Monday, September 27, 2010

Therapy on Wheels....

Today has been a trying day once again.  It started off well enough with me cranking away on the second half of a large project for a client of mine.  I made great progress today and managed to go from nothing to completed drawings ready to be sent off for review in about six hours.  A few hours later I got a phone call from my client.  The project I spent six hours on...  big hit!  The project I've spent weeks on...   underwhelmed.  Ugh.  Sometimes you just can't win.  This particular project is a complete scenic and lighting design for a large conference.  I know that in reality its going to be a big hit when the client sees it in person.  My mind can make the leap from virtual reality in the form of a computer rendered simulation to what the final product will look like.  My client can not.  We've reached an impass.  They either have to go with what I've done, or look elsewhere.  Theres nothing else I can do at this point.  And all of the above is to say that today was intensely frustrating.

So around 4ish I was in such a mood that I decided despite the fact that this was supposed to be a day off and a recovery week I was going out on the bike.  It was pretty grey, overcast, drizzly and foggy today.  Being that it would be starting to get dark during my ride I decided to ride the bike path figuring it would be safer and my mind was too unfocused to ride at dusk in traffic.  So I stayed within the safe confines of the bike path.  Fortunatley the weather was bad enough to keep most people away so I had the path largely to myself other than the company of a few bike commuters.  I told myself this would be a recovery ride at an easy pace.  But I just wasn't in the headspace for a recovery ride.  So instead I rode angry..... and fast.  Granted the bike path is fairly flat but my speed largely stayed at 20mph+ for the entire 26 mile ride.  Even into the slight headwind.  I was intensely frustrated... so I channelled all of that energy into the pedals.  Time flew by and it wasn't long till I was in Bristol and out of bike path.  So I turned around and headed back towards East Providence where the car was parked.

The ride back was into the slight wind for a fair amount of it and I just stared at the speedo and did my best to crank away and hold it at 20+ as much as I could.  In the final mile on the bike path theres a steep but small hill to deal with.  I'll often throw it down to the small ring for this hill.  Not today...  today I stayed in the big ring, stood on the pedals and fought my way angrily up the hill as if it wasn't there.  That felt good.  At the top of the hill I finally allowed myself to relax and casually spin my way through the last half mile to the parking lot.  I felt much better.

Now back in my office and after another phone call I'm back to stress of it all.  But at least for those 26 miles on the bike I was away from it all.  Some people sit on a couch and talk to a professional....   I get on the bike or go for a run. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Amica 19.7 Newport Sprint Triathlon Race Report

This weekend was the Amica 19.7 Series sprint triathlon in Newport, RI.  Despite having a bit of a rough week and not feeling so hot and being burried in work stress I figured what the hec!  And I went for it anyway.  I just wanted to get one last race in before the end of the season.  Here's how it went....

Pre Race:  I went through my usual pre race routine in the morning with one exception.  I forgot to eat breakfast.  I realized this about ten minutes after I crossed the finish line.  I felt a bit out of sorts getting ready for the race in the morning.  I'd packed my things in a hurry two days prior to the race when I had more time and then spent the two days after that burried in work and work stress.  I had planned to head down to Newport on Friday night to meet up with a friend of mine also racing so we could drive the bike course and go to packet pickup together.  However work had other plans for me and by the time I was able to leave Providence packet pickup had long been closed.  Fortunately for me though I stayed with a friend of mine in Newport so I was only ten minutes away from the race in the morning. 

Once I arrived and went through packet pickup etc I headed over to transition to get setup.  Once that was taken care of I took a little walk to the beach to check out conditions.  WOW.  The ocean looked MEAN!  There were large whitecaps out as far as I could see.  Although the waves were not large, they were coming in very quickly.  It looked awful out there.  I've been swimming in the ocean in a variety of conditions all summer.  I've swam on days that made me pretty nervous, but I've gotten through them just fine.  I'll be very honest though and say that I really didn't like the look of the conditions out there.  It looked scary frankly.  I was still going to swim it, but I wasn't gonna like it!  Not long after that walk rumours started to fly through transition that the swim was cancelled.  However nothing official had been announced and noone seemed to have heard this directly from an official.  Not long after that though the announcement went out that the swim was cancelled due to dangerous ocean conditions and riptides and that it would be replaced with a 1/4 mile beach run instead. 

So I set about figuring out how to redo my transition plan to accomodate the beach run.  I tried the run barefoot and decided I'd rather do it in sneakers.  On the plus side all I had to do in T1 was remove my sneakers, put on my bike helmet and then go as I was leaving my shoes clipped into the pedals.  So with all that figured out I headed to the race start.

Swim: (Which was actually a 1/4 Mile Beach Run)1:29 (rank 93/ 351)

They lined us all up single file and we walked over the timing mats to get our chips registered, and then they pooled us together and then started the beach run together on a ten second countdown.  Once we were off I took my time with the beach run.  Some people went out really hard and it just looked super tiring and painfull so I went hard but at the same time easy and kept a good solid pace.  A quarter mile goes by fast so it wasn't much later I was into transition.

T1:  :53

T1 was fast!  Off with the shoes, on with the helmet and then out of the bike exit.  I got into a nice groove, got my feet in my shoes and was off and running in no time.

Bike: 16.1 Miles 48:04 (rank 59/351)  Top 16%

The bike course was actually a lot of fun and quite challenging.  16 miles was a new race distnace for me.  But I figured it was close enough to shorter sprints that I should still be able to just give it 100% and not hold anything back and be fine.  The course had a good mix of hills, descents, and a couple of short flat sections.  It seemed like all the descents ended with a sharp 90 degree turn that would kill your speed followed by a climb.  This pattern repeated through the whole course.  The winds that were causing all that nasty chop out in the ocean appeared on the bike course in the form of some pretty intense crosswinds.  My 60mm deep front wheel was challening to handle at times when the crosswinds would kick up.  And when the course turned into the winds it was pretty brutal!  I spent most of the bike course playing leap frog wiht someone else in my age group.  The two of us kept passing each other nonstop.  At one point he looked at me when I passed him and said "Oh yeah!  Its On!".  And then passed me back five minutes later and said "Lets Push Each Other!".  So we did.  We both continued to pass and push each other the whole course.  It wasn't until the last climb that I dropped him and left him behind.  I don't know this gentleman's name but he was a class act as he came and found me at the fnish line and congratulated me and said thanks for pushing him on the bike course and I said the same.  A classy move I thought.  It was great to have such a friendly rivalry going to push each other and good fun too.  All in all though I'm pleased with my bike.  It went well and I had a lot of fun. 

T2:  :33

T2 was very fast for me.  The bike in / run out were both very close to my rack in transition as well which helped.  So I just racked my bike, lost the helmet, on with the running shoes and I was off again. 

Run: 3.1 Miles (5K) 19:13!!  PR!!  (rank 17/351) Top 5%

The run felt really painfull for me.  I just felt exhausted through all of it but I pressed onward and fought for it the whole way.  The course was somewhat rolly and I did my best to crank up the hills.  On the plus I was enjoying the fact that I was passing lots of people again and I did my best to reel in anyone in my age group that I saw.  After the turnaround I came across two guys both in my age group running side by side and pushing each other.  I snuck up behind them and drafted them for a bit as they had a nice pace going.  When we hit the last aid station they slowed to get a drink and I cranked past them when they weren't looking.  I don't even think they saw the age on my calf.  When I rounded the last turn and could see the parking area I gave it one last crank and put it all out there and went sprinting across the finish line.  I felt like the run wasn't all that great.  If you'd asked me to guess my time I would have said 21 minutes.  I had no idea I'd logged my first official sub twenty minute 5K.

Overall:  7th of 38 in my age group, and 34th of 351 overall which is good enough for top ten percent of the field.  Its hard not to be happy with that.  Especially considering how little training I did in the week leading up to the race as I took three days off to recover from the TDD and let my heel that had some mysterious pain in it heal up after the TDD.  Definitely a very competitive field at this race and my age group was well represented in the top ten overall.  Once again someone from the 40-44 year old age group won the overall spot.  All in all a great race and once again Tri-Newengland was well represented out on the course as there were several other club members racing out there. 

Next up...    well now thats a good question!  Look for some posts soon on a season wrap up, offseason training plans, marathon training, and a look at whats on the shopping list for 2011.  I know there were a few photos taken at the race so hopefully I'll update this post with some pictures soon. 

I have to say that I'm a little sad at the thought of no more triathlons on the radar for 2010.  But with 5 done and behind me in my first season and a bright future ahead of me I'm pretty excited to get cranking on training for next season.  But first...   a recovery week!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Random Friday...

Time for a quick, random, disjointed posts.  Those that know me well know that I love things in list or bullet point form.  No idea why but I do...   so its time for some random bullet points of disjointed thought.

-I swam at GVP this morning.  We did the "short dock" swim which is about 3/4 of a mile.  It sucked.  I have not swam since the TDD and that wasn't really swimming...  more punching and treading water at the same time.  I was rusty, my form was horrible and I kept mucking with it to try and get it back, and then I'd get distracted and veer of course.  My sighting was bad too.  Pretty much everything was bad.  I'm sort of hoping that means I'll have a good swim tomorrow when I need it.  Maybe its like in theater when a bad dress rehearsal equals a great performance?  Errr...   maybe?  I guess I'll settle for not drowning.

-tomorrow morning I'm racing my last triathlon of the season which will be the Amica 19.7 which is a 1/2 mile swim, 16 mile bike, and 5K run.  It will be traithlon number 5 of the season for me. 

-My race plan for the Amica is as follows...   try and not suck in the swim, and then go balls out on the bike and go insanely balls out see what your fastest 5K can be on the run.  Yep.  Thats pretty much it.  Sockless, shoes on the bike, go go go at 110% the whole time till I tip over or die.  Who knows whats left in my legs and whether that will be fast or slow in the end.  No idea what the field will be like in this one.  I'm guessing a little bit more competitive than your average local RI FIRM race.  But maybe not?

-Work still kind of sucks.  Gritting teeth...   bearing down, and suffering through it.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

-Personal life decidedly does NOT suck.  In fact good things are happening. 

-I will be away for 37 of the next 55 days.  Ugh!

-I can't help but think of freedom from my current career every single time I close my eyes to go to sleep lately.  Stick a fork in me.  I'm done.

-I got really frustrated working in my home office today so I went outside in the sun and cleaned and lubed my bike for an hour.  I felt much better afterwards, and Dale is all shiny and proud and fast looking.  Hopefully I can do him justice tomorrow.

-Although its possible that some nasty work grenade may come tumbling into my weekend (although I'm pretty sure I've built a good bunker around myself to prevent that), I'm really looking forward to this weekend.  I have some really fabulous things planned.  And only one of them has anything to do with triathlons.  Hard to believe eh?

-My appartment is clean and all my laundry is done.  This makes me incredibly happy.  However actually cleaning it and doing all that laundry did not.

-I'm off to packet pickup in Newport in a few hours and then Chris S and I are going to drive the bike and run courses to check them out.  I don't want any nasty surprises like at the TDD last weekend.  If the day is going to be an uphill battle (literally) then I want to know about it!

-I wonder if a 16 mile bike ride means I should think about taking in a gel on the bike.  hmmm......

-I must, must, must find a swim coach for this winter. 

-It just occured to me that providing my landlord is game...  a change of careers for me next year could mean something pretty amazing.  I could get a dog next year.  I live vicariously through my friends dogs for now.  I dogsitt, I bring them here to my office during the day sometimes...  but really I've always wanted my own.  That would be pretty fabulous.

-Thats enough random thought for one day.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Turning Things Around...

I am extremely happy to report that yesterday was the great day that I really needed it to be.  I was having a rough week and yesterday really turned things around for me.  It started with a two hour ride with my friend Nancy.  We headed off from Providence into Seekonk for a nice loop through quiet roads.  The weather was perfect.  Just under 70 degrees, sunny, and although there were some strong headwinds I was so happy to be out on the bike I just didn't care.  We chatted a bit on some of the quieter roads and then there was a long stretch of just pedalling away when I could lose myself in thought.  Finally I was able to pedal some of the stress out of my system and relax.  My legs felt really strong too which was awesome.  I was having a great ride and each stroke of the pedal seemed to lift my mood and lower my shoulders.  I had told Nancy the night before as we were planning our ride that I was having a rough week and that I might be a little grumpy.  I was preemptively apologizing essentially.  But I'm happy to say it wasn't needed.  You know you can spend a hundred dollars a week on therapy, or you can go out and buy a bicycle or a pair of running shoes.  For me its the worlds best therapy to get negative energy out of my system.  So it was an excellent ride and an excellent start to the day.

After that when I was back in my office I had a really positive phone call about the project thats really been stressing me out and we made some massive progress through one of the hardest stumbling blocks.  So finally that part of the project can be put to bed and I can move forwards on the giant other half of it that still looming.  So workwise the day took a positive turn as well.

All this positive energy was starting to build momentum!  This is a good thing.

And then at the end of the day I was off to go run with a friend along the ocean.  We went for an amazing 4 mile run.  I say amazing as it just continued to lift my spirits.  I've felt a connection to the ocean since I went to high school in Middletown and spent so much time near it.  So running alongside it is always so good for me.  The ocean just has a healing effect for me in a way...   its hard to describe.  And without trying to sound like some sort of tie dye wearing hippie I feel like I draw energy from it.  We followed our run with an amazing salad with chic peas, ham, chicken, green beans, spinach, lettuce, sesame seeds, cheddar and mozarella cheese, and I'm sure a bunch of other things I'm forgetting.  But it was amazing and after three days on the road with an insane schedule where I ate pretty much nothing but balance bars it was exactly what my body was craving.  So that felt amazing.

Yesterday was just what I needed at just the right time.  I feel so much better heading towards the race this weekend and the push to get the designs finalized for this massive project I'm working on by the end of next week.  I also feel really good about a few other things going on in my life right now.  And the thought that a real sense of balance is ultimately on the horizon for me at the close of this year makes me feel much better about how insane the next couple of months are going to be.  So yes...   things are starting to turn around.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Can I have a do over for this week please?

I am exhausted...    its currently tuesday late evening and I've just gotten home from a quick business trip to Stamford, CT for another gig.  This is proving to be a very difficult week to get through and I think it only bodes of what the next couple of months are going to be like.  Between Sunday September 19th - November 19th I will be home for exactly 20 days.  Putting me out of town for 40 of the next 60 days.  Thats a lot.  And each of those trips requires pre production work and paperwork and phone calls and design work.  The stress of it all is starting to add up.  But if all goes to plan this chunk of shows could be my last hurrah.  So I just need to suffer through this batch, hold myself to the same high standard of work I always do, and get it done.  Come home with a bunch of money in the bank, start my tri bike fund, and move towards finding new work in 2011.  I've had it with life on the road.  I have lost all love for it.

On top of all of this my body is still not recovering well from the TDD.  Actually I shouldn't really blame the TDD.  Its my own dumb fault for racing a week after the FIRM when I know better.  I know I don't recover that quickly from an effort that hard.  I was recovering just fine from the FIRM till I packed the TDD on top of it.  So now I deserve all the calf pain, and tight hamstrings, and whatever the hec is wrong with my heel but seems to be getting better slightly.  And who knows what racing the AMICA will do this weekend.  I'm hoping that by then the residual effects of the FIRM will be gone at least and I'll just be dealing with feeling a bit run down by the end of the season.  I've done exactly ZERO training since the TDD.  I just haven't had the energy, and my legs haven't felt up to it.  That and to be honest the work stress has been so intense this week its been difficult to think about training. 

Tomorrow morning though I'm going to go for a ride and tomorrow night I'll go for an easy run.  I'm kind of hoping tomorrow's ride turns into a hard one.  I have a lot on my mind right now and I need to channel all this frustration into the pedals for a while and burn some of it off.  Its building up quite a bit and I need to put a stop to that.  Theres also been a few kinks in some personal relationships of mine this week that I need to process through and those things are always done best for me when excercising.  So hopefully my legs are up to hammering away tomorrow for a bit.

I really need tomorrow to be a good day.  The last two days have just plain and simply not been good days.  This week is hard to deal with for me.  I've been on such a high lately with the training and the great race at the FIRM and this week feels like such a low so far.  Its off to a very bad start.  So I hope that I manage to have a great ride tomorrow morning to start to turn things around...  a productive workday where I can change the momentum of this project that only seems to want to spiral downward, and then have a great run with someone I've been looking forward to getting to run and talk to. 

I was reading the Tri-NE forums on the drive home as I was stuck in traffic and not moving.  Lots of folks are off for a long run on the TT course on Saturday.  I would really like to go and join them after the Amica sprint but something tells me my legs won't be up for that the way things are going.  I guess we'll see though.  It would be nice to get a long run in.  Both for my mind and to kick start marathon training.  So I'll keep it in the back of my mind.

Ok...  time for bed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

TDD Sprint Triathlon Race Report

So sometime Friday night of last week I figured I should probably decide if I was going to race the TDD sprint triathlon the next morning.  It was 5pm or so and I honestly wasn't sure if I should do it.  I felt pretty beat up from the FIRM still, had not done much training in the days after the FIRM and was afraid I might do some damage to myself.  Really all I'd done since the FIRM was to swim once, bike once, and run once.  None of which were at all any any kind of speed.  But since it was a club race and so many of my friends were going to be there I knew I was going to go either way.  So after some thought and encouragement I decided what the hell I'll give it a go and see what happens.  It was a short distance race so how bad could it be?  If only I'd known!

So Saturday morning I headed up there nice and early as always and set about getting registered and setting up in transition.  I didn't feel great, but I also didn't feel awfull.  My hamstrings were mostly recovered and my calves felt like they might still work.  This was going to be an interesting day.  I decided I would just see how I felt along the way during the race and at any time I would feel free to either bail on the race (yeah right!) or slow it down to a comfortable pace and just enjoy being out there with my teammates.  Speaking of which Tri-NE was out in force at the race and there were many of us racing out there again.  It was great to see so many of us in transition getting setup and ready to race.

Its important to know at this point that all I knew about the course was it was a 1/4 mile swim, 11 mile bike, and 3 mile run.  Thats what the website said anyway....

So off to get in a brief warmup swim in the somewhat chilly lake.  Part of me had it in my head that the swim would be fun and short.  Boy was I wrong!  I have to say I generally really like very physical swims with lots of people in the water.  However this swim was not fun.  When the gun went off I went running into the water on the front line of everyone right away.  I then headed for seven minutes and change of absolute misery.  Worst swim I've ever done by far.  And I don't mean by pace, I mean in terms of contact and absolute misery.  I did ok out to the first buoy but at the turn there were just too many people fighting to round the corner and I was too close the buoy to get away from it.  I got pummelled at the buoy.  Arms and legs everywhere and everyone trying to get through the people panicky and lifting their heads out of the water.  I managed to get round it and then all I could feel was arms pushing my legs down.  I absolutely could not make forward progress.  I tried to breathe three consecutive times and each time I had an arm or leg pushing my head down or I got kicked.  I honestly had a moment of drowning panic out there as I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to find air in the chaos.  Finally I started moving again and I was right in the middle of the pack.  Right where I didn't want to be.  There were people everywhere all around me and I couldn't find clear water.  Again the contact started and my legs got continually grabbed and trampled over while we all fought to keep moving.  Halfway between the buoys I honestly considered stopping.  I was exhausted and fighting just to breathe let alone swim and I wasn't having any fun.  In fact I was getting kind of angry at how poorly people were behaving out there.  I mean seriously...   you have goggles, you can see where your going.  Get the hell off me.  Then I ran into the same pair of breaststrokers everyone else did.  Two big dudes with long legs flailing around.  Getting around them was a nightmare.  Finally I'd had it and right before one dude was about to kick me I deflected (not grabbed!) his leg with my hand to save my face from getting kicked and break his rhythm.  And then the final buoy, which I also stupidly got too close to and got caught in the chaos of everyone else reaching it at the same time.  Now I was really getting pissed off.  I started to consider getting out of the water and going home.  I was that miserable.  This just wasn't worth it.  But then I found clear water on the way in.  Mostly as lots of people stood up early in the shallow water while I kept swimming into shore till I couldn't.  Finally I was out of the water and started the run into T1.  I ran next to CJ and remember saying something like "what the hell was up with that swim!".  After talking to several of my teammates who swim around the same pace I think we all had similar experiences.  I need to remember these moments on race day when I'm lining up.  Its just not worth the battle.  I need to start to the outside and round the buoys wider.  I bet I'll end up faster than fighting my way through the pack all the time.  I just really need to focus on swimming much faster this winter.  I'm really tired of being a middle of the pack swimmer and not placing in my age group because my swim is two minutes slower than everyone elses.  But I also need to remember that I couldn't swim in April so I should be happy for now.

Anyway...  into T1.  Usually I leave my bike shoes clipped into the pedals and my T1 is nice and quick.  But the way this course was laid out you mount your bike on the grass and then ride over a dirt road for a while before finding pavement.  Not exactly the place to get your feet into your shoes while riding so I opted to put them on in T1.  This of course was new to me as I've never done that before.  So my mount was not fast as I have never clipped in at speed before or practiced that at all.  But all in all it wasn't too bad.

So now I'm on the bike and away.  I was thinking about how much the swim sucked and wondering if I should just ease up on pace and enjoy the day.  But my brain is just not wired that way so I started hammering away.  I kept thinking its only 11 miles, how bad can it be?  I had no idea.  I should have ridden the course ahead of time or driven it.  I was not expecting it to be as challenging a course as it was.  The bike course was full of rollers and was damn hard work.  I did my best to hammer away at it but I was really suffering out there.  As each mile clicked by on my computer I kept thinking...  this is so silly!  Why am I racing!  I'm so not recovered from the FIRM.  I need to chill!  And yet I couldn't bear the thought of slowing down so on I went.  And on and on this battle in my brain went.

Finally the downhill towards transition came.  I got my feet out of the shoes and decided to see if I could do a running dismount on the grass.  I fully expected a trainwreck to happen but I made it through the dismount without issue and into T2.

T2 would have been pretty zippy if I hadn't forgotten to move my garmin from the bike to my wrist.  Oops!  So I had to double back for it about 10 feet and then head out again.  That was stupid.  So then I'm onto the run.  I had no idea how my legs would behave on the run.  I fully expected a meltdown.  When I realized the run started with an uphill run on a rocky dirt trail I almost cried.  Seriously?  Ugh!  So I fought my way up it despite my calves screaming and starting to spasm.  Again I thought I should slow down and yet I couldn't bring myself to do it.  Damn I'm stupid and stubborn. 

A mile into the run I realized that it was going to be full of rolling hills just like the bike was.  I don't mind hills, but today not fully recovered from the FIRM I was in no mood!  But stubborn dumb Nick kept fighting up and down them.  I started to think to myself that isn't this an out and back course?  Howcome theres no runners coming towards me?  I figured I just had it wrong and that it was a loop course.  Now keep in mind my wave was the first to go off.  So we were the only ones that far into the course at that point.  It wasn't until I was getting towards the turnaround point I saw a runner coming towards me.  Hey!  Its Jon from my club!  RIGHT ON he's leading our entire wave!!  So Jon led the charge back to the finish.  I was psyched he was having such a strong day.  Not long behind him was Kevan also rocking it, and then before I knew it I was at the turnaround point.  Holy crap... the reason I haven't seen many people is that I'm actually doing ok amongst those in my wave.

Reaching the turnaround felt pretty damn good as I knew the suffering would be over soon.  And make no mistake, the run was pure mind over matter 20+ minutes of pure suffering and pain for me.  Its usually my favorite part, but not that day!  I wasn't having any fun out there at all.  I was just happy the damn thing was almost over.  I looked at my Garmin and saw I was 2.5 miles into the run and did my best to pickup the pace for what I thought was the last half mile.  I'd checked the website that very morning and it said three mile run.  Not 5K, and not 3.5 mile run.  Well guess what!  When my garmin beeped to say I'd run 3 miles I couldn't see the finish line.  What the hell!  Where is it?  So I just tried to hold my pace and prayed the damn thing would show up soon.  Eventually I saw the finish through the trees and did my best to hammer my way through to the end.  At the finish I checked my watch and it was in fact a 3.5 mile run.  But hooray!  Its over!

In the end I crossed the finish line around 1:07 or so.  Not too bad.  Good enough for fifth in my age group and 34th overall out of about 380 or so individuals racing.  So thats top 10% when I felt like absolute hell on the course.  So I'm pretty damn happy with that.  What I'm not so happy with is myself for even racing.  Its now two days later and my calves are on fire, and my right heel has something wrong with it.  When I stand barefoot on it there is discomfort at the base of my heel.  If I poke my finger under my heel and put pressure there its a pretty obnoxious dull pain.  So something is not happy in there.  I'm guessing its a bruise of some kind or something but I have no idea.  I'm just hoping it goes away soon!  Especially as I'm already registered for the Amica sprint next weekend which wasn't cheap so I'm hoping I recover in time.  So far I've done zero training since Saturday as I just haven't felt up to it.  I may try a little pool swim today here at the hotel as I'm out of town currently.  If that doesn't go well I'll just get in the hot tub and hope that helps instead.

Really though despite my hour of suffering thats not what the day was about...   it was about my club coming together and picking a race that everybody could compete and have fun in.  Extra special about the day was my friend Chris and David completing their first triathlons!  Congratulations guys!  And as well as that many many of my club members placed in their age groups and divisions.  Definitely a great day for Tri-New England!  What was a real bummer for me personaly though was that I couldn't stay for the BBQ after the race.  Since I had to leave early sunday morning for a show in CT I had to go home and finish the prep work and packing so I'd be ready to leave the next morning.  I hated to have to bail...   that definitely sucked, but I have to pay the bills somehow.  But I did get to see the pictures on FB and it looks like a great time was had by all so that was nice to see.  Hopefully I'll make the next one.

The rest of this week should be interesting...   I need to try and start training again as well as let myself recover for another day or two I think.  I'll try to start with the pool and see what happens and go from there.  I just hope my heel and calves recover quickly.  Time will tell.....

Friday, September 17, 2010

Post Half

You know its funny how great it feels to cross the finish line of a big race you've been working towards for a long time, and how strange it feels just a few days later when you've met that goal.  I have been on a pretty great high all week from Sunday.  I think I'd still be super happy if it weren't for the fact that the work stress I kept at bay before the half has now come rushing in.  I'm burried under a mountain of it and I've been working round the clock to try and get it all done.  I did manage to have a couple of nights of fun this week with some friends which was much needed and very enjoyable.  But once I'm back in my office the reality of the mountain of work I'm faced with from now until mid November is upon me.  Once I get there though its smooth sailing and probably two months of no travel except for the marathon in early January.  I'm very much looking forward to being home after all this chaos is over.

So in the meantime whats next training wise....   well this week has been a bit of a disaster training wise.  I was obviously pretty sore on Monday.  Tuesday I swam 3/4 of a mile at GVP and that felt rough, but ok.  It certainly helped loosen things up a bit.  On wednesday I got in a two hour ride which felt awful at first but much better towards the end.  Thursday I was supposed to swim but there just wasn't time in the end, and today I'm going to see what happens when I try and run.  A large portion of my tri club is racing at the TDD Sprint Triathlon on Saturday morning and then having a large BBQ afterwards.  I still haven't decided if I am going to race or not.  My hamstrings still feel a little tight.  So I'll see what happens when I run.  If after the run I feel ok I may just go for it.  But if I don't feel good running I'm not going to risk the injury.  I'll just go and cheer my friends on.  Sadly I have to skip the BBQ though...   I need to get back to work immediately afterwards as I'm going away Sunday-Wednesday on a business trip and theres much to do to get ready. 

In other random thoughts...    if you've been eating really healthy food for a long time and you suddenly drink lots of beer and eat calamari and nachos at 10pm.  Bad things happen to your stomach.  It sure did taste good, but it sure as hec wasn't worth it!  I have indulged quite a bit this week actually.  I'm sure I've added a pound or two that I'll now have to shave back off.  But I certainly deserved it.

So now I need to think about the sprint tomorrow, another sprint in Newport a week later and then the triathlon season is at a close and it will be time for me to focus on offseason training, swimming in the pool, finding a swim coach, finding a tri coach, and getting ready for my crazy 1/2+Full Marathon weekend challenge.  Which I need to get my act together and put a training plan together for soon as its time to start running long again and getting ready for it.

Right... time for me to head back to work, but I did want to get a quick update in.  Updates may be a bit scattered in the coming month as work is about to increase in intensity about ten fold.  But hopefully I won't leave it too long.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

FIRM Half Ironman Race Report

Where to begin...   yesterday was such an amazing day that was part of an amazing weekend that was part of an amazing summer.  This has been an amazing journey for me from runner to triathlete and I've loved every single minute of it.  Especially as I've come to meet so many fabulous athletes and friends through Tri-Newengland who were all so giving of their time, advice, and friendship.  Without their knowledge and support theres no way I would have stood at the swim start with as much confidence as I felt or crossed that finish line as strongly.  So thank you so much to all of you!  I might just be able to count on two hands the number of workouts I did alone this summer when I was home, and I train six and sometimes seven days a week.  So thats tells you what a great community of triathletes there are in Rhode Island.  But I'm digressing....   and in the first paragraph as usual.  Onto the race stuff!

Oh and one last thanks to Cass, Kellie, Diane, and Jen for taking such great pics and videos and allowing me to use them here on my blog.  Thanks guys!


The day before the race was pretty hectic for me.  I've been burried in work and have been fairly stressed about all of that and it wasn't until Friday at 5pm that I allowed myself to shut that out for the weekend.  Once 5pm on Friday hit if felt like the whole weekend was on fast forward.  And yet every moment of it was awesome!  But it all went by so quickly!  I desperately wanted it all to slow down.  Saturday got away from me in a hurry and was just moving way too fast.  So I had to refocus and recenter a little and change my plans around and calm down and get my act together for the race in the best way I know how.  So sadly I missed out on the Tri-Newenglad carb loading lunch, but it meant that I was able to get everything done in time and get to bed before it got too late.  I'm usually way more organized than that but the week just went by too quickly.  Saturday also included a trip to Narragansett for packet pickup and the prerace meeting which included some interesting tidbits and the comedy of Fred Bartlett describing the course.  Speaking of which he and his team of volunteers worked very hard to get the course ready for all of us and to put on a very safe fun and friendly race.  So kudos should go out to him and his team of volunteers as well as FIRM racing for doing such a great job!  It was truly appreciated!  As well as packet pickup and the pre race meeting I also went for a quick ten minute ride on the bike to make sure my calf that had been tight all week was going to behave and be ok and to do something to burn off a little nervous energy.

I got to bed on Saturday night by 10pm or so.  Not as early as I wanted to but it wouldn't have mattered if I'd gone to bed at 8pm.  Sleep was hard to come by.  So I spent much of the night going through my race plan in my head over and over again and going through how each transition would go again and again until I fell asleep. 

Race Day Pre-Race:

The alarms started going off at 3am.  Fortunately ten minutes before that the coffee pot started brewing.  I went through my morning routine much faster than I thought.  I was up, showered, bike loaded and ready to go by 3:45am.  I hadn't planned on leaving that early but all I wanted to do was sit down.  And I knew if I sat down I was going to fall asleep.  So instead I got in the car and started driving.  Turned on Radiohead's "In Rainbows" album and cranked it with the windows down and headed south.  I arrived at the parking lot of the race by 4:40am.  Yep.  That early.  OMG Its FREEZING!!!
Oops.  I planned on arriving at 5am.  I used the time to prep my bike shoes and get those set, lubed, clipped into the pedals and rubber banded in place.  Around that time a gentleman also in the parking lot walked over to me and started asking me about the swim.  He said "so I've only swam in the ocean once and that was a calm day, have you swam before here?  do you know what its like?".  The first thing that popped into my mind was how rough its been the last couple of swims I've done at the beach.  But I figured that wasn't going to help him any so I just said "Nah...  should be nice and calm today, I wouldn't worry about it, you'll be fine".  Never has such a lie been told.  At 5am I rolled my bike and gear into transition and started setting up.  Yes...  I will fully admit I was the first one in transition.  I like getting setup early so I know its done and I can focus on trying to relax and get my day going.  By 5:10am I was pretty much setup in transition just in time for Joe to walk over and make fun of me for being ready already.  Good stuff!  All of the good humour and fun in transition that morning from my fellow tri-newenglanders was awesome.  It kept it light and really helped me to relax a bit.  I headed over to get bodymarked and once that was done I was pretty much good to go except for putting on my wetsuit, but I had 40 minutes or so before I had to worry about that.  I don't remember too much about the next 40 minutes.  I remember it being really dark and a bit ominous in transition.  I remember being really cold and I remember a hug from just the right person at just the right time that made me feel like everything was going to be ok and I was going to have an awesome day.  Everyone is trying to get ready for a long race and it was pretty quiet in there at times.  Kind of a fun feeling to be a part of.  You can almost feel the energy in there of a bunch of tapered crazed athletes ready to have at it. 

I spent some time visiting with friends and chit chatting for a while.  A lot of people asked me if I was ok.  Apparently I'm told I was a bit wired!  I think its safe to say I was pretty excited and full of nervous energy.  I was also freezing and bouncing around a lot to try and stay warm.  I even went as far as to put my wetsuit on fairly early to try and warm up.  At 6:30am a large group of tri-newenglanders suited up in our wetsuits and started the "march of the penguins" walk down the beach in our wetsuits to the swim start almost a mile away from transition.
I don't know if I'll be able to describe what an amazing feeling that was.  The sun was rising in front of us and there were triathletes in wetsuits all the way up and down the beach walking to the start.  The energy was awesome.  I had about a million thoughts rushing through my head and the fact that the race was about to start in less than half an hour was a pretty intense sensation.  I had fun moving between different groups of friends on the walk down and chatting with everyone.  It was fun to see how different people handle the moments before a race.  Some openly excited and wired (that would be me), some looking nervous, some laughing, some contemplative, some intently focused.  We all seemed to have our own way of getting ready.  When we made it to the swim start area many of us took the opportunity to walk into the water and go for a very brief warmup swim.  I was amazed how warm the water felt considering how cold the air felt.  I was FREEZING in transition all morning so I was happy to stand in the warm water for a bit.  While out in the water I had this amazing moment of realization.  As I stood there I could see the sun rising on one side of me with its rays poking through the clouds in the most picturesque of fashions.  And then turning into shore all you could see was the faces of hundreds of athletes lining the beach in wetsuits and as far as you could see back to transition there were people still walking towards us.  Its a moment in time I'll never forget and a highlight of the day for me.

I walked back onto the beach and a few minutes later the first wave of elites went out.....

(Note:  The results and splits shown below don't quite match the FIRM website as I have removed the Aquabike totals from these to compare apples to apples as it were)

The Swim:  36:10  239th/280 Overall 24th/32 in Males 35-39 Age Group (Goal Time was 40 Minutes, but I wasn't expecting the current to be as strong and help out so much!)

I watched the elites go out and the first thing that I noticed was how they rounded the buoy.  I knew that the current was with us this morning and would be flowing in the direction of the course but I didn't realize how strong it was.  Many of the swimmers that started in line with the buoy had to swim against the current to round it as they had gotten swept to the wrong side of it by the current on their way towards it.  Mental note... start further to the left.

Wave 2 goes off...   holy crap I have to start this thing in 8 minutes!  I think at that point I ended up next to Kevan.  He and I think alike in some ways and we were both full of excitement and totally pumped up.  Seeing him and all of my friends at the start made my first race so much easier.  If I had been all alone there I would have been a mess!  So after a few silly moments of fun between us all we all started to get serious.

Wave 3 goes off...   Uh oh!  Were next!

We started to line up to the left of the swim area as we had all seen the current drag people too far right before the buoy.  I never looked behind me.  I didn't want to know how many people were in my wave.  I just kept looking at the buoy and did my best to grasp the enormity of what was about to happen.  Your standing there waiting for the countdown thinking stuff like....   Sure I have to swim 1.2 miles...  but then I have to bike 56 and then run a half marathon?  Am I fricking insane?  And then someone yells "30 Seconds" in a megaphone and you think..  "Oh F@#$!!!" 

Ten seconds.... 


And then we were off and running into the surf to get to a depth we could start swimming in.  A lot of people ran out there really hard.  Its not easy running in the water.  So I sort of fast walked it.  I figured whats the point of exhausting myself in the first ten seconds!  But it wasn't much later I was off and swimming.  Ok... relax...   find the buoy, relax, find the buoy, relax, find the buoy, relax....    Over and over and over in my head.  And then there was the buoy.  I started way to the left and I just barely rounded the buoy before I would have drifted to the wrong side of it with the current.  This was going to be a FAST swim.

Once around the buoy I started to head towards the towers in the distance and start to look for the guide buoys.  Umm....  hello?  Guide Buoys?  Are you out there?  I think I saw one during the entire swim.  And that was only for a fleeting second when I was on the top of a swell and just saw a flash of bright red.  Other than that I only ever saw the big first turn buoy and the last turn buoy.  That was it.  So I was pretty much on my own to make it down the beach the entire swim.  In retrospect I wish I'd taken this tack from the beginning.  I wasted a lot of time and speed in the water looking for those damn buoys.  I knew better too.  I've done that swim at least a dozen times now with no buoys so I don't know why I was so interested in them now.  I think the fact that I quickly seemed to lose sight of all the other swimmers didn't help.  We spread out fast.  Once we got about a third of the way into the swim the chop seemed to really increase and the current was pushing waves (and me) diagonally towards the finish and the beach at the same time.  I kept realizing that I was too close to the shore and I was fighting my way back out as well as onward.  I should have been swimming further out.  Somewhere halway through the swim I crashed into someone and looked right at them.  Hi Kevan!  I'm pretty sure we both smiled and then kept swimming.  It was pretty funny. 

The rest of the swim got more and more frustrating navigationally.  At this point I finally smartened up and sighted for the towers.  I was getting closer and closer to the sea wall and I still couldn't see the last big buoy I HAD to round.  The other buoys are just to guide you.  I didn't see that buoy till I was 50-75' from it.  Which in the ocean is damn close.  Luckily I was lined up pretty good.  I had no idea if I was too far out or too far in as I approached it.  I rounded that buoy and then started to look for what were called the "gateway" buoys.  Which were 4 buoys set up to make a lane you swim through towards the swim exit.  Out of the 4 of them I knew were there I could see exactly NONE.  I also couldn't make out the inflatable arch on the beach that marks the swim exit.  So I just swam towards sand and hoped for the best.  At that point a friendly kayaker came over and directed me further to the right which I was very gratefull for!  And then finally I was out of the damn water!

Run down the beach and into transtion and towards the wetsuit strippers...  pay special attention to the music choice here.
Out of the wetsuit and into...

T1: 1:39

Running into transition I was going through my usual list of stuff in my brain.  Arm Warmers, Socks, Glasses, Helmet and GO!  And thats pretty much what I did.  I knew the arm warmers weren't going to be fun to put on with soaking wet arms but I also knew without them I would be so cold on the bike I'd lose more than the thirty seconds it would take me to get them on.  So I fought with them for a bit, then the socks, glasses, helment and then I was off and running.
Onto the bike with my shoes already clipped into the pedals and I was off and going in no time.  Getting my feet in the shoes went nice and easy as always. 69.1 miles to go.

Bike:  2:59  126th/280, 20th/32 (goal time was sub 3 hours)

The first thirty minutes of the bike course were pretty damn cold.  Being soaking wet and out in 50 degree temps pedalling at speed was not warm.  But I tried very hard not to focus on it.  I just wanted to have a good solid ride and stay within my goal pace.  I wore a regular watch for the entire race with a clock running on it.  When I was on the bike and going I looked at the time.  It was less than 40 minutes!  Holy crap that was a fast swim!  So I knew I had a few minutes in the bank to reach my secret goal time of 5:24 which was what I had decided was my absolute best case race.  So I smiled about that and enjoyed that thought for a couple of minutes as I was rounding the first turnaround and heading towards the meat of the course.  I got a gel and some fluids down right off the bat and settled into my groove.  The problem with being a slow swimmer in the last wave to start is that essentially everyone is out in front of you on the course.  Pretty much the entire day all I did after the swim was pass people nonstop.  Which is good for morale I suppose except I knew it was because I was starting at the back of the entire pack.  When I hit T1 there were maybe 20 bikes in it still.  So 280 people were out in front of me.  So I just focused on picking them off one by one at my steady goal pace.  I tried not to accelerate to pass people I just passed people not going my pace and avoided drafting ALWAYS.  Somewhere right around mile 10 maybe Luis passed me.  Immediately I started repeating in my head...   Don't chase him, hold your pace, don't chase him, hold your pace, don't chase him, hold your pace.  I knew my race plan and I planned on sticking to it, and pride and ego was not about to get in the way.  So I let him go.  Only he didn't really go.  In the end he was about six bike lengths in front of me and stayed there.  In fact he was also riding my perfect pace.  So we stayed together like that with the gap widening and shortening off and on through the first 37 miles of the course.  A few times I'd ride up and pass him when he was taking a drink and we'd say hello and then once he was settled again I'd let him pass me back and we'd ride on like that.  The whole time the two of us were constantly picking people off one by one by one.  I think I got passed on the bike (not counting Luis) exactly once.  All the fast guys were in front of me apparently. 

I managed my pacing awesomely!  I kept an eye on Luis but I also kept a sharp eye on my bike computer.  I wanted a 19 average and nothing more as my only goal on the bike was to finish it in three hours or less.  Coming into the KFR loop my average was up to 19.4 or so I think.  Coming out of there it was right around the same mark which was perfect!  So I'd managed my pacing well on the technical hilly bits and averaged out right where I wanted to be.  I was pretty chuffed with that.  In the five or so miles left out of KFR to the turnaround at mile 37 I suddenly started realizing something.  I was going awfully fast.  And my legs weren't as tired as they should be for the pace I was riding.  Uh oh.  The wind is going the wrong way.  This could potentially really suck.

I hit the turnaround at mile 37.  Right at this point Luis took off.  I let him go.  and then....Yep.  There it was.  A headwind right in my face for the next 19 miles.  Crap!  In all the times I've ridden this course its always been a headwind on the way out, tailwind on the way in which is awesome as your into the wind when you are feeling strongest.  But today of course it had to be different.  Those miles were the hardest of the day for me of any of the disciplines.  I was tired... I was aching in both legs in my inner thighs and I just didn't feel comfortable any more.  My lower back started to hurt for the first time.  Its never hurt on the bike before.  So I had to sit up a few times.  Which into the wind was of course slowing me down some so I tried to keep that to a minimum.  I rode on the hoods for a little bit and then got back into aero and sucked it up.  Thats when the one guy passed me.  When I was having my pity party at mile 40 or so.  This was also the weakest mentally I was all day.  I had been really strong all day until then.  Those next ten miles were awful.  I had all these negative thoughts about the pain in my legs, and how bad the run was going to be and I wasn't going to meet my goal time and I was going to let myself and everyone else down.  It got pretty ugly inside my head as I slugged away into the headwind.  Thats not like me as mentally in endurance races I'm usually like a rock. 

At mile 50 or so I snapped out of it.  Mostly as I looked at my stopwatch.  I spent the next mile doing some math.  Looks like I'll hit T2 at around or less than 3:40:00 into the race.  (I actually hit around 3:36:00) Which means if I run a two hour half mary it will still put me decidedly sub six hours.  And if I run strong I've got a shot at my 5:24 goal!  That picked me up and I managed to get my head on straight again and pick up the pace a little.  I was VERY happy to see the Wakefield exit sign on the highway.  Sweet!  Almost to T2!

I rode down Narragansett ave feeling really nervous about the run but excited to get off the damn bike!  I almost forgot to get my feet out of the shoes in time as I was thinking about the run but I did that and had a picture perfect running dismout complete with me politely yelling "make a hole!" as I went right between two other people dismounting much more slowly.  What was also great about finally getting off the bike was seeing and hearing the Tri-Newenglanders cheering at the dismount line!  That was awesome and really helped to perk me up.

T2: (there are no T2 times listed for some reason for anyone.  Not sure why. I'd guess about a minute as I had to fight to get the arm warmers off around my watches.  Both of them snagged as I was wearing a stopwatch on one arm and my garmin on the other.  (I wanted a backup in case one failed and I have to run with pace info or I slow WAY down)

T2 was much faster and better than T1 for me.  Racked the bike, off with the helmet, on with the shoes, grab my pile of gak in my hat and started running.

Run: (Times will be listed at the end...   or there's no suspense!)

I came running out through the inflatable arch and onto Route 1a.  Saw club member Jon cheering as I exited which was great and then headed off.  About thirty seconds into the run I look down at my Garmin.  Holy crap I'm running 6:30's!  I need to slow down!  Nah!!!!  So I went with it.  I figured I'd slow down after the first mile.  I'll let my legs do what they want for now and see what happens a mile later.  A few seconds after that I passed Luis who must have exited transition just in front of me.  I was flying on the run.  I ran the first mile in 7:06 and I felt AWESOME!  When I realized how good I felt and how fast I was running a big ol smile started to show up.  I was going to crush this thing!  I looked at my stopwatch and started to do math and then stopped myself.  Nope...   you are only one mile in.  Lets do the finish time math at the halfway point and take stock of how I feel and then you can get happy.

Mile 2...  7:20.  Ok I'm still cooking pretty good but now were slowing down.  So maybe I'll end up with an average pace closer to 8 minute miles once I settle in.  Lets see how mile three goes and then reevaluate my pacing plan.  I got a gel down and started to alternate water and gatorade at each aid station.  I decided not to  use my fuel belt in the end and I'm glad I didn't have it on as I didn't miss the extra weight and the aid stations were everywhere which was awesome.  At this point I started to pass other Tri-Newenglanders one by one who were out ahead of me.  So it was fun to see people and say hello and offer encouragement and get some in return too.  But more on that later.

Mile 3...  ok so this is the one where we see how my legs feel and what pace I'm starting to settle into.  Seven minuts even!  Holy crap I'm cooking!  This is going to be a GREAT day if I can keep this up!  I see Chris S at the aid station there and say hello and then take off into the first out and back section of the course.  These are great as you get to see lots of people so I started to look for the faster Tri-NE guys coming towards me.  I didn't see Sean but I did see Kevan.  I yelled out "I'm Coming For Your Ass! You better RUN!" or something silly.  We had a good laugh and he was looking really strong.  In reality he was at least a mile or two in front of me and no way I was going to catch him at the pace he looked to be running.  I passed several other Tri-Newenglanders in this section and then got to seem them again on the back portion of this leg of the run.  I did a good job lying on the out and backs.  I got asked by friends several times how much further the turnaround was.  Even if it was two miles out I always said "Its Close!  Your almost there!"  I mean really...  is there any other answer to that questions?

Mile 4 7:11 Woot!

Mile 5 7:39 (hmmm...  am I starting to slow down or was that just the hill?)

Mile 6 7:41  Ok now its time to reevaluate.  My average pace at this point was still around 7:20 which was awesome and I was trying to hold it sub 7:30 but my last two miles were slowing down.  So I thought of some stuff Kevan had said to me in training about pain and suffering being temporary and I sucked it up and did my best to pick up the pace despite my legs starting to feel a little heavier than they did at the start of the run. 

As an aside for a minute much like the bike I did nothing but pass people on the run.  Everyone seemed to be settling into a comfortable pace while I was hammering away and picking people off left and right.  What was a huge surprise to me was how encouraging people I didn't know were to me.  When I would pass people at speed just about everyone said stuff like "Nice Run!  Looking Strong!" or "Damn Kid!  You Go!" or other such bits of fun.  I thought that was awesome.  Clearly my plan of even pacing on the bike was paying dividends here as I was cleaning up along the course and loving every minute of it.

Mile 7 7:46...  still not great.  But at least I'm more than halway at this point!  Thats good!  So I start to mentally prepare myself for slowing down towards running 8's by the end of the run.  Thats still within my goal pace range so nothing to be worried about.

Mile 8 7:49..   CRAP!  I'm slowing down way too quickly.  SUCK IT UP!  Find energy you didn't know you had!  Suck down that last gel and get your ass moving!  NOW  you can bitch and moan and cry after the finish line.  GET YOUR ASS MOVING!

Mile 9...  7:22.  Ok thats much better.  Keep it up!  My average pace is still sub 7:30 so life is still good.

Mile 10...  7:33  NICE!  Now were holding right where I want to be.  Only three miles to go!  I look at my stopwatch.  Holy crap!  It doesn't say 5 hours yet!  Ok time for quick math...   WHOA!  Don't start celebrating yet but if you can keep it together you'll go sub 5:20!!!!   I'm AHEAD of my I had a perfect day finish goal!  NICE!

Mile 11..  7:54  Ok not super fast but who cares!  Only two miles to go and I'm still on track for sub 5:20!

Mile 12..  7:09!!!!  Ok now I'm really excited to finish this thing!  I blow past two guys in matching team jerseys who both shout out huge encouragement to me!  Something like WAY TO GO!  FINISH STRONG!  GO GET IT!  I had a smile the size of texas on my face.  When I knew I had only one mile to go I started to tear up.  I was so tired and so happy and so emotional I turned into a bit of a mess there for a second. 

Mile 13!  Last one!  I managed to get my head together and buck up for the last mile in.  I fought my way up that last little hill and rounded the turn where you can see the beach cabanas for the first time.  I'm so close!  I round the turn into the parking lot that takes you towards the last bit of the run onto the sand.  I joked with the volunteers..  "I don't wanna run on the sand!  You can't make me!" and thanked them as I passed.  In fact I thanked lots of volunteers and policeman along the way in the race.  We couldn't do this without them!

I round the corner and I'm onto the sand.  OMG what a cruel joke this crap is!  Ok down to the hard packed sand on the beach and pickup the pace.  Time to finish strong!  I gave that last mile everything I had.  Even on the sand.  I could hear the crowd gathered at the finish and see the arch finally!  YEAHHHH!!!!!  Fought my way throught the loose sand and up to the finish chute.  Heard some tri-ne'rs cheer and heard the now traditional yell from Kevan at me to finish strong and went for it.  There was a nasty hairpin turn in the finish chute and I barely held it together to round that without falling and then hammered my way through the arch with my arms in the air!!!!   That last mile was 7:54 even with a 1/4 to a 1/3 of it in the sand.  In the end my average pace for the run was 7:29's!  WOW!  I've NEVER run a half that fast before.  So yeah, thats a PR!!!

1:36:43 (I still can't beleive that!) 30th/280, 3rd/32.  Top 10 Percent!

I was so excited to finish the race I forgot to stop to let them get my timing chip and give me a medal.  I had to double back for it.  Oops!  From there I went to the finish chute to find my team mates, shared some great hugs and congrats with those that finished before me and hung out to cheer on those that finished behind me.

In the end my time was 5:14:15!!!!  WOW!  Thats ten minutes faster than my best case scenario prediction!  I can't beleive it!  That was good for 87th out of 280 and 11th out of 31 in my age group.  Not too shabby for my first half iron length triathlon!  I was so insanely excited and happy with that.  I have been on cloud 9 for two days now.  I worked really hard for this and I'm so excited that it all came together and paid off for me. 

Ok...  time for some lighter stuff....

Stuff that didn't go right:  In some ways I'm lucky I finished as strongly as I did.  My nutrition plan on the bike did not go well.  I should have downed three bottles of gatorade endurance and 4 gels on the bike.  I got the gels down but fluid was incredibly hard to get down.  I was so cold and I felt like salt water was pouring out my nose the entire ride.  I just didn't want to drink anything.  I really had to force it down.  I didn't finish my first bottle till mile 37 and I knew it.  I kept trying to get more down but my stomach wanted none of it so I didn't push it.  In the end I only got a bottle and a half down so I was shy 225 calories.  Considering my plan was only to consume 850 calories on the bike thats down by a significant margin.  I did get two gels and a fair amount of gatorade and water down on the run so that was good.  But nutritionally I think I got a little lucky.  The potenital for a bonk was certainly there.

Thanks:   The first is that it would be foolish of me to celebrate this accomplishment without showing my great appreciation for my fellow Tri Newengland club members.  Everyone in my club has been so accepting and giving of their time, advice, and friendship to me.  It was so amazing to feel a part of that out on the course.  To see and hear everyone cheering for each other.  To know that those not racing in the club still came out to show their support.  To not be alone standing at the starting line made such a difference to me.  I spent half of the run looking for my friends instead of focusing on the suffering.  I spent the swim start sharing in the excitement and nervousness with everyone.  The time in transition in the morning seeing everyone took my mind off my fears and helped me focus.  They are just such an amazing group of talented and giving athletes and I just feel very fortunate to be a part of that.  So thanks all...   No way I finish this race as strong without all of you.

Ok...  I'll get flack for this...  but I am me.  And so I can't help but think about next year a little bit and what I can do better.  With some work this offseason and perhaps a new tri bike before next season I think I can shave ten minutes off that bike time.  So now were at 5:04.  My run is not going to get any better than that, so we'll have to look at the swim.  My swim was a trainwreck.  Clearly there is room for improvement there.  I can realistically shave 3-5 minutes off that time.  I'm a middle of the pack swimmer and in this race I was at the back of the pack as I just didn't have a great swim even for me.  With some work with a coach this winter I know I can improve that greatly.  So yes, in 2011 my longshot work my ass off for goal is to go sub 5.  Yep.  I said it.  Don't get me wrong though...   I'm so incredibly pleased with 5:14!!!  I love it!

Oh and one other thing....

Receiving this gift on the day of my race and putting it on my car that night was almost as good as crossing the finish line.  Best race day present EVER!  And one of my top 5 best gifts of all time.  I display it with great PRIDE!

And oh by the way....

By the end of 2011 there WILL be a 140.6 one right underneath it.  : )

And Nancy, if you're reading this...  you were right all along.  I think within a month of meeting me this summer Nancy said to me...  "no way you're going to wait three years to go for your first full Ironman.  I bet you'll try for it next year"  Yep.  You were right. 

And Kevan...   you were right too on that day in Barrington on the beach earlier this summer when you looked at me very seriously and said "Your so going to do the FIRM".

I can't say again how happy I am about all of this.  I thought finishing my first marathon felt good...  but crossing this finish line was even better.  Was it the distance and the effort and training required?  maybe...   I think in reality it was this time I didn't go it alone, I went in as part of a team.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

FIRM 1/2 Ironman!

Ok...   race report is going to have to wait.  I am exhausted!!!  I've been up since 3am and barely slept anyway.  But I just wanted to quickly post and say....

What an AMAZING day!!! 

5h 14m!!!!

I couldn't be happier!  The rest of the details will have to wait till tomorrow....

Great day!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Two Days to Go!

Holy Cow!  Only two days left!

This morning I was up at 445am and headed off to GVP to get a swim in nice and early.  I decided to stay true to my taper and only swim a 1/2 mile this morning.  The rest of the gang went out and did the 1.1 mile dock swim.  I wanted to join them but I forced myself to behave.  Wednesdays swim was a pretty physically challenging one in those conditions and I need to rest my arms and shoulders so they are sharp for race day so I behaved myself.

I did the short swim and then got changed and ready to run and waited for the group to return.  Fortunately for me another club member was willing to join me on the run.  So we went for a nice brief 2.5 mile run.  We averaged 8:30s which was a nice easy pace and it felt like that was what my legs wanted to do today.  At first I was surprised I wasn't running faster like the other day but then I pushed that out of my mind.  I'm starting to get a little neurotic and panicy and focusing on too many inconsqeuntial minute details.  I've got the taper crazies something fierce.  In a way I guess its good I'm burried in work right now as it means I can't sit and think about the race all day.

Out of the five of us who swam today 3 of us are doing the FIRM and one of us has just recently finished the Timberman half.  And pretty much everyone agreed that there is no point to doing a 10min/10min/10min SBR brick on Saturday before the race.  I've yet to figure out what the purpose of it is.  And the more I think about it the more I think I'm just going to go down to packet pickup Saturday morning, attend the race meeting at 11am, sit on the beach and meditate a bit and try and center myself and go through my race plan a few times and then head off to get ready for the carb loading lunch a club member is hosting.  I think training wise I should just take it as a rest day.  I don't know if I'm going to get any benefit from doing anything.  Although if its nice out weather wise I may take a quick did sans wetsuit.  But we'll see.

Ok...  today is an insanely busy day...  lots of work to get done and lots going on!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Three Days to Go!

Just three days to go till race day.  Hard to believe its here and the race is that close.  I was talking to another club member yesterday after our swim.  He reminded me of my first open water swim in the ocean in Barrington much earlier in the summer.  I had to that point only been swimming in the calm pond waters of Georgiaville and I knew I had better get used to swimming in the ocean before the Barrington Sprint and what was at that point a dream of doing a half ironman length race sometime in 2011.  The water that day was a little bit choppy but it felt so much worse to me as I had zero experience swimming in chop.  I fought my way through a half mile swim and was exhuasted and frustrated.  At the end of that day somebody mentioned something to me about the FIRM 1/2 Ironman in September.  I can remember thinking how crazy a thought that was as much as I wanted it.  I hadn't even completed a sprint at that point.  And now here we are, three days to race day.  Who would have thought?  Ok...  I'll be honest with myself.  My goal from the day I bought a bike and stepped into the pool was to complete an ironman length race.  I always said my plan was to race sprints all summer, then do halves in 2011, and a full in 2012.  And now here I am at the end of the 2010 season about to complete my first half.  I feel really ready for it though and noone can question that I haven't put the the time and training in. 

This morning I got up early and headed over to the bike path to get my planned 45 minute ride in with 5x30 second sprints in it.  Nothing too strenuous.  It was cold this morning.  Somewhere around the same temp it looks like its going to be on raceday.  Those first few miles on the bike are going to be chilly, even with arm warmers on.  My ride was pretty uneventfull.  It was the usual early morning bike path crowd.  A few walkers, a few casual cyclists, and one triathlete and one hardcore roadie out for their workouts.  Otherwise it was nicely empty.  I just focused on getting into a good groove.  I mostly played with gearing and cadence on the flats a little bit on the way out, got my sprints in on the way back and then had a nice easy spin back to the car.  When I got off the bike my right calf was really tight.  In fact it has me somewhat concerned now.  It was sore after my massage the other day and ever since it cramped up hard but briefly in the swim yesterday its been bothering me.  I've been stretching, rolling, taking ibu and wearing compression gear but it doesn't seem to be doing much.  I may have to go back to get another massage on it if it doesn't improve quickly.  We'll see though.  It certainly has me worried.  I can feel it just sitting here at the computer. 

The rest of today has been challenging to get through.  Work is reaching a stressfull peak at exactly the time I wish it wouldn't when I want to be focusing on the race and not on work.  But starting at 5pm tomorrow the rest of the world will dissapear and its going to be all about race focus...   well mostly anyway.  Theres certainly some fun social things between now and then as well including a nice get together with other club members on Saturday afternoon to eat a few carbs and share in our nervousness.  Should be good fun.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

4 Days to Go!

Only 4 days to go till the half!  I can't wait!

This morning I got up nice and early and headed out to run three miles.  I decided I wanted to just run it and see what happened.  No plan, no goals, no intervals, nothing.  So I set my Garmin to the run cadence screen and hit start and went for my run.  I ran my usual three mile route out to the state house and back.  When I was done I looked at my watch and I had fallen into a nice 7:15 average pace for the three miler.  So apparently my legs are feeling good which is great.  I have to say it was so nice to just head out my front door and run.  Its been so long since I've done just a run.  Not a run on tired legs, or a long run, or a run with intervals in it, or off the bike, or after a swim.  Just a run....   out my front door....   with no real plan....   just a three mile goal.  It felt GREAT!  Afterwards I came home and stretched and did a little yoga which felt really nice too.  As much as I LOVE triathlon I am looking forward to going back to a run focus for the marathon.  I really enjoy the shorter midweek runs of marathon training and I enjoy the routine I get in with them.  I'll often run the short stuff and then come home and lay out my yoga mat and stretch for a long time and do several yoga poses.  I'll often put some nice relaxing music on while I do this.  Many times I'll light some candles around the buddha statue I have near my yoga mat and then meditate for a bit before starting my day.  The combination of run / stretch / yoga / meditate is such an amazing way to start the day.  So it was nice to get a small reminder about that today.  I really enjoyed it.

Then the workday started which was again stressfull and challenging.  Some unique challenges on the project I'm working on now are really starting to frustrate me.  I'll get through them though of course, but this is a hard week of work right when I could really use an easy one.  But fortunately once 5pm on Friday hits I'm going to not even think about work till Monday AM.  The weekend will be 100% race focused.  Ok...  maybe not 100% as I have a date Friday night I'm really looking forward to as well.  Hopefully she is not horrified as I carb load at dinner and eat probably way too much!

Then later today it was time to head out the door for workout number 2.  I headed down to Narragansett to get my last real ocean swim in before the race.  When I arrived at the sea wall we ran into some other Tri-NE members who had just finished their swim.  They reported that it was pretty challenging out there.  Worse than the other day when we had all swam together and that was a pretty challenging day.  Clearly this was going to be a challenging swim.  When my group of 4 reached the far end of the beach where we decided to go into the water it looked really choppy out there.  As we started to walk in it was clear it was also really rolling out there.  The waves were not tall, but they had some kick and were coming in rapidly.  So there were lots of 3-4 foot waves to swim out through.  These then turned into constant swells.  After a while we gave up trying to swim out far enough to escape them.  Once we started swimming down the beach it became clear this was going to be rough going.  It was really choppy out there as well as really rolly out there.  It seemed like the chop and the rolls were coming from different directions though.  In a way the two forces were fighting each other churning up the ocean which made things really rough out there.  We were also getting thrown around a lot out there.  More so than I ever have been before.  What made it worse however and made the day really suck for me was that my goggles fogged up BADLY inside the first few minutes.  I couldn't see ten feet in front of me.  Add to this the fact that there are no buoys and the only thing to sight for is a building I can't see about a mile away and I was in trouble.  So I made the best of it and just tried to stay right next to another swimmer the whole time.  I literally stopped sighting as I couldn't see anything and just made sure to keep one of the other swimmers on my right the whole time.  Fortunately our group was paced pretty equally so there were three people I could choose to follow.  When I would get chucked aside however by the chop and lose contact in the rolls it got kind of hairy a few times.  I REALLY didn't want to lose the group and end up alone out there not being able to see properly.  This happened a couple of times and I would have to squint through the fog in my goggles and hope I could see an arm move and then head for the movement.  So it was not a very fun swim for me as I was focused intently on not losing the group and not at all on my swimming or anything else.  Then all of a sudden I hear a yell as I'm swimming and pop my head up to see one of my friends yelling something about being freaked out by the barge.  I guess we had swam closer to shore than I though and we ended up right on top of the sunken barge out there.  Its very dark and gloomy and freaky to see this shipwreck thats only a few feet below you.  Especially when its grey and cloudy out.  Its definitely spooky.  So we all did our best water polo stroke to get over the barge without looking at it and then kept swimming.  When we would regroup I tried a few times to get people to swim in but they wanted to keep going.  And I didn't want to swim in by myself when I couldn't see so I stayed with the group.  Then I saw some nasty looking thunder clouds in the distance I thought would get us so I was thinking about that too.  It just was not a good day for me.  The goggles just destroyed my concentration and turned the swim into a survival swim where I was just trying to stay with the group and not end up blind and way too far from shore.  I should have just taken the damn goggles off.  I probably would have been better off. 

Eventually we turned into shore and swam in.  I did something weird on the way in and had a nasty cramp in my right calf.  Fortunately I was able to shake it off and keep swimming after a little while.  That wasn't fun.  And finally we were standing on shore.  In the end we swam .8 miles today.  We got tossed around so much that my stomach has been feeling weird all night.  Mostly as I ate a lot today and all that food got seriously tossed around during the swim.  But my balance was thrown off a bit too.  We ran into some other Tri-NE members about to head in for a swim and I think we scared them a little bit by the looks on our faces and the stories we shared.  Sorry guys!

After the swim I met up with a friend and frequent training partner for dinner at my favorite thai place and had a great time catching up as I haven't seen her in a while.  All in all though a good day.  Tomorrow is just a 45 minute bike ride with 5x30 second sprints in it.  Pretty easy.  I think I'll get up super early and do that on the bike path as its a nice flat simulation of route 1.  Should be a nice ride at that hour too.  Time for me to go hit the showers and get off to bed.  One other thing first though...    it was funny talking to some other friends tapering this week.  Were all going a bit crazy, and eating everything in sight, and feeling odd aches and pains.  Its nice to know I'm not the only one going through all of this!