Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pumpkinman Half Ironman

By Noah Manacas

Hi all, I started to write this up for my coach but got a little carried away so figured I would share it with everyone.  I was really not sure how this race would go, having just finished Timberman a few weeks earlier.   I felt ready except for a nagging knee issue that popped up on a 5k effort run coach Vic gave me 4 days after Timberman.  I really had not run more than 20 minutes at a time after that to try and heal it but I had no idea how if would feel to race on.

Swim: 33:58 [1:36.5 /100 yd]
Start was rough, didn't have time to properly warm up, sighting was tough due to sun & fog.  Put myself mid/right about 3 rows back... in hindsight, maybe that was unnecessarily aggressive considering that I was not warmed up!  2 loop course, first loop was tough all the way around fighting for position.  Right goggle leaked, cleared it once right at start.  Second loop much better, got into a good rhythm.  Was looking for Laurie D. doing a relay swim as I was sure she would swim over me... not that I would have recognized her among the 500 other swimmers trying to drown me.  Run to T1 was up a STEEP hill to transition... timed hill climb challenge... interesting, but decided not to race
up that hill, kinda pointless for the my overall race I figured.  Props to Jess D. who gets fastest BTT'er up the hill (and yes, she also beat me like a piƱata in the swim for her relay!)

Bike 2:34:37 (my Garmin had distance of 54.56 mi. giving an avg. of 21.2mph)
Felt good starting out the bike, noticed right away that my HR strap was not transmitting and after fiddling with it a bit, just decided to use RPE.  Not that I had another choice... but I didn't want to waste time trying to maybe reset the computer or stop and mess with it!  So I figured if I have a good race, great... even better since I've never raced by RPE.  If I don't, and completely blow up... then I have an excuse!  I very quickly caught up (or he caught me, I forget) with Will Bruce who I know had a very similar time at Timberman and we are generally pretty similar pace.  That was good news so I thought if I pretty much stick with him I won't over pace... maybe... still wanted to beat him though (duh!)...  was gonna save that for the end.  

There were two or three people in my AG in the pack also and I was trying to keep them in sight.  This all worked out great and was fun until around mile 40 when I decided I'd better take advantage of one of the downhills to try this peeing on the bike thing.  It worked this time... but I also lost Will and the other AG'rs.  Tried to catch them after that but I knew they were only a minute or two ahead so I didn't blow myself up chasing them... this is where I kinda wished I had the HR!  Was looking at my watts and they were around the 200-220 range (used 3s averaging).  This did not tell me much as my powertap is brand new and I've never trained with it or done an FTP test.  

My plan was to use my goal HR during a flat section at the beginning of the race to see where my Watts were and then stick to that on the climbs.  So much for that!  The course was rolling so I went mainly by feel, trying to remember what Timberman and my Z3 effort intervals during training felt like.  When I came into Transition, Brenda yelled that Will was just ahead of me, so that was good news... see if I can catch him
on the run.

Run 1:40:35 (My Garmin had a distance of 13.29 giving a pace of 7:33)
Legs felt pretty heavy right off the bike and running out of T2... thought I maybe pushed it bit too hard on the bike, I don't remember my legs feeling like that after Tman.  That went away almost immediately though after about 2 minutes or less... the first .5 to 1 mile was a decent downhill so pace was very fast but I kept it under control.  Was basically shooting for 7:30's for first 5k. My knee felt fine for first 20 minutes and then that low grade pain started just like during training... since this was a race, I figured things are supposed to hurt so F*&% it!  

Kept pushing through and the pain did not get much above a 3 or 4 so after 6 miles I was comfortable that it should not affect my race... at least I was not going to let it.  Just told myself, "shut up knee, do what I tell you" (name that cyclist!).  Was shooting for a 7:00 pace but felt that if I could keep it between 7-7:30 I would be happy with things... I think I could have taken a few seconds off it but figured I'm on the way to a decent PR and I have another race next weekend (Duxbury Sprint) and maybe BAA Half if I don't give away my number, so no reason to completely blow myself out on the run. Paced with one of the pro females  for most of the run step for step, that was fun.  I figured I was not placing since I never caught up to those two or three guys so I maybe I'm helping her get her spot, since she was drafting me most of the time!  

Later at awards I found out she took 3rd!   I had couple of AG'rs in sight for the first 5k (not sure if it was the same guys ahead of me on the bike but thought at least one of them was).   I stuck to my pace though so I didn't catch them... thinking if I still feel good after 5k then I'll go after them. In the last 3ish miles the knee pain dulled to pretty much nothing more than I would feel after that amount of racing so I was happy and just kept it steady to the finish line.  No sprint down the steep grassy slope for me thank you, my work is done!!

So overall I'm happy that I was able to pace the race by RPE on the bike and pace/RPE on the run and still PR, I don't think I could have done much better with HR.  I'm thinking I could have skipped peeing on bike this time and stuck with the guys I was trying to beat.  I ended up having to stop anyway at the beginning of the run for another pee so maybe I could have just done that but I don't know it would have made much of a difference.  My nutrition and hydration I think was spot on... same as T-man and as soon as I felt hungry I looked and the time and it was in fact time to eat.

Will's official time reflects that he was 3 minutes behind me but in reality he beat me by 1:36 and I'll give it to him... so now we are sort of even, since I beat him by 6 seconds at Timberman!  At some point early on when he was a little ahead of me I saw the bike marshals ride up along and stay next to him for a while.  From what I could see he didn’t appear do be drafting but things got a bit bunched up at the base of a hill and apparently they gave him a drafting penalty.  Totally undeserved in my opinion!

The race turned out to be incredibly fun and the post race turkey dinner was amazing, BTT closed down the beer tent, making sure to uphold our reputation, and stuck around to cheer for the last finisher, which was nice!  Surprisingly, no BTT'ers podium... I'll try to make sure that doesn’t happen next year... though Esprit in Montreal is the same weekend and looks like a lot of fun.

So to sum it all up, yesterday I peed on myself twice... and got a medal and a
turkey dinner for it.  I'm ready for a break now!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pumpkinman Half Ironman 2010

By Jessica Douglas, Ira Sills and Carrie Mosher

JD: About 4 weeks before the race, I saw a posting by Carrie and Ira, looking for a cyclist for their P-Man Relay Team.  I told them if they got desperate and needed someone, I could swim, but they would have to change their plans for the race, as I cannot bike.  Knowing about my disappointing season (due to injury), they did not hesitate and gave me the swim leg, Ira took the bike and Carrie the run.

We got to our hotel Saturday night and promptly scared all the other hotel guests and the front desk clerk by telling them that we were all staying in the same room, in a king sized bed, sleeping with Ira’s bike as a team solidarity practice.  We thought it was funny… 

After a delicious dinner with BTTer’s, we went off to bed, Carrie and I in our palace, Ira and his bike in the “man cave.”  
Cool crisp morning, we headed to the beautiful race venue and were greeted by an amazing sunrise over the pond, with steam rising from the water as the transition area and beach came to life.

Swim Leg: 2 loops, 0.6 miles each

The race started, 7:10am for me.  I really wish that I had done a “prep race,” as I was totally out of practice for race day! I had a lofty goal of staying with Laurie D, but that lasted only about 150 yards, then I realized I was in a race and got a little freaked out.  I haven’t done a competitive swim in a year, and this would be my longest ever!  I regained my composure and tried to find a rhythm.  First lap was rather uneventful, ran out and dove back in for the second loop.  This loop had a lot of packs of congestion, so I ended up going wide around most of them, just to keep a steady rhythm, and hopefully not freak out again! I tried to push as hard as I could for the last leg and came out at 32:33.  I was pleased, and hopeful for next season, based on that time.

Then came the hill sprint challenge, or the “run so hard you puke on your teammates” challenge,  as I like to call it.  I didn’t puke, and managed to make it up the steep hill from the beach to transition in 1:09.  After catching my breath, I then had the pleasure of cheering for BTT and FOBTT for the rest of the day, as well as our inspirational final finisher, who crossed the line at about 3:30pm – most impressive!
General thoughts – beautiful race venue, amazing race volunteers and staff, incredible food, and the best teammates and friends a triathlete could ask for!
IS: Teaming up with Jess and Carrie for a relay was a big part of what made this race so great. Plus, the transition placement of all the relay teams put us right next to Laurie, Jay, and FOBTT, Brenda. So race started with great team spirit. We also had a great group of teammates and F’s of BTT who were competing as well.(Special Thanks to Mary Beth and Nicole for cheering us on)   

Carrie’s pics capture how beautiful the setting was with the sun coming up over the lake. The beautiful setting, relatively small size of the race made the  whole ambiance of the race feel very relaxed, even though it was a competitive field. I knew Jess would have a great swim having swum with her the week before, and I knew that Carrie was motivated to have a good run. Jess ended up being the fastest BTTer up the killer hill climb from the swim! I started to get worried about letting my team down on the bike, when I noticed the biker from another relay team, brought his trainer and was on it from before the swim even started till just before transitioning into the bike!

It was very relaxing however to not have to worry about swim or run. My goal was to improve on my Timberman Bike time, which I thought I should be able to do without the big hills and saving myself for the run. The course was beautiful and having done it the weekend before with Teammates made it more reasonable. Nice rolling hills through very scenic areas, at times. No really big challenging hills and generally great road conditions. Two loop course with long lollipop “stick.”
Went out at good pace, but eased up a bit too much in middle of race. Felt good last 10 miles and pushed past a good number of riders. Skipped first two water stops, and had about 15 minutes with no water  or Gatorade left. So had to really slow down at last water stop to get two bottles. No big deal. What was most challenging was adapting to great temps after season of extreme hot weather. It was in the low 50’s early in the morning, before the start, so actually started race with arm warmers, which I took off after about 10 miles. Overall perfect weather, well organized ride, and great setting. During the last few miles, I knew had hard it would be for Carrie to wait around for so long before starting run, so pushed to get in and get chip to Carrie with Jess’s help. Took 10 minutes off Timberman time, but not the 20 minutes I hoped for.

Finally, the post race meal and awards ceremony was one of the best I have experienced. They had a beautiful Podium with lots of Hay Bales, pumpkins etc. and did a nice job during the awards ceremony. Great race with great teammates, and overall terrific performance by all BTTers competing. Special kudos to Friends of BTT Brenda, who had a great run, preceded by 7-8 mile run before she started; Laura with terrific time, Andy and Melissa for podiums. Great job.
CM:  I had heard really good things about Pumpkinman, and almost did the relay last year before getting locked out. So when Ira mentioned that he was thinking about doing a relay, I jumped at the chance. Since I was signed up for a marathon on 10/10, Pumpkinman was the perfect time for me to run a half marathon, although I would have much rather have been biking!! As Jess already described, we recruited her, and I was so excited to be able to do a beautiful course with great friends. 

However, my legs were not cooperating with me. The nagging injuries that had hurt my Timberman run were not healing. Not that I’m speedy by any means, but I hadn’t been able to get under 10 min miles, and the longest I’d run since Timberman was 7 miles, and that included a lot of walking, stretching, and stopping. I was worried that I might not be able to run 13. I had to pull out of the marathon. But Ira, bless his heart, told me that there was no pressure, and that he didn’t want to replace me. So up to Kittery we went to ruin BTT’s reputation (and enhance Ira’s? lol). I was so nervous the night before, but a great dinner (and a raspberry margarita) with teammates and friends calmed me right down.
Race morning was beautiful, but COLD. I asked Andy Schacht the temp during the middle of the bike, and he told me it was 55 degrees. Plus it was windy, and looked like it might rain. Thankfully, since I had forgotten mine at home, Sue had some arm warmers for me to borrow, even though it meant that Noah would be making fun of me for the rest of the day. Not being used to waiting around so much to start a race, I occupied myself taking pictures of BTT and FOBTT – although some of them were not that happy to see my camera at the top of that hill climb! It was very cool to see Jess charging up the hill, giving it her all after her first swim this season! Although, both Ira and I appreciated you not puking on us J I exchanged the chip to Ira’s ankle, and he was off. Which meant more waiting…
Luckily, Andy is a great announcer, and kept us occupied with trying to name songs and artists for prizes. Laurie won socks for Earth, Wind, and Fire, and Brenda won a pair for James Brown (including dancing like him in transition!). So we went down to the small expo to shop. Once I saw Jay come in to T2, I knew Ira wouldn’t be far behind, and then I started to get really nervous. I’d been on my feet all morning, trying to keep moving to stay warm, and I was hurting. I debated about making one more bathroom pit stop (apparently I’ve developed a reputation: Ira & Jess bet on how many times I’d have to use the portapotty during the race. I’m not exactly sure, but Ira, I think you have to wash Jess’s bikes!), but here comes Ira, and ready or not, I’m off!
The first three miles were mostly downhill, and I went out too fast. I kept looking at my watch and trying to slow down, but my legs seemed to have a mind of there own. I saw Brenda at mile 3, and I was in so much pain, I think I could only grunt at her. And I was so distracted, that I had to ask MB and Sue if I was still on the course! But then, amazingly, almost all the pain went away as soon as I started climbing and finally warmed up. I decided to not look at my watch, and just go by feel, not pushing too hard to ensure I’d finish. I did look however, when I got to the halfway point, and I was at 1:00, which for me, was really good. I took a quick inventory and realized I felt great and just hoped I had some endurance in reserve. It really helped that the course was two out and backs, so I saw friends/teammates 2-4 times, high fiving most of them. Whenever I saw Laura, I knew a turnaround was close. The volunteers on the run, especially at water stops, were awesome. Plus a few QT2ers and Tri Fury guys were really encouraging each time I saw them.
By mile 12, I had nothing left. My legs were still moving out of sheer stubbornness and a desire to get the finisher’s medals and long-sleeve t-shirts for Ira and Jess. Finally I turned up the last hill, then down the chute. I could hear Jess, Ira, Matt and the rest cheering me in, and I think I said something about hoping I didn’t fall on my butt (the chute was really steep, and the grass was wet from the rain that had started during the run). The announcer called “my” name “And here comes Ira Sill- hmmm” gotta love relays! I finished in 2:01 – I think that’s the most evenly paced race I’ve ever done! I was ecstatic. After an amazing turkey dinner, taking the BTT picture on the prettiest podium I’ve seen, closing down the beer tent, and cheering in the final finisher, it was time to pack up the BTT tent and go home. Thanks everyone for a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

S.O.S. (Survival of the Shawangunks) – Race Report

By Jason Soules

Date: September 12, 2010

First a thank you and congrats to Regina. Regina is now a two-time Survivor. The thank you is for reminding us all of this cool little race and the congrats is for her 2nd place overall female finish!

So, are you getting tired of the swim, bike, run routine? Are you looking to run off road? Do you like running in wet shoes? Well, if yes to any of those, then SOS is a fun, different, and challenging event to look at for your Fall race schedule next year. This was the 25th year of this race and it is small and very well run; well supported, well marked, safe, and terrific food post-race.

The race is an eight stage event. I will quickly describe each section of the race and then give a few comments on my experience(s).

Stage 1: 30 mile road cycle - The bike starts in an age group, 1-minute interval, time-trial start. The course is mostly flat for the first 25 miles. Nice, pastoral country roads. Lots of corn. It is noted at the start that the distant tower, looming over the valley is the race finish. So, for the last 5 miles of the bike, you head straight up for a nearly 1,200 foot climb. Not too bad at any one point, but quite consistent. At the top you hand off your bike to a support crew (Carolyn was there with FLIP camera and a smile). The race is totally a point to point so Carolyn had set up my transition area – very neatly done I might add!

Stage 2: 4.5 mile run - At this point I should note that when you leave the transition area, you have to bring everything that you need for the rest of the race, except gels/fluid and you cannot get rid of anything from that point on (garbage is of fine). The run is mostly uphill for the first half and then flat to the start of the swim, stage 3. The terrain is dirt/gravel and in some places lumpy stones that you have to navigate through – pretty much the condition of all of the run stages.

Stage 3: 1.1 mile swim - So shoes in hand, or somewhere, you jump in the water and swim from one end of the first lake to the other end. Crystal clear, beautiful cool (~70degree F water). Instead of waiting on this topic, I will share my approach to the swim. The swim/shoe issue is a major component of “surviving.” I had a tip from Regina and my approach was the wear compression socks the whole race to have a very fitted sock on my foot for my wet shoes, in hopes of avoiding bad chaffing/blisters/etc.

I wore a one-piece tri suit and at each swim, rolled the suit down to my waist and put one shoe in my pants in the front and one in back (not to uncomfortable if you put the shoes the right way), then rolled the suit back up. Goggles and cap on (had been in by tri suit pockets). Off I went. At the swim exit, reversed the process at the water’s edge, put the shoes on in the water and trudged out and started running. I put the shoes on in the water to avoid getting lots of crap stuck to my wet socks – also worked quite well.

Stage 4: 5.5 mile run - More of the same, but mostly flat with a gentle down hill

Stage 5: .5 mile swim - Same as the other swim

Stage 6: 8 mile run - More of the same but the last 1.5 miles or so pitch back up a lot to the last swim

Stage 7: .5 mile swim - Same but with a beautiful view of Mohonk Mountain House near the swim exit – really a spectacular place

Stage 8: .7 mile scramble up a narrow trail with steps to the lookout point and the finish

Yes, done!

Personal observations:

I found the swimming technique worked very well. One last note, I had a great experience with a new brand of shoes. I used the K-Swiss K-Ona shoe for this race because it is a tri specific shoe, very light, with lots of mesh and holes in the sole. My feet felt dry after only a few minutes of running.

The combined 18 miles of running felt less difficult I think because it was broken up. That said, the trail running felt different than how I was trained.

The swimming was great but the second and third swims were harder than I thought – my arms felt heavy. I think that this had something to do with swimming after biking and running, which again, I was not really trained for.

Support crews were very friendly and all over the course. Unlike the Nubble Light Swim, I never really felt that I was all alone in the race (Nubble Light – that is a whole separate report).

Post event party was incredible. Biggest spread I have ever seen. The awards ceremony took about an hour longer than I thought necessary, but the tradition has been to wait to do awards until after the last person “survives.” At over 8 hours, that person survived a lot!

In summary, I would recommend this race. If you want to do, mark your calendar for the registration date and stay up until midnight because that is the only way you will get in. It sold out in 15 minutes this year.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Journey for Sight Triathlon, Chicopee, MA

By Mary Beth

August 29, 2010

0.5 mi swim, 17 mi bike, 3.5 mi run

Journey for Sight is a Firm race in my hometown of Chicopee and this was the primary reason that I wanted to race. Mark V. decided to race it as well and Christina (FOBTT) and Jake came with Mark to cheer us on and then Christina had her own cyclocross race in Palmer at 1:15 p.m.

The race was at Chicopee State Park – easy to find and plenty of parking but less than 200 folks raced. In addition to Christina and Jake, we had other spectators as a few of my hometown friends came out to cheer. The Cyclonaut Triathlon Team appeared to have a Speedo challenge for the day so a few of the race kits were “interesting”. Transition was really friendly and relaxed and having a good laugh at/with the Speedo challengers.

Here are the specifics of the race:

Swim: It was a beach start for the ½ mile swim (triangle). Only two waves – most of the men went first and then 4 minutes later off went the ladies, clydesdales and relays. The race was delayed only by 2 minutes as the announcer stated that they had to wait for the state police. The water temperature in the pond was in the low 70’s. The swim was uneventful but probably a little short.

Transition 1: A challenging transition so it deserved its own section. Racers exit from the water then run up a paved hill with about 10 stairs to climb at the top. The stairs should have been covered as they were wooden and really not great for bare feet.

Bike: Racers rode out of the park about 3 miles and then the bike starts a loop which you do twice. On the ride out of the park, there is a huge speed bump and there should have been a volunteer or big sign warning about the bump. Other than the speed bump, I thought the bike course was great. It had wide shoulders, well paved roads (except for one small section) and very little traffic. Troopers and volunteers were at several intersections and very attentive and a few of the Troopers were cheering (this was a first for me). The course had a few climbs but I’m guessing I really would not have thought anything of them had I not just raced a ½ Ironman the week before.

Run: The 3.5 mile run was on a paved trail inside the park and it was completely shaded. Regardless of racing Timberman, the run course was challenging. The run begins on flat trail for about ¾ mile then you start a long climb which is also the start the first of two loops. I gave a shout out to Mark as I was starting my first loop and he was heading into his second and then I blinked and he was gone.

I thought the race venue was great and really enjoyed the morning. I think this race just became my new favorite tri and I’m hoping that a few more of us can get out to western mass next year and maybe I’ll give you the hometown tour.

Cyclocross: We then traveled to Palmer to cheer Christina on for her race and she placed second under really tough weather conditions since it had to be over 90 degrees by the time her race started. Mark and I noticed that a few folks who raced the triathlon traveled to Palmer and raced in that event as well so there is a nice challenge for folks next year.