Monday, November 19, 2012

Chasing a 10 year old PR or the 2012 Fischang-Cicchetti Race Report

Let's rewind the clock . Let's go back to a time before my first marathon, before Ironman, before my first 10 mile run come to think of it, before College, before mounds of insurmountable student loan debt. Let's go back to my Senior year of high school. In November 2002 I signed up for the Fischang Cicchetti 5 mile road race in Waterbury, CT for the second time. I showed up wearing my Holy Cross High School Track Jersey, my XC/ road race flats and not a prayer in hell against a fairly stacked field. The year before in my first attempt at this race, my first race over 5k, I had puked green Powerade all over East Main St. as I had drank too much before hand and at the aid station at mile 2.5. In 02 I went in on an empty stomach, took one cup of water at the aid station, and collapsed into a painful bout of dry heaving at the finish line 32min. and 55 sec later.  I had PR, revenge and I didn't puke. I finished in 49th place and would not race the Cicchetti again until a frigid day in 2008.

In the three years since when I have raced, I haven't come close to that 32:55. The first year in  balmy 15 degree F weather I did a 33:56,  I didn't race in 09 and in 2010 did a 33:50, last year I did my slowest effort here a 34:36. So after throwing down a big PR in the Hartford Half I figured it was time to bitch slap my high school PR.

I bummed a ride from my friend, training partner and nemesis, Alexei. I proceeded to foam roller my leg as my glutes were tight from a 7 mile training run on Friday. I went for a 15 minute, mile and a half warm up jog and did another bout of stretching before tossing my warmups in my locker and making my way to the start line in a singlet, shorts and gloves.

As I do every year I lined up on the front row so I could get my picture in the paper and a clean line around the first turn. The gun went off at slightly after 9am and a pack of 400 runners made their way through downtown Waterbury. We went around the Civil War Monument then down Church St. and the onto Grand Street past City Hall. I was getting passed like it was my job, but the guys going around me were no joke. Well except for one kid in a pink long sleeve shirt holding his i-pod. I managed to pass him as I got owned by the top 3 women, one of them was Cervelo Chick, aka 2 time USAT collegiate triathlon national champion Jessica Broderick. Even in the year when I got passed by a future Olympic marathoner (Waterbury's  Lisa Stublic, who would race for Croatia 2012.)it took almost a mile. They passed me this year in the first quarter. We cut down a side street and then up East Main St. I could hear Alexei huffing and puffing behind me. Part of me started to wonder if this was going to be another disastrous day as I could feel my sides cramping as we hit the first mile in 6:18.

I started to settle into a comfortable pace as this mile was slightly up hill to Hamilton Park. I was keeping Alexei behind me but I was getting passed by other runners, including that kid with the pink shirt and the i-pod. We hit the mile 2 split in 13:18 I had done a 6:59 mile. I had to pick up the pace, I had run my half marathon at a faster pace for crying out loud. There was a guy in front of me with red racing flats I focused on keeping him in sight as we made our way through the flat section of the park to the turn around. I hit the aid station neck and neck with Alexei and I took a cup of water. My mouth was feeling dry as I was spitting loo-gees every 2 minutes. I decided I couldn't let Alexei hang close because if it came to a sprint in the last mile he would flat out destroy me. I had to gap him and fast. I closed the gap to red shoes and tried to surge.
I could still hear Alexei on my tail as we went back through the park. I surged and caught red shoes and I could hear Alexei faintly in the distance. Was it enough? Red shoes and I started to pace one another I would tried to surge, he would catch me, he would surge I'd catch him. We went through the 3mile in 6:45 and hit the 4 mile mark in 6:26. As we made our way past the mall and back down East Main, red shoes put in one last burst. In my head Phil Ligget was making the call " He's stretching the elastic and the elastic has snapped." my body didn't have the effort to go with him. He got a few feet which turned into a few seconds in the matter of 100 meters.

Now my thoughts went back to the race behind me I could hear someone catching up and Alexei's breathing was starting to enter my ears. Did I have the gap? I  tried to keep my pace high as I passed the police station, then went through the intersection and hit the bricks on the lower part of East Main. Less than half a mile. I looked back to see a  kid in a red long sleeved shirt zoom around me as he was going full sprint.  Alexei was still a ways back. I looked at the finish line clock: 32:25...this could be a PR day. I started to sprint as the seconds started racing by agonizingly fast. 30...35....40...45....50... I was almost at the line and then *cough *cough* uggg. No not now! Not again! I slowed up hoping not to lose breakfast I came to a dead stop on the timing mat as 32:59 came and went as I stepped over it and started coughing and gagged up the mother of all  loo-gees. Then walked forward Still bent over I didn't even hit my watch until I felt Alexei pat me on the shoulder. "Nice race." he panted "yeah it was" I gasped trying to wipe the spit from my mouth. The timers had me at 33:02 which put my last mile as a 6:36 not bad considering I slowed to a coughing, gagging jog in the last 20 feet.

So 17 year old me still has the last laugh, by 7 measly seconds, granted I did top 25 and I had gone faster here than I had in years so it still was a good day. Now off to Goshen on Thanksgiving for a 10k before the turkey.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Is revenge a dish best served hot?

Well I'm in my rest week after Hartford and already my mind has started racing ahead to next tri season. The big thought on my mind a return to Ironman. While Josie and I were down in Maryland tearing up the Chesapeakeman course and cussing out Apple Maps for their inaccurate directions, the discussion of Ironman came up.
 Josie hasn't raced one and is coming off of solid training 2 years post baby.  She's had solid results and for the first time actually has a chance to put two consistent seasons together. So the game plan was this: 2013 Ironman Florida, we book the rooms for her hubby, future ITU World Champion/Supreme Court Justice, and my girlfriend/future suffering wife and support crew through Ken Glah and the fine people at Endurance Sports Travel the other thing was since Ironman Florida sells out like EPO in a French Pharmacy in July, we could book our race entry slots as well. That was until I saw the price.

The price to book a race entry slot with the travel package is about a 70.3 entry shy of an Ironman Foundation slot, not that I'm complaining it is a coveted race slot.  Likewise researching the flight options part of me is like screw Panama City I could chill in Taupo with Ken and the gang for two weeks for the money I'd be spending for a long weekend on the Gulf Coast. This got me to thinking; Should I go back to Louisville and seek to erase the dark mark on my Ironman career?

There are a couple of drawbacks to Louisville. The first is it's hot. It's not New England it's 85F in the sun with a breeze hot. It's 95F with 100% humidity and your shoe rubber will be melting to the pavement hot. It is nail your nutrition, hydration and electrolyte intake  or you will be suffering a very cruel, nasty, evil, horrifying, Dante-esque  punishment hot. It is the Kona lava fields don't have shit on this hot.
The second is I would not have a friend and training partner to push me through the race. Josie doesn't race well in the heat or the cold so Louisville is off her list.
Third, Ken doesn't sell packages for this race so it's on me to make hotel arrangements, figure out travel arrangements, find restaurants/ sources of healthy food/ bike mechanic..etc. Not a huge deal I did it in 2011 and I know guys who have done the race, but having someone take the guess work out of logistics is a huge help.  Likewise the fact that Ken sets up a spread for Ironman Widows/ Widowers, in a comfortable environment helps keeps spectators occupied and can give them people to chill with or find other activities to do with while their athletes do their thing, helps cut the boredom for spectators.
Fourth, it's in the middle of the summer. Not that this is huge issue but part of me would like to cap my season with an Ironman.  This race would fall dead center, as I would like to race in September as well.
The fifth, not that it's a huge worry I mean I'm fast but there are some real speed demons out there, but what if I have a bangout day and I make Kona. I always joked that I would just sell my kidney and go but what if I punch that magical ticket to the Big Island? Do I say yes like the 20 something year old kid without a care in the world? Or do I respond as a mature and responsible adult and decline something that I've wanted for so long, because I have other long term goals to focus on? Florida I would have a year to save up and plan, Louisville I've got 8 weeks and when Mike Rielly is taunting you with that paper all bets are off.

The pros to Louisville are also numerous. The first is I know the course. Sometimes knowing what to expect is a benefit. I know the temperature is between BBQ and Broil, I know I need Salt tabs, I know I need to training in long sleeves to acclimate. Likewise knowing the bike course I know where I could take risks where to hammer and where to ease back. I know that the Ohio River is not horrible and to get in line at 4am to have a Primo swim position. I know to hydrate and *gag* drink Perform on the bike. I know to build the run and cool the engine. Getting the unmerciful crap kicked out of me by this race in 2011 was a valuable learning experience and I plan to use that to my advantage.
Second, flights to Louisville are reasonable. I can book with Southwest, American, and most of the major carriers.  I know I'll get into Louisville at a relatively cheap and relatively easy. Likewise it's a quick and cheap cab ride from the airport to the hotels.
Third, is it is easy to walk around Louisville. Most of the hotels are in downtown. Fourth Street Live is less than 10 blocks from where I stayed last year. I can easily walk/ run to the swim start and train on the river walk. The YMCA is close and honors the AWAY program so I could get swims in. There are lots of dining options close by and there are bike lanes and fairly decent motorists, getting around is not an issue, and unless I was leaving the city no need to rent a car.
Fourth, the swim is not wetsuit legal, feel my wrath lovers of neoprene.
Fifth, running in  city means the roads are well lit ( if out after dark), there are large crowds of spectators, and no desolate stretches, which is motivating. Likewise it means there is plenty for spectators to do. Likewise the sun is still out until 8PM in August so if I finish in 13 hours or less it will be in daylight.

I have a lot to consider going into 2013, all I know is will be doing an Ironman, it will be in the South, it's just where and when.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

ING Hartford Half Marathon race report

Ok this year I had wanted to do the Hartford Marathon. A last minute entry into the Chesapeakeman Skipjack led to a lack of marathon run training going into early October.  After some conversations with my girlfriend and assessing my training; the full pull just wasn't in the cards this time around. I crushed out the mileage to do a half marathon and then some so I decided to "half ass Hartford." Part of me still felt like I was wimping out doing the shorter option especially when I went to the expo with my sibs to pick up my bib and goodie bag, but I figured if I was going to do the half then I was going to throttle it.

My PR at the distance was a 1:34 split in the 2009 Hartford Full Marathon , since then the best I was able to muster was a 1:38 at Savin Rock in 2010, I figured with the way I had been running in my half ironmans this year and with my Macca-esque chase down of Josie in the Chesapeakeman race ( where I made up 9:50 or a 10:00min deficit on the bike during a 10 mile run.) I was hoping for a sub 1:35 day, maybe even sub 1:30.

Race morning came early and it was cold. Steph and I drove into Hartford and when we made it to the Aetna garage the temperature was a balmy 30F. All week some of my friends racing with me from the Y tri club asked me what cold weather gear I would be racing in. When I responded a singlet and gloves I got the typical response of "you're nuts." I had a long sleeve tee in my bag but I had raced in colder without one so  I left Steph to unsuccessfully find a portolet. I did get a mini warm up in and figured I'd be fine. So I ditched my wind pants and long sleeves with the World's cutest gear sherpa, and made my way to the start.

As we queued up I looked for the 1:30 pace group and saw it was on the other side of the Orange netting separating the seeded runners from us Barbarians. In my haste to register I forgot to mention my race time and get a seed card. (For the half athletes looking to run sub 1:45 are placed with the elites where in the Marathon only runners who can break 3 hours are seeded.) Luckily I was right behind the divider and when the volunteers moved out of the way and took the fencing with them I was able to find the 1:35 pace group and got in front of it. About this time a guy named Pat in a black sweat shirt and tights came along side. "How fast you looking to run?" he asked  "1:30" replied, "Good I'll pace with you." We started developing our plan of attack as reps from ING, the State Police and Hartford Chamber of Commerce talked themselves up on the PA system.We were then joined by an elite looking chick with a nose ring and lime green shorts, I didn't catch her name but she joined the "unofficial 1:30 Pace squad." Essentially if the three of us could stay together we would go under 1:30.

The gun went off and the carnage began. The Half and full start together so the beginning of the race is mass pandemonium. runners with different paces and goals clogging the streets. Pat, green chick and myself darted through the crowd. I tried desperately to keep with them occasionally I was able to surge ahead. We hit the split mark about mile 2 and the marathon runners broke off and there was a lot more room to maneuver. I looked at Pat when we went through the first aid station. "I think we cooked that first mile." He nodded but was keeping the pace. As we made our way toward West Hartford he and green chick were history and I was left on my own. In my head part of me was like "well looks like I'm going to be running another 1:40ish half." I looked at the split at 3 miles 19:55 I decided to try to find a runner up the road and keep them in sight. The only one that had been consistently in front of me was a chick in a bright purple Block Island Sports jersey. So she became my first pacer. By mile 4 I looked at my watch and I was still going sub 7 so maybe 1:30 was still possible. I tried to focus on the fading runners to find targets I could catch and pass. I ran through one cheering section completely oblivious to anyone but the guy/girl I was trying to reel in. Mile 5 was slightly above 7 so I need to pick it up for mile 6. We went through the ING fan zone in this mile and as tacky as it sounds it actually was motivating. Having the screams of 100 plus fans can definitely get you to light the fire under your ass. I went through mile 6 in 6:44  then mile 7 in 6:47, I was starting to get passed by droves of runners but as I checked my splits it was because they were speeding up instead of me slowing down. Mile 8 was a little slower a 7:02 but it went slightly uphill and when we turned into Elizabeth park for miles 9 I managed to bring the pace back down as it was down hill but at mile 10 I was back above 7 minutes. I decided to push because I saw I went through mile 10 in 1:08, if I could hold 7 min miles 1:29 was do able. Mile 11 was our last in West Hartford as we made the turn onto Farmington Ave. I had tried to keep pace with Roger from HEAT ( Josie and I had raced with him at Chesapeakeman.) and it helped as I had gone 6:45 but now my quads and hamstrings were beginning to scream. In my head I kept saying to myself  "must go faster."  There were no mile markers so I didn't know how close I was coming to the finish. We ran past gas stations, the cathedral,  various shops, and more guys saying "you're almost there" than I care to count but it wasn't until he hit the train station that I knew we were almost there. I saw the the barriers and the mums in the dividers start, I saw the arch and I looked at the watch it was just hitting 1:29:30. I pushed and hit the line just after it crossed 1:30. No crazy arms in the air, or fist pump to celebrate, just a click of the watch and a well deserved PR official time was 1:30:28.... about 4 minutes faster than my 09 marathon split and 7 minutes faster than my best straight half.

I grabbed some water from the massive fountain and my foil blanket from the volunteers and made my way toward the far end of the finish chute. I saw Steph and we met up. She handed me my long sleeve T shirt and turned my foil blanket into a kilt. Doug from the Waterbury Y tri club came over, he had gone a little slower than expected but a 1:35 was still a PR for him. Alexei came in a few minutes later pulling a 1:38 on a sore knee in his first half. All in all it was a good day.  Now I have a few short road races coming up and 2013 to plan.


Friday, April 27, 2012

That light in the distance ain't the sun.. it's the A train.

That's how I've been feeling the last few weeks. Rev3 is about 6 weeks and counting away and I've only done one 50+  mile ride.
running is coming along steadily and I've really felt motivated in the tempo runs I've done over the past few weeks. I've consistently been putting in 20 mile weeks, so while I'm not in Ironman or Marathon Shape yet  a sub 1:50 half marathon split is definitely going to happen and if I have energy after the bike I might be able to break the 1:40 barrier again.
The swim is, as always, my strength. I've been putting 10k yards a week for the last month so I know I'll be in good shape out of the water.

The last two weeks have shed new light on why I have had a love hate relationship with the bike. Two weeks ago on went on a training ride with Alexei , Rinaldi and Neil. I was doing fine on flats and down hills. When we started the climbs my lower back would start flaring up as soon as we hit the inclines, and I was dropped like a bad habit. I had tweaked my bike seat during the winter so I wouldn't be so squashed on my aerobars.

But after hearing comments like , "Dude it looks like you're planking." and losing 5-10 minutes to the group on every climb. Apparently it backfired quite literally.  My back was doing all the work while climbing causing my relatively short rides to be painful ordeals. The thing is even before the tweak my back's always acted up on rides. I've heard the

 Last week after taking some of Rinaldi's comments into account, I moved my seat radically forward and pulled my aerobars back to try to find a more powerful climbing position. Well while my back was taking less stress, my bike handling went the way of the dodo. The Stomper felt like skittish when I hit the brakes and did not want to corner.  So I put my seat back a little bit further almost to the point where it was before I did my original adjustment and I have the areobars back but not to the extreme last week. I'm hoping that I can find the happy medium between bike handling and climbing power.

A friend has offered to take me for a bike fit, while I hate having to get help from others just because I hate feeling indebted to people likewise it will be at least two weeks before I can schedule any time to get it done. But if it can help me unlock my potential and get me to like riding again I'm all for it because I'm starting to get sick of my reputation of leading the swim, getting dropped on the bike, and despite valiant runs being too far back to be a factor.  But for right now I've got to keep making temporary fixes hoping I can stop the bleeding, and get myself into a powerful yet comfortable position before I can see the experts. So that's where I stand right now. I need to bike more but I need to bike comfortably so my other sports won't suffer and I can bike more consistently without having to take 1-3 days to unlock my back.

So here's to hopefully better rides

Saturday, March 3, 2012

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Season's taking shape

Well Tuesday night was the Greater Waterbury YMCA Tri Club kick off meeting. Among other events going on that night was a raffle for free entries into the Rev3 Quassy Half and Olympic, The Pat Griskus Sprint and Olympic and the Hopkins Inn Triathlon at Lake Waramaug ( essentially the revival of the Lake Waramaug Tri on the original route.)

Let's cut to the chase my luck at raffles still sucks and I came up empty handed granted I really could have used that entry into Rev3. I was able to register for the Griskus and Waramaug Sprints with a one night only discount. So my season looks like this so far:

June 16 Patriot Half East Freetown, MA

July 11 26th annual Pat Griskus Sprint Middlebury, CT

July 21 1st Annual Hopkins Inn Tri Washington, CT

My hope is to register for Rev3 Half Quassy before entry fills up so hopefully that will be part of next week's pay well spent. As mentioned earlier all New England race directors decided to front stack all of their Olympic distance races before Age group Nationals in Vermont. So I'm not sure if I'll be doing an Oly this year. I've thought about Rev3 Old Orchard Beach but if I'm going that far North I'd rather race a half. If Quassy fills up then I'll definitely do Old Orchard as I want to do at least two halves this season, and if I have the cash and play my cards right, a full iron distance race to finish off the season.

Next year I'm hoping to either go back to Louisville or another WTC sanctioned event to try to punch my ticket to the big dance, but this year is going to be trying to rebuild to the level I used to be at. When I was hungry, when I could eat lightning and crap thunder, when my goal was clear, Big Island, Pro Card, Big Results. While the pro card maybe a stretch ( more of like a stretch, long bike ride and a plethora of performance enhancing drugs...I mean natural and legal supplements.) I'm hoping for some big results to get me moving in the right direction.

Training's been pretty consistent, the run miles are still a little low but I'll be putting up some big numbers in the next few weeks. But so far I have three races. They are pretty fast courses with pretty stacked fields so the training needs to stay consistent and my attitude needs to get back into that "I can do it because I'm hot fire. And I'll school your ass like Macca" mode instead of the "I'm a whiny coward trying to survive." mode. That's going to be the hard part.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Welcome back to the freezer

Well today I decided to put tires to pavement. The temps were near 50F and Steph had left early for play practice so I had the afternoon to myself. Since the weather was nice and I had noting better to do I unhooked the Stomper from the trainer and went out to Middlebury. I hadn't ridden outdoors in Winter since 2009 so I dugout my tattered pair of wool socks and threw another pair of cycling socks over the top hoping that they would keep my feet warm as the only cycling shoes that had decent cleats were my tri shoes. I kept the route simple and did two loops of the Griskus Sprint bike loop. I took the first loop pretty tentatively as I focused on bike handling. It wasn't too windy and once I knew where the sand and pot holes were I was able to open it up. The S-curve at mile 3 and the turn on to Tomilson Rd at mile 4 looked like someone had dumped sandbags down, but there was still enough of a path that to fit the bike safely through. The fact there was very little traffic also helped. I did have an issue with the censor on my bike computer shaking loose on the second loop after hitting a pothole, so a mile and a half of the ride wasn't recorded. I was surprised I didn't bump into more riders but there were several runners. I finished the 20.50 ride in a little under an hour and a half averaging about 15mph. Not fast by any means but not bad for my first outdoor ride since August.

I got back to the car and threw on my Newtons and went for a 5k run down the Griskus Sprint Run course. I kept the pace moderate and I could feel that my feet are adjusting to the Newtons. I'm not ready to tackle any 10 milers yet but I have a feeling if I'm able to get through the next two weeks doing short runs between 3-6 miles I'll be able to get back into the high mile high speed runs. This week I've got some tough workouts on tap in the pool and on the trainer


Saturday, February 18, 2012

First run in Newtons and other training tales

Well yesterday I took my Newton's out for their first run. It went pretty well but until I fully "break in" the shoes I'm going to have to keep the miles low. I could really feel the lugs when I was going downhill, but not so much on the flats or going up hill. It also allowed me some time to reflect on my stride. My left foot seems to already land on my midfoot, where on my right foot I could still feel the lugs and it tends to pronate a little more. I know that as I get used to the shoes and my mileage increases, my stride will improve and I'm confident that my run splits will get faster this year.

I've also started getting back on the spin bike. My bike leg is what needs the most improvement and I'm hoping that I'll be able to get my cycling back to the level it was at in 2008 and 2009. The set that has been the most use to be has been 4x5:00 in big cog on the front with my 15 tooth cog on the back, working on getting my cadence up and building my endurance.

My swimming is back up to about 4000 per practice and the triathletes I'm coaching are improving and building up the yardage . that's more info for another post but so far I'm thinking that 2012 will be a good year.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Back to the Pat...

Well I've signed up for the 2012 Patriot Half Iron in Freetown, MA on June 16. This will be the first time I've competed there since 2009, which was probably one of the best years for me competitively. While I was going through it 09 seemed to be an off year but looking at it in hindsight, it was the last year I sort of had some stability in training, work schedule, and life in general. Now things have started to calm down again, and while last year was a little over ambitious and I am trying to focus on getting myself back into hard core competition, and every year that I've done the Patriot good things have usually followed.
This year will be different than when I enter the Pat in 08 and 09. In those years buoyed by strong results in the previous year's tris I went into the Elite/ Open division to try to compete for a check...and promptly got smoked on the bike. 2008 actually went well I carried the #1 bib and set the day's fastest swim split. In 2009 I had a gearing miscue on the bike so I sort of fell out of contention pretty early indeed Speedy Claire was able to cross beating Bobby off her bucket list ( although I asterisk this as she was only doing the aquabike and didn't have to hold me off on the run.) granted I did throw down a pretty nasty run split, which would have put me higher up overall if I threw down my typical 2:45 bike split instead of a 3:00. This year I entered as an age grouper only because the competition has gotten exponentially harder, Karim from the Waterbury Y tri club won the 25-29 AG last year throwing down a 4:35 the best I did here was 4:55 with a short swim and speedy run in 2009. So my goal is to go under 4:45 and hopefully show myself as a serious competitor instead of a survivor like I was last year at Providence and Louisville.So the game plan for Patriot this year is to work the bike and the run. I'll still swim 3x a week but since I know I'll be able to do a sub 30 swim split pretty easily I won't have to throw doen the 5200yard death workouts I did for Ironman. 3000-4000 yards per workout should be plenty, granted they should be a quality 3-4k. My running is coming along and I'm hoping the Newtons will add some ammo to the tool kit. The bike is where I need to put my work but it's hard. Most coaches state that you need to do at least 100 miles a week to show improvement and at last check I still have a 9-5er, rent to pay, a relationship to maintain, so going out for 3x50 milers a week maybe out of the cards especially if i want to keep a job, keep the girlfriend and keep a roof over my head. So I may have to resort to the trainer and Good ol' coach Troy and Chris Carmichael shouting at me to get out of the saddle and try to unleash my inner Lance. So 2012 is starting to shape up after the Waterbury Y tri club kickoff and raffle on Feb 21 I'll have a better idea of what my season will look like.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Two Steps away from being one of the cool kids

A few years back I had posted that the "cool kids" roll into triathlons with their Garmins, Blue Seventy Helix Wetsuits, rolling on their Cervelo P2s, with their Newtons. Well as I look the soles at my rapid wearing Pearl Izumi Syncro Fuels I realize that part of my income tax refund is going to need to go to running shoes. So I'm thinking about biting the bullet and buying Newtons. For years I've been tempted but I've decided not to spluge on them, but after analyzing my gait I think that Newtons maybe a wise move. I normally land on my mid foot with a little bit of heel landing as I fatigue. I've heard good reviews by some of my teammates and training partners at the Waterbury Ymca and I think that it might be time to get one step closer to becoming *gasp* one of the "cool kids." Does this mean I'll be rolling into a transition near you on a cervelo, texting on the newest i-phone trying to synch it to a garmin, while discussing how I'm better than half the people showing up to do battle and that my cerevelo that is factory speced like the other 200 in Transition is superior. Please I don't think I'll ever be that cocky, besides, my first smart phone and carbon frame are still a promotion and multi bonuses away. But if drinking some of the Newton Kool-aid might help me throw down a better run split, then hey I'll sip away.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Finding the mindset

"that's why you see me walking round like nothings bothering me even though half you people got a fucking problem with me."- Eminem from "Till I Collapse"

In 2001 Peter Reid was sitting on his duff growing a beer gut after falling from the pinnacle of the sport. His former coach tossed him a tri mag with a training plan for completing your first Ironman highlighted , essentially stating don't let your melt down in Kona be the way you went out. Get back to what the sport is supposed to be: fun and a personal challenge. In October 2002 he finished second in Kona and a year later won his third and last Ironman World Championship.

On a more minor league scale ( I am nowhere near the league of Peter the Great) this year I was thinking of skimping on some races, just going through the motions of keeping in shape and getting some fitness back, until I bumped into one of the younger athletes from the club: My friend Chris Rinaldi. Chris and a mutual friend John Corbo remind me a lot of the way I used to be. Fire breathing warriors out there having fun and pushing themselves to the limit. The word can't doesn't exist for them. Sure there are going to be bad days but you just take them for what they are and keep going. As I shot the shit with Chris as he was finishing up a treadmill session it was amazing to see how he's progressed. 2 years ago I bumped into him and Corbo on a training ride and Alexei and I were giving them tips on training and riding. Now they're kicking ass and taking names dominating the 20-24 age group. As I talked to Chris I asked him about his goals for the season. He rattled them off: make nats, have fun doing it. We talked about finding sponsors and how he and John have racked up quite the group of backers and followers. We talked of races where the courses were fast, the podium spots obtainable and the post race beer plentiful. It helped me get back some prospective.

Louisville had been painful in more ways than just physical. I had gone in broke, and mentally out of it as my grandfather had died the week before I was due to fly out. My grandfather was one of the guys who didn't look at me like I was crazy when I said I was going to New Zealand for a second time in 2009 . Likewise he had shown up to every track meet in High School, rain, wind, snow, cold it didn't matter, he was there. When I went into Louisville I had spent most of the money I had tucked away for the race on getting my sister to the funeral from Rhode Island, as well as picking a set of new clothes for the funeral, and eating out because my heart just wasn't up to cooking , or essentially doing anything. Add to it one of my friends I was supposed to meet down there had been dragged on a last minute trip to Chattanooga and then a hurricane kept my friend Adam from being able to fly out it just added to the dark cloud over my head. My mind hadn't been fully in it Louisville, yet I still finished but I didn't have anything left to give for the rest of the season.

After talking to Chris and seeing his passion it's reignited my flame. My training has been harder and more consistent, and I've felt better doing it. I'm actually looking forward to the season I'm going to race a little more locally and put my Kona dream on the back burner for the season, I'm going to focus on going hard and building up my street credit. In 07 and 08 I raced like a rock star, and I want that feeling back. In 07 I wasn't worried about placing and in 08 I knew I was capable and 09 well 09 was still an ok year but it was an introduction to the real world. 10 and 11 I let the real world kick my ass, that ends in 2012. Do I think I'm going to pull a Peter Reid and win Kona in 2013...well stranger things have happened but winning in the 25-29 age group would be equally gratifying.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Getting back

Well the last few days have been spent trying to get my body back into racing shape. I had some vacation time left from last year so I took an hour and a half from the office and went for a 7-8 mile jaunt through Wolcott and the West end of Waterbury. It wasn't my normal old 8 mile town loop but it was still pretty decent. Last night I did a 30 minute session in the weight room before hitting the pool. Now given that I'm recovering from a head cold and my last swim was over a week, my form and fitness were pretty ugly. I mean snot rockets and gimped elbows ugly. My arms were already tight from 3 set of TRX Press ups with Kettlebell deadlifts in betwwen. Followed by squats, with push ups between sets with inclined dumbell fly presses, with triceps presses between. Round that off with 100 crunches/ situps and ball work and I had already put in a stellar workout. I managed to warm up with 600 swim 600 pull and 10x 50's drill swim with a 200 kick. My main set was a brutal 3x500's on 7:00 which was quickly bumped up to a 7:15 interval as I was coming in just over the 7 minute mark. Afterward I felt just utterly annihilated.
So today when my alarm rang at 5:30am I promptly countered with the snooze button. I decided to request some of my left over vacation time to try to get a run in while there was still day light. Since my parent's car is in the shop they borrowed mine to try to take care of some of their running around, hence I started my run from my parent's place. I managed to come up with a solid loop granted it was a little traffic heavy. I don't know what it is with running in Wolcott but it just seems different than running in Waterbury. It's not as congested, there's a little more space on some shoulders, not enough on others. While the city has some pros (sidewalks, streetlights.) there was something that made running in Wolcott just seem a little nicer ( granted nearly half my run was through the East End of Waterbury.) maybe it was that I was familiar with that side of town or the fact that the only people really out were other crazies like myself trying to get their runs or walks in before sunset. Regardless I managed to get it done in 1:12 which is making me think my route was closer to 8miles than 7.

Tonight I coached my swimmers at the Waterbury Y. Only Lori showed and I ran her through technique.She's bit the bullet and decided to do Timberman, so my goal is to fix her stroke and get her pool workouts to average between 2000-2500 yard. One of my swimmers from last year and her husband came down. She's currently going into her 5th month of pregnancy so killer workouts have been replaced with "however many laps I can get in." Since the rest of my crew wasn't there and Lori was done by 8:15PM, I decided to do a beat the clock 3000 yard workout. It wasn't too bad but it did make me realize how far I have to comeback. My main set of 10X100 yards on 1:25 was brutal in that from 100 #4-10 I was just coming in under the interval. I was pretty proud that I was able to finish the whole 3k in just over 45 minutes, as the pool was closing.

So fitness is starting to comeback and I'm trying to harness that "a day without a workout is a wasted day philosophy" that I had in 2008-09. Things are starting to comeback into place and hopefully after few weeks of steady solid training I'll start seeing some results.

Happy Training

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Trying to plan a season

"Perseverance is not really a strength for me. I'm just too stubborn to give up."

Well as I sit here and type this out I'm trying to plan my season. So far there are no WTC races on the schedule. Initially I had thought about going back to Louisville, and getting some revenge on the run course ( I think I my have muttered something about burning it to the ground and scourging the earth with salt while the RN's were pumping me with fluids in the med center.) but upon looking at logistics any races that I would have to fly to seem out of the question in 2012, not saying that won't change but a $600 entry and then all the logistics of booking hotels and transport are looking too expensive and too much of a hassle this year. Despite the fact the clock is ticking on my Kona goal, I'm going to take this year to rebuild my wallet and my body before I commit myself to an assault on a spot, I figure 2013 will be the year to do something crazy again. So this year I'm looking at doing mostly Olys and Halves and maybe a non WTC full if I have the cash. I know Chesapeake Man is held in late September on the same course as Eagleman, and it might be a flat, fast, test of strength to see if I have my groove back.

So my ideal race schedule will mostly be of local events so here's the plan:

June is Hell month:
I'm hoping to take advantage of my Volunteer Discount and race the REV3 Half at Quassy on June 3. Likewise I'm also hoping to get a slot at the Patriot Half in East Freetown, MA on June 16as I always seem to have good races there. Steph and I are then heading up to Maine for a week so I start cutting my training back a bit. If the Patriot is full the Griskus Olympic is my back up race on the same weekend.
2 races this month either a monster half and a fast half or a monster half and monster Oly.

July is going to be short races.
I'm thinking about the KIC It Olympic on July 1 in Stamford, CT. Then the staple event of my tri career the Pat Griskus Sprint on July 11. I'm considering the Lowell Olympic on July 29 to finish out July on a high note.
3 Races this month.

August is a toss up month:
Ideally I want to do REV3 Half Old Orchard Beach on August 26th but if my budget is running tight I may opt for the Park City Mossman on the same date. Likewise I haven't raced the Niantic Bay Sprint in years and I love the course so I'm hoping to gain entry there as well.
In total 2 races this month.

In a perfect world I'll do Chesapeake Man on September 29 to closeout my tri season.

So I'm shooting for 8 races but like everything else in my life these are subject to change. I know I'll do at least 5, and those are the Griskus Sprint, REV3 half Quassy, Niantic, either Griskus Oly or Patriot, and either Rev3 Old Orchard or Park City, and even that's a pretty strong season. So hopefully the Income Tax Fairy will be good to me and I can put that refund to good use and have a little left over to fund this.


Monday, January 2, 2012

He's back

Well, the last time I posted on my blog was back in August after my sort of anti-climatic race at Ironman Louisville. Essentially I went into the race feeling mentally and emotionally beat. My grandfather had passed two weeks before it and essentially all the stress of the last few years had sort of reached a breaking point. Since my hayday of blogging back in the 08 and 09 tri seasons, my posts have been fewer, mechanical, and have had sort of a negative twinge. So I could do a quick recap of what's happened in the from 2009 until now:

I've been left homeless three times.
Gotten myself into a committed relationship with a great girl.
Tried to get into a US Navy officer program.
Left the nest and gotten into a room to rent/house stay situation.
One my biggest motivators has passed on.
I've become a "coach" for some of the swimmers of my local Y's tri club.
I've become a board member of said tri club.
Suddenly found myself on the outside trying to get back into the insider tri scene.

The past few years have been hectic as I have a real 9-5er which sadly is not paying near what I thought it was going to be, so I'm finding myself debating what the next career plan should be. Likewise since I do have a lady in my life the next part of the plan is where am I heading. I know in the past I've thought about moving out west or out of the US, but when you bring someone into share your life sometimes there needs to be compromise, and you aren't able to drift as easily. Likewise on the career front I'm torn between what I should do. Do I continue in banking? Do I take a gamble on education? Do I go into sports medicine like I batted around a few years ago? I'm 26 I'm not getting any younger and when I'm looking to the future I know I don't want to be in Connecticut working an entry level job , being first responder to every family crisis that comes along, not that I hate my family but for the last few years it's just been sort of surviving crisis to crisis and it's just getting old. Likewise my racing has suffered because despite the fact that I did a 70.3 and a full Ironman last year, my training has sort of been going through the motions and not really pushing myself like I used to do. I mean in early 2011 I was really training hard and starting to get my groove back but as time has been going by I've found myself lacking for energy, skipping workouts and just sort of muddling through as I've been letting life get the better of me. I'm hoping 2012 will be a step back toward 2008 and 2009 where I was training well and was looking at the future with an sense of hopeful optimism instead of the fear and dread which have marked the last few years. So hopefully I'll have some more blog posts this year and I'll be able to get my lazy ass back into shape so I can compete for a Kona slot in 2013 and beyond. So a fresh slate has been made and a new beginning has dawned. Fuck the Mayans! Let kick this pig! Because the only Apocalypse that's occurring this year is the restructuring of the 25-29 Age group with my name moving back to the top of the list.

So Game on 2012.