Tuesday, August 31, 2010
By Noah Manacas
A few short recovery weeks after the Boston Marathon (my first) I resumed my tri training with a focus on Timberman 70.3 as my A race and first Half Iron, along with a few others for fun. My training varied between 12-16 hrs/ week of swim, bike, run and strength workouts and I got all of them in except a swim here and there. Early in the season I did my first century ride and a fun Kancamangus Climb in NH with some BTT friends and then I stuck to the plan of shorter rides & run on weekdays and long bricks and runs on weekends. I tried to use my planned race nutrition on my long bricks and did them all outside despite the heat or rain. We got lucky this year as the weather until now has been great! A little rain or heat beats a 4 hr trainer ride any day!!
By mid-August, I was ready for taper and feeling good! On race morning I was calm and focused, in transition by 5:30 and ready for my 7:55 wave start... after tracking down some extra gels (thanks Jorge)... yes, I meticulously planned my nutrition and packed my bags the night before but didn’t bring my gels for the run, or any cash... dohhhh!
Swim: It was fun to watch the pros go off, and dream of someday being able to swim like that! With 20' to my start I hopped in for a quick swim warm up. The water was warm but the air was chilly and I was glad to have the Sleeveless wet suit. The swim sure did look loooong... I could barely see the last red turn buoy even though they were about 8 feet tall... and are those white caps? Maybe I shouldn’t have skipped those swims! One buoy at a time, that’s all I have to do, and I was actually looking forward to it.
I started on the outside, maybe a little too far out... I kept a steady effort and tried to stay long and efficient and before I knew it I was around that last turn and heading to the water exit arch. I did pass a lot of people on that last few hundred yards so that made me feel good. Having breast/side stroked my first 1/4 mile sprint swim two years ago, I'm pretty satisfied with my swim time... though I know much improvement is possible.
Swim Results: 36:36 (1:54/100) Division: 124/283, Overall: 696/2141
Bike: I felt great coming out of the water and through T1 in 2:24 and ready to kill the bike. My longest bike distance in a race had been 25 miles, so I was not sure what it would feel like to put out a high Z3 effort for that amount of time. I stuck to the plan, mostly, after a good spike at the beginning... the excitement and the early hills got to me! The cool weather helped and by the time I got to the turn around and saw that my average speed was almost 22mph and I was still feeling great, I knew it was going to be a good day, all I had to do was push it through the false flats on the way back and I had it made.
I could have done without the rain on the last long downhill; hitting 44mph in the rain is a little scary! Tip: when it's wet out, check and ride your brakes a little to dry them out BEFORE you need them! I was taking my feet out of the shoes before I knew it and rolling (a bit too fast) up to the dismount line. I could hardly believe how good I felt and I was ready to tackle the run.
Bike Results: 2:38:51 (21.2mph) Bike Division: 72/283 Bike Overall: 350/2141
Run: The run started out great after a 2:24 T2. I could hardly keep myself from running sub 7's even though my HR was not climbing very high and my legs felt pretty fresh... much more so than any of my long bricks... but then again those rides were 75-80 miles in the heat! So I slowed myself down for the first 5k and then things got a little tough. The course is quite hilly and the last 3 miles where a challenge... but by mile 12 I was hunting down my AG'rs and I passed at least a handful.
One more to pass at the finish line and I almost sprinted right past Chrissie Wellington who was handing out medals. She stopped me and handed me a medal and I gave her a big hug and told her she was awesome! That was the only thing I could think to say, at some point rounding loop one on the run I had heard the announcer say that she won the race! It was a great end to an amazing day.
Run Results: 1:38:43 (7:33) Run Division: 48/283 Run Overall: 229/2141
I didn't even realize until later on that I broke 5 hrs!! One thought that went through my head several times during the day was something I heard from Coach Vic "focus on the execution and results will follow". I did... and it worked! Thanks to everyone who cheered and helped my get there!!
Overall Results: 4:59:02 Division place 60/283 Overall Place 288/2141 (M35-39)
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Last year was my first year in triathlon, and doing a half iron was never the plan. But I did it, and when I crossed the finish line of Timberman 70.3 2009, I was determined to train hard and break 6 hours in 2010. So for a year that has been my main goal. However, life always has a way of stepping in!
For the last few months I have been struggling with serious depression. Things have gotten very bleak at times, and as a consequence, I've missed entire weeks of training as I sometimes was unable to even get out of bed in the morning. I came back from cheering on teammates at IMLP injured and out of sorts. The last month has been very hard, and leading up to the race, I'd barely spoken to anyone or left my house, had only done short workouts, and not enough of them, and had been trying to decide if I should even go through with the race. I did not feel prepared at all.
After much debate, I finally decided to at least start the race, but that it would be one of my last races. After Timberman, I am signed up for Cranberry sprint relay, Pumpkinman relay, Lobsterman olympic, and Mohawk-Hudson marathon. That's more races than I've done the entire rest of the tri season! My plan is to finish out these races (if I can get healthy) and then pack it in. After 3 years or so of trying to be an athlete after a lifetime of being an overweight couch potato, I still feel like a fraud most of the time. Like that Sesame Street song, "which one of these is not like the others? Which one of these just doesn't belong?"
Anyway, back to Timberman. After a fun time Friday night camping, and watching the sprint race on Saturday, we relaxed by the fire on Saturday night, and then went to sleep early. Only to be woken up at ~2AM by the sound of POURING rain. I was very nervous, since it was my first time using my tent, so I wasn't sure how waterproof it was. I slept fitfully after that, finally getting up at 4:30. Brett, Nicole, Nikki and I took the shuttle from Gunstock to Ellacoya, and proceeded to transition. I tried to distract myself by taking pictures of teammates and friends, which slightly backfired when I lost my camera! 2 days after buying a camera, and I lose it! After freaking out, luckily a volunteer had found it. Phew, but my nerves were pretty shot after that.
I went down to the water to the swim start, and realized that I had forgotten the Gu that I usually take before the swim at home, and chamois butter at the BTT tent instead of transition. All my self doubts took over at that point, and I melted down. BQ happened to come by, and his "geez, this isn't the Olympics!" at least got me moving again. LOL, thanks Brian :)
I warmed up in the water with Kim for a bit, and then we ran to the start since our wave was next. Huddling with Nikki, Kim, Lauren, and Nicole, I just tried to breathe normally and was trying to decide if I was swimming or running out at the beginning, since it was shallow for quite awhile. I decided it would keep my heart rate down and use less energy (plus, I'm short, so my arms wouldn't hit the ground the way others were) to swim right from the get go. As soon as everyone finally started to swim, I got kicked - hard - in the face. Luckily, it just pushed my goggles further into my face instead of off.
Since I have contacts, this has always been my biggest fear in triathlon. Since it happened right at the start of the race, it actually relaxed me, and I ended up having one of my best swims ever. The water was very rough, I was a little worried about getting seasick, and felt like I was body surfing at times. After the last turn, I started to get a little tired, and my shoulder was burning. In December, I had shoulder surgery, and could not get in a pool until March, and have had some setbacks with building up my strength.
So my mind started to wander a bit as I tired, and I suddenly realized that I was slowing down, and I had been forgetting to sight! I snapped back to the race, pushed hard, swam over a few guys that were also heading in the wrong direction, and got back on the path to the swim finish. Not only was it (barely) my fastest swim, but I was able to bilaterally breathe almost the whole time, and did not stop when someone hit me or swam over me, both of which are major improvements in conserving my energy.
Swim time - 39:39 (Mooseman '10, 43:07; Tman '09, 39:47)
As I got out of the water and pulled off my swim cap, I dropped my Garmin. So I had to jump off the ledge to get it back, and I felt my quad pull as I climbed back up. I grabbed a water, got 'stripped' and headed to transition. Heard my name called, and there was Shaun with my chamois butter. Thank you so much! In transition, I looked around, and saw Kim, Nicole, Brett, and Jay around me. It was comforting to see teammates; I just wish I had less time to see them, as I couldn't get my helmet on, and had a 4.5 minute T1! Finally got it on, and was off! Mounted the bike right in front of the tent, so got to hear everyone cheering as I headed out for a 3 hour ride.
The bike was fairly uneventful, except for getting screamed at by some guy from NY that I tried to pass, because he was riding his brakes down a fairly shallow hill, and losing my water bottle because my race belt was interfering with my ability to get into my pockets (luckily I didn't take anyone out!). I can't have a water bottle cage on my bike frame because it's a Y Foil, so I carry one in my back. pocket. I’ve avoided using the saddle-mounted cages because I’ve had bottles eject in front of me. Ironic, I know. I also was disappointed that I was always in big packs of people riding their brakes in the middle of the road on ALL of the major downhills. I was forced to go a lot slower than I wanted to. But I really enjoyed the bike, even though I wished there were a few more chances to come out of aero, as my shoulder was killing me!
The injuries that I've been struggling with are my L glute and my R hamstring. Last week, I was barely walking. The glute was actually feeling better after a deep tissue massage by Lauren S on Monday. But the hamstring, while better, was still really sore. It started to bother me towards the end of the bike, and since the way back was a little more uphill, and I knew I still had to run (which I was very nervous about), I decided to dial it back a little to save some legs. Pulling into T2, I was worried I had very little in reserve.
Bike time - 3:02:31 (Mooseman 3:29:45; Tman '09 3:11:26)
I thought my T2 was fairly quick, but it was actually 3:33. I'm not sure what I did for 3 minutes. I debated about using the portapotty, decided not to, and headed out on the run. I wanted to run ~10 min/miles, which should have gotten me in at right about 6 hours. I was supposed to start out slow and then pick it up if I felt better. I managed to stay pretty steady, and averaged ~9:50 on the first loop. I held that for 2 more miles, and then it all fell apart. My R knee no longer felt like it was attached to the rest of my leg!
And my hamstring was just excruciating. I started to walk more and more. It got to the point where I was only able to run the downhills, where gravity was helping out. I had "One Foot in Front of the Other" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9jeh4mA5us) in my head (yes, clearly, I watched too much TV as a kid, lol).
I saw lots of teammates out on the run (and was very jealous of those that were finishing!). It helped a lot to look for the blue & green, and try to offer encouragement in turn. Only one mishap when I called Joe, Cory (yeah, I know, they look so much alike, right?!). I also got to take my mind off my painful legs for a mile or so as I tried to figure out who the mystery BTT photographer was (that I now know was Pat). And I got a laugh when Sue told me I was 'almost finished' after the first loop! I really do love being a part of this team. I also saw quite a few friends from Dreamfar, BPC, Zoom, SRR, which was great, since I was focused on everyone else, and not the bad voice in my head that was telling me I wasn't cut out for this.
FINALLY, I turned down into the finisher chute. I was excited to see that Chrissie Wellington was at the finish line again handing out medals. My friend Lisa was also there, waiting for her boyfriend to finish, and she took a picture of me with Chrissie. That was awesome!
Run time - 2:20:05 (Mooseman 2:10:20; Tman 2:21:08)
Final time - 6:10:16 (Mooseman 6:30:07; Tman '09 6:22:24)
All in all, I guess I'm happy. Can't quite get past the disappointment of being that close to hitting my goal, and not being able to hang on. But I followed my nutrition plan this time, and didn't have the stomach/dehydration problems that I had at Mooseman. I had a PR on the swim and the bike, and could have broken 3 hours on the bike if I hadn't dialed it back so much the last 15 miles. I felt strong overall, I just didn't have that last little bit I needed.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
As luck would have it, I was in the very last swim wave at 8:20 AM. The first wave went off at 7:00 AM, so right off the bat I was set to have a "back of the pack" experience all day long. In the days leading up to the race I tried to focus on all the good things about that - like a less congested swim and bike course. On race morning I stayed relaxed while the other waves went off, enjoyed no line at the port a potties, and got into my wetsuit an hour after the pros started (Andy Potts was probably at the bike turnaround when I started swimming!). By the time the horn blew for my wave I was mostly thinking "let's go already!" I did not feel very nervous, just resolved to do what I'd set out to do. Pure determination.
The swim was rougher than I expected with lots of swells. I thought I could do it in 45 mins but it ended up taking 50, which is fine. At least I wasn't out there for an hour. When the wave swells picked up I just focused on my stroke and tried to do exactly what I would do in calm water. I saw a lot of people struggling but I felt calm and comfortable. I did find myself thinking of other people I know who have gotten sea sick while swimming and I was concerned that I'd start to feel nauseous. That never happened, thankfully.
Swim: 50min. 49sec.
My bike ride was fine. I felt good the whole way and I stuck to my plan to make it feel like "an easy training day" (Matt's words of advice) for the bike portion. (Like Juli says: "bike for show run for dough".) I never got off my bike once in the entire 3hrs 40 mins it took me: I clipped in at the mount line and clipped out an the dismount line for 56 uninterrupted miles! In that respect it was quite different from a training day where I usually would have taken a few breaks. My back was starting to feel funny towards the end of the ride but I figured it was because I hadn't gotten off the bike at all. In hind sight, I probably should have taken port a potty breaks, if only to give myself a chance to straighten up. But I'm not sure it would have made much of a difference, and then I'd have been even slower!
The run was... tough. I started running and felt the familiar tight sharp pain near my SI joint on the right side. I've had something going on there since mid July. I saw a chiro a few times but nothing he did helped. I knew my back was an issue going into it, but I really wanted to do this race so I just decided to try to ignore it. Sure enough it was bothering me a lot as I started the run. Within the first half mile I stopped by the side of the road to try to stretch it out. Nikki Reading, bless her, ran up to me, and asked what was wrong. She was on her second loop so she knew that just a little way up the road there was an ice hockey team handing out snow balls (ice from the zamboni machine). She suggested that I get some snow balls and put them in the back pockets of my shirt. I never would have thought of that! When I finally got there, the boys with the snow were more than happy to oblige as I called out "I need snow!" The ice provided a numbing effect that helped me to ignore the pain a bit. All through this I was continuing to "run" but it was actually more of a shuffle. I was so frustrated because my lungs and legs were ready to go and felt really good. I was being limited by my back -- so very frustrating! I had put in the training and now I wanted my payout!
Finally, after the first turnaround as I was going up the hill on Route 11A approaching the mile 4 mark, I decided to just walk that small hill. I massaged the remaining slush into my back through my shirt and then when I started running again the pain was a lot less. I started running my pace (10 min/mile). I felt good! I started flying (well, in my book it felt like flying) and I was so elated to be done with that crippling pain! I now refer to that point in the race as the "mile 4 miracle".
The rest of the run was the more typical kind of suffering you'd expect on a long run -- quads starting to feel like rubber, positive self talk to keep the feet moving forward, and so on. I had mentally prepared myself to deal with all of that, so it was all good. Matt had run out Rt. 11A and cut onto the course so he was there to cheer for me at the mile 10.5 mark and then again just past the mile 11 mark. That was enough motivation to get me into the last 2 miles. Then Trish Kelly (my other angel for the day in addition to Nikki) appeared like a mirage in the desert around a half mile to go, cheering for me in the way that only Trish can, which put a huge smile on my face and got me to keep running that never-ending last half mile. The last five minutes were hard! I was so DONE. I tried every mind trick I knew and my whole body was just replying "nope, sorry, we're done now." But I did it. I kept putting one foot in front of the other until I was in the finish chute.
Turning the corner into the finish chute was sheer ultimate elation, joy, relief, pride... so many things at once, and maybe one of the happiest moments of my life. I immediately spotted Flo and her son James cheering me on for the last few steps. I was really grateful that they had stuck around to see me finish. I heard Joe Kurtz calling out enthusiastically as well, but I couldn't look up and find him in the crowd along the fence because I was fighting back serious emotional overload. For the last 10 or 15 paces of the run I started to cry and my throat closed up so I was having trouble breathing. Crossing the finish line was everything I'd imagined. What a feeling of accomplishment! Matt was right there to give me a huge hug and find me a chair. It was awesome!
I set this goal so long ago (last November) but then had multiple medical issues and injuries delay my training. Even with only being able to start training in late April, I somehow got to where I needed to be. I am really proud of that! Also, I'm so glad that I was determined enough to just keep running even though my back hurt so much. I've had bike/run workouts where my back needs a half mile or so to sort itself out. When the pain was still there at mile three, I was starting to lose hope, but kept going anyway. Huge lesson learned - things can get better even if they seem bleak at any given moment.
Well, there ends the story of my first long course triathlon. It was everything I hoped it would be and I am very happy with my performance given all the circumstances -- and we all know race day is largely about managing what comes your way, whether it be large swells in the water or spasms in the back muscles. I plan to attempt the distance again in a year or so and hopefully crush 7 hours. But that is for another chapter.
I want to thank everyone who was out there cheering for me - even those who distracted me and made me trip over my bike (you know who you are!) -- the support of my friends was so meaningful to me. There were many people who gave me useful advice and helped me to get ready for my longest athletic event ever. First and foremost I am grateful to my husband Matt who, through hard work and dedication, has earned a wealth of knowledge about the sport of triathlon that he has graciously passed along to me (as well as some nice race wheels too!) Even though he jokes that I don't like to take his advice, I actually do learn a lot from him -- and some of the most important things come just from watching him. He pursues his training and racing with a type of dedication that I can only hope to imitate, and I think that, above all, has made me a better triathlete than I would be otherwise.
To all my BTT friends who gave me words of wisdom as I prepared for this race -there are too many to name but especially Brett, Laurie, Beth, Mary Beth, Juli, Jorge, and Kyle - your voices were rattling around in my head all day as I reminded myself to enjoy the day, to stick to my plan, to stay positive, and most importantly to EAT! I just wanted you to know that I benefited from your sound advice.
To my angels Nikki and Trish - you are forever emblazoned into my race day memory. Thank you!
Monday, August 23, 2010
I delayed publishing this because I didn’t want any premature self-congratulation before LP.
Usually Mooseman involves staying in a hotel room with Joe Kurtz and Pete Jensen. We fall asleep looking lovingly at our respective bikes. I knew several months before this race, however, that Mooseman 2010 would offer new challenges. Shortly after registering I discovered that FP was going to wear her Girl Scout leader hat that same weekend to take Ellie and her troop camping. No problem. I emailed my mom and asked if the other two kids could get dropped off on my way up to the race. She agreed. Then my parents went and scheduled a 40th anniversary trip. Mooseman was right in the middle. I offered to have Nate and Jane fly out to the UK and cruise back on the Queen Mary 2, but my parents were not interested. It was time for a new plan.
Still trying to sort this out, I mentioned my conundrum to no one in particular while at a BTT gathering. Without hesitation, Jess Douglas (a.k.a Miss Jesskeeya) volunteered to watch the kids at the course. What a huge and generous offer this was. I double checked multiple times as race day neared, and she was still game. I sealed the deal by spending two hours installing a Thule rack on her Prius. You would think a pair of elitist Prius-owners would be smart enough to read the manual. Maybe next time.
So the new plan was to drive up with Nate and Jane on Saturday afternoon, check into the cabin (“The Little House” in Jane-speak), and hand them off to Jesskeeya on Sunday morning. My Prius (FP took the big car) was stuffed full of kids, race gear, wheels, linens, luggage, and food. There was no room for a stroller. We drove up, registered, put my bike in transition, and went back to “The Little House” around 3PM. The weather was nice, so we went for a little swim. I made an early dinner, and went off to get some ice cream with them. It was very relaxed, and we had quite a good time. We had lights out by 8PM.
Race morning I was up at 0400. I started fueling, and loading everything into the car. My little troopers were cheerfully awake by 0430, and we were off to the course by 0500. Mercifully, there was still parking available just up the road from the course, so we didn’t have to walk very far. I knew that transition setup needed to be quick and efficient, because I was still dealing with the kids. Jesskeeya wasn’t there yet, but Doug Sherwood watched the kids while I ran in and set up more quickly than ever before. Thanks again, Doug.
We were at the playground when Jess showed up. I gave her the quick rundown, handed off the backpack, and prayed that Jane would not poop until after the race (she made it all the way back to Arlington). I caught up with Mike Hollywood right before the swim start. He asked how I was feeling. My uncharacteristically candid response: “I’m worried about the kids.” Not worried that Jess was incapable of handling them, just worried that something totally unexpected would happen in the next few hours. That wave of uneasiness was buried once the wave went off. The swim went well (0:28:54), although I somehow managed to go a bit too hard. Standing up and moving into transition was a bit shaky.
By the time we hit the bike course the weather had turned into, what I now know to be, my ideal conditions: a cool monsoon. The new Mooseman bike course is markedly more difficult than the old course. It even incorporates a section of my favorite ride, the Training Weekend HP ride. This was my first race with a power meter, although I have been training with one since the end of 2007. Perceived exertion and heart rate can fail you on a hilly course. I kept a good eye on the watts whenever the road pitched up, and I do believe reigning in those efforts kept me strong later in the bike. On the first loop people were hammering away from me on the hills, but I was reeling them back on the flats. On the second loop I saw people walking their bikes on the hills, a first in my triathlon experience. Once again, I failed to go under 2:30 on the bike (2:37:49), but I was 3rd off the bike in the age group.
Any concerns I had about overcooking the bike were allayed early on the run. My pace was better than expected and I knew this was going to be a great run. At this point all the BTT spectators and my kids were under the tent. It is immensely gratifying to see the kids when I am tearing it up. I moved into 2nd at some point in the first half of the run. I kept an eye on some known threats at the turnarounds, but 1st (Tim Tapply) was untouchable. The legs felt great all the way to the line (1:23:18). I think the run course is a little short, but this is still very close to my half-marathon best.
Jess got the kids over to the finish within a couple of minutes. In this case there was a T3 - back to being a dad. There was no time for a massage. I had to check Jane’s diaper and get the three of us some food. That finish area is not equipped to handle soggy families and competitors. It pained me to leave w/o collecting my syrup award, but even in the best of conditions waiting at the course another four hours would have been unreasonable. After a hasty meal we collected all the gear and went to the car. Jane was asleep before my bike was on the back.
The net result was, perhaps, my best “Big Race” finish (2nd AG/5th Amateur/18th OA). Certainly the execution was spot on. Once again, a sub-4:30 1/2 Ironman eluded me (4:33:15). Upon reflection I am most satisfied, though, with how well I was able to plan and manage the weekend. For weeks I iterated through various scenarios. The dad plan was more important than the race plan. As a learning experience, this was great on several levels. First, obsessive planning throughout May ensured that we were well prepared and stress free on race day. Second, a radical reduction in the scope of the race morning rituals had no discernible impact on the race itself. Finally, Nate and Jane are serious troopers. I was especially impressed with Jane. She was not yet three but had the stamina to stay on her feet from 5 AM to 1 PM. She even wanted to go back to the “Little House” after the race. I let her know there was another “Little House” awaiting her in LP in a few weeks, and mommy would be there, too.
Once again, I have to extend a huge thank you to Miss Jesskeeya. She kept the kids happy and safe in extremely wet and challenging conditions. Without her help I would not have had the massive confidence boost from that race to launch me into the final weeks of my LP preparation.
Monday, August 16, 2010
1) Where are you from? And what do you do?
2) When was your first tri? What race?
My first triathlon was the Boston Triathlon in 2005. I had just bought a new bike and loved riding. A friend suggested triathlon since I swam competitively until I was 16. I did horrible and during most of the race wondered why I listened to him? When I crossed the finish line, I couldn't wait for the next one. I signed up for the Escape from
3) What is your favorite thing about triathlon? Your least favorite?
Favorite - I actually love the training aspects of triathlon; signing up for a race months in advance, setting a goal and working towards that goal. Also, since joining BTT, I love the camaraderie everyone on the team has and the support people show for one another.
Least Favorite - Definitely the costs...between the equipment and the events, its gets very pricey!
4) When not swimming/biking or running, you can be found
Being lazy; usually while eating. Often times I can be found relaxing in front of the television. I do have my favorite shows to watch but I could simply sit in front of the TV, relax, and watch just about anything.
5) What's your funniest/scariest/most memorable triathlon moment? (pick one---or more if you have more to share)
Scariest - While sighting during the swim of my first Escape from
6) List three adjectives your friends would use to describe you.
While my family always calls me crazy for competing in triathlon, I will let others describe me.
7) Do you have any role models or a favorite motivating/inspiring quote?
My role models have always been my parents. My dad was a football star back in the day and was actually drafted by the Green Bay Packers. While he was eventually cut from the team, sports remained a fixture in his life, coaching many different sports. I think I got my competitive nature not only from him, but also trying to impress him. My mom was always there to bring my siblings and me to all our practices and watch our games. She gave up most of her time to keep the four of us happy and owe her so much for that. I really wouldn't be where I am today without their love and support
8) Favorite pre race (pick one) song/meal/ritual
Other than my traditional trip to the port-o-john 30 or so minutes before the gun, I am pretty boring on race morning. I don't have a ritual, don't listen to music pre-race, and don't eat anything exciting (usually just a banana, half a bagel and some Gatorade).
9) Finish this sentence: It may surprise you to learn.....
... that I have 4 degrees; Bachelors of Science (Marketing) and MBA (Management) from Boston College (1998 & 2001), JD from Suffolk Law School ('04), and LL.M. (Taxation) from Boston University ('07).
10) What attracted you to BTT
I met Jeff Aronis through a mutual friend while attending a Red Sox game. We got to talking about triathlon, my aspirations to compete in an Ironman, and eventually BTT. I had been training and competing on my own for 5 years, which can get very lonely. We kept in contact over the next year and I applied to join. Since joining, I have made many new friends and training companions. It was the best decision I have made; I only wish I had found out about the team years ago.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
[LED] Gorgeously clean
[NR] Since there were only 16 people in the race, we each found ourselves more or less alone pretty quickly, which was a totally new scenario, but very relaxing. There was a kayaker in close proximity the entire swim, which made me feel totally safe. The scenery made me feel like a kid again, carefree and clowning around in the summertime. Swim felt pretty strong, although it took me a while to get my “land legs” back under me after.
[KS] A 3.5 mile swim? that sounds insane. Sign me up! Still, I was so nervous about it, standing on the beach I could have crapped myself. Pee in wetsuit-OK. Poop-not so good. But as soon as we started I knew I’d make it...so fun not to have hundreds of people on your head. The kayakers were used to doing the several long distance swim races RD offers and I found I could just swim without sighting as I’d hear ‘keep right’ etc from the experienced kayakers. It was a beautiful pristine lake and gorgeous scenery. Was so surprised how much I enjoyed the whole swim.
[TK] I knew the swim was going to make for a long day. It was 2 loops of 1.75 miles each. Krista got the word that we could bail on the 2nd loop if we needed to (and still go on to the bike). The water was beautiful and the swim was peaceful, but a nausea was setting in as I swam the last 0.3 mile of the 1st loop. Too much sighting and flipping my head about. I was thinking about bailing on the 2nd loop. I was also reminding myself that this was a team effort, and that Laurie was going to suffer through the entire run (her biggest challenge of the day). The volunteer told me that everyone went out for the 2nd loop… Then she sent a kayaker to be my personal guide - so I didn't have to sight as much. The kayaker guided me through the cove for an additional 1/2 mile (thanks!!!). I was choked up when I finally got out of the water. I thanked the volunteer for talking me through my moments of doubt. Even the volunteer was getting choked up.
[TR] Knowing that Dori was swimming across the Channel made me think 3.5 miles should be no problem, so inspiring.With the awesome kayak support I had so much fun as I felt safe the whole time and I could have done another lap. I felt like a kid playing around dolphins, that is how cool that swim was!
[LED] I was unprepared for the wind and the hills, but could not stop gawking at the beautiful scenery and all the cows!
[NR] Ditto on the wind and hills. My feet were so cold! The scenery was unbelievable and very little traffic - minus some big trucks. :) I have to say....I think
[KS] Thought this would be a breeze. Well windy it was! also surprised at how strange it felt after that long a swim....actually looked down several times as I was sure I had the wrong bike! Just felt so awkward at first. It was cool and wore long sleeve BTT top which acted as a sail, bad move and also need to eat more before the swim as I was pretty hungry right away.
[TK] The bike was windy. That's all I can say about the bike. Head wind is a bummer. Just wanted to get through the bike. The flaggers were great in their full-on orange jumpers.
[TR] Yes it was windy but the scenery spectatular...the meadows, the cows, you have to see this for yourself. PS I love cows..
[LED] I was misdirected by a flagger and ran 3+ miles of the sprint course wondering where all the advertised water stops were. The race director himself picked me up in his truck and transplanted me to the correct, very hilly 13.1-mile course. Who knows what my real time would have been. Four dogs chased me down including a three-legged one, and I was offered an ear of corn by a farmer. Oh, the hills! But I did it! My first half marathon. It helped knowing that the rest of my BTT mates were out there facing their own personal challenges, too.
[NR] I think this is where the true adventure began for a lot of us. There was a little confusion with small direction signs and lackluster flaggers. I stopped at some point to pull out the run map from my back pocket to ensure I was on course......I was so tired, I didn’t think I could run a foot past 13.1 miles. :) Luckily, I avoided the dogs. The hilly course took us in and out of deep woods and through farmland all on a dirt road so almost no traffic. I’ve been told that the course is even prettier during the Dandelion Half when everything is in bloom. Again, such a fun course made me feel like a kid again even though my legs were screaming. Oh, and the water station volunteers were awesome.....think about volunteering for a race where there are only 16 people completely spread out.....yikes!!!
[KS] Had no idea what would happen...as all this last year my one leg just would not move right, several Drs, neuros, EEG, spinal tap...no real diagnosis....I thought Id start and see what happens. Ran with Terry and after 3 miles of dragging my leg...it started to work! so weird and great! It was a stunning course, reminded me of the dirt roads and hills of the
[TK] I love when you pull into T2 and half the field is already showered and eating burgers. Noteables of my run. (1) I missed a turn and was driven back to a point… that point was 0.22 miles further along than I had actually run. This tormented me the whole run, wondering if I should make it up or not. Considering that I swam an extra half mile, cutting the run short by 0.22 mile would be fine. At mile 12, I heard that Krista and Terry were just 30 seconds ahead. I didn't feel right possibly passing someone when I had cut the course short, so I doubled back 0.11 mile to make up the distance. (2) HILLY - very hilly course. Calling all billy-goats, here is a race for you. The hills never ended. Finally there were a few really steep descents.
[TR] I was not sure I could run at all. I knew I could walk it but didn’t want to do that. Krista and I went into the ‘run’ together promising that we’d do it together; we both had issues that should have called off the run. But we did it! and ran in those beautiful roads in
[LED] Beautiful course, very laid back race but a bit lonely with only 13 of us finishing. BTT had the largest presence and won a weekend at a ski resort, 2-for-1 lift tickets, and a very large stick to be photographed in a
[NR] Hands down, I would do this race again. It was such an adventure and so off the beaten path as well as being a huge challenge. It is a bit lonely, but pretty cool when everyone reunites at the finish. The race director is fantastic and very personable. It was an awesome weekend for BTT....every person who raced had a personal triumph in some form or fashion.
[KS] One of my new favourite races and I will be back for sure. The beauty of the course and the support was outstanding. I loved being part of something that felt so special, as it was a brand new race, crazy distances, and everyone there had something to overcome, or a new personal challenge, and we all did it. Just love adventures like this one.
[TK] Overall, I think this is a great race concept. With the “team” element/division, I felt like I was racing for the team. Although I wasn’t fast, finishing this was the challenge for me. I really need to work on my swim before next year. The race staff and volunteers were wonderful. This race and the whole weekend leaves me with a warm feeling. I'm in for next year.
[TR] Loved everything about this race and it’s the new one I think we will go to every year.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Before I get into the race, let me first say that I know I have a wonderful life: I am married to a smart, sexy, supportive wife, my first-born is destined to become the first ever winner of both the Nobel Prize and the Alpe d’Huez mountain top stage in the TdF, my job is engaging and challenging, I have great friends who do interesting things and add flavor and depth to my life, and I am healthy.
All that said, apparently there is a cosmic balance sheet for karma, and for all the pluses I receive in other facets of my life, I can only conclude that the account that it is drawn from is my triathlon activities. When the Even Up race was announced, I thought: This is it, my race. 3.5 mile swim, with a 30 mile bike, and a ½ marathon. If the swim doesn’t scare away the proverbial ‘skinny fast guys’, then hopefully I could put in enough time that at least they will have to be really skinny and fast to catch me on the run. This is the race that I always envisioned having against the likes of Matt, Pat, Austin, Jamie, etc, where I could gain 10 minutes on the swim and they would not have 8+ hours to make it up biking/running. (The only person that could blow this for me was Bill Reeves, but he was no where to be seen.)
But even before the race, there were warning signs that this may not be a smooth day. It was the inaugural running, although it was being held the same day as a sprint tri that has be run for several years. Also, the communication was pretty sketchy leading up to the race, as many of the communications assumed you knew the local area pretty well (e.g. Drop you run stuff off at the Beach House. Where the f*ck is the beach house? A town would have been nice.) And finally, in a communication to Laurie D, the race director specifically mentioned “those fast people from Boston should not expect too much.” Yikes.
So, race day, and it was beautiful. A perfect day for a race. WTC should find a way to schedule weather like this. It turned out only ~15 people were doing the race (including a relay), and while the race start was a bit disorganized, with such a small group, we were corralled and the director started us off. The lake was possibly the second clearest lake I have ever swam in (Lake Superior being first), and the temp was perfect (low 70’s), so no overheating in the wetsuit. At the start, I was off first, but purposefully holding back, knowing that swimming for almost 1.5 hours is not something a fast start will make easier. Within 500 years, 2 other swimmers came up on me; one went past pretty quickly (maybe Bill did show up?) and other sat on my feet, then went around. So I hopped on the second person’s feet, and decided to ride for a bit. But about 1 mile in, it was clear this person had over-estimated there swim endurance (this ain’t no sprint tri!), so I went around them, put in 20 hard strokes, and dropped him, off in search of the leader. At this time, the sun was directly in our faces, so I was unable to see the lead swimmer, but as became apparently later, this person was not the best at sighting, and I was able to catch her before the end of the first loop. As I left the water to touch the table and grab a gel (I had never eaten in the middle of a swim before, but I had no negative effects at all), I head out with the leading woman for the second loop. Again, I was surprised to find her initially behind me, but then she caught up but was 50 yards off to my right. I checked my sighting, and was going straight, so I could only conclude that even with additional distance, she was the same speed, thus actually faster. At the first buoy, when she closed in, I decided to sit on her feet for a bit, and I confirmed that while she was faster, her zigzagging kept us the same speed. It was a bit annoying, as I could not draft, but at least I had a pilot fish to motivate me. The swim finished with her reaching the beach first, and me coming out nice and relaxed right behind her. Swim times: loop one = 40:16, loop two = 41:24, combined = 1:21:40; second fastest overall swim.
The bike course was a point to point of 30 miles, and mostly rolling hills and a very beautiful ride. I was quickly through transition (1:53), which entailed crossing a small road and getting ready in a parking lot. It was actually a pretty nice setup, although scaling up for the future may get tough. Hit the road, aero helmet on, borrow disc wheel in back. I knew it would be an interesting day when I was cruising at 27mph (hello tailwind!), and this was bore out on the may 17 mile stretch into this wind. But whatever, everyone had the same wind. The biggest problem was that as I came through each town, the people who were supposed to be directing/marshalling traffic were nowhere to be seen. At the second town, I saw one person drinking coffee in their car, which was not really useful. Luckily, I thought this might happen (based on pre-race communication), so I had written the directions on my left forearm in black Sharpie, along with mileage, so I did not have to rely on direction from volunteers. Additionally, the ride was completely self-supported, which is not a problem as it was only 30 miles and we were told this ahead of time. Bike times: 30.28 miles; 1:27:19, 20.8mph; second fastest overall non-relay bike by only 7 seconds.
Coming into transition for the run, I was still in first place overall, but the last 3 miles was overlapping with the slow end of the sprint race. This lead to some confusion, but nothing major. Biggest issue was someone in the sprint had placed their bike directly on my stuff set up for the run; not next to, but directly on top. After almost throwing this bike into the lake (Kristel saw that momentary flash of rage across my face, although I thought I had hid it), I got my shoes on, and heading out for the run. I had purposefully held back on the bike, as I wanted to have a great run (bike for show, run for dough!). A half mile out, I asked the first volunteer directing traffic where to go (again, the beginning overlapped with the sprint race). He directed me to cross the road and make the first left. This did not seem correct to me, but herein lies the fatal flaw of my race prep: I did not write the directions for the run on my other arm. So when I got to the turn, I specifically slowed down and asked the next volunteer “Are you show the Aquaman racers go this way as well?”, she was very definitive in her response to go left. So left I went, and I rapidly caught and passed people from the sprint race, becoming more and more sure that I just got screwed. I even asked the photographer if this was correct, and he said absolutely. So, I kept following the directions, and lo and behold, I ran the entire sprint course, which is not part of the Aquaman course. At this point, I knew the race was screwed, so I did the spring course again (completely unsupported this time, as they had started to take down the aid stations), and then because I had my GPS watch, I tacked on an additional 3.8 miles to make it a legit 13.1 mile run. I crossed the line second, only behind the relay. As soon as I crossed, the relay guy asked where the heck I was, as he had been ‘hunting me down’ as he knew I had a 7 minute head start on his swimmer/biker. Final run time, including T2: 1:37:29.
When it was all said and done, my final time was a 4:28:27. The second place guy, who I beat on all three legs, was a 4:37:36. Granted, the ½ marathon that I did was not as hilly as the actual course, but I am pretty confident I could have held this guy off. Also, it turns out that several other people were specifically directed the wrong way, included Laurie D, so a couple of us were officially DQ’d (ironically, not Laurie, as the race director found her on the wrong road, and drove her back to the course so she could do the legit race).
All in all, the race director was extremely apologetic, and in fact I came away with more swag than if I had officially won the race (free entry to future race, 4 free lift tickets to Jay Mountain, shared BTT prize of free night in Jay Peak condo), although when he asked if I would come back next year to ‘defend my unofficial title’, I told him probably not due to IMLP. Actually, one of the moments that made me smile the most was after the race, the guy who did the bike relay only, in a very poor effort to make me feel better, stated that it was OK, as there is always another triathlon the following week. Under her breath, Kristel proceeded to mutter something along the lines of “Yeah, but not with distances like this, dumbsh*t.” (Man, I love that woman!)
But, I would do this race again in a moment. Once they get the logistics down, etc, I think it will be a great race. So I will throw it out there: 2012 – Matt, Pat, Austin, are you guys in???
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
By Audrey Perlow
My teammates woke up quite early to head to their triathlon with a start. Six of them were competing in a unique triathlon. The point of their race was to lengthen the swim portion of the race to reward stronger swimmers who I guess typically get shafted in regular triathlons. The race had a 3.5 mile swim, a 35 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run. Yes, a 3.5 miles swim.
I did not compete in that event.
I competed in the associated sprint that started at 9 AM: 500 yard swim, 13 mile bike, 5 mile run.
Pre-race I checked out the female competition. Last year's winner was there. I had seen her previous winning time and I felt like I could best it. That said, she was still the defending champion and that freaked me out a little. Another woman showed up who looked fit-and then she took off her warm-up clothes. She was wearing a kit w/ her name on it. Egads! The GOOD people have those. Consider me intimidated.
The swim started (we ran in from the shore) and the girl in the name kit quickly got away from me. I made it back to shore in about nine minutes which I was excited about and I had no idea where I was placed. Name girl was out of transition (she was racked near me) and more bikes than I had expected were gone as well. This was a guy heavy field though so that likely had something to do with the chunk of people beating me back to shore.
I got on my bike and was eventually passed by I think two guys. Soon after starting the bike I passed one guy and a girl (last year's winner). Other than that I rode alone. I had to follow signs b/c there were no other bikers near me. It was kind of hard to motivate with no people around but I tried to do math in my head as I got towards the end of it and figure out if I had a shot of beating last year's winner's overall time.
I zoomed into transition looking to see if name girl was anywhere near me. She was not. As I headed out into the run I asked some volunteers how many girls were ahead of me. They all yelled, "NONE!" This was exciting information...that I knew, however, was false! There was NO WAY name girl was behind me. (And she did not look AT
My run was just okay. The course was hilly. Mainly though, my legs were still tired from racing for 24 hours last weekend and I could definitely feel it. As I started the run I saw last year's winner coming into T2 and I figured I was about 2-3 minutes ahead of her. Then I saw the 4th place woman right behind her. I better get a hustle on! I tried to push it and glance back occasionally. I asked another race volunteer if there was a woman ahead of me and she said, "One." I was so excited to be second overall (this has never happened to me in a triathlon) and I didn't want to lose my lead!!! I ran steadily and was passed by one guy and I passed one guy.
I would eventually run 40:09 for 5 miles. That's pretty poor for me. But given the month of training I've (not) had (Achilles tendonitis so bad I couldn’t wear shoes for two weeks) and my long race last weekend and the fact that it was still good enough to bring home SECOND I'll gladly and happily take it!!! WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!!!! And I did beat last year's winner's time by about 9 minutes. Last year's winner came in third and beat her own old time. She was about 5 minutes behind me.
I won a new bike helmet and a tri top (the latter from the raffle). The swag at this race was amazing and I got an awesome wooden medal for 2nd. I then hung out for a while waiting for my teammates to finish their ridiculous race-and they all did!
It was good times camping and competing in northern northern northern VT.