Monday, May 25, 2009

Week in Review- May 9-10, 15-17

Yes, I'm posting multiple weeks here, since I've been too busy to post. Sorry! Anyway...there's a lot to get we'll break it down by weekend:

May 9-10- We had a big turnout in my home state of New Jersey for the Devilman sprint and half ironman. In all (according to the BTT results page), we had 6 racers. Nancy Arena competed in the sprint and finished 8th overall female. In the half, Mary Beth Begley, Michelle Riordan Quigley (MRQ), Jeff Aronis and Jamie Strain all had solid performances, with Jamie finishing 10th OA and MRQ finishing 11th OA female. MRQ's counterpart, BPQ, who raced, but pulled out with an injury, gives us his take on the day:

My day was a success (sort of). The goal was to treat the race as a long training day, guage my fitness and see if I could execute on my race plan. Thought I'd share... Swim: Last year Coach Rich at Minuteman Masters had my 1/2 Iron swim under 30 min, but given my lack of pool time I expected to be slower. Goal was to not go too hard, get out of the water in under 35 min and be ready to bike. I went easy from the gun and my stroke felt comfortable. Was sighting well and worked my way from feet to feet, but saw a bit more open water than I probably should have. I got out of the water in 32:57 and felt good going into T1 at about 15th place. Bike: Deliberately went out easy, took some water to calm my stomach and settled in right away. Aimed for 250-260 watts, but found my comfort zone at 230-240 so I decided to be conservative and keep it there. Not sure if that was due to my FTP being a bit lower in my aero position, or if I just didn't have great legs (bad taper, poor sleep, too much time in the car the day before, blah-blah-blah). In any case felt good in my bars at that power. I took in 2 bottles of gatorade/heed and 2 bottles of water. 2 Gels and 1 Clifbar. Total calories ~600-700. The course was a little long and waaay more technical than they advertised. Lots of rollers, false flats and 90 degree turns. I used my brakes more yesterday than in any other triathlon I've ever done. I stayed tucked into my bars as much as possible and picked off a half dozen riders. Came into T2 in 2:30:05 (22.8 mph) with the 3rd fastest bike split on the day in 5th place overall. Run: My Polar died about 3 minutes before the swim start (I HATE POLAR!), so I raced without a watch and couldn't use anything other than RPE to pace on the run. I went out easy repeating "run within yourself, run within yourself..." over and over in my head to avoid my usual mistake of going hard too early. I was passed by one runner right away and another at mile 3, putting me in 7th overall. I let them go because they were moving (!) and I needed to run my own race. At mile 5 I was closing on the guy ahead of me and there was still no one within sight behind me. I picked him off just after the turn around at mile 6 and he looked like he was suffering. My legs were good, but at that point my hip flexor was starting to get very painful. I decided to go until 7 and then shut it down. Being able to build miles and train this week was more important than gutting out a finish. Just guessing, but I think I was moving at around 7:20's... I probably would have faded a bit (due to heat/humidity) and finished around 1:38ish (???)
Despite DNFing, it was a very successful day. Takeaway Lessons:
- Swim more!!
- I definitely need to hydrate more and work in salt tabs. Especially on humid days
- Load up on the Ibuprofen pre-race and on the run to keep hip inflamation down
- Race pace power needs to be re-calibrated for 1/2 iron distance
- Get a Garmin.

This weekend also presented a BTT Tent Series Race....the Hopkington Season Opener, Du and Tri. We also had a great turnout there with 5 racing the Tri and 2 racing the Du. In the Tri, Andrew Schweihs, Jay Higginbottom, Brett Johnston, Stacy Sucholdolski and Kate Blumberg represented BTT well, with Andrew and Kate both finishing 5th in their respective AGs. While, Sasha Dass and Mary Wrin both tackled the Du (sorry your results or you didn't race!). The course for both races was very windy. Sasha gives us her take on the day:

This was my first big race of the year. My goal was to finish strong and feel good, which I did! The first run felt great, but I held back quite a bit to save for the ride and second run. The ride was tough. High winds and a very hilly course made for slow going -- I could have sworn my name was "on your left". Max Performance did a great job organizing and keeping people safe and entertained, and having the course in a state park made for some pretty scenery. It was wonderful to see so many BTT'ers competing. Shout outs to Dave Mak, MaryBeth Begley, Mark Vautour, and Juli and Matt Davenport for all their encouragement. FoBTT Noah Manacas made a superb showing placing 2nd in his age group - awesome job Noah! Shaun Brady also put in a great showing, but I don't want to steal his thunder (Ed Note- go ahead and steal it. He didn't post his results, so my question is....did he actually race?).
May 15-17- Not too many people raced this weekend due to the fact that it was training weekend up at Waterville Valley in NH. However, the ever elusive Adnan Khera placed 5th in his AG at the Tempe International Triathlon in Arizona. Also, after a day of getting abused by Matt Pokress on the bike, witnessing Joe Kurtz's and Jeff Krehers' bloody antics, and well, just having to be around Brady, I raced the Black Bear Sprint Duathlon up at Waterville Valley, where I finished second overall. If I can offer one word of advice...don't race a duathlon the day after a brutal 100+ mile ride! My legs were screaming going over the speed bumps;)
Although I hear that Jeff Aronis is writing up a report about his ride up at Training Weekend (which we'll post next time), no one else gave me a report on the weekend. So, here's the writeup: For those that were there, you know how hard the training days were and how fun the nights were. For those that were not there....well, I guess you don't!!!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Week in Review- May 2-3 (updated)

We didn't have too much action this past weekend. Only 2 local results to report. Newbie Stephen Wall placed 5th in his AG and 34th Overall at the Polar Bear Triathlon in Bruswick, Maine, and Steve Sian came out of retirement (just kidding Steve) to run the Willow Tree Half Marathon in Rhode Island. However, Jason Soules and, newly crowned All American, Carolyn ("bump") Cullings, hit the tropical paradise of St. Croix. Jason gives us his report:

This is a must do race! There are many things that made our week in St. Croix terrific:

- Planter's Punch
- Cruzan Hospitality
- The St. Croix Emergency Room
- The Beast (up and down)
- The clearest open water swim ever
- The wind
- The sun
- The "patched" roads
- The ice
- The golf course
- The great post-race beach party
- Many fellow New England triathletes (Team Pyscho, Tri Fury, QT2, Cyclonauts)

Normally a race report should start with the start of the race, but, our race adventure started two days prior to the event. Long story short, we arranged our trip to St. Croix through Endurance Sports Travel, run by Ken Glah (turns out he will be doing his 26th consecutive Kona race this year). Ken and his two colleagues thought that a good pre-race activity would be to ride The Beast. Get it out of the mental way. The Beast is a .7mile "hill." The steepest part of the hill has a 27% grade. Very tough, and do-able. But what goes up, must come down, and unfortunately on the way down, Carolyn had a very nasty crash. I was riding behind Carolyn when all of the sudden she seemed to hit a loose rock, or hole, or something, and she swerved left and immediately did a head over heels roll at around 25mph. The initial assessment was that her body was intact, except her brand new pink helmet was crushed in on the left side, broken in six places. Many hours later in the emergency room and after a CT scan, the doc (from Rockland, MA) gave Carolyn the clean bill of health, and three bottles of hydrogen peroxide. So it seems that Carolyn amazingly took most of the crash, directly on her head...but that is not to say that she didn't get some quality road rash on every corner of her body (left and right shoulders, left forearm, left hip, left and right knees, but not a scratch on either hand). And her bike was not too worse for the wear; bent left brake handle and a bent saddle. Otherwise all good and all repairable.

Saturday was the important day to "observe" Carolyn to make sure that she didn't start crossing her eyes, speaking in pig latin, or running around in circles - and she passed with flying colors. So fast forward to race morning. Carolyn was (mostly) in the game, now wearing an awesome Big Bird yellow helmet. So enough of the commentary and here are some of the details of the race.

The whole race is based in Christianstead, next to the old fort. Christianstead is a classic old Caribbean town.

Triangle swim in the clearest of clear water. I spied a lounge chair at about 40 feet on the bottom. Some fish. First leg of the swim is into the wind and current, headed out to sea. Second leg the opposite. Third leg is short along the town wall. The swim is quite tough and times reflect it. It is the first leg that gets you. Pretty choppy and hard to sight in the open sea.

Hmmmm. Hard. That really is enough said, but I will give a few other details. The bike course is mostly beautiful. A lot of it is along the coast of the north and south sides of the island. And this is really where the word "relentless" comes in. To get through the bike course you have to battle wind, hills, heat, and a lot of really rough roads (not to mention 10 speed bumps). You just never get a break. Just when you round the east end of the island and think that the wind will shift to your tail, the road turns very rough and there are lots of short hills with turns. Or when you finally get a down-hill run that gets you over 30mph, you have to take a hard turn, left or right, requiring lots of braking because again, rough roads. And a quick tip given the rough roads, make sure everything on your mike is tightened down - my computer flew off at about mile 25, never to be seen again. The course was littered with bottles, nutrition, bottle cages, etc. There were a lot of crashes, mostly on corners. After the race, Carolyn wasn't the only person walking around looking like she had a fight with a weed wacker. Huge plus for the course were the number of race marshals and bike support crews (we know two people who broke their chains on The Beast, got help, and completed the race), and the fact that there were not any cars (didn't pass one). Oh, and there were four water stops.

This part of the race was referred to as "a suffer fest," and I think that this sums it up. Two loop, out and back. Approximately 2 miles out on a road, 2 miles in the Buccaneer Resort around the golf course, and then 2 miles back on the road. The course is not too hilly, but there are a few short steep climbs. The sun was tough and for this part of the race - HOT. The run support was great. Water stops every kilometer with everything available including lots of ice, ice water, and iced sponges.

The post-race party was great. Most of the competitors were there and the venue was a beach-side pool area. Kona and Clearwater slots were awarded while we all sat around the pool, sipping good drinks under a clear, 80 degree sky.

In conclusion, we think that BTT needs a bigger presence next year. While this report may sound a bit harsh, we think that the St. Croix 70.3 really captures a lot of what triathlon is all about. Somewhere along the highway on the south side of the island, battling into the head winds, going all of...?mph, I swore this was a once and done race, but when I crossed the finish line I realized that I had learned a lot about the course and there is some elusive draw to come back to try and best mother nature, the course, and/or The Beast. (Or maybe it is the draw of the great rum punch).

Also this past week, USA Triathlon released its list of 2008 Age Group All Americans (AA) and Honorable Mentions (HM), which included a number of BTTers (and 2 new members):

Bill Reeves (AA)
Jamie Strain (AA)
Pat Dwyer (AA)
Matt Pokress (AA)
Tricia Weston (AA)
Regina O'Toole (AA)
Carolyn Cullings (AA)
Julia Duval (AA)

Brian Quigley (HM)
Joe Kurtz (HM)
Jenn Scalise-Marinofsky (HM)
Rachel Saks (HM)

(my apologies if anyone was missed)

This coming weekend is BTT Team Weekend up at Waterville Valley (members only). I'll leave you with these parting thoughts: Throw out your worries and concerns about not being able to do a certain distance on the bike or about getting dropped. Team Weekend is a chance to test yourself with your teammates. If your longest ride is 40 miles....then head out with the 60 or 80 mile group and see what you can do. If you've never done a century, here's your chance. There's nothing like the end of the day commiserating with your teammates over the day's sufferfest....or bragging about it (especially over some cold ones)...whatever the case may be. We've all been "dropped" up's not a big deal. So don't worry about the length or difficulty of the ride, embrace it!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Week in Review- May 3

Last weekend brought the best weather of the year so far....80s and sunny. So, it was great to see the blue and green out on the roads. I saw several BTTers out on the CRW loop. I frequently ride that loop and I've seen more BTTers out there in the past couple of weeks than ever before. Keep it up! As far as racing is concerned, Nancy Arena and Marybeth Begley headed down to the Sunshine State for St. Anthony's. Nancy gives us her report:

Last weekend Marybeth and myself trecked down to St Petersberg, FL to participate in the St Anthony's Olympic distance triathlon; a huge race with over 6000 athletes, top pro and elite field and competative age groupers looking to qualify for the 2009 Age Group Nationals since the race is a regional championship race. We arrived on Friday, me with the fears that my injury may not make it thru the race and MB afflicted with some form of the swine flu. We headed for the race expo and registration. It was a balmy day and the heat started to affect both of us as we bumbled around the expo feeling as if we had both been drugged. We saw a few pros including Terrenzo Bozzone. After talking to the extremely friendly and helpful volunteers, we finally found the swim start and went for our first outdoor swims of the year! The ocean was beautiful and flat-(but not for long.) Saturday, we picked up our bikes from tribike transport( a much recomended outift to ship your bike and you get a free hat to boot!). After a small ride to check the gears, we racked our bikes in the sea of 6000 other bikes. We then headed for another small swim; the surf was a bit bigger today but still better than chilly Walden. The water temp was about 75 so wetsuits allowed thus far. Sunday- race day we got up at the crack of dawn despite the fact that our swim waves didnt go off until after 8:40 and 8:45. We arrived in transition at 5:30 am only to find out that the swim was CANCELLED!!! Evidently the surf and wind was too dangerous and only the pros were allowed to swim;Rumor has it that 2 of the pros were plucked from the swim that morning. After what seemed to be chaos, age groupers were lined up numerically and sent off every 2 seconds, time trial style. MB went off somewhere around 8:45 and me soon there after. We ran from the swim finish into transition where I soon found I was lost in transition. It took me over 2 minutes to find my bike(mind you there was no wetsuit to pull off or anything- I thought for sure one of the over 200 athletes in my "aged" group took it. Finally found the little Guru and was off. The bike course was flat with many turns, very congested at times and windy as well-At one point I thought I was going to fall over sideways. The run, also flat, ran into nice neighborhoods, was well supported with many spectators studded along the course. The wind had calmed down by the run and it was pretty warm out there. All in all, it was a great race despite the fact that it became a duathlon. It's well run, well supported, huge race in a beautiful place; a great opener to the tri-season. MB and I feel we need to come back next year since we didnt get the full experience. Any other takers????

At some of the other more local races, BPQ continued his transformation from triathlete to cyclist as he took on the Quabbin Resevoir Road (bike) Race with Maddy's bet...other half, Mike. Quigley gives us his take on the day:
Mike Moran and I raced the Quabbin Reservoir Road Race on Sunday. 63 mile loop with ~5000' climbing and temps were in the 80's.

Plan was to ride smart - not hard and I successfully sat in for the first 55 miles, then jumped to cover a break (that went nowhere) at mile 55 and ended up throwing my plan out the window as I found myself pulling the whole damn peleton into the wind for the last 6 miles. After a couple of miles in front I knew I wouldn't have the legs to cover the final sprint - so I tried to break everything up by setting a hard tempo for the last 3 miles to the top of the hill. I sucessfully controlled the race from the front and started the sprint with 200 yards to go. As expected I lost 7 spots due to tired legs and finished 8th overall.

Not a bad race, but still kicking myself for tactical errors that probably landed me a handful of spots further down the finisher's list and cost me a payout.

Overall a great day of racing. Attached is a view from a finish line.

Mary Wrin took third in his division at the Charles River School 5K run in Dover. And, I shared overall honors at the Blue Hills 10 Miler w/training parter Dave Hannon of New England Track and Trail. All in all, a great weekend of racing.

By the way, a great weekly training event for the bike is the Charlie Baker Time Trial in Concord. BPQ took on the first one of the year, finishing 5th.

As promised, below is a re-cap of BTTers at the Boston Marathon:

Kate Blumberg:

This was my first year running the Boston Marathon as a qualified runner. I've run the race 5 times before this for charity...and even though I qualified, I still chose to run for the American Liver Foundation's Run for Research. Probably my favorite part of the entire race was walking up to the #15corral. It was in Wave 2, right up front near the starting line.Having always been waaaaay in the back with the charity runners, this was such a thrill and an adrenaline rush to be so close to the start!!I was with a few of my girlfriends, who had also qualified, and we were all super excited for the race to get underway. As the race started, I found a comfortable pace and ran with my friend,Betty, for about the first 16 miles. The weather was slightly chilly,but I chose my outfit well - singlet, shorts and arm warmers. The headwind came in gusts but, all in all, it wasn't a bad day to run a marathon. The crowds were out in full force this year, but I tried not to get too wrapped up in their excitement, in fear that it would make me go faster than I wanted. My only goal for this year's Boston was to break my previous course record of 3:54:56. I'm already qualified for2010 Boston with my 2008 Philly time, so there was no need to try and run a BQ. I just wanted to have fun, while still having some sort of goal. As we made our way down Grossman's hill, my quads started burning(shocker) and I gladly welcomed the uphill over 128. By this point,Betty was pushing a bit ahead and I wanted to conserve my energy for the hills. I passed by the Liver Team Cheering section (see attached picture) at mile 17 and was so excited to see familiar faces. As I turned the corner to approach the first of the three Newton hills, I let the energy from the cheering section carry me up. I knew that most ofmy friends and family were waiting for me at the 30K mark, so my goal was to get to that point in good spirits. At the 30K mark, my friend Amie jumped in to run me in to the finish. I was starting to hurt and welcomed her company. The remaining uphills felt really good but as I descended into Cleveland Circle, I experienced a great deal of pain in my sciatica. It seriously felt like someone was stabbing me in the ass with a knife. The last 5miles were very painful...I was limping and shuffling...and there may have been some tears...but I refused to walk or give up (plus, Amie wouldn't let me). I ended up crossing the finish line in 3:51:15,breaking my previous course record by almost 4 minutes. I was so excited...but the pain and the bitter cold wind that whipped through the finish corral didn't let me enjoy the moment too much. Once I got to the Liver Team recovery zone at the Westin (which took forever to get to, since I could barely walk), I was exhausted with pain. I saw my mom at the top of the escalator and broke down into tears. I just wanted to sit down and make the pain stop. She helped me into the room where I had, not one but TWO, massage therapists work out my sciatica. They told me they could literally feel it pulsating. Once I started to feel a little better, I was able to bask in the glory of my course PR and continued on to Brandy Pete's to dance the night away at a post-marathon party. :-)

Krista Schepanovsky:

Not much to say---except:

a huge THANKS to all that were at the BTT tent, or volunteering on the course. I sure needed a boost and was looking forward to seeing the BTT tent...though I swear you moved it farther....and nice to meet new team member Brett in the last couple of miles..if only I could have hung on with you! Boston is an amazing race and one you should definitely do if you have the chance.

Brett Johnston:

Boston Marathon weekend is always crazy, because you really feel like you are in the "Hurry Up and Wait" mode which I suspect is because of the Monday start. I started off my prep on Sunday with watching "The Departed"…for me there is no better "Boston" movie to get you psyched for the race, especially when you throw in the Dropkick Murphys tune "I'm shipping Up to Boston" for good measure. Race Day was perfect weather although there was a strong Easterly wind that seemed to get stronger through the day. I wasn’t able to meet up with any fellow BTT'rs before the race, but got to meet up with Meg, Doug and Mark Vautour at the start line. I was in the 2nd wave which started at 10.30, and it was just after 10:40 before we actually got to the starting line and began to run. I had never broken 4 hours before in a marathon, and that was my goal, so for me everything was to hit the finish before 2:40 pm (10 minutes after Lauren had scheduled a post race meeting at Cuffs to celebrate with a couple beverages). For those of you who have ever considered using one of those "pace wrist bands", I can strongly suggest it. At the expo, you give your target time (3:55 for me), and it will print out a pace calculator for you taking into account elevations and where you are in the course etc. It was a good feeling to be able to look down every mile and see that I was either on pace, or knocking a couple of seconds off... which I knew I would need at the end. For me, one of the best parts of the course is Wellesley College (I have no idea why... maybe it is the kisses that are graciously handed out at will), but this is a great place to get to. It is quite funny to hear some first time runners as they approach Wellesley College, as you start to hear the roar of the crowds way before you can actually see them, and a lot of people don’t know what the noise actually is. Once I hit Newton, I had to tell myself that all that I have is a 5-mile race to the top of HeartBreak Hill, and after that it was home time. This seemed to work for me, and I think doing nearly all of my long runs on that part of the course really helped a lot. I could not wait to get to the BTT tent, and I knew that they had said that it was near mile 18.5, which really gave you something to look forward to. I think that from mile 18 to the tent (which I do not believe was 1/2 mile) was the longest part of the race for me, because you are looking around every corner or hill just hoping to see the tent. Eventually "it" arrived…and a big Thank You…it was a great help, and dare is say that I think I actually got "goosies"…(If that is not a manly thing to say…then those "goosies" were from the wind…it was really cold J ). Going up heartbreak hill, I learnt that you can actually draft a runner, and this was a huge help as I just kept my eyes on his feet, and did not need to look up the hill, and when I got to the top and broke out, I got hit straight on with the wind, so I know that it worked for me…Thanks whoever you are…. Now all I had to do was press on to the end, although now my legs were really feeling it, but I was able to continue running and keep my pace. I eventually got to cross the finish line in a time of 3:53, which was a PR for me, and my first sub-4 marathon. My wife volunteers at the finish line each year at the marathon, so it was great to have her there at the end….and Yes, we made it to Cuffs afterwards for some good post race Sam Adams rehydration....

Great job to all that ran the marathon! And, a special thanks to those who contributed to the report...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Walden Notis - 5/1 6am‏

Yesterday marked the first official Walden swim of the year. If you missed it, father of the year (ok... just father), Mr. Michael Hollywood sent out the first "Notis":

Nipples hard and scrotums shrunk,Walden swimmers can't be sunk.Come join the first official organized Walden swim of 2009!

Be there, or be mocked for your lack of commitment!

May 1, 2009 @6amWetsuits optional Helen's afterwards

Most of us are smart enough to wait until the water warms a I said...."most". Hollywood describes the scene....

5am. It used to be tough waking up that early, but in the past few weeks I've become surprisingly good at going from zero to sixty (OK, thirty-five) at strange hours. Besides, it's a lot easier to get excited about the first Walden swim of the season than a poopy diaper. "Don't forget your wetsuit..." was the only advice my wife could manage. She's even more tired than I am. I was more concerned about forgetting my camera. Documentation of the first Walden swim has become a mandatory event over the past several years. Regina, who had covered us in the past, had emailed Thursday night to say her presence should not be expected. No worries, I thought, i'll take care of it. Though I generally try not to, I could not resist checking my email in the car on my way to the pond. Pokress - "I'm out." Kurtz - "staying in the pool until after TW." "Wimps!" I thought gleefully. Granted, they put in more hours last week than I've put in since new year's. At least I would have this one day on them. Turning off of Rt. 2 and onto 126 I was consumed with anticipation. Looking forward to many weeks of Friday morning swims, surrounded by good company, followed by the ritualistic consumption of breakfasty goodness. Summer is almost here, I thought to myself. And a big, warm grin stretched across my face. I pulled up to the horseshoe at the visitor center and saw Ira crossing the road. I would not be alone this morning! Not only that, but I was going to be joined by a BTT newbie, who actually beat me to the pond! Good on ya, Ira. I hopped out of the car, grabbing my camera, my towel, 2 swim caps and 2 pairs of goggles (nothing was stopping me this morning!) and reached into the back seat to find... NOTHING. Not even the *smell* of neoprene in my car. Now, I could have gone all "Dori" and jumped right in, but felt that my services as the press corp would be more valuable than my services as fish food after my heart slowly ceased beating somewhere around Rob (Sczupak)'s beach. So, I took pictures. Way to go, Jeff and Ira, for being everything I wanted to be, but wasn't. See you all next week... And in the immor(t)al words of Maggie O'Toole: Wetsuits optional.