Monday, July 27, 2009

Week in Review (July 11-19)

We had a few big races over the last few weeks, including IM Switzerland and RI 70.3.

July 11-12. This weekend was a big race weekend. Switzerland, RI, Old Colony, Powwow to name a few. We'll start abroad...where Jamie Strain did the double: International Distance (2:10:09) on Saturday and Ironman Distance (10:17) on Sunday. As Joe Kurtz pointed out...."I don't even like to walk fast while I'm dropping off my transition bags the day before"! Way to go Jamie. Joining Jamie at the ironman distance were Jeff and Rachel Aronis, Marybeth Begley and, team sponsor, Mark Vatour. For MB and Mark, this was their first ironman. We hope to have some RRs to post later. Way to go guys! While they were racing in the Alps, a few BTTers were slugging it out in RI. July 12 marked the second annualy RI 70.3. Brett Johnston, Stephen Wall and myself all raced (rumor has it that Jorge Martinez and Trish Weston also raced...but no results were posted:) As many of us have experienced at the longer races, Stephen had a tough day, but was great enough to share his day with us:

Last year I had a fantastic day at the inaugural Rhode Island 70.3 race, posting a PR while running down my brother-in-law to beat him for the first time ever in a triathlon. These were the things on my mind when I registered for this year’s edition when it opened last September. Fast forward to this year and midday on Saturday spending hours in traffic trying to get down from Providence to T1, I was second guessing my decision. Eventually I succeed in scattering my triathlon kit across all corners of the state of Rhode Island, made it back in time for a quick dinner and was in bed by 8:45 – miraculously a PR for pre-70.3 nights! Speaking of PR’s, my goal for the day was to break 5 hours and I was feeling pretty confident despite minimal run training as a result of knee/hip issues. The morning shuttles left for the beach at the ungodly hour of 4 and my wave didn’t go off until well after 7 so I had plenty of time to kill once I got settled in. Very excited to do my first race with a strong BTT presence so I set out to look for other BTTers … found Brett and we headed to the beach to await the swim start. Long wait before my start - time and pre-race nerves are a poor combination – resulting in most of the next hour in the porta potty which would become a theme for the day. Considering how choppy the swim was I was glad to exit in 33:00 – one of my faster 70.3 swims. My bike plan was to take it out fast for the early flat section of the course, ease up on the hills and pick up a bit more time on the descent back into providence. After averaging about 23-24mph for the opening 20 miles the plan was going well. That was the high point of the day. By mile 30 I was having stomach cramps and had switched into survival mode, eventually losing about 5 minutes off my goal pace. Leaving T2 my watch read 3:14 and thinking I still might be able to salvage the day, headed out on to the run course to try to get rid of my cramps and run some 8min miles. After about 4 or so miles I had actually succeeded at both of these goals as was starting to feel pretty go… wait… I need the bathroom NOW! Into the porta potty at the aid station and I cannot describe in a public forum the horrors I witnessed inside… sitting there watching time tick away with views resembling the outhouse scene from Slumdog Millionaire all of the sudden I did not feel the need for the bathroom anymore. Back onto the course and all momentum I had before was gone - I couldn’t get into a rhythm and continued to lose time. Between mile 10 and the finish I watched 9 guys from my age group pass me – which is always fun. The only redeeming fact was I was *styling* my new, compliments of Landry’s (shameless plug), knee high compression socks preventing them from the satisfaction of knowing I was in their age group. I did eventually come across the finish line and I was struck by the realization that of all the 70.3 races I’ve done (Timberman, St. Croix, UK) the finish in downtown Providence up the street to the steps of the capital building is the most exhilarating. It is beautiful in it’s own urban way – and the crowd energy (with an awesome number of people specifically cheering for BTT) is amazing. In all it wasn’t my best day of racing – but any day you finish a half Ironman is a good day. And there’s always Timberman to break my 5 hour goal!

Here's my take on the day:

As most of you know, I raced Kona last year after several years of trying. So, this year was supposed to be an “off” year. Nothing longer than a 70.3 (which is by far my favorite distance). But, a funny thing happened during my “time off” following Kona….I had a heck of a time getting motivated…and thus my training really suffered. So, when RI 70.3 added Kona spots, I quickly signed up (literally within 5 minutes of finding out). Then, I had remorse. I wasn’t going to be ready to race a 70.3 in early July. Oh well. I had paid the money and I was going to give it my best. I arrived to Providence on Friday afternoon, registered and headed to Warwick where I was staying (we stay here so we can bring our dog). I got up early on Saturday to do a quick warm up and eat a huge QT2 prescribed breakfast. Unfortunately, I don’t know the area all that well and wound up at Friendly’s….not a good choice. I was originally going to drive the course, but after mishap after mishap (too small and numerous to describe), I decided to go back to the hotel and skip the drive. Fortunately, my wife, who wasn’t coming down to RI until later in the day, talked some sense into me and got me back into my rhythm. I drove the course…which I’m happy I did. I woke up around 3:45 on race morning, as the race starts at 6am (not 7). We got down to Narraganset and could see that the water was really churning. So much so that the swim start was delayed for about 30 minutes so the race officials could reposition the buoys. You could tell that people were nervous about the swim, since most don’t swim in these types of conditions. My swimming has been one of the things that has really suffered since Kona….I just haven’t been in the pool. But, since I grew up on the ocean and was an ocean lifeguard for 11 years, conditions like this don’t worry me. When they finally lined us up in the coral, I was ready to go and picked my line. The gun went off. It was a beach start, which was to my benefit, as I was one of the early leaders. However, it was impossible to see in the water. The buoys were all over the place. I was just trying to follow guys in my wave. I kept finding myself way to the right. This swim was really one of the only times that I really swam blindly. I had no idea which way I was going. But, I managed to make it back to the beach with a fairly decent time. Wetsuit off and onto the bike. The first 5-6 miles of the bike are along the water with the wind at our backs. I was cranking along…doing 27-28 mph. Before the turn off the water, Chris Thomas (eventual AG and overall amateur winner) blew by me like I was standing still (he was in the wave behind me…as they split the 35-39 AG). Oh well….nothing I can do. The bike was very challenging. There were a few tough climbs…but a lot of rolling hills. I could tell that I just didn’t have the bike miles in me for this distance. I was struggling by mile 30. Since I was in the 6th wave, I was able to pass a lot of people, while only getting passed by a few. I’m fortunate to be a pretty good runner. This allows me to not worry too much if someone passes me on the bike. I figure that I have the ability to catch them on the run. I came into transition feeling like I had just ridden 112 miles (not 56). But, as is my MO, I took off a blazing out of transition before I settled into a good pace. About ¾ of a mile in, I hit the “hill” for the first time. It was definitely tough. But, I was feeling pretty good. I was actually surprised when I got passed on the run during the first lap. Then I realized that it was Derek Treadwell, who’s a pro and a former Olympic qualifier at the 1500 and had the fastest run split of the day. I was reeling in guys in my AG. But, since the AG was split, I had no idea what was happening behind me…or who was really in front of me (other than Martin). The second loop was much like the first, steady and consistent. I tried to put everything I had into the last mile. In retrospect, I probably should have pushed a little earlier, as I still had some legs left. The finish line at RI is great. One of the best non-ironman finished I’ve been at. I came in at 4:22 and change. I was happy with my effort. Following the race, I decided to sign up for IMLP, which I did. Then, I headed down to the results to see where I finished. I wound up 5th in the 35-39 AG. I decided to see if I could get lucky and get one of the 2 Kona slots up for grabs. The awards went 5 deep, so we were going to stay anyway. As they called our names for the awards, 2 of the guys didn’t show up, and the overall winner didn’t take his slot. So I sat back down and looked at Jenn and said “wanna go back to Kona?”, since it was pretty much a forgone conclusion that I had the slot if I wanted it. We both really wanted to go back…but we just didn’t think it would be this year. So, when they eventually did the Kona rolldown, I took the spot. I’m not in a position to turn these down…yet! So, the landscape of my 2009 season has changed dramatically. Now I have to train for an ironman. Although RI 70.3 still has some logistics and other aspect to clean up…this is a good race. I would definitely do it again.

This weekend also marked another Tent Series Race...this time at Old Colony (sorry that the tent wasn't set up....but many thanks to Dave Mak for trying!!!). It was a podium day for BTT at Old Colony, led by Jason Soules who placed 1st in his AG and 11th OA. Carolyn Cullings and Elaine Metcalf both finished 2nd in their respective AGs. And, Shaun Brady had a solid day and increased his tent series points. Great job everyone.

Also racing this weekend were Dave Mak at the Powwow and Pete Jensen at the Lowell Mill City Internation Triathlon (who scored a podium finish in his AG and 14th OA). Way to go guys!

July 18-19. This week saw Jay Higginbottom take on the Urban Epic Sprint in Maine and Madame Prez (Meredith) place as 3rd Overall female at the Good Will Running 10k. Ali Winslow continued racking up the AG awards with a 3rd place in the elite division and 4th overall placing at the Falmouth Sprint. And, despite going off course, Matt Pokress finished 2nd in his AG and 7th Overall at the Appleman Triathlon.

Up next....LP.

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