Saturday, August 29, 2009

Week in Review (August 15-23)

This week's review covers 2 weekends....August 15-16 and August 22-23.

August 15-16 flew a bit under the radar, with no big "multisport" races on the schedule, and with Timberman only a week away. But, that didn't prevent BTT from getting out there...especially Jeff Aronis, who competed in the incredibly difficult Mt. Washington Road (bike) Climb. He did this one week before also competing in Timberman 70.3. Jeff also competed in the Mt. Washington Road (run) race earlier this season. Me thinks Jeff is a glutton for punishment! What's next? Iditarod? Leadville? Badwater? Nice job Jeff! Also competing in a "single" event was Austin Whitman, who took to the water for the 1.7 mile Save the Bay swim in Rhode Island. Also competing in RI was Sasha who took on the Wild Dog Tri. And, lastly, Matt Bergin took a few steps outside his door to compete in the inaugural Urban Epic Triathlon-Boston. Great job everyone!

August 22-23 represented one of BTT's big weekends....w/the Timberman Triathlon Festival on the schedule. In all, BTT had over 25 members racing over the weekend. We also had a big turnout at the tent, which was situated just next transition. The women of BTT were the story on day one, with Rachel Saks and Jess Douglass taking the podium. Rachel, in usual fashion, crushed the field and won her AG and finished 52nd overall. While Jess took home some of Keith Jordan's syrup with a 5th place finish. It's also worth mentioning that Braden Larmon, Ira Sills and Nicole Richer all just missed podium spots. Also, a shout out to Ira who, after suffering an early season crash, competed in his first tri as a member of BTT. On Sunday, we had a sea of blue and green on the course. Unfortunately, the heat and humidity left a lot of it melted on the run course!!! Yes, it was hot! We had 4 podium finishes (3 individual and 1 relay). BTT was led by Trish Weston's 2nd place AG finish (post your results Trish!!!). Carolyn Cullings also endured the heat to reach the podium with a 5th place AG finish. And, Pat Dwyer (me) finished 3rd in his AG. The relay team of Brian Kearney, Brian Quigley and Joe O'leary (non btt), dominated the relay field to win easily. Also, just missing out on a podium spot.....and I mean JUST missing out....was Meredith Harjes. Meredith was kind enough to write up a report on her day:

This was my 4th half ironman and my second time at Timberman. I had an awesome time when I raced it in 2007 and was looking forward to doing it again. This was my "A" race for the season, so I was tapered, focused and ready to go. I was nervous about the weather forecast, with all the Thunderstorms up there I just didn't want the swim to be canceled.We got to the race site really early (a few minutes after 4), but it paid off having the car parked right next to the BTT tent, especially so that Dan, Grace, and Baby Ian could have some "AC Time" on what turned out to be a hot day.The race was delayed by about 30 minutes, which probably threw off everyone's nutrition plans, but no big deal. I was in the 9th wave and as we were getting ready to go they mentioned that there were already over a thousand people in the water. They also gave a leader update, I was shocked to hear how far the pros had gotten on the bike course before I had even started the swim. The swim was uneventful, I found 2 other girls in my wave pushing a good pace, and we stuck together like glue for the entire swim. That's the first time I've had an experience like that in the water, and I liked it... good motivation. Seemed like we were a cooperative pack even if there were a few elbow jabs in there. T1, nothing exciting. transition always takes me a long time because I towel off and reapply sunblock. Dan can usually spot me in there pretty easily, he just looks for the cloud of sunblock from my spray can.When I got on the bike the weather was very comfortable. With so many people in front of me, the course was completely packed. The officials seemed like they didn't know what to do. There were just constant groups, it got a little frustrating at times. I had to go faster than I wanted at some times to get around people and slower than I wanted at other times to keep out of the draft. The first 13 miles are quite hilly with the "monstah" hill at mile 10. I was very glad to hit the flats for the next 30 miles. I really enjoyed seeing so many BTTers on the course, but it's never fun to see the blue and green on the side with mechanical issues. Sorry to Tony and Lauren for their issues! Way to rock it for the rest of the race though.Coming into T2 I was very excited and ready to be off the bike. Again toweled off and reapplied the sunblock, grabbed my clif bloks and was off on the run.I loved hearing the huge crowd of spectators at the BTT tent, THANKS for cheering!! Saw a few people taking photos as I was sloshing gatorade all over my face. Feel free to delete those. The first loop felt great, there are SO many aid stations on that course (with lots of great volunteers, they are really amazing). Lots of opportunities to dump water and ice over your head. The double out-and-back is so much fun, inspiring to see the pros cruising into their finish and great seeing BTTers again and again. Thanks everyone for the encouragement!! Heading into the second lap I noticed the heat, my face felt on fire but I still had the chills. The final 3 miles back into transition were tough, the hills felt enormous. By this point the course had become a slalom, I had to keep zigzagging between people as the heat took it's toll and people had begun to walk.The finish line couldn't come fast enough, it's always a little further around the corner than I expect :)Quite amazing to see Chrissie Wellington handing out medals to the finishers with a huge smile on her face. I tried to head over to get my medal from her, but another pro stepped in front and handed one to me. Oh well, she was great too and even complimented BTT for our strong presence!!On a more personal note, I am very glad to have hit my goals and to have PRed on the course. I had a rough couple of months of training and racing and ended up finding out that I have Celiac's disease (an allergy to wheat, basically). I am so glad to have figured that out and am relieved to be making progress in the sport again now that I am taking care of that issue.Thanks again to everyone... this wouldn't be so fun without such a great team.

Also, last year I kept a blog for my family and freinds while I was training for Kona. I posted here and there about my training, etc. But during race week, I posted every day with pictures. Since I qualified again, I'm going to keep the blog again. It was actually pretty fun to do. I recently posted a short Timberman RR. You can check it out HERE.

Happy training!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Athlete Spotlight- Amy Robinson (Ironman)

I grew up in a very close, active English family - as a result of my dad’s job we were always on the move: Wales, England, St. Louis, Belgium, back to St. Louis, Philadelphia, Colorado, and finally Boston. As you can imagine I have got quite good at moving, adjusting to new places and meeting new people.

My parents always said that I had trouble sitting still, and the word ‘relax’ is not in my vocabulary. I have been active for as long as I can remember – hiking, skiing, sailing, racing my brother on bikes down hill and inevitably giving his friends black eyes (this is a story for a different time). In Belgium I started swimming competitively, then went on to varsity soccer, field hockey, equestrian show-jumping, rowing, cycling, and it wasn’t until I attended the University of Colorado that I got into triathlons.

After 6 years of rowing competitively my back had had enough. Being a 5”3’ lightweight rower and trying to compete with 6ft heavyweight women proved challenging to say the least…and no…I was not a coxswain! As a result of my height to power ratio I was attending physical therapy 2 times a week with a very painful lower back injury. The therapist told me that I could continue rowing and potentially not be able to pick up my kids (read: future-tense), or I could stop rowing and my back would eventually get back to normal…I decided to pick up cycling!

Living in Colorado you couldn’t ask for better roads, scenery, and hill climbs…however there was one issue…I got board…apparently I have ADD. My senior year I joined the University of Colorado Triathlon team, but it wasn’t until I moved back to Boston in 2004 that I competed in my first triathlon – the West Kennebunk Fireman Sprint with Team in Training and placed 3rd in my age group. I figured if I could place in my first race, I may be decent at this whole ‘triathlon’ thing, and thus the drinking of the ‘Kool-Aid’ ensued.

Fast forward five years…after 10 months, over 800 hours, and an average of 20 hours of training per week I am an Ironman! Although the road to Ironman came with many highs and lows – I have never been as proud of my dedication, discipline, and performance as I was with Ironman. I found my biggest challenge in trying to balance training with spending time with my fiancĂ©, family, friends and other ‘non-triathlon’ related events (yes, they do exist). I despise being selfish, and at the end of the day it was always all about me and what I needed. Luckily my friends and family couldn’t have been more supportive of my hungry, cranky, tired mood swings and for that I am truly thankful.

The morning of the race was a tough one; have you tried swallowing 2.5 cups of applesauce the morning of a race?? While pulling on my wetsuit (which is never an easy thing – see Sean Brady for explanation) tears started and wouldn’t stop, I didn’t know what I had got myself into. The idea of being an Ironman was certainly glamorous, but walking to the swim start scared the hell out of me – it wasn’t until I heard someone from the crowd yell “this is what you wanted to do!” that I realized he was right, this IS what I wanted to do and I needed to H.T.F.U! For the rest of the day my motivation was that “this is what I wanted to do” and although there were times I wanted to stop each thought was followed by – this is my own bloody fault, and if I cry it is a waste of energy…so no crying till the finish line. And, as I crossed the finish line…I couldn’t stop smiling!!!

Life is full of adventure – although there is not an Ironman planned in my future next year (wedding planning takes precedence) you can be sure I will see you at the starting line with an even bigger smile on my face cheering everyone on and remembering…this is what I wanted to do… until next time!!
ED NOTE: Amy went 12:29:20 at LP (but still hasn't posted her results!!!!).

Monday, August 17, 2009


This weekend (August 22-23) marks the second of the Boston Triathlon Teams' enhanced tent series races. We'll have the BTT Tent set up near transition for both Saturday and Sunday. Although we'll have some food, this is a BYO food and drinks event. So, bring your beach chairs....pack your coolers....bring your grills...and plan to hang out at or near the tent. FYI...if your not a member....this is your chance to come hang out with the team.

Week in Review (August 1-9)

We'll wrap up 2 weekends w/this edition.

August 1-2. This weekend saw many BTTers heading up to Salem for the Witch City Triathlon. In all, 8 members raced (or at least logged their results on the website)...with 2 podium finishes. Austin Whitman led the blue and green w/a top 3 finish overall. While new mom, Nicole Richer got back to her winning ways with a 2nd place AG and 10th overall finish. We also had some near miss podium finishes w/Marybeth Begley (4th), Marissa Solomon (4th) and Kristin Parlangeli (5th) just off the mark. Also worth mentioning...not to be outdone by her husband (Austin), although not a member (yet), Victoria Arrigoni won her AG and finished 5th overall woman. All in all a great day up in Salem. There was even a Rip sighting:)

We also had a smaller BTT contingent head up to the Greenfield Litelife Triathlon...where we had all 3 members racing reach the podium. Jay Higginbottom (3rd), Carolyn Cullings (1st) and Lauren Cullings (2nd) all placed in their respective AGs. Great job!

August 8-9. This weekend saw some highlights and lowlights for BTT. First the highlights. We had a strong contingent head up to Gloucester for the inaugural Gloucester Sprint Triathlon (a tent series race), where Stephen Wall and Madame President (Meredith McHarjes) both reached the podium in their respective AGs.

Rachel Saks Aronis made the solo trip up to Salem to do the Wildfish 1 mile swim, where she won her AG and finished 8th Overall.

Lastly, Matt Pokress finished w/his highest placing ever (2nd overall) in a triathlon at the Lowell YMCA Tri (great job Matt). However, we can't mention Matt's placing without mentioning Bill Reeves. Bill helped Matt's placing by getting smoked by a car on the course while leading the race (we can joke now that Bill is fine...but it was a fairly serious crash). Rumor has it that Matt plans to take Bill out to Helens to thank him! Consolation for Bill, of course, is that he is now up for the O'toole Award at the Banquet!

And, although not an official race...but more of a benefit of sorts, I participated in the inaugural 5-5-5 (5 mile swim, 5 mile beach cruiser bike, 5 mile run) down in Cape May, NJ. It's a grass roots event put on by some freinds of mine to benefit the parents of my buddy Terry who he lost to cancer. Only 25 or so people participated, made up mostly of current and ex-lifeguards. It was a ton of fun. I may see if I can invite a couple BTTers to participate next year.

Up next....Timberman!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Week in Review (July 25-26)

With the summer half way over, we have 2, heavily BTT-attended ironmans in the books....IM Switzerland and IMUSA- Lake Placid. The next "big" race for BTT is the Timberman Triathlon Festival (sprint and 70.3), where we'll have a huge contingent racing....and cheering. It will also be the second (of 2) "enhanced" tent series races. We're hoping to have team sponsors Landrys and Marathon Physical Therapy with us at those events. If you're not racing, definitely plan to come up in support. It figures to be a very fun weekend.

July 25-26. What can we say about this weekend? It's LP. It's typically the biggest event on the BTT schedule, not only because of people racing....but also volunteering, spectating and training. Like IM Switzerland, once I have some race reports and pictures, I'll do a separate race report posting, specifically for this race. But, first I need the writeups! So, please get those to me. Also, I know those of you who raced are still recovering...but I need for you to POST YOUR RESULTS!!!! I promise that typing your results will not cause much post race stress on your already fatigued bodies:) As of today, only 2 have posted. Long time member, Evan Israelson, came out of the witness protection program to race LP once more! We haven't seen much of Evan lately, but he must have been training as he put forth an impressive 14:46 ironman. Also, Austin resident (more on that later), Mike Williams put in a solid 12:14 ironman...even though he'll readily admit that he didn't heed my advice to take it easy on the bike....especially the back section of the first loop. I'd call it a rookie mistake, but this is Mike's second ironman!!! was a great effort...on what is considered one of the toughest ironman courses. As I mentioned, Mike is heading to Austin, Texas with his wife, Lynn, to start a new job. Good luck Mike! We'll miss you! 2010 figures to be an epic year at LP for BTT, with over 20 people racing. LP was not the only race of the weekend. Some of us stayed compete in the inaugural Marlborough Triathlon and the Massachusetts State Triathlon. In Marlborough, Scott Stavely finished an impressive 2nd Overall Amateur...way to go Scott! Also racing, with solid performances, were Brett Johnston and David Welch. In Winchendon, we had 4 BTTers racing....Jim Sweeney and Katie O'Dair (not the swim portion of a relay...but the whole thing!!!) raced the sprint, and Pat Dwyer (me) and Glen Cote in the International Distance. I finished 2nd Overall (trying to run 6 miles hard the day after a 100 mile bike is not fun) in my race and Katie finished 2nd in her AG. I realize that I'm breaking my own rule here by posting Katie's result...since she didn't post it on the BTT website! But, in my defense, she did send me a race report:

I know it has been awhile (a few years) since I have written a triathlon race report. But I will use any excuse to write a race report (recall the time when I didn't actually race but wrote a report anyway) so you go. While many friends and teammates were racing at Lake Placid this weekend or doing other adventures which required hours upon hours of time, I chose to do the relatively obscure Massachusetts State Triathlon in Winchendon on Sunday for my triumphant return to the sport. I wanted to see my sister Liz and convinced her that it would be fun to meet in the middle and do the race, so she signed up too. So off I went to the middle of Massachusetts early on a Sunday morning. Even though I had made a cup of coffee for the ride, I was jolted awake by a sign in Leominster that said "Birthplace of Johnny Appleseed." It seemed too early in the morning for my world to be rocked but the truth is I am from Ohio and I always thought Mr. Appleseed was from Ohio. I made mental note not to get too upset and to look it up later. My hope for anonymity was quickly dashed when I pulled into the parking lot and Pat Dwyer pulls in next to me. He seemed equally shocked to see me at a triathlon, and I explained that hey, just like Lance, you have to start your comeback somewhere. He then quoted LL Cool Jay, saying "don't call it a comeback..." and I knew the day would be interesting. So then I see Jim Sweeney, Glen Cote, and the rest of the 600 people who apparently didn't get the memo about small, obscure race. I also saw a woman with a t-shirt that said "I don't do triathlon; I do triathlete." That's a creepy t-shirt slogan, imho. She was pushing a baby carriage, too. So Liz and I set things up in transition and headed down to check out the swim. There was a sprint race and an intermediate race, so both swims were marked. They looked decent, not too short. We goofed for awhile at people who were carrying huge buckets of water to set up in transition. You see, the transition was through a field of wet grass, not sand or gravel. God forbid a blade of grass gets on your shoes. Anyway, off we went on the swim. Believe it or not, I sprinted this, trying to be true to the name of the race. As some of you know, after my mom gave birth to me and the doctor came around to have her select certain traits for her new baby she decided not to check the "fast twitch muscles" item. I don't think they do that anymore in hospitals, btw. So the mens wave went 4 minutes ahead and by the first bouy I was swimming with some of the men. I ran into this blind guy searching for the bouy. Well, actually, it was Jim and he forgot his contacts and obviously could not see. He eventually followed some of the pink caps from my wave and made it to shore safely. I had a great swim and then a beautiful and short ride which was rolling but for one hill, at mile 4, that lasted 1.5 miles and it was steep. Everyone on the climb seemed to know about it but because I never read the race info I had no idea. Better that way. I was still holding my own at the start of the run but we all know what happens next - yep, got passed by 4 people on the run. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Halfway through I was passed by this woman in my age group, she was strong yet so supportive and encouraging that I held on nearly until the end. It was great sportsmanship and I thanked her later. Ended up second in my age group, very happy with that. I attribute this to the fact that lots of people were up at Lake Placid this weekend! Liz had a great race, she is becoming a regular on the tri circuit racing consecutive weekends this summer. Pat got second overall in the intermediate race, looking strong even though he did a 100 mile ride yesterday. Jim (sprint) and Glen (intermediate) both had great races, and it was fun to hang out with them a bit. Dave Marinofsky was there with his Pure Madness and if his business is any indication, the economy is picking up. All in all, a very fun race and fun day. And in case you are wondering, I looked up the Johnny Appleseed thing. He was indeed born in Leominster under the name of John Chapman, however he got the name Johnny Appleseed in Ohio in 1800 when he used a pack horse to bring seeds to the Licking River. Now go and tell someone you learned something today!

Lastly, I'll leave you with an Ironman Switzerland race report from Marybeth Begley, who travelled long and far for her first ironman distance. I met MB in 2006 while competing at the 5 Star Sprint Tri in Douglass, MA. It was her first triathlon...and she was scared to death about the swim. Look at her now! She's a seasoned vet and ironman finisher! Way to go MB!

Ironman Switzerland – July 12, 2009

The crew: Brian and Michelle Quigley, Rachel and Jeff Aronis, Alan White, Jamie Strain, Mark Vautour (Landrys), Lauren Scafidi (QT2) and me. Nancy Arena raced the Zuri Olympic Triathlon on Saturday, July 11th and was our support and cheerleader the entire day for IM Switzerland.

I’ll focus mostly on the race but traveling to Switzerland was part of the whole experience and cannot be overlooked. From the flight over (most of us were on the same flight) to going separate ways on Tuesday after the race. With the exception of The Quigleys we all stayed at the same hotel so we were together a lot. I can’t imagine a better group of people to travel with and do my first Ironman.

We helped each other drag bike boxes and luggage on and off the trains (Jeff directed us) and then walked from the train to the hotel. Only one casualty … an outdoor table got knocked out during our march to the hotel.

We met some great folks from England, ran into Team Psycho racers and practically joined a new Pirate team but we decided just to steal their motto……aaarrrrgggghhh.

We had some great pre-race fun like five of us renting a Fiat and driving the bike course. We got a little lost (but we had an IPHONE), got stuck in some construction and lifted the Fiat off of the ground which meant I finally got some lifting in my schedule.

Nancy and Jamie (yes he raced both Sat and Sun) raced the Olympic distance on Saturday and we had some great fun cheering them on during the run portion. It definitely helped keep my mind off of my race.

Race Day:
4:00 a.m. for breakfast
5:00 a.m. for taxi
5:15 a.m. – 6:45 a.m. Lots of visiting the port-o-potties, they flush in Zurich. This IM is also old school as you keep everything at your bike – no swim to bike and bike to run transition bags.
7:00 a.m. Race Start. Although I felt the Swiss were very specific in the Pre-Race Meeting about how the race would begin and all the notifications (in-water start), I found myself with Michelle just barely in the water when we noticed that everyone was swimming and we looked at each other and said “I guess we should go” oh well, what’s another 25 or so yards when you are swimming 2.4 mi.

Its two loops, first is a rectangle, then a triangle and the first loop is shorter.

The buoys at the turns were huge but the ones in-between were the size of apples. We certainly got kicked around but we all made it out of the water safely.

I think I added about a minute to my T1 time because I was in a little shock at all the naked male bodies around me. I know its Europe but I was still a little shocked. This race was about 2,000 men and 300 women.

The Bike: We drove the bike course so I was prepared. The first 17 miles (of a two loop course) or so were flat. I had no idea that there were so many people behind me in the swim; I got passed by so many bikers. After mile 17 I knew what was in store for me…The Beast …. And this is where we got stuck so it put a smile on my face as I approached the “spot”. The views were spectacular but there is a reason why it was called the Beast. The downhills were technical and in about 4 areas, they did not allow the aero position.

Then the next climb… the climb to Forch… it never ended, long, slow and gradual. After that we headed back to Zurich. I knew that there was one more hill called “Heartbreak Hill” but we didn’t drive this one. I knew it was at the end of the loop but I’m at mile 50 or so and thought maybe we had already done it and it wasn’t so bad. I was delusional.

I turned a corner and started a climb then turned another corner and another climb then saw hundreds of spectators screaming and yelling my name while climbing more and I thought I was in the Tour de France. It was another tough climb but it was exciting. The Olympic distance got Heartbreak Hill 3x.

After the first loop, I decided just to slow it down on the flats and try and save my legs.

Drafting during the bike wasn’t enforced during the race and probably my only complaint about the race.

The Run: They say you need to prepare for anything in an IM and I definitely recognized that anything could happen. But I was surprised that as soon as I got off of the bike, I was sick to my stomach (I think I was expecting flat tires). Anyway, I thought flat coke would cure it, it didn’t and I couldn’t take down any food during the run. It really was run/walk but everyone was suffering and I was thrilled that I finished.

The run was a flat, 4 loops and so I was expecting to see the gang constantly but the configuration was a little strange but I did manage to see folks. I saw Jeff a few times where he always gave me more direction (he knew the exact distance between the aid stations), Alan called me out even when some trees were blocking views, Brian was always asking about Michelle. I was so excited when I saw Rachel that I forgot I was sick for a while. I saw Mark 3 or 4 times and we had one interesting exchange where he thought I was going to quit. Nancy was there on every loop taking pictures and cheering us all on.

“Lap control” gave you a wrist band in a different color on every loop and you knew that the red meant that folks were on their last loop and there was a lot of “red bracelet envy” but when you finally got that red bracelet (we called it the Golden Ticket) the pace got slightly faster.

I was the last of the crew to finish and despite the hour, everyone was there for me at the end and I couldn’t have been happier. After pictures, a shower and a massage, we rode our bikes back to the hotel (it was only 1.8 miles). A few of us made a pit stop for a bottle of champagne since we felt we needed to rest during our 1.8 mile ride.

Post Race: We all felt really great the next day, had an amazing group dinner together on Monday evening and then some shots with our British friends. On Tuesday folks started to go separate ways i.e. Prague, the Matterhorn, Lucerne. After some day trips, Lauren, Sara (Lauren’s friend), Nancy and I headed to Colmar, France for Stage 13 of the Tour de France. Even though it was the rainy stage and we got a little lost on our rented bikes, we had a great time. Before the start of Stage 14 we were able to see (up close and personal) Mark Cavendish, Noccentini (sp?) – the yellow jersey wearer at that point, and Tom Boonen (before he retired) and several others. The Tour was really exciting and great way to end the adventure.