Saturday, July 14, 2007

I have felt the Power of the Big Ring...

And I like it.As I embarked on my "light" 20 mile training ride yesterday. I decided to use the "Big Ring" on the first six miles of my usual training loop (Pat Griskus Sprint Tri loop). I figured it couldn't hurt considering Angry Runner had used the same strategy to bitch slap my bike split on Wed. Sure enough I found out that as previous result have prove time and time again that yes the big the ring is faster and more powerful and...I'll just let common sense prevail, needless to say I was cussing to myself as I switched between the middle gear for climbing and the big ring for power. My training pace was about the same as it was on my Tuesday ride (because I had to stop twice at that freaking yield sign at the S-curve). But my max. speed improved to 32.5 mph from a not too shabby 30.0mph. The 20 mile bike ride was followed by a kick ass 3300yd. workout due to the disappointment on Wed. Swim Split.(Insane high school swimmers, next year I shall crush you! (add Howard Dean yell here).) So anyway that is how I treated the last weekday of my vacation, next week it's back to that usual life draining, brain hurting grind known as work. So today my schedule looks like this:
7:30 leave for waterbury Y
8:00-10:30 5000yd. workout (pain is weakness leving the body. I have to have a good split at Niantic, because I want some overall bling.)
11:00-? 60 mile training ride in Middlebury maybe get AR in for 15-20 of it with me.
?-4:30 Home, shower, leave for Mass.
5:30-6:30 Mass
8:00-11:30 Watch LeTour.
Happy training!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Help I'm a Tri adict!

Well last night after checking my emails, I found out that Bjoern (founder of CENTRI (Central Connecticut State University Tri Club) was doing one of the $15 Lake Terramuggus Series Sprints. Being the good teammate/treasurer/co-founder I decided to go put to Marlborough and show my support. As I got into my car I realized "Hey I've done a half iron, I really didn't get in my workout today, fuck it I'm going to do this thing." After packing all my tri essentials and taking my life into great peril merging from 91 onto route 2 I arrived in Marlborough and forked over a $20 entry fee ( they jacked the price up to pay for state cops because some guys were starting to treat the bike leg like the Tour) I met up with one of the central girls swimmers (Heather) who was doing this race as her first tri. I inflated the tires on her mountain bike, gave some of the usual advice I give some of my fellow athletes (on the swim go wide and cut in, have fun on the bike bring it home on the run, the usual) I met up with Bjoern and Anthony, bumped into Christano from HEAT ( seriously I think I 'll do Placid to have an excuse to taper for the Griskus next year) and after a massive CCSU and Sunoco masters reunion it was time to settle down for the swim.
The swim: 400 yards : to wet suit or not to wet suit?
Well as we prepped for the swim I was caught in a dilemma should I wet suit on such a hot sunny afternoon as this or go in just the tri suit. Going sans wet suit did sound tempting and after looking at some of the other swimmers who were going without, I realized that just for good show it might be worth using the wetsuit, so once again I slipped into my heavy neoprene beast to unleash hell upon the masses in the swim. The race had only 100 to 150 competitors so we did it mass start. I did my usual start wide and cut in and at the turn found my self in hot pursiut of the lead break of five swimmers and in a virtual no mans land, they were about 25 yards ahead and everyone else was about 25 yards behind. I exited the water in my trade mark 6th position and proceeded to transition. Heather was already at T1 and was trying to figure out how to leave. In one of the most unique moves I've ever seen she ducked under the bar and pushed her bike out. I put on my bike shoes as usual and un racked my bike and pushed it out.

The Bike : please stay in single file this is not a USAT points race.
Now the bike for the most part was a hammer fest. there were a couple of sharp turns but nothing really too tough. The only thing that kept ringing in my ears were the warnings at the pre race Don't be Lance Armstong, Don't pass on the coned corners, and if you must pass you can only go two abreast. Well with my unfamilarity of the course and my uncertainty on the passing regulations My first loop was sort of a waste. A lot of the race regualrs flew by (including Bjoern who gave me a friendly tap on the shoulder as he flew by ), as I tried to learn the turns. The second loop proved to be much faster as I was able to regain about three of the 20 or so positions I had lost in my first go round. All in all it wasn't bad 38 min. for 11 miles according to my handy sigma bike computer.

The Run: Macca time!
If Chris Mc Cormack had Normann Stadler, then tonight Bjoern was my Stadler, he completely schooled me on the bike and it was time for me to turnout some pure napalm on the run. After nearly heading down the wrong trail exiting T-2 . I settled into a pace using a high school XC hot shot as my leadout man. After about a mile and a half said XC hot shot opened up about a 200 meter advantage( note I judge my running in meters because when I ran track we used meters but in swimming we used yards ain't America great!) Meanwhile we went along picking off bunches of runners continuing to turn up the tempo to the very limit of bearable . Each runner wearing a blue and white tri suit was a target, each one might be Bjoern ( unknown to me he had about a 6 min. lead form the bike to which all I can say is damn son!) As I sprinted down the finishing chute there was Bjoern waiting for me digital camera focusing in on my finish. After a quick glance down to my wrist watch my run split was 20:29 over a minute faster than my time the night before. Upon talking to Bjoern I found out that he had come in just over an hour barely missing that elusive 60 min. mark. Anthony came in about an 1:10 and Heather came in at about 1:20 , barely breaking a sweat exclaiming "I'm not even tired I just can't get my legs to move faster." So all in all it was a good night for CenTri. As as for Christano he won overall , showing that the duel between him and Ken Schultz at Placid is going to be epic.
So all in all here's the recap of two races in 48 hours:
Griskus Sprint: 1/2 mile swim, 10.5 mile bike, 3.2 mile run
Commute time: 20 min.
Team Affliation: Angry Team/ CenTri/ unofficial member of HEAT ( damn it I need to sign up)
Race time: 1:11.10
Race result: 51st overall, 4th in class
Hamburgers consumed:1
Soaked Gear: 2 towels, 1 t-shirt, 1 pair running shorts, 1 pair socks, 1 Pair cycling shoes, 1 pair racing flats, 1 tri suit, 1 transition mat, 1 bike helmet, 1 Marin Portofino racing bike, 1 pair sweedish goggles, 1 wet suit.

Terramuggus Sprint: 400 yard swim, 11 mile bike, 3.1 mile run
Commute time: (including the hour I was photocopying a trainning plan to pass on to Bjoern) 2hours 20 min.
Team Affliation: CenTri/ditto on Heat as mentioned above.
Race Time: 1:06
Race Result: 53rd overall
Hamburgers Consumed: 2 from Wendy's in Southington on the drive home.
Soaked gear: 1 wet suit, 1 tri suit, 1 pair cycling shoes, 1 towel, 1 pair sweedish goggles.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How do I have to Talk to to get into the elite wave:The Griskus Sprint recap.

Well tonight was not a bad night. Despite pouring rains on the end of the bike course and the run. I did not wipe out but sadly missed medaling for the second year in a row. Also Catlin did not show. Here's the break down.

the Swim: What on earth do I have to do to get into the first wave.
Well the swim was good except for the fact that every year I'm placed in the second wave. Seriously I passed half he guys from the first wave next year I'm making it a point to request the first wave on my entry just because I'd like to have a shot for the overall win. Nothing psyches you up more than being one of the top 10 guys out of the swim with the race leader in striking distance. But anyhoo the swim was pretty good I got off course once and found my self swimming into a wall of elites just as I was approaching the turn around, but other than that no mishaps I think my split was about 11 min. But I'll have to check on that. Ok after a quick check I found out my swim split was a 13:18 not bad but not great. Good enough for 30th overall on the day.(I miss the longer swims where I can take out some of those faster sprinter types)
The Bike: Please don't let it rain...or at least not until I get through that s-curve.
After a fairly quick transition, I headed out on to my weakest leg: the bike. Now the bike holds a particular nervousness for me. (read my earlier blogs to findout why)Now thefirst three miles including that god-forsaken s- curve were fine (despite the fact an escalde was blocking my usual line through it). The climbs were pretty good, and I really didn't get passed by alot of people and i actually re-passed some of the guys who descended through that s-curve with little regard for their lives, unlike me who descends like I'm carrying a load of nitro glycerin on my bike, and I don't want to disturb it. Well about mile 8 or 9 the clouds opened and the roads turned into a skating rink. Somehow this feeling of invicibility came over me and I sped through the last down hill and found my self sliding wide on the next to last corner. I slowed up for the sharp turn back into transition and got passed by about 6 guys. I got back to transition after 34:07 on the bike the 139th fastest time but now I was pissed for the run. those six guys who got infront of me were going to pay.
The Run: The Rain man cometh
As I put on my racing flats I knew I had to go all out. I wanted a medal. I tore out of transition and began my methodical pickoffs. First I reeled in the group of 6 that passed me. (including a former swim training partner Ken " when I crash they need to air lift me" Davidson we tend to have fun with our own little game of how long will it take for him to catch me on the bike. This time it took him until the turn into transition). Then anybody who had a "B" (symbolizing they were in the 20 to 24 age group) on their right leg was a target. I began picking off one, three five runners at time. i picked off one kid fom my age grouped decked out from head to toe in blue under armor. Then another kid in a white and silver tri suit at the turnaround. As I checked my splits something felt wrong like the course was longer ( an it was they announced this at the post race that it was closer to 3.2or 3.3 miles so I'm not too upset with my 21 min. split.) But now I was just going like a bat out of hell. I had two guys from my age group hunting me down, and a medal insight. I was a hunter as I was still picking off runners and I was being hunted. I gave a glance to the Angry runner as he descened the hill on the run ( about a mile behind me) followed by Joe (a first timer sharing transition with me), and Justin ( a training partner from the Waterbury Y)( we were unofficially the Angry Team). As we approached the last climb I caught sight of the kid in the white and silver tri suit coming along side. He knew I was suffering as he kicked into high gear, neither one of us wanted to let up as we passed a 40 something guy. Finally he broke away, my cardio just couldn't match him, and to add insult to injury the 40 something dude got around as if to say I'm not going to roll over for you kid. Anyway we hit the flat I tried desperately to reel the two of them in but my kick was alittle too little a little too late. The kid in the white and silver tri suit crossed the line in 1:10.49, the 40 something squeezed me out at the line as I crossed in 1:11.10. I congratualted the kid, as we waited nervously for splits and results. My run split was a 21:49. good enough for 28th fastest on the day. My overall position was originally counted as 50th but more up to date results put me at 51st. And I was 4th in my age group. The kid who kicked by in the last 1/2 had medaled but he did it the hard way.It was a well fought battle. I went back to wtch the rest of the "Angry Team" finish. Joe was first across in 100th overall in 1:15.34, Justin was right behind finishing in 1:15.43. The angry runner came home in 132nd in 1:17.53 still faster than my first time doing this race. So all in all it was a successful day. Joe racked up some serious bling getting a first timer medal, and second overall for the first timers. left Justin, Angry and I left Middlebury empty handed. But I've got Niantic in two weeks and we shall our meet again in the Nutmeg State Sprint at Lake Waramaug or as I like to call it the search for more bling.

The Pre-Game Show: Griskus Sprint Triathlon

It's 1:30PM an hour and a half before I leave to get my number set up my strategic transition and warm up for probably the third largest race on my schedule. Why is a freakin sprint rank so high up there, well this was my first and to win or place well in it would mean a lot. Second I ride /run this course in training all the time so I know the layout and desperately want a good result. Third, I have to own one of my old teamates from high school, on this course. Every she walks in after about a month of training and preceeds to kick my butt in the swim (god damn genetics she comes from a long line of kick ass distance swimmers)goes comfortable on the bike (I would have beaten her last year if I hadn't crashed) and runs a 5k at about my pace maybe a little slower (She's a D-1 cross country chick what can I say she better run that fast or her school's in deep shit.) This year I'm not even sure if she signed up but if she did, god damn it Catlin I'm gunning for you. all that aside a new comrade/rival has entered the mix The Angry Runner. Now this isn't angry's first tri (he's done a few relays as the swimmer no less, and one Triamugas or however you spell it) but damn it I'm afraid of him not so much on the swim or the run but on the freaking bike. I mean this guy descends with no regard for his life. His middle name is aero, let's face that comfortable little advantage I earn on the swim may disintergrate and I may actually have to use my climbing ski-iz-ils to catch him on the back half. Needless to say such traits will make him a factor in his age group. The big thing for me this year is to win my age group and throw myself into the mix for the overall. (Last year the kid who won my division was like 10th overall) After my good showings at Waramaug, and the chance mother nature might co-operatewith my race plan, I could be a contender. ( the fact that some of the big names Christano, Ken, ) are tapering for placid might also help. So all in all I'm looking forward to a good race, no trips to the ER or the first aid tent, and hopefull some more age group and perhaps overall bling to show off. So now I've got to go plug in my i-pod get that rocky music going and get ready to haul some ass. It' s Game time!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Might as well be walking on the sun.

Ok so I qouted The Offspring ( may Ozzie and Tool have mercy on me.)but that freaking song could be the best way to describe my 5k training run/deathmarch on the eve of the Griskus Sprint. Aftershowing off the bling I hauled in at the Patriot Half to my loyal mechanic/cycling mentor the all knowing Al and the cantekorous shop keeper of the speed arsenal of Waterbury, commonly known as the Bike Rack, Dave ( seroiusly this guy is a shorter lighter version of Jerry Garcia, crossed with George Carlin) I drove off to Middlebury to get one last tour of tomorrow's battle ground. Things were a little hetic from the start. First off the second I opened the door of my outback I was hit by a 100 degree blast of hot humid air. Second the liter of water I drank to be "well hydrated" decide it need to be evacuated. After a quick stop to the portolet, it was off on to the course. The first mile and half were pretty easy, downhill in the shade, close to the lake so I caught a nice breeze and a shitload of flies. I made the turnaround (which is in the open) and the next 400 meters combined with the slight up hill and rabid heat an humidity, made me decide to opt out of doing a second loop. (Maybe I should have pulled a page from no wetsuit girl and used the treadmill in the nice air conditioned house watching tour highlights). Any way I grinded back up the hill I had just ran down and much to my chargrin there is not much shade on the portion of the hill you climb back on. Anyhoo, I got back on to route 64 and let the sun and humidity take its toll on me, ( all I could keep picturing were highlights from IM Hawaii, where Jones and Macca were dousing themseleves in water, sponges ,ice anything to stay cool. ) I managed to get back to my car a whooping 33 min. after I had started out. Let's face it for a 3 .5 mile run regardless of humidity that's pretty pathetic. Despite the fact that my internal organs were being roasted, my body was pouring sweat at an alarming rate and I found myself in an altered state of consciouness as I gulped down a 20 bike bottle of Heed, my legs felt ready to go for another 3 , or 7, or 10 miles. Seriously I was not going to kill myself in the heat today, the asphalt felt like I was going to find shoe rubber melted onto it. (Think the scene from the movie Volcano when the MTA guy is trying to save the subway conductor as the car is being dissolved by lava) seriously it was hot! Thankfully tomorrow the run will be dotted with several aid stations and I intend to use them damn it! Oh yes and they are predicting a chance for serve thunderstorms tomorrow which means the tri might be reduce to just a 10 k run making all that swimming and biking and going crazy like a warrior training for this thing all for naught. So until my next post pray for good weather, because I want to mess some people up in the swim damn it.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The kinda guy who wears racing flats to a tri.

Ok I admit I wear racing flats to tris.Why? Because I grew up a two sport athlete in high school (HC swimming and track). I was always taught you had gear for racing and gear for training. In running you always ran with normal running shoes and therefore at your meets you either whipped out spikes or XC flats ( being a two miler I sort of chose flats much to the chargin of my coaches, but I wasn't going to kill my shins if we traveled to a school with a rock hard track that hadn't been repaved since Prfontaine was an olympic favorite( dishin the love to Watertown and Torrington high schools who just redid their tracks in the last two years)). So why do I wear my flats in tris? It sort of the same thing my Tri is a competition so I want to get myself into the psycological aspect of competition ( note I have used these same flats for all my senior year track meets in high school, 2 5k's in college, a few local road races, a marathon, and every tri I have ever entered.). Also the flats tend to give me a little intimidation factor. Think about it. When you you see flats in somebody's transition, you think to yourself "holy shit this guy's/girl's going to be pure fire on the run." In my case it's somewhat true. My bike split usually sucks. I come out of the water in the top 20 overall, and I drop to mid pack on the bike, and my run is where I make up for lost time. Granted I'm not a Kenyan, so I won't be pulling any 13min 5k's but I still manage to pull decent runsplits and make up some of the positions I lost on the bike. For me my flats are that psycological edge, a message to my brain, spirit and legs that's it time for the run and time to haul ass.
Ok so now that I have defended my choice of footwear ( a pair of four year old New Balance RC 750's that are yellow-green, blue and white). It's down to the true matter of business, (not that I am a gear whore) but this upcoming sprint tri. There is talk of rain in the forecast, for most people this isn't a problem but for me it's a catch 22.
The Good:
All of my best run splits have come during major storms. In high school I broke 12:00 in the 3200meters in the middle of a downpour. Every road race or track meet I entered where the winds were howling , rain was pouring by the bucket, and all the elite or in high school the junior elite runners were bitching about their legs getting tight because of the weather, I quitely stood at the starting line licking my chops. Sure I wasn't fast enough to win but I could almost be assured a top five , because afterall for the average paced runners (like myself) it's sort of demoralizing when the wind is blowing a gallon of water back in your face and it's even worse whaen you've got some psycho (me) in XC flats smiling and ready haul ass into the nor'easter. Another case study in my running performance in the rain was my 5k split in this race last year. Last year I broke 21 min. for the first time ever in any 5k ( including those straight up road races). Now for the bad news that pure fire 5k was fueled by the anger of a lousy bike split casued by a crash 3 miles in, and a timid ride there after.
The Bad and the Ugly
Rain, despite my sucess in it on the run, is certainly not my friend on the bike. In last year's Griskus Sprint I wiped out just before the T-turn on the bike, when I hit my back brakes and locked up my rear wheel , sending me sliding into a grassy embankment tour de france style. ( leg against pavement).Neddless to say anytime after that when I hit my brakes on the decents I could feel the back wheel whobbling as it began to lock up. I was forced to descend feathering the brakes and reduced my overall speed conciderably. Fast foraward to June of this year. This year I did the Jim Calhoun ride for coaches against cancer. It was pouring. the first 10 miles weren't bad, nor the first 14 for that matter. But at mile 15 out in the middle of East Hartland, close to the CT, Mass., border my wet weather curse once again reared its ugly head. Coming off a mild descent into a sharp right hander, I made the corner reamrkably well ( granted I was riding at a whimpy 25mph), it was then that I noticed we had turned onto one of the most pitted plots of chip seal in the state, to make matters worse there was a sharp left handed into another quicker descent. Noticing the rider in front of me had missed the turn and went down antoher hill to turn around. I tried to slow, appling both front and rear brakes. (once again I felt the familar slide of the back wheel preparing to kick outand send me sliding) I aimed the font wheel to the left to try to make the turn. Instead of making the turn, or slidding on to my side against the pavement. my front hit a pothole bucked upright and due to a physics arguement between my rear wheel which wanted to slide down and to the right spokes against chipseal and the front wheel moving up and to the left I found my self and my water bottles dismounting right shoulder over handle bars. After a painful tuck and roll, I found myself lying half way down a hill 200 meters from my bike with my water bottles lying against my feet. For a moment I thought I had broken my right collar bone but after getting up a watching a panicked volunteer make a dash toward my fallen steed. I began to move my shoulder, everything felt right except for the cut on my right hand under the cycling glove, the small scrapes on my legs, and oh yeah the big ass gash slightly above my right elbow. I prepared to remount as I watched some of my teammates/coworkers (who talked me into this) blow by. I asked the volunteer two questions 1 Got any bandaids? to which his response was no. 2 Helpme fix my brake lever. He grabbed onto the front wheel as I pushed the brake/ shifter ( Yes I'm cheap my bike has only Sora componets. I will be starting a charity Buy Bob Dura Ace this fall with an address to send donations) into a more natural position. I left with one last question Where's the next aid staion? after getting it shouldn't be more than 5 miles I embarked on a 12 mile oddessey , descending like a granny, climbbing like a beast, and hitting the flats with what speed my nerves allowed, over the driveway quick sealed roads of Mass. All the way I passed or was passed by fellow riders who gwaked at my uncovered, bloody right arm. When I finally got to the second aid station I met up with my team mates, my arm was tended to by a nurse named Florence ( who had she been 20 years younger, unmarried and a yankee fan I might have concidered dating .) After getting a "now you look like a roadie" We hit the road again to finish the ride. ( I will share other details of how I on went on a break and was reeled in by their blue and white freight train in a later post). So needless to say
me+racing flats+ fast run split
me +rain + run= good
me+rain+ bike=bad.