swimming 3x a week from May on, and one of those will be an OWS at Walden Pond either on the way to or home from work. 

I'm also planning on tackling the Mt. Washington bike climb, which is in mid August. I've been getting the CAAD 10 road bike geared up for that race. So far, I got a new P2M power meter with a 50/34 chainring, a WiFLi Force 22 rear derailleur along with a 11/32 cassette. I picked up some climbing wheels - Alto A26 - which come in at just over 1400 grams, and I also got a Dash saddle. All told, the bike is around 16 lbs currently. I have some Speedplay Zero stainless pedals ordered, and with a few more race day adjustments - like taking off the rear brake - I hope to get the bike weight down around 15 lbs. I know this is by no means light for a true climbing bike, but it should help. It would also help if I can get my weight down. Lots of people obsess over bike weight, but it's so much easier (and cheaper) to drop body weight. I hope to be close to the hour mark if the race day weather is favorable. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Chattanooga 70.3 World Championship Report

I honestly don't know how folks who travel for work do it. Being away from the family for just two nights was hard, and I know it was very hard for Katie back at home with Hannah and Jackson. Doing this race wouldn't have been possible without Katie's love and support, and I am in debt to all of the time she spent with the two little ones while I was away! In terms of travel, I flew south on Friday morning, renting a car, and then driving to Chattanooga from Atlanta.

Wetsuit legal. That's a phrase I usually love to hear as a rather weak swimmer, and one most folks weren't expecting in the lead-up to for this race. The thing is that cool nights have a way of lowering the water temperature, and it managed to just sneak under WTC's 76.1 'legal' temp. The unfortunate part was that I hadn't packet my wetsuit due to only taking carry-on bags and assuming it wouldn't be needed. Sure, in the week leading up to the race there was some speculation about wetsuits being allowed, but I was calling bs. This was my second time in nine years of doing triathlons that I was left in this situation, and being the world championships, it kind of sucked. Looking at my swim time compared with others I've raced in the past, it seems like not having the wetsuit cost me in the four minute range. Looking around as my wave headed towards the water, I think I may have been one of only three sans wetsuit. The moral here is simple - always bring the wetsuit!

Other than the wetsuit my biggest worry heading into this race was non-race logistics. I was cutting it a little close with my flight getting into Atlanta around noon on Friday with check-in closing at 5 pm. There ended up being an accident on Rt 75 heading into Chattanooga, and I only had an hour or so once I parked to get to registration. On the tail-end, I was a bit worried about getting home due to Hurricane Irma's approach. It wasn't supposed to get to the Atlanta area until Monday evening/night, but I was more concerned about connecting flights. As it turned out everything was ok.

This was my third time doing the 70.3 World Championship, and my third location. In 2012 I was pretty much a rookie when I raced in Vegas. In 2014 I was battling through an IT Band injury and had pretty minimal run training heading into that race. This year I was healthy, but my run fitness wasn't where it was last year. I felt if everything came together I could be right around 4:30 for an overall time.

As I said before, I arrived on Friday afternoon, and I immediately ran into a Team Zoot teammate - Bryan Dunn. We hung out for a bit, and, after registering, I went for a short 25 min run, hitting a bit of the run course. The hills didn't disappoint, but the legs felt great. On Saturday morning I got up an hour before my alarm was set - my body is wired to get up for early workouts and in setting the alarm for 6 am I knew I'd probably be getting up earlier. I ended up doing a short looping run around the hotel parking lots in the dark in the area of my hotel, had breakfast, then searched for where to get in a short swim. I found a location a bit upstream of Chattanooga and got in a quick 600 yards in the swimskin at 1:30 100/yd pace - I was hoping that would carry over to the race.

Daniela making it look so easy

Following the swim it was down to the transition/race area to spectate for the women's race. I was able to see Daniela Ryf absolute demolish the race and cruise into the finish. Her time was only topped by a couple age group men, and she was apparently not at full throttle. If she's anywhere near 100% in Kona, barring any bike issue, the race is probably not in doubt - the battle may be for the other two spots on the podium. I was psyched to see that my friend Jana placed 4th in her AG and had one of the top bike times.

I was then able to head over the Tri Bike Transport and begin to get it race ready. Around 2:15 I went for a quick 20 or so minute ride on a little bit of the first few miles of the bike course. That section was in pretty rough shape. As I was returning from the ride I was stopped at a light and I chatted with a woman who had raced earlier. She gave me a few tips, which included: the roads were in pretty poor condition and to err on the lower side with PSI, the first climb was hard, but there were several more miles with harder climbs before the 'top,' and to take the first lap of the run easy to have a solid finish. These were definitely helpful ideas to have in my head.

After returning to the transition area, I got my bike and gear bags all set and checked things in. 70.3 World Championship events are a bit like IM's with gear bags needing to be checked in the day before. It's a little more work, but it makes for a little less work on race morning. When everything was set up it was time to head back to the hotel to rest up, have some dinner, then get to bed. Of course sleeping isn't always great prior to a race. However, I feel I got a decent night's sleep. I think I was less nervous about this race simply because I knew I wouldn't be vying for a podium spot or attempting to qualify for another race. I probably got 6-7 hours of sleep, which is about average with
two little ones at home.


Jorge Gomez - 2x 70.3 WC Champ!
On race morning I was up around 4:30, having my usual HIM/IM breakfast of applesauce w/raisins, Gatorade & a Cliff Bar - that's around 700 calories. Over the next few hours I also had a Powerbar and another Gatorade, then a Powerbar gel 15 minutes before the swim, for a total of around 1200 calories. I set my bike up pretty quickly, with my shoes on the pedals, 700 calories of Infinit in an aero bottle, one BTA water bottle, half a Powerbar on the base bars, and the bike computer. I then went back to where I'd parked my car and did a short warm-up 1.5 mile run in different shoes. It was cool to see all the pros and I took a pic of who I thought would win - turns out I was right!

YIKES!!! Look at that time!
I changed into my sandals, left my phone & wallet in the rental car, and 'hid' the car keys near the car. I didn't want to take the chance of leaving them in my morning gear bag and somehow having the bag go missing. After all of this I still had around 30 minutes before my wave went off at 8 am. I was a bit lucky in this regard because some waves weren't starting until nearly 9:30. I believe that this race was the first one where they went to time trial starts within each individual wave. There was around 10-12 minutes between each wave, and I think the format worked pretty well. If I was a lot faster my only gripe would be not knowing exactly where you were in relation to racers you see on the course due to not starting in a wave start, but this wasn't an issue for me.

I dove into the water of the Tennessee River a few minutes after 8 am, and it was game time. I actually felt decent in the water, but I could tell that lots of folks were moving faster then me. The course was a net up-river swim, and although the flow was lessened for the race via a dam, it was still noticeable. I was hoping that I'd still come out of the water in the 33-34 minute range, but seeing 37:xx when I climbed the steps was an 'oh crap' moment. Already a few minutes down from what I was expecting. My transition wasn't all that speedy, but eventually I was out onto the bike and onto my strength.
My climbing buddy, David Cruz and I traded
positions on the way up Lookout Mtn

The four or first few miles were pretty flat, and this section had quite a few turns, railroad crossings (it's Chattanooga, right????), and pretty crappy roads. All of the road hazards were well marked, but it was pretty bumpy. Eventually we made a right turn and were met by a pretty short 'wall' that marked the beginning of the Lookout Mountain climb. I was aiming to ride the climbs at or slightly above FTP, and that's pretty much what I did. Most of the climbs were in the 330-350 watt range. Other than the first section and a few sections later on there wasn't anything super step. It was just a pretty long grind, but very doable.

At the top of the first climb there's a decent downhill section, but then there is another good stretch of ups and downs with some short steep pitches to deal with. The climbing really didn't end for good until just after mile 20, which was also right around an hour. At that point I was a little concerned that I was a bit over my power targets. I was right around 285 AP, but the NP was at 304. I didn't need to worry, because on the next set of long descent the average power dropped by nearly 20 watts. It was also during this 4-5 mile section that I got stuck on two occasions different cars. I had to slow down significantly - from fully tucked at 45+ mph, to riding their bumper closer to 30-35 mph. It was quite frustrating, and in both situations I was able to eventually pass, but I think these two instance easily cost me 1-2 minutes.

I had been hoping to finish the bike in just under 2:20, but my time ended up being a bit over 2:21. The traffic definitely played a role in the slightly slower time. So, it was then onto the run. I planned to be pretty conservative on the first loop and feel out the course. The basic course was out about two miles on a highway-ish road, then back on a path, over a bridge, immediately followed by a steep up and down, turn around, repeat the steep up and down, back over a different bridge, then repeat it all another time. The steep section on the opposite side of the Tennessee River was not insanely steep, but it was a good climb, which was essentially done four times. It was definitely a change from the Eagleman run, which is pretty much pancake flat!

At the end of the first loop I was feeling good and decided to up the pace a bit. Miles 8 and 9 were around 6:45 pace, which I felt I hold through to the end. Unfortunately, I ended up getting some abdominal cramps starting around mile 10 and the pace dropped a bit as a result. In the end I ended up running 1:32, about two minutes slower than what I felt I could run based on fitness. My final time was a bit over 4:38. Given the challenging course and quality field, I feel like I finished about where I expected. Had things gone perfect (and I'd brought along my wetsuit) I could have been closer to 4:30. It was a good way to end the season, and stepping stone for next year. I've signed up for Lake Placid in July, so training will be focused on that race, starting to ramp things up around March or April of next year.

One part of logistical worry was being able to leave quickly after I got my bike. Transition wasn't opening back up until 2:30 pm, and I would need to be on the road by 3:00 to have enough wiggle room getting back to Atlanta for my 7:45 pm flight. I was able to get my gear bags and bike, quickly drop the bike off with TBT, then get back to my car. Traffic was fine on the return to Atlanta, and I was home and in bed by 11:30 pm that night and back to work the next morning. Of course when I shared with my third grade students they asked me if I had won the race!

With the school year starting up, and Katie going back to school after taking a year off last year with Hannah, it will be hard to fit training in. We'll make it work somehow! Hannah just turned one and Jackson had his first day at pre-K!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Cranberry Olympic Report & WC Preview

Somehow summer is nearly over, and that means school is about to start up once again. As a teacher, I love my summer vacation, but I do look forward to going back to another year with new students, which always brings new challenges to conquer.

As summer has come to an end, I did one final race before school begins. Back in 2010, my first year doing triathlons, I raced my first Olympic distance race, the Cranberry Olympic. This year this race was the New England Club Championships, and I decided to do it along with many Northeast Multisport teammates. In 2010 I finished the race in 2:19 and couldn't comprehend how anyone could go faster than that. My splits were somewhere around 26, 1:07 and 43 plus transition times.

Going into this race I was prioritizing training for the 70.3 WC three weeks later, so I essentially did regular training through Thursday, then some easier stuff on Friday and Saturday. I was hoping to go under 2:05, which would be an Olympic PR. I have really only done a handful of Olympic races over the years, so my 2:09 PR was pretty 'soft.'

I arrived at the race a bit before 5:30 and had plenty of time to set up transition, get in a warmup run, and then get into the water for a few hundred yards before the start. I was racing in the Elite wave, partially due to having open roads on the bike, but also having hopes of making the overall podium.

I knew I'd be well back out of the water, and with a few former college swimmers I was down 4-5 minutes on the top few guys, including Michael Emmons. My friend Colin Cook was racing in M35-39, but I knew he would probably end up a few minutes faster than me. Robert Hollinger was also racing, and he has been first amateur at several 70.3 races. I was hoping I could beat Michael and take 3rd.

In the end, a guy 13 years younger than me ended up running nearly 35 flat in the run to sneak ahead of me on the overall podium by 5 seconds. It was probably a good thing though, because it meant I could head home much earlier than sticking around for awards.

Overall, I'd say my swim was what I expected (course was only .8 miles), bike was solid, and run was pretty good. I was only around 5 sec/mile slower on the run than in sprints earlier in the season, so I'll take it. At 2:02 the time was a nice PR. The bike course is 26.2 miles, so it makes up for the short swim.

Looking forward, I have just under two weeks until the 70.3 World Champs in Chattanooga. I have no expectations of coming close to the front of the field, but I still hope to have a solid race. The swim is in a river, and a portion is against the current. The swim waves are roughly every ten minutes with a rolling start for each AG, which is a different approach. It will be non-wetsuit, so I'd think a time in the 33-35 min range, while not fast, would be what I expect. The bike has a good climb in the early miles, than is pretty fast for the remainder. Best Bike Split has me somewhere around 2:18-2:19 for the ride. I'm hoping to have a better run than at Eagleman - close to 1:30 would be solid considering my run fitness, the heat & humidity, and the hilly course.

In terms of training, I've been pretty consistent since Eagleman in early June. Other than two days directly after the race, I've only taken one day off, and that was due to a long travel day to California for a wedding in late July. I've been able to get in long rides most weeks in the 2:30-3:15 range and long runs of around 13-17 miles each week. I'm looking forward to putting it all out there on race day!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Always On The Go! (well, almost)

This summer has so far been a real whirlwind. We have spent more time away from home, but things are starting to settle down before the start of the school year. Here's a breakdown of where we've gone since our trip to Nova Scotia:
- Three nights near Tanglewood in the Berkshires
- Trip to Nantucket for triathlon & visit with the parents
- Long weekend in NH to visit Storyland with friends
- Three day trip to Truckee, California for a wedding
- Four nights in Southwest Harbor, ME

One thing I've gotten very good at is packing up our car! Traveling is nice, but it's also really nice to be able to sleep in your own bed. With all of the travel, trying to fit in training has been a little tricky, but I've been able to get it done for the most part.

In Mid July we headed to Nantucket to visit the folks and for me to do the Nantucket Triathlon. I think this was my fifth time racing on home soil, and I was hoping to better my 3rd OA position from last year. Knowing that Beau Garufi was racing meant I was going for 2nd place. He's a former D1 swimmer, and there's no getting around that!

The weather wasn't exactly ideal - there was a bit of wind (headwind on the 2nd half of bike) and quite a lot of rain. The rain definitely slowed things down on the bike course. My power was pretty comparable to last year - around 315-320 watts - but my time was a minute slower due to taking things more carefully with slick roads. Coming off the bike I was about three minutes behind Beau, and knew there was no way of catching him. I was pretty much in no-man's-land, and tried to get the legs turning over. It was to no avail, as I haven't done that much running faster than 6:00 pace, with the focus on the 70.3 distance. I was able to average around a 6:15 pace, and it was good enough for another 3rd OA at the end of the day. One good take away was having quick transitions compared to the other top folks.

Consistent pacing on the bike - damn wind and rain!

Pretty even splits on the run.

OA Podium
Clean setup on the bike. 
At the end of July we headed west for a wedding in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Our college friend Tom was getting married in Truckee, and we were bravely taking along 'little one,' AKA Hannah. This was actually her fourth plane trip, but the longest one thus far. Overall, she did OK on the plane, but I did end up walking a lot with her in the aisles! The return flight was a red-eye on which she slept maybe 2/3 of the time. We, on the other hand, got very little sleep. I just can't seem to get comfortable in a seated position on a plane.

The wedding was great, although we were a bit thrown for a loop when we found out that the dress code was 'mountain formal.' WTF is that???? Ties were discouraged, and Katie attempted to dress me well for the event. It was awesome to see so many college friends. It seems that the only time we see many of these friends is at weddings, but those are getting fewer and fewer.

I got in a nice 14 mile run the morning after the wedding, going around Donner Lake twice. The altitude definitely impacted things, and my pace & HR were definitely off of 'normal' a bit. On Sunday we drove back to SF, but the traffic was pretty horrendous! It took well over five hours to get into the city, and we managed to have a short visit with my sister-in-law, before getting to the airport.

A few days after getting home we were again off! This time there was no plane involved, but a rather long drive to Mount Desert Isle, ME. Along the way we stopped off at Bates, where Katie and I both went to college. It had been five years since we'd been back, and quite a few new buildings had popped up during our hiatus. It was the first time on campus for both Jackson and Hannah. It was a good 'break up' spot, as Hannah wouldn't have survived the five hours straight in the car. Bates is almost the halfway point, so it worked out well. One thing that we wanted to do was get out to see the new boathouse for the crew team, but that will have to wait until our next visit. 

We were able to get in a short hike, and Jackson found a great place to throw stones in the water, one of his favorite activities! The weather was cooler than in the Boston area, which is always a nice change. 

I got in a few rides while were there. I always love getting out early, and my rides were pretty free of vehicles. I've found that I like doing bike intervals on Sergeant Drive and longer rides going into the park on the Park Loop Road. I also got in a swim at Echo Lake, and there was a nesting loon right near the beach where I began my swim.

Right after getting home from Maine we went into Boston for our first 'Sox game of the year. It was a great game and Jackson had a fun time, although waiting in line for 40 minutes to get a balloon 'Wally' wasn't so awesome.

The next few weeks before school begins include an Olympic race on August 20th and another visit to Nantucket to visit my parents for a few nights. I'm then headed to Tennessee for the 70.3 WC on September 8th. Fitness isn't what it was last summer, but I still hope to put together a decent showing.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Going Back Home

This is the view from the deck of my parents house looking out over Margaree Harbour (Canadian spelling) in Cape Breton. My Dad bought this 30 acre farm there in 1970 after staying in the house, which was a bed and breakfast at the time, and offering to buy it because of the amazing location. I was born in Sydney, which is a two hour drive away, and my parents lived in this house year-round for eleven years, my Dad painting and my Mom weaving and making textiles. They were a part of the hippie generation, partially getting away from the Vietnam War, and going back to the land. They had cows, sheep, chickens, and a huge garden. I spent every summer here as a kid, and have so many fond memories of the place. My Dad taught me how to fly fish for salmon here, and we could often see the salmon jumping in the harbour on their way up the river. My summer days were spent outside from sunrise to sunset, which is nearly 10 pm with the time change, playing with other kids. We had no TV and didn't need it! We built forts in the woods, created our own games, and I had an amazing summer childhood.

It had been five years since we'd been back to Margaree. My brother got married here in 2012 and we hadn't planned on taking so long to get back. My Mom has been back every summer, but my Dad hasn't made it since the summer of 2013. Needless to say, it was a very sentimental trip, and it was sad to leave. However, the house had a few drawbacks (well, really a lot!). The house is 100 years old this year, is full of lead paint, has only one bathroom, and two sets of rickety stairs. Having a 9-month old who wants to crawl everywhere meant Katie or I had to be super vigilant at all times. We tried to get out of the house to do some things, but there isn't a ton to do in the direct vicinity that is of interest to 4 year old Jackson.

Backing up a bit, after the Eagleman race in Maryland I had to go back to school for one more day. A few days later we headed to Nantucket for Father's Day weekend. It was nice to see my Mom, Dad and Grandmother. I got in a longer ride and run there, but the run legs weren't quite back yet.

Two days after getting home we were off for four nights in Stowe, Vermont, staying at a time share that Katie's parents have at the Trapp Family Lodge. During our stay, Katie had her birthday. I gave her a new pair of trail running shoes, and Hannah really liked the box (and Cliff Bloks too). We managed to get out and play a little mini golf. Jackson had a hard time following the rules and just wanted to whack the ball as hard as possible!

I hoped to do more riding in Stowe, but the weather didn't cooperate, and I only got in one ride. I went from the Stowe side up and over Smuggler's Notch. I didn't exactly have the proper gearing on my tri bike (53/39 w/an 11-25 cassette). It was still a fun ride and had some nice views on the climb.

Katie and I were able to get out on some rented mountain bikes for two hours one afternoon. It was a great ride and the weather was perfect. We managed to get lost a few times on the trails around the Trapp Family Lodge, but eventually found our way back. The ride makes me want to get a mountain bike and explore some of the local trails around our home. The time share had two pools, a 20-yard indoor one and a 25-yard outdoor one. I swam each morning and got in a bit over 10k yards while there. 

We returned from Vermont on Friday and on Sunday I did a local sprint race. I really hadn't done much specific training in between Eagleman and this race, and didn't know quite what to expect. I had registered in the Elite Wave, which had eight folks in it. The RD made the decision to start the elite racers in the 3rd wave, trying to spread things out. This made for a very tricky bike ride, as there were tons of folks who had no f-ing clue what they were doing. I know I'd probably be last out of the water from the elites, and that was the case. I had hoped to be no more than a minute down, but it was a bit more than that.

Before the race I debated with myself which shoes to wear - the modified Giro ACC's or my Shimano TR9's. I knew the TR9's were much easier to get into, but the Giro's were more aero. I chose to go with the Giro ACC, but was never able to get my left foot in. I ended up spending the first two miles trying to get my foot in, then decided to f-it and rode the remainder of the bike course with my foot on the shoe. I probably wasted close to a minute of riding time (coasting) trying to get the shoe on. Hindsight is 20-20, but the TR9's would have been a better choice. I've since adjusted the lacing on the ACC's so they are easier to get into.

As I said before, being started in the 3rd wave, and with the 1st wave comprised of complete newbies, the ride was quite harrowing. It was only a 12.5 mile ride, but I probably screamed 'on your left' 50 or more times. How hard is it to ride on the right???? Anyway.....rant over. I had hoped to be around 320 watts for the bike leg, but only averaging 250 for the first two miles led to an AP of 302 and a NP of 317. The last 10 miles were right around 320 watts and 27 mph. 

Coming off the bike and into transition, I could just see the bright green helmet of one of the other elite racers at our racks. He ended up having a sprint to finish 2nd OA. I was really in no-mans land, being nearly a minute behind the other elite racers in front of me. I had hoped to run around a 6:00 pace, but ended up at 6:11 for the race, and finished 5th overall out of a bit over 800 racers. It was a fun race, but I wish I had executed the bike a bit better and had a stronger run. The swim is what is holding me back a bit, but I'd really need a strong focus, and with two little ones that isn't going to happen. What usually seems to happen is that my swim comes around during the season - last year I ended up with a 31 flat swim at Pumpkinman. Hopefully this will happen again this year.

After driving home from the race we had a few more days at our house before heading off to Cape Breton for the week. My Mom arrived on Tuesday, and on Wednesday morning we got up early to drive to Logan Airport. The flight to Halifax is relatively short, at just over an hour. Once there, we got a rental car - well van actually. It was a pimped out Chrysler Pacifica with dual rear screens and tons of techno gizmos. Jackson wanted to 'watch something,' as he puts it, but the screens didn't get used. After a four hour ride, we finally made it to our family house around 4 PM. I won't bore with too many more details about our time in Cape Breton, but will add captions to a few pics.

I managed to get to the beach twice to try to swim. Both days were windy and wavy and the troops (Katie, Jackson, and Hannah) weren't all that happy. I ended up with only 600 or so yards or body surfing and floundering in the surf. 

On July 1st, Canada Day, we visited some friends of my parents. We managed to find a few Canadian themed objects for a Canada Day selfie. 

Our barn, which is in relatively good condition, once housed many animals. My brother is going to spend around five weeks here this summer trying to restore my Dad's 30 foot schooner, which is in the barn (part sticking out).

We went on a nearly 6 mile hike in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. In the past we've seen lots of moose, but all we saw was their crap! Jackson was a pretty good trooper, but I ended up carrying him on my shoulders for nearly half the time. I managed to get in 77 miles of hilly running during our week, including a nice 18.5 mile loop up and down the Margaree River.

We had a mini get away during our vacation, driving a bit over two hours to Louisbourg, and staying in a hotel nearby. Louisbourg is a French fort that was taken twice by the British (then retaken by the French) in the years leading to the American Revolution. It has been restored and has period actors. Jackson really liked all of the cannons around the fort but wasn't so sure about the soldiers.

Hannah didn't actually have her on airplane seat on the way home, but she liked it!

This is the summer of being on the go. In two more days we are headed to the Berkshire's for four nights, and then we'll be going back to Nantucket in a week to visit the folks and race in the Nantucket Triathlon. I finished 3rd OA last year, and hope to better that placing this year. After that we have a bit of time at home before going to California at the end of the month for a wedding. Somehow I hope to get in 12-15 hours of training a week to be in decent shape for races in August and September.