Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Timberman 70.3...the aftermath (Part 2)

This post is gonna be long one too and not for the faint of heart with the attached pictures. Just warning you...

Well, my race recap was one thing...but dealing with the results of the day is entirely another. I would've loved to just walked through the finish area and right into the med tent like I did at Syracuse (yes, two 70.3s and two trips to the med tent. That actually hurt to write). Instead I had to walk all the way around, through transition, out the "run out" gate to get to the med tent. Yes, I know I was in pain and I might not have been "right of mind" (then again, when am I EVER that?!) but that was stupid but the only way to get to the med tent.

As I walked up behind a gentlemen getting a blister attended to (really? a freaking blister dude?!) I was asked curtly "what's wrong with you?". Now look, I understand that I'm not decapitated and/or gushing blood and I don't expect Florence-Fucking-Nightinggale to be in the med tent at an Ironman event but I've had people going by me all day with looks of horror, asking me if I'm ok and telling me I need medical attention to include Andy Potts (by the way, I forgot to mention that there were these mirrors a person had set out on the course with "Look at this Rockstar" on them as you ran by. I saw myself in the mirror going out on the second loop and I had a look of horror when I saw how bad I looked) so why don't you do some quick assessment and see that I'm not here for a splinter! I would've loved to have said any or all of that. Instead, because I was at the point of being hammered crap I just uttered "crashed on the bike, think I cracked a rib" and turned to show my shoulder/back. Well, that changed everything. I quickly got walked to a stretcher in the tent.

The damage to me
A medic came over to look at me and ask if I could get my arm above my head and asked "how attached are you to the singlet?" because he was going to cut it off. "Um, I've been racing in the singlet for 3 years, there is now way in hell you're cutting it off me! I'll lift my arm!" I replied. Once he got the singlet off...we could really see how bad the damage was. I knew when the medic called for a must've been worse than I thought. What was visible down to mid torso was: the deep road rash from stretching from my left elbow, across the left shoulder (big chunk of meat taken off the top by the asphalt) across my back to the right shoulder. I tore off the end of my left pinkie finger and ripped up my right thumbnail that accounts for all the blood and my stuck together fingers), and took a large chuck out of my left elbow (you can see in the picture it was dark. I thought there was a rock in it and that's why I couldn't get comfortable in aero but it turns out that was just blood in a hole I gauged out). The busted blood vessels and bruising under my left arm is what got the doc called over. I knew I'd hurt my ribs, I just didn't know how bad. The doc put his hands around my rib cage on the left side, put his thumbs on the ribs and as he asked me "How does this feel?"...squeezed. I let out a noise I don't think I've ever made before in my life (enough to get EVERYONE'S attention in the med tent and surrounding area) just as I (and he) felt this cracking sound in my rib cage. "Ok, ok" he said, "Well you definitely bruised them and cracked at least one from the impact. There's no protrusions so you know you're just gonna have to fight through it while it heals". Sadly, I did know all that. I figured that was going to be the case but I wanted a real doc to check and confirm my suspicions.

I walked out of the tent in a sling, with the guidance of rest and take Advil for pain. Jesus, how many times had I heard that in my life?! I put on a "I'm lucky" and "I made the best of the day" face on...but inside I was dying. I had this race dialed in. I was having a killer day. I was quietly working toward a sub 5:30 (or faster) half Iron. Now that was all gone and I'm left with another "great story" about a race gone bad. Second 70.3 in a row I had to have J go recover my gear from transition. People keep walking by and offer their apologies and asking if I finished. Of course I fucking finished! ...but thank you for asking. I just wanted to get out of there, go the hotel, get changed, get a shower, put on my race shirt (I earned that puppy) and get some food.  It wasn't until I got back to the hotel and got my shorts off to take that shower that I saw there was even more damage in the form of a swollen bruise the size of grapefruit on my left hip (I guess I hit my hip hard on the asphalt too) and road rash/bruise on my left thigh from the impact as well. I stood there, looking at myself in the mirror (if you know me, you KNOW I hate looking at myself in the mirror) devastated. I will say that I was proud of myself for dragging that busted body in the mirror through 60 tough miles. Once again, I proved that I'll accomplish what I set my mind too...but I'm tired of doing it the hard way. Could I just have one damned easy thing or something go right?! The mantra my whole life has been Nietzche's "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger" (a mantra I plan on having tattooed on me as soon as this season is over) but for once, just once could I have anything difficult in my life go easy?!

The damage to my gear
After a shower, cleaning out and dressing of the damage (I forgot how much water and assorted ointments sting) it was time to assess the damage to my gear and most important to my Cervelo P2. That P2 means everything to me and my purchase of it made me feel like a "legit" triathlete. The thought that it was skinned up or even worse was not one I could think about while no the course.  Seems hitting the pavement at 28mph isn't just destructive to the human body. So, from top right going clockwise: my Giro helmet took the brunt of the impact (you can see the impact area and crack along the top of the helmet) and will need to be replaced. My left shoe/foot hit so hard the asphalt dug into the shoe and broke the carbon fiber sole and will need to be replaced. My left Look pedal (yes, those are older PP256's but I was given a few sets years ago and I love them) got chewed up and lost a big chunk. The left braker lever got shredded and broke from the hit (thankfully I still had the rear brake for the rest of the race and I couldn't use my left hand anyway) and will need to be replaced. I took out a 1/4 gouge out of the left side of the aero bar and it will need to be replaced. The left rear skewer on my SRAM S60 wheels is trashed. I hit the pavement and skidded so far that the end of the skewer got chewed off (definitely will have to be replaced). I can't believe my bike held together for another 47 miles and I held together for another 13.1 miles on the run! No wonder I had so many people pass me and ask if I was ok!

So it seems that both me and my gear were beaten up and broken from the day. Its funny that I have a joke about the Iron Man the comic book character. There's this pristine, shiny panted version that gets the job done and nothing goes wrong...and then there's the "battle damaged" version that's all beaten and scarred up from a fight that was won but was tough as hell. Me and damn near everything I do seems to always be the latter...and that Iron Man version will be tattooed on my body very soon...hopefully inside the Ironman "m-dot" logo after I finish a full to get back to training...

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Timberman 70.3...and old friend joined me...pain (Part 1)

This post is gonna be long and not for the faint of heart and I'm not holding
back the language, it was that kind of day. Just warning you...

I was really looking forward to this 70.3! After the debacle at Syracuse and all the lessons learned, knowing the Timberman course like I do and the projected cooler (high 70's, low 80's) weather forecasted, I thought the conditions would be perfect for me to crush the race. Friday was spent getting up to the venue, getting checked in, meeting with the great Ironman staff (story to come about that later) hitting the expo to buy race gear and then a quick swim and run with J and Kim.

Saturday was spent milling about the expo and venue, checking in bikes and buying tons of Timberman gear. Very rarely do I buy race-event gear but after not buying stuff at Syracuse (losing it all in a taken bag, long story) and nothing in my size being available online after the race, there was no way I wasn't going to have enough Timberman 70.3 gear! Then it was back to the hotel for simple dinner and an early night's sleep. 

Nice and clean layout
Race day wake up came at 3am (never ceases to amaze me that I can't get my butt out of bed at 6am to get ready and into work but will be an alarm on race day) packing everything up and heading to the venue to get parked. Great parking spot found it was time to head into transition to set up. I will say that I really enjoy setting up my transition area. Its a great, quiet time to envision the race. How you'll get into and out of the transition, what you'll need, how to finish. I use it as a great visioning exercise for the day and a way to cement locations and paths I want to take to and from. I find it very settling. I also get a little chuckle to lighten the mood by seeing folks layout their living room's worth of stuff around their bikes. I understand the wanting to have everything but people you just don't need to have it there.
Calming the nerves
I have to say, I wasn't nervous at all...getting my wetsuit on, getting down to the start, swimming a bit in the water (which felt great by the way), right up until I queued up in my wave. I have no idea why but a hurricane of butterflies hit my gut as I stood there. All I could do was close my eyes, take deep breaths, focus on the task at hand and get ready to enter the water. Now when you sign up for Ironman races they ask you to write a short bio about yourself and why you're doing this race...imagine my surprise when they read MY bio as we entered the water. I was blown away and to be quite honest, very moved. I get so focused on racing and times and such that I forget how far I've come. I yelled "thank you!" when the announcer wished me the best of luck and couple of my fellow racers leaned over to shake my hand and wish me good luck as well. All the nerves went away. I thought to myself that this will be a great swim for me and started to move toward the front of my wave. I've spent way too many races now seeding myself in the middle or back. I'm gonna find a pair of feet to hop on and if these guys wanna swim, they can swim over me! 

The Swim: 1.2 miles, 38:35 - 2:02/100m (a new PR!)
I look surprised because of my time!
The horn goes off and I start swimming. I know the first few hundred meters will be a meleĆ© so I just focus on keeping a good line and concentrating on form. The Timberman swim course is more of a rectangle (short to first turn buoy, long to the second, short into the exit) so my goal was to get out in open water by the first turn, try to find feet to hop onto and swim hard to the last turn buoy. I knew I was swimming hard because I was breathing every other stroke and while I felt the effort, I felt really good. I just focused keeping calm, sighting the next buoy, swimming hard to it, focusing on form (especially not dropping my left shoulder at each breath), repeat. As I hit the second turn buoy to head home the feeling of a full bladder hit me. Now, unlike "real" swimmers I am unable to pee while swimming so the next 100 meters was spent debating whether to stop and pee or try to pee when I get into transition or while out on the bike (don't "eww", plenty of triathletes do it). I thought the best choice was to stop briefly, pee and then get back to business. Getting to the swim exit required swimming over people but I swam as far as possible (the lake is extremely shallow going out and coming in for quite a way) before standing to get off my cap/goggles and start getting my wetsuit off. As I exited the water I glanced down to pause my Polar RCX5G5 and saw that I just did the swim on 39:30!!! Are you kidding me?! I couldn't believe it. Did I really just knock 6 minutes off my swim PR?! I was afraid to dwell on it just in case I read the watch wrong but I could crack a smile that the day seemed to start off very well. I changed my focus on getting to the bike, getting off my wetsuit and getting out for the bike leg without incident. Unfortunately I nicked something heading out of transition and lost control of the bike for a second but recovered quickly, mounted and was on my way. 

T1: 3:02 (not great but not bad)

The Bike: 56 miles, 3:00:03 - 18.66mph (not what I wanted)
Ok, here's where all the lessons learned from Syracuse had to kick in. I started drinking water as soon as the course flattened out and popped 2 salt tabs. As I got settled into a good rhythm in the first mile I passed a terrible crash with a cyclist on his back, face covered in blood. So terrible, but medical personnel were getting there so I needed to shake it off and get back to work. I knew that there was a big hill coming at mile 11 or 12 so I had a few miles to build a head of steam, get a good rhythm/pace, get hydrated, get fed and prepared for the climb. I was averaging around 24mph and was feeling good. My legs felt great, I was force hydrating and got calories in me which should pay off big later in the race. There was a slight downhill into a turn around mile 9 and then the unthinkable happened. Going into the turn at about 28mph, the woman in front of me picked an outside line, so I picked one to the inside. About mid-way into the turn she decided she wanted to change direction and jumped to the inside...right in front of me and on the line I was taking...sending me straight into the pavement. 

You can see my whole left shoulder is purple already
As I went down I tucked in my left arm (so thankful for all the learning-how-to-crash-training I got as a young cyclist because had I put my hand down I would've broken my collarbone and ended my day for sure) and rolled as I hit the pavement. More cycling training kicked in and I slapped my hands down to stop my "slide" only to realize that I wasn't wearing clothes and tore open the palm on my right hand. I could do nothing now but tuck and roll to ride it out (kinda funny how time slows and you can think of things to do or not to do as they happen). Me and my bike slid across and ended up on the other side of the road. I knew it must have looked like a bad crash because I heard the collective gasps and "oh shits" of the people around me.  I hopped up to grab my bike just from a volunteer as a police officer walked over with my water bottles to tell me he was gonna call an ambulance. "The fuck you are" I replied "just leave me alone for a second and I'm on my way". Maybe not the best way to address a cop but I wasn't going to take a chance of having some EMT "play it safe" and pull me from the course. I got my bell rung and my shoulders and side were on fire. I knew I hit my head hard but wouldn't know how bad until later. Looking down all I could see was blood all over each hand, I ripped the tip off my left pinkie and tore the thumbnail off my right thumb, and I couldn't close either hand. I thought to myself "well, isn't this just going to make for an interesting rest of the day?!). As I stood on the side of the road, dazed and bleeding, I was crestfallen. Syracuse was a crap show. Here I was at Timberman having a great race, everything going to plan and it all went away in an instant. But, there is no way in hell I'm not finishing. Firstly, because I don't have any quit in me. You can pull me off a course but I'll find a way to keep swimming, biking or running but I'll never...ever quit. Secondly, I was so excited to do this race and execute my perfect race plan that I had bought a TON of race branded gear. There was no way in hell I was gonna take that back! So, I got back on the bike and started pedaling. Unfortunately, that hill I was hoping to build momentum for and fly over was right around the corner so I'd have to slog through it. The moment I got out of the saddle the rock the bike it felt like somebody had hit me in the chest with a baseball bat. Then it dawned on me...on top of all the skin and gear damage...I might've broke or cracked a rib.  Shit...shit...shit! Ok, ok..let's think about this. I can lock myself in aero, not move my torso very much, focus on pedal turnover and get back to transition. Then I'll see how I feel out on the run. That sounded like a plan, let's do that.

Now, I'm pissed. I'm angry that I've NEVER had a bike crash until now...NEVER. I'm angry that someone could be so stupid and jump my line at speed. I'm angry that my "redemption race" is slipping away. That anger fueled me to make sure I ate, hydrated and salt-tabbed and pedaled my ass off to the turn. I hit the turn to see I was averaging around 20mph thus far. Not anywhere near where I wanted to be...and then...I guess the adrenaline wore off. Coming home I felt like I was pedaling through mud and deep breaths were out because of the pain. Throw in that I was getting some people I had passed already...and by people who went by me with looks of horror on their face (which let me know I must've torn myself up worse than I thought) and that second 23 miles was torture. I just kept telling myself that I needed to bike as hard as I could because I knew I'd lose time on the run. I've never been so happy to get into transition. I only had a short run left, I kept telling myself its a series of 5ks and then I'd get that medal and get to wear my finisher's clothes (no one ever said triathlete thoughts were sane).

T2: 4:48 (not bad, terrible)

The Run: 13.1 miles, 2:32:22 - 11:37min/mi pace (horrible)

As I came into transition I thought I could quickly get out of cycling gear, get on my running gear and figure out how I felt on the run. body had other plans. Getting off the bike and running to my transition spot was difficult. Bending over to grab my shoes was hard and getting my shoes on, even with flex laces, was excruciating. My fingers were bloody and stuck together, my hands were swollen and didn't want to work and I never thought the "pulling action" of getting on shoes would hurt my ribs so much. All I could see were stars...ok, ok...quick breaths, quick sip of water and get out on the run.

Holding onto my jersey and my form has gone to crap.
The course is a double out and back loop so I broke it down in my head to four 5ks (actually 3.3 miles each loop) and I just need to focus on each 5k in order to get through it. Luckily, your legs really hate going from hard effort cycling to running so the pain out of the heads of my quads overshadowed the skin/chest pain for a mile or so. All I was trying to do was breathe and keep a solid upright form while running. I figured if I could do that maybe I could just fight everything else off. I finally caught J, who's swim wave had been 4 minutes a head of me. I had hoped to catch her in the first 10 miles of the bike to use as a "marker" but that's how bad my day was going. As I went by her the look of horror on her face told me everything. All I could manage was to say "crash" as I went by and just kept running. The first 5k out is flat to downhill and my chest was killing me. I knew the turn and the 5k loop back was gonna be uphill and that's where I'd find out what I had in me. I turned that first 3.3 miles on an 8:39 pace. No land speed record but not bad considering. The return trip uphill was when it really hit me. I couldn't swing my arms to "dig" into the hill and as I needed to breathe deeply from effort my chest felt like someone was slamming a baseball bat into my left side. The only thing I could think to do was unzip my top and grab onto it to make modified sling, hold my arm tight against my body (to get some relief from the pounding of running) and keep going. I passed a guy run/walking who said "dude, you look pretty bad, maybe you should see the docs". "I will" I said "right after I cross the finish line". His response? "spoken like a true Ironman". I took a little solace in that comment. I'm not an Ironman. I've only done half Ironman events (for those that don't know - a half Ironman or 70.3 is a: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. Whereas a full Ironman is a: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run). My goal is to do a full and my thoughts on that were challenged throughout the day but I have proved to myself that if I required my dragging myself along the course with only my tongue..I will get through a full Ironman and get that coveted Ironman tattoo!

You bet your ass I bought this picture!
At the top of the hill is where J caught back up to me. She ran with me for a bit but had good legs for the run so I told her to take off and go run her race. Against my wishes she stayed with me, and stayed with me through the remainder of the run. There is a begrudging appreciation for having someone with me for that run. I am one of those guys that feels like struggle and difficulty should be faced alone, "never let them see you sweat", "never let them see you hurt" (in all facets of my life really) but I didn't have the capability to run away and I sure as hell wasn't going to run any slower. So we slogged through the next 8 miles together. I couldn't talk or chat. All I could really do was shallow breathe as fast as possible and keep my legs turning over. I had no idea how my "body" was doing on top of the injury. I knew the pain would mask dehydration or being in the tank with calories so I tried to grab a cup of water and a cup of coke at each aid station to keep myself hydrated and put quick calories in my stomach. I'm not the fastest triathlete, nor shredded with a 14 pack one either but what I am is the kind that can put his head down, focus on a goal and drag myself to it. That's what got me through those last few miles. I don't remember much other than focusing on crossing the finish line, getting a finisher's picture (the cameramen bugged out after the bad storm at Syracuse) and getting that medal. Imagine my surprise that as I crossed the finish line, proud of myself for gritting through the day...I got to have Andy Potts, who'd won the event 2 hours earlier and a pro triathlete I greatly respect, put my medal around my neck! As I mentioned in an earlier post, I met him back in '09 when he had that terrible crash and how I was afraid talking to him about it at a gathering on Saturday would be bad luck for him before this race...well, I relayed that story as he put my medal on and turned to show him my shoulder and back. As I told him that it seemed to be bad luck for me, he had a horrified look on his face and said "Oh my god, you have to have someone look at that! Did you do the whole race that way?!". I responded with "yes I did, on this day I made SURE to have more hope than doubt!", referring to the inspirational speech he gave on Saturday that really rang true for me. He fist bumped me and said "now THAT'S what I'm talking about! Great job!". Andy Potts fist bumped me and said "great job"! That meant a lot to me, it really did. Standing at the finish with that medal around my neck, friends asking me how I was doing/taking care of me meant a lot too. In spite of the crash and injury I finished Timberman in 6:19:35 and took an hour off the time I posted at 70.3 Syracuse. I had the wherewithal to soak up the moment and my accomplishment, before heading to the med tent to find out how bad off I really was. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post "the aftermath"...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A great approach to Triathlon...

I was lucky enough to attend a "Make a Wish" meet and greet with Andy Potts at the Timberman 70.3 festivities. I met him in back '09 when he and I both did the Chicago Triathlon (that was my first tri as a fat guy and he was "the" up and coming racer) and wanted to chat with him again...but considering in '09 he had a horrendous crash (striking a novice cyclist who couldn't maintain her line, the irony of that I will learn later, at 30+ mph...destroying his bike and getting sent to the hospital in a helicopter. It ruined his chance for a shot at Kona that year.) I thought bringing up that little tidbit would be bad form or worse, bad luck so I just sat in the audience listening and then taking pics of J and Jenn chatting with him.

Andy was given the chance to talk to the audience and he relayed on his approach to triathlon and subsequently its applicabllity to life. "Triathlon is all about the balance between hope and doubt" he said. "You have doubt as you push through training, through each event on race day...but that is countered by the hope that you're going to do better, be better. If you have a bad swim, you push it from your mind and focus on having your best bike. If the bike doesn't go to plan the you'll have the best run you've ever had. At the end of the day its all about having more hope than doubt. Always remain positive and focus on making the next thing your best, not doubt that it could be". What an amazing and positive way to look at things!

Obviously an approach honed through years of being a top notch collegiate and Olympic swimmer and now a 70.3 champion and 140.6 race winner. I always struggle with what to think while I'm racing, all sorts of things go through my mind, especially what could go wrong...but now I'll be thinking about hope...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Timberman 70.3 plan

Well, the plan at least. 

I learned a lot from and have had TONS of time to think about what happened at Syracuse 70.3. It's led to me approaching my training differently (not everything has to be an all out effort), rest days (actually taking them as opposed to not) and food (increasing my caloric intake isn't a bad thing). Hopefully all those things will contribute to a more successful and even more hopefully, enjoyable race come Sunday. So that being said I wanted to capture my "race plan" to put me in the right frame of mind and give me something to review post race. 

The swim: The only thing that DID go well at Syracuse was the swim. A 2:23-100 pace for my first 70.3 swim wasn't bad (wasn't great either). I'm no Andy Potts so I don't expect to take a ton of time off my swim in a couple months but I have been working hard on form and not fighting through the swim. I'd like to do the 1.2 mile swim in 42 minutes flat. 

T1: Make sure I catch my breath and settle down coming out of the water. On the run into transition, sight where my bike is, get my wetsuit down to my butt and get to my spot. Focus on staying calm, getting my wetsuit off, getting on my helmet/sunglasses/shoes, unrack my bike and get to the mount point for the bike. 

The bike: my goal here is to constantly take in a steady steam of fluids, calories and salt tabs to stave of dehydration or caloric deficit. I know there's a killer hill at mile 11 so it's key to get into a good rhythm/pace, get through that hill and maintain 23 or 24mph out on the flats by the speedway. I need to make sure I'm drinking plenty of fluids (refilling my aero bottle with water grabbed from aid stations) and prepare for the climbing on the way back. A 21mph average pace would put me at a 2:40 bike and set me up well for the run. 

T2: The key here is to dismount the bike safely, and get to my spot without incident. Grab a gel for the run, shoes on (socks and shoes seated properly because if not 13.1 miles will destroy my feet) and get out of transition smoothly. 

The run: I know the heads of my quads are going to kill me after that 56 mile bike. It's a 2 loop course so I want to focus on "settling in" for the first mile or two to get my legs into running. The course has a downhill on the other side of the 2 mile mark to the turn so I want to use that to my advantage to get around a 7:45min/mi pace. I want to take on water and coke on early to see how I feel. With the first loop done (you run by the finish) its about maintaining pace to the turn. That last 3+ miles back is all about emptying whatever I have left in the tank. As the course flattens and then declines to the finish I want to be running as fast as possible and maintain good footing on the grass into the finish. An 8 min/mile average pace would get me home with a 1:45 half marathon and a 5:12-70.3 finishing time. 

I smile big for the finisher's picture, get my medal and rejoice. That's what I'm hoping for anyway. Let's see what happens on Sunday. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Marshfield-Duxbury Triathlon...left me scratching my head

I honestly wasn't planning on racing. I had done Mill City in Lowell the weekend before and although I didn't do exactly like I wanted, I was happy with my result. So I figured a weekend off wouldn't be a bad thing. But enter a new friend with entries to a triathlon and the decision was made (it also really helped that it had an ocean swim and even though I live in Massachusetts, most Tri's around here are lake swims).

Now Marshfield-Duxbury is not close to my home. Its about a 90 minute drive from my house. Throw in that transition for the race closed at 7:30 am...and it became a 4am wake up kind of morning. I never cease to be amazed that I can barely drag myself out of bed to get to work at 9am but I seem to not only have no problem with early mornings but I happily pop up on race day.

Getting to the race was quick simple enough, partly because there was NO traffic at 4:30 am! Although there was a bit of a hiccup at sign in. The race didn't have us as registered (the reason given that we registered so late) but Bill Burnett, the race director for Streamline Events was on the ball and got us squared away (he really is a great guy and can bee seen doing any/every job at his races)!

Clean layout with my lucky charm visor
Set up in transition was not only a breeze but since we registered late, and got a high number the rack spot was in the corner of transition by the bike out. It was a great spot! Quick to the bike out/in point and great sighting to the run out gate. I do love having a clean and orderly transition area and after seeing the successful pro's lay out their gear the same way I realize its not because I'm a neat freak, its because it just makes sense. Bike setup, last minute porta potty trip and all that was left was to get on my wetsuit and hit the water for a quick swim before the start. That still sounds funny to me, "a quick swim before the start". There was a time that I was so anxiety riddled about the swim that I would pace back and forth until the last minute when I had to wade into the water for a start. Now I want to get in and swim a hundred to "warm up and relax".

1/4 Mile swim: 8:53, 2:00min per 100
Of course...another race...where my age group was PACKED! It was a beach start so I figured since we'd have to wade into the water/dolphin dive, I tried to be toward the back. The gun goes off and we all go. Most guys went running into the water. It was shallow for a while so I dolphin-dived in and shallow stroked until I got far enough into the surf to swim normally. I rn into the same problem that I had the week before at Mill city...I was swimming over guys. Not just to the turn buoy either but through the whole swim!which I really don't understand, I didn't start at the back of the pack. Well, keep swimming man, keep swimming! I will tell you I find ocean swims challenging, especially when the water is choppy. There were times i was stroking in the air because I was lifted so high out of the water by a wave. Not world ending but different and that occasional mouthful of salt water doesn't down as easily as pool water. I will say that a 2min-100 was a little disappointing. I felt like I was pushing much harder. Maybe it was the waves, maybe it was the rain. Oh ya, did I forget to mention it was POURING rain the whole swim?! Good times (Note to self; seed yourself toward the front next time. It'll give me feet to hop on and "push" me through the swim). Not great but good and I can build on my placings on the bike and run. There was a lengthy run out of the water, up a hill and into transition. But, as I mentioned earlier, that corner transition spot worked out great. Quickly out of my swim gear, throw my bike gear on and I was out of transition in good time.

T1: 1:28

11 mile bike: 30:50, 21.5mph pace (I'll get to this at the end)
The bike course was relatively flat and fast minus one hill around the middle of the course. I have to say that I thought I felt good and was riding well. Every time I looked down at my PolarRCX5GPS I saw 23 or 24mph. That is EXACTLY what I wanted to be riding! I only had 3 or 4 guys pass me (they didn't put AG markings on the calf at this race so I had no clue their AG...I hate that) and I rode down a bunch of folks. Yes it was pouring on the bike course but I LOVE that. Most people ease off in poor conditions but after years of training and racing in all sorts of conditions...and never having crashed, not because of my poor handling skills anyway (knock on wood) I just chew up bike courses in bad weather. I focused on turning a big gear at high rpms, standing up to power through the hill and chasing down people. Other than the rough road getting out of and back into transition, I felt like I was hammering and maintaining great speed through the course. I knew the run, although short, was going to be on the beach so I was pushing hard to get home. My favorite line of the day was a photographer out on the course who pointed me out to another guy and said "that guy looks f'ing angry". Bwahahaha! I'm ALWAYS angry when I race: at the course, at other people, at the weather, at myself. Its what pushes me through. I have my own angry mini coach in my head telling yelling at me to work harder. Back into transition, drop the bike and get out on the run.

A cool "race day" collage
T2: 44 seconds

3 mile run: 22:23, 7:08min mile
Like I said, the run was out on the beach. It was early in the morning but its sand nonetheless. I climbed the mini hill out of transition, tried to get close to the water on hard packed sand and get my legs to moving. A quick glance at my watch and I saw a 7:30 pace...too slow...need to pick it up. It was an out and back course along the beach, which I thought I could see the turn so I picked up the pace. I saw the leaders coming back to the finish and thought I was finally having the race I wanted...until I realized what I thought was the turn around was actually the 1 mile marker! Sonuva! Ok, deep breath, you're still up front (I thought), no one has passed you, so keep looking for packed sand, get to the turn and bomb to the finish as fast as you can. I caught 2 of the guys that had passed me on the bike earlier, could see another in front of me and was running negative splits. Good, get him in your sights and run him down...which I did about 10 feet from the finish to cross the line in 1:04:17.

I was gassed and happy with what I thought was a great performance. It was a big race, over 400 people, so I thought with the good bike, catching folks on the bike and run and given the conditions, I would end up pretty good overall. And then...the results got posted...not in the top 20 or so like I hoped...but 50th overall (54th after the final results posted) and 9th in my age group. Looking up the the breakdown of the legs I only rode a 21.5mph average, not the 23 or 24mph I thought. I was really disappointed. Like I said, I felt good and even though it was a good field I expected to place higher. I can't figure out for the life of me what happened on the bike. I literally was standing there at the results posted scratching my head. Maybe if I was in front on the swim I would come out with and be pushed by the leaders. Maybe I read my speed wrong. Maybe my "pushing hard" wasn't pushing hard enough...

My friend Bryan sent me this quote from Friel, "If your last race wasn't what you wanted, learn from it, throw it away and move on. It's not easy. But it's necessary". So I'm trying to learn and move on. I'm hoping to put together all the peices at Timberman 70.3 in two weeks.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A funny thing happened on my ride the other day...

I often get home, change clothes quickly and head out for a quick spin on my "lollipop route" (an 18 mile loop that uses a town square as my turn around, hence lollipop) in order to take advantage of the nice New England weather (now that the sweltering heat has past) and longer daylight hours. While I often see other cyclists out on this route on the weekend, I rarely see them during the week.
Hopped my wheel even though I was wearing THIS jersey

So as per usual, I get home, grab my Cervelo S5 (I love that bike, I ride it and feel like a pro...not a fluffy guy stomping the pedals) and head out for a double loop of my ride. About 5 miles in I happen to pass another cyclist stopped at a side road, give the obligatory 2 finger cyclist wave and kept going...until I happened to glance under my left arm at the sound of what I thought was shifting to see the front wheel of that cyclist overlapping my rear wheel. Ok, well I did just come through a stop light, maybe he just got up to me and will I focus on my rpms, pick up the speed...only to see him tuck right up behind me AGAIN!  Not cool dude, not cool. That is the cycling equivalent of somebody jumping in your lane at the pool, start swimming away but never ask to split the lane. A for-serious faux pas!

So I look over my shoulder and ask "are you just gonna sit back there and f'ing draft or are you gonna take a pull?!". To my surprise he responded with ",  figure I'll just let you pull me home...". Um, dude, are you kidding me?! A quick chat and I find out that this is his "rest day" and he has a long commute that he rides back and forth...oh ya? well I raced yesterday and I'm still squeezing gas out my legs. There's such thing as a free ride dude, take your turn or get bent. And, and, and...he still just sat on my wheel saying that since I was turning 22mph and was a young guy he'd just "ride me home". Oh hell no! I'm no Chris Froome but I jumped out of the saddle, got up to about 25mph and flat blew him off my wheel. So first off I got to feel like the cool kid (kid, I wish) becuase I had the power to stand up and blow him off my wheel and secondly I was happy to enforce a little cycling etiquette. Sit on a wheel? Not mine dude, not mine...