Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brenda's Week in Review: November 30, 2011

by Brenda Chroniak

It's hard to believe tomorrow is December 1 with the glorious weather we've been having! I hope everyone has been taking advantage of it and getting out to run and ride. Have either of our Golden Speedo recipients thawed it out and donned it at Walden yet?

As is tradition for many of us, 16 BTTers (who posted race results) got up and out Thanksgiving morning to run a turkey trot before feasting. Of note, Audrey Perlow took first in her Age Group in the Toys for Tots 5K, and Jeff Aronis dominated the "Dad Pushing Two Kids" division at the Gobble x3.

Further south, this past weekend Jamie Strain and Brett Johnston both had phenomenal days at Ironman Cozumel in spite of the heat, humidity, stinging jellyfish, strong winds, and a tropical downpour (read all about it in Brett's race report here). Jamie went 9:40, finishing 7th in his AG and getting a Kona slot (WooHoo!!), and Brett finished in 10:40 with an amazing 1:34 PR! Way to make us proud, guys! I hope you're both reading this poolside, with a cocktail in hand.

And speaking of Ironmen, Matt Mead has written a great play-by-play from his time at Ironman Arizona on 11/20. Congrats again on a great race, Matt.

Coming up this weekend, Maggie O'Toole will be taking on the North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon Relay and Tim Daley, Laurie Damianos, Trish Kelly, and Katie O'Dair are headed to Florida for the Key West Triathlon and Key West Sprint. And it appears these are the last races for 2011, so if you have anything planned over the next few weeks (Jingle Bell run?) please post it to your race goals and be sure to post your results, too!

Race Report: Ironman Cozumel

by Brett Johnston

Race Report – Ironman Cozumel 2011

I write this report under extreme pool waiter only brought me 1 Pina Colada this morning...instead of two...but I digress.

The family and I flew out from Boston on Thanksgiving morning to Cancun, and then took a bus to Playa Del Carmen, and then a ferry over to Cozumel. All in all, a pretty hassle free travel day. Weather was very hot and very humid, but was glad that I got here Thursday, so I could have a few days to try and acclimate. However, there was a trade-off, as hanging around an all-inclusive resort is not easy for me to do when beer and tequila is flowing freely, but I was able to resist, but honestly by Saturday I was way beyond ready to go.

Friday I went for a practice swim at the course, which was absolutely beautiful. Crystal clear water, with fish swimming all over the place. I then went off to Registration, which was pretty painless. Saturday was bike and gear bag check-in, which again went pretty smoothly, considering that this is a 2 transition race. (You only have to check in your gear at T1, and then they transport your T2 gear to T2). Back to the hotel, and just relaxed for the rest of the day.

Sunday morning, I got up at 4:20...had breakfast, showered, and T and I were off to the start (they had shuttle buses from the hotel to the start).

Got to race start, and weather was beautiful, (hot and humid), but calm and very little wind. Pro athletes went off at 6:40, and then they shuffled the 2300+ age groupers onto the dock, and then into the water. (It is an in-water-start, where you have to jump off the dock, so we were essentially treading water for about 10 minutes before the start. 7 am and the cannon went off, and it was "Go Time." The course is a single lap in a rectangle shape, running parallel to the shore. The first 600 yards are against the current, which you couldn't really tell, as it was just complete mayhem and all style, pacing and form, went out the window. After the 2nd turn, you have a long straight all the way down with the current, although as it was so calm, there was very little current. Things started opening up around here, and I could eventually get into a rhythm. Aaaahhhh the jelly fish.... we were warned about it, but was not sure what to expect. I still don't know what they were or what they looked like, but every once in a while, would feel this sting on my body, which would last for a few seconds and then be gone. I was stung quite a few times, but it was more of an initial shock than any sort of pain. Again, the swim was just beautiful, with great visibility and tropical fish all over the place. They also had scuba divers located at every buoy who were just "hanging out" on the sea floor. Swim was over, collected bag, into changing tent, and onto the bike and out of T1 without incident.

The bike was a 2 3/4 loop (3/4 as you finish at T2, which was in the town center). The bike course is very flat but very windy, and already at 8:30 the heat was really starting to beat down. The first 10 miles out, you have a little bit of a head wind, but it was really congested, which took that out of the equation. There was certainly some drafting here, but not too intentional and I think that even the marshals understood this, as they would drive by just blow their whistle and gesture to people, instead of actually issuing penalties. The next 10 - 15 miles, you are on the open exposed south side of the island, where the wind is extremely brutal, and the reason why disc wheels are banned at the race. It is a constant side wind that is blowing against you the whole way, and you really have to hold on tight to your bike to ensure you are not blown off. After this, you turn left and head back toward town, where you have a decent tail wind, and are able to make up some lost time from the previous section. On the 2nd loop, the headwind picked up quite a bit on the first section. (Or maybe it seemed that way because the field had opened up). On the 2nd section, we went through a brief rain shower, and then cleared by the time we hit the back straight. On the 3rd loop, there was a huge group of drafters that came by, and they were not even trying to hide was crazy. About 5 minutes later, a marshal came by me, and I was hoping that he was gonna penalize them. I could still see them in the distance, and saw him come up behind them. A few minutes later I got to the penalty tent, and there were 6-8 of them that were just checking in. YES...There is justice!! Unfortunately there was one guy (DC Triathlon Club) who was not there, who was drafting virtually the whole race that I could see, and a lot off of me too. (I blew past him within minutes of the run, and saw him walking by the 1st loop...LOSER!)

T2 was quick, got my gear, shoes on, and out onto the run. The run is also a 3 loop out and back course, which is very flat and essentially, goes along the coast through town. On the way back from my first loop, probably around Mile 6, we had an insane tropical downpour that went on for at least the next hour and a half. Shoes were soaked within minutes. Roads were flooded, and each intersection was like a mini river. At one intersection where the flooding was really bad, you actually had to walk, as the water was midway up your shin. I guess I got an early start to trail running season. The downtown area was packed with spectators and crowds going crazy the whole time, even in the rain. They truly are a festive bunch of spectators. I held a good steady pace for most of the marathon, with dropping off in pace over the last 4 miles or so.

Through the finish line, and food and drink, and volunteers were all great. Massages were a very welcome site.


Swim: 1h13:22

T1: 4m47

Bike: 5h33:57

T2: 1m13

Run: 3h47:32

Overall: 10h40:51

All-in-all, this was a fantastic race. I think that the organizers did a great job with logistics in transporting athletes, and getting gear between the 2 transitions.

This is a race I would highly recommend!

Race Report: Ironman Arizona

by Matt Mead


November 16 -22, 2011

Tempe, Arizona


This is my race report for Ironman Arizona 2011. It is a play by play of my race week and race day. The race day was great, a few typical Ironman hiccups along the way. It was a great venue. I hope you enjoy the read.

Jamie, Suzanne, Frank, Heather, and I arrived in Phoenix on Wednesday, November 16th around 10:30am. This was my first IM without family support. Marian, Amalia, and Addison stayed home and would be tracking me online. This was a mental challenge for me on race day, but I had other local support.

We can’t get into the house we rented in Scottsdale until 1:30pm so we decided to have lunch. We find a nice bar named K O’Donnell’s American Bar and sit outside. It is beautiful weather. I have a chicken pesto sandwich and start carb loading with a couple of beers. Texted Joe Milne back home and let him know my carb progress. We get to the house and it is awesome -- a multi-million dollar home. It has four bedrooms and bathrooms, huge kitchen and living space, pool, basketball court, tennis courts, and putting green. Big thanks to Suzanne and Jamie for finding the place. Later that day Dan and his son Cole arrive. Dan’s wife Nichelle is friends with Suzanne and Dan raced St. Croix 70.3 with Jamie and Frank. Dan is a big boy who looks like a pro. He is doing his first IM so I am excited to be a part of that and to help where and when I can in terms of guidance. Jamie convinced him to explore triathlons so we will see how that goes when Dan finishes. Frank leaves to pick up his Mom (Terry) and Dad (Big Frank) and I go to the food store. When everyone arrives back we all sit down for a nice pasta dinner, another beer and some red wine.

Thursday morning Jamie, Dan, Suzanne, and I headed to registration and waited in line for about 30 minutes. Registration was pretty quick and easy. Next we walked around the expo and headed to TriBike transport to check on my bike. They were just setting up and not open until 1:00pm. We decided to head to Old Town Scottsdale for some lunch. We found a great Mexican restaurant with fish tacos. They were good and the margarita was even better. After lunch I headed back to TriBike because I wanted my gear bag and to check on my bike. It was a long line, but I waited and checked in. I left my bike there for race day because it was next to transition. That afternoon Jamie, Suzanne, and I headed to Camelback Mountain. It was crowded and we couldn’t find parking so we left and headed to Phoenix Mountain Recreation Area and Park. We then went for a little hike. It was hillier and tougher than I thought, but it was beautiful. We only walked ¾ of the way up to the summit because we didn’t want to push it and the sun was setting. Jamie took some great photos when we stopped near the bottom to watch the sunset. I practiced my modeling skills so he could get the correct lighting. I’m not sure if those photos will be released. While hiking I found a woman’s license on the mountain and was going to mail it back to her, but found her on LinkedIn and sent her a connection request. She got back to me and was in the area watching a friend compete in IMAZ … small world. When we got back from the mountain Frank and his family was starting to grill. Frank cooked up some nice sausages, burgers, and chicken. Heather made some great potato and pasta salad.

Friday morning had breakfast at the house and decided to go with Frank and his parents to drive the bike course. We stopped by TriBike so Frank could get his gear bag and then headed out to the course. We saw Dan and his son so they followed us. The course had a bigger climb than I expected on the Beeline Highway. Nothing crazy and nothing I haven’t raced or trained on before, but just unexpected. The woman who had lost her license called me while we were driving the course and had a friend at the expo, so I ended up meeting her to return the license. After that we headed back to the house. Frank and family went to meet Heather’s aunt and uncle who were in town, Jamie and Suzanne were in Sedona, and Dan was visiting his family, so I was left on my own Friday afternoon. I watched Wolverine, the X-Men Origins and packed my gear bags. Made a few turkey sandwiches with chips and a beer -- I hope someone is keeping track of my carb loading with the drinks. Friday night Big Frank made two great lasagnas, a veggie and a meat one. I had about four servings and some bread. Everyone joined us for dinner. Jaime’s Mom, Eileen and Suzanne arrived as well. The support crew was intact for race day.

Saturday morning, Jamie, Frank, Big Frank, and I went to check in the gear bags. Dan was already in the area doing the morning practice swim in Tempe Lake. We picked up our bikes from TriBike and met back at the car. We took the bikes for a little spin on the course (approx. 7 miles) to test brakes, shifting, computers, etc. Everything was a go except Dan and Jamie needed to get some quick work done on their bikes. We dropped off the bikes in transition and gear bags in their location. We decided to eat in Tempe and went to Monti’s across from the race site. I had a good grilled turkey sandwich but it went down slowly since the nerves were starting to kick in. We headed back to the house to relax. Had a nice pasta dinner and was in bed by 8:30 – 9:00 pm.

RACE MORNING – I woke up around 4:00 am and had some breakfast. I met Dan in the kitchen and he is nervous and anxious. I explain it wouldn’t be normal if you weren’t, at least for me. Trust your training and it will all come together. Then Frank and Jamie came in. Jamie is so calm but excited that he tries to get us to relax. Big Frank is driving us to the swim. He loves it and we really appreciate it. Thanks again Big Frank. We went to find special needs first and then our bikes. Filled the tires, added water bottles, made some last minute changes, and then off to body marking. Next we checked our gear bags one more time and then went to change. Dropped off the morning clothes bag and headed to the swim entrance.

THE SWIM - It is 6:50 am and we are still not in the water. The pros start and we are standing in the transition area waiting to go across the timing mat. We are not up front so we don’t know what is going on. Finally we start moving and cross the mat and now people are screaming at us to get in the water. We need to jump a railing and dive in. The goggles move so I tread water and adjust them then start heading to the starting line about 150 yards away under two bridges. I am not even at the first bridge and the gun goes off to start the race. No national anthem, unless they did it for the pros, and no Ironman song. There were also people behind me. Oh well, the day begins.

The swim was a 1.2 mile out and back in Tempe Town Lake that looked more like a river (Charles River in a way). The water was cold (61 degrees), but not unbearable once you got moving. The water was also murky and you couldn’t see your hand or the person in front of you. The first 1.2 miles I was clobbered way more than my other IM swims. I am not sure if it was because I swam an extra 150 yards and was in a different pack of swimmers. Anyway I am not a strong swimmer so I just kept moving forward. After a few punches in the face, and I mean closed fist punches (do these people swim with their fists closed?), and people swimming into my side going the opposite direction I decided to move to the outside to have a more comfortable swim. It smoothed out the second half of the first 1.2 miles for me and I made the turn. The 1.2 miles back was going smoothly until I got a very painful calf cramp. I had to stop and tread water to rub it out, and then I was off again. Then about halfway through the 1.2 miles back I cramped again on the same calf. I rubbed it out again and continued. Left the swim and peeled off the wetsuit.

Swim time: 1:20:40, about 5-7 minutes slower than what I was hoping for. No need to panic. I was out of the water.

T1 - You were pulled out of the water and up metal steps at T1. You can’t touch the ground and my shin was smacked on the first step. For those who remember Boston Tri it was similar. Then it was a long run across Tempe Park to the chute to the gear bags and off to the changing tent. It was so crowded I changed outside the tent, had sunscreen applied and went off to my bike. When I got to my row no volunteers were around so I had to grab my bike myself and run the length of transition to exit the bike. The exit chute went through the expo area. I mounted and was off.

T1 time: 8:18 - better than past IMs for me, but I still need to work on that.

THE BIKE – The bike course was three loops, approximately 37 miles each loop. The course was mostly flat except for the end of the Beeline highway where you had gradual incline. It was a false flat as athletes were referring to it. Each loop finished back at transition. I wasn’t a big fan of turning around that close to the finish and covering the same terrain, but it wasn’t that bad and kept moving forward. The first 8.5 miles was flat and fast around Tempe and ASU heading toward the Beeline. Jason Kramer, a friend from Boston and the Alzheimer’s group who now works at ASU and lives in the area, was watching and spotted me right away with the blue and green of Boston Triathlon Team. It was great seeing him briefly and hearing his cheers. Once on the Beeline it was a 10 mile gradual incline with the last 0.5 – 1 mile the steepest. As you turned around and headed back to Tempe it was all downhill and flat. You were flying. I averaged about 21.2 mph after the first loop and I was thinking what a great bike this was going to be. I started the second loop and it was pretty much like the first, but then I hit the Beeline and the wind had changed and it was behind me climbing the hills, which was great. But as soon as I made the turn on the ride back into Tempe I had a headwind the entire 18.5 mile journey. No matter which way I turned the wind was in my face. I averaged about 19.7 mph for the second loop. At the turnaround back in Tempe after the second loop I saw the clan -- Suzanne, Heather, Frank’s mom and dad, Jamie’s mom and Suzanne, Dan’s family, and Heather’s aunt and uncle. What a special treat -- you could hear them from a mile away. They were a great cheering section. The third loop was pretty much like the second with the wind, but I did need to stop and pee. I was pushing through it and started to think if I should pull back with the wind to save energy for the run. I saw groups of six to eight riders drafting with this wind and flying by me. I was so frustrated when I would go by a penalty tent and see it empty. Oh well, it was beyond my control. I fought through the wind and finished the bike strong and dismounted my bike.

Bike time: 5:34:36; 20.08 mph avg.

T2 - was a shorter run to the gear bags and changing tent and a volunteer took my bike, but it was still a run. It was also less crowded and I had a seat out of the sun inside the tent. After a bathroom break and some sunscreen I was off on the run.

T2 time: 6:00

THE RUN – The run course was three loops as well, approximately 8.7 miles each loop. The course was flat with one hill around mile 4 /5, 13/14, and 22/23. The course was a little confusing at first, but well-marked. It was like a figure eight where you ran on one side of Tempe Lake and then crossed over a bridge and ran on the other side back to the bridge you started at and cross back. This short loop was around 2.5 miles and then you continued on this side of the Lake and ran to the next bridge and crossed over and then did a lollipop loop away from the Lake back to the Lake again, down to the same side of the Lake to the bridge you just crossed and cross back again and ran back to the start of the run … do you understand? I said it was confusing! J This second part was about 6.2 miles making the total loop about 8.7 miles. I started the run feeling like I pushed the bike too hard. However I stuck to my plan. My strategy was to run the first half of the marathon around 8:30 per mile and then hold it if possible or slow down to 9:00-9:30 for the second half and come in around 4 hours or just under when finished. The first 11.5 miles went as planned, but then my stomach was acting up and I needed to use the porta-potty. The race slowed down from here. I am not sure if it was because I used it and I upset my stomach more or not. Maybe I could have kept going and see what the result would have been. Oh well it is an Ironman and I made the decision and lived with it. I kept moving forward and had some mile splits like I planned, but then had some slower that involved visiting the potty again. I saw the clan -- Suzanne, Heather, Frank’s mom and dad, Jamie’s mom and Susan, Dan’s family, and Heather’s aunt and uncle as I began the third and final loop. It was awesome just like I experienced on the bike and helped a lot. The entire run I had to pee a lot just like the bike. More than I have in past IM races. I saw the cheering section again before I entered the finish chute, grabbed my cell from Suzanne so I could call the family and headed to the finish line … Victory Lane.

Run time: 4:07:18; 9:26/mile.

I had ups and downs throughout the day, but finished and was happy. Talked to Marian, Amalia, and Addison and they saw me cross the finish line on the computer and that is the best feeling ever hearing their voices.

FINISH TIME 11:16:52

POST RACE - Got a massage, had something to eat, called the family, changed clothes, grabbed the gear bags and dropped off the bike at TriBike, then went back out to the course to cheer on Dan, Jamie, Frank, and other athletes. I missed Dan cross, but eventually saw him. I witnessed Jamie get a personal best and saw Frank pull it together after a tough swim and first half of the bike to run his best IM marathon. Congrats to all of them.

Thanks to everyone who trained with me, gave me their advice, healed me, and supported me. Very special thanks to Marian, Amalia, and Addison for putting up with me and my training for these last 6 months. I could not succeed at any of this without their support.

I hope you enjoyed this race report,

I love you all.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Brenda's Week in Review: November 23, 2011

by Brenda Chroniak

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone enjoys lots of quality time with loved ones this week. And good luck to everyone running a turkey trot tomorrow, whether your goal is to PR or be first in line at the pub afterwards.

Cue "Eye of the Tiger" - This past weekend, BTT represented in Philly as Kelwin Conroy, Eric Lambi, and I tackled 26.2 in the city of brotherly love. Congrats to all on solid races! You can read my race report here.

In Arizona, Matthew Mead also ran a marathon... after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112. He posted a terrific finish time of 11:16:52 and certainly deserves a few extra helpings of everything tomorrow.

John Wozny and Jeff Aronis stayed local this weekend, taking on the Busa Bushwack Trail Race and finishing minutes apart from one another. Great job!

And one late addition-- my post-marathon brain accidentally left out Braden Larmon's awesome 1:27:44 at the Big Sur Half!

Finally, let's all wish Brett Johnston and Jamie Strain safe travels and good luck at Ironman Cozumel this weekend. Go get 'em, boys, and GO BTT!

Race Report: Philadelphia Marathon

by Brenda Chroniak

The night before Philly I had an anxiety dream that I had to do a 4-hour training run—part of which I had to run through Brett and Theresa Johnston’s house—and halfway through this training run my legs just wouldn’t work and I was going in super slow motion, like running through molasses.

Ironically, that’s pretty much how Philly panned out for me (minus running through the Johnston home), so instead of talking about my run, I’ll review the race itself.

The course wasn’t quite as “flat and fast” as running lore has deemed it, but it was awesome. I feel like I covered almost every inch of the city and its surroundings on foot, and got a really neat running tour of Philly. From the downtown start, to the zoo, to the Drexel campus, to the river, you got a little bit of everything and at no point could you describe the course as “boring.” And even though there were plenty of false flats and small hills, at no point would I call it “hilly” and if anything, the climbs and descents saved your muscles from 26.2 of the same repetitive motion.

There were spectators every step of the way and having run Boston, the spectator bar is set pretty high for me, but I really enjoyed the Philly crowds. The Eagles drum line was t

here, the students were enthusiastic, the crowds were all supportive, and the signs people made were some of the most creative I’ve ever seen. Some favorites include:

- You trained longer than Kim Kardashian was married

- Chuck Norris hasn’t run a marathon

- This is still a good idea and you look amazing-ish (this sign was at mile 25 or so)

- Keep going! Don’t stop! (left) That’s what she said! (right)

- The guy behind you just turned into a zombie! Keep running!

- Run now. Cheesesteak later.

Of course, there was the standard “dudes handing out cups of beer to runners” water stop, and on the way out I thought “no effing way” but on the way back I seriously contemplated it. At that point my race was so far in the toilet, a beer would have at least been a tasty break from the pain-fest.

And then there was the guy around mile 23 or so wearing a hooded sweatshirt that said “I Hate Running.” When I passed him I thought “Me too, dude… meee toooo.”

The finisher shoot was non-chaotic, the finisher medal was pretty sweet, and because the entire street was lined with flags from every country, it made meeting friends and family easy (We met under Norway. In hindsight, maybe I should have chosen Kenya…).

All in all, I give Philly two thumbs up (because my thumbs are the only parts of my body that don’t hurt right now). Great race, great crowds, great support, and GREAT food after: We went to the Nodding Head brewery, where I can personally recommend every bite of the Grand Marnier French toast.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brenda's Week in Review: November 16, 2011

by Brenda Chroniak

While many teammates spent this past weekend looking forward to and recovering from another awesome BTT Banquet (thanks again to Jess Douglas for organizing, and to QT2 Systems and DDSMART reps for attending!), others laced up their sneakers and represented the Blue and Green at various running races.

Eric Lambi, Elaine Metcalf, Maura Olcese, and Steve Sian all had strong showings at the Chilly Half Marathon in Newton, while Audrey Perlow raced the not-so-chilly HCA Virginia 8K, placing second in her age group and 21st overall! Back locally in South Boston, Mary Beth Begley ran the Get Your Rear In Gear 5K, and it seems many people watched her rear pass them by--she won her age group that day.

This coming weekend we have team members really going the distance to earn an extra helping of stuffing next week, competing in Ironman Arizona and the Philadelphia Marathon. Good luck everyone! And please remember to post your results so we can highlight your hard work in next week's update.

Now, for your reading pleasure, learn how Maura had a hill of a good time running the Chilly Half this past Sunday.

I love local races. When it is all too easy to get caught up in the details of race season logistics, it is simply satisfying to roll out of bed, throw on a pair of sneakers, and bike to the race start (warm up the legs a little, right?). The 3rd Annual Chilly Half Marathon in Newton was just that.

With just 411 runners, we gathered in the Newton South High school to stay warm for a 7:30 a.m. start. As the announcer sent us off, I argued with my legs and their lack of energy. For a fall race, I’ve found it difficult to stay motivated after the triathlon season. I put away my watch and ran on feel, determined to enjoy the experience. The course, despite its witty claim to fame of running down Heartbreak Hill, is full of hills not the kind that are a nice opportunity to stretch the legs, the kind that make you mutter “holy gravity” and “just don’t look at the top.” Even so, I loved the local familiarity of the course, winding the bends of little neighborhoods, cheering on and being cheered on by the local running community, and catching breathtaking glimpses of the Boston skyline. The volunteers were friendly, encouraging, and on the ball. The weather was crisp, full of falling leaves, and I remembered why I signed up for a fall race in the first place.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ed's Week in Review: November 11, 2011

by Ed Galante

After week hiatus, the Week In Review is back. Some great racing last weekend! Stephan Wall and his canine friend dominated the small dog division of the Doggy 5K in South Boston, MA. Elsewhere, Elaine Metcalf showed everyone that she loves to run by winning her division at the Luv2Run 5K in Brighton, MA. Also finding his way to the podium last weekend was John Wozny by taking 3rd place in his division at the Stone Cat Trail Marathon in Topsfield, MA. In addition, Dave Marinofsky represent the Green and Blue well in the prestigious New York City Marathon. And while on the topic of marathon, Joe Kurtz took off his goggles and swim cap to destroy the Manchester City Marathon, qualifying him for Boston! Joe talks about the race in his report.

And to get us caught up on last week’s events, Mark Pelletier brought some green and blue to the Cape Cod Marathon, while Laurie Damianos, Trish Kelly, Mary Beth Begley and Nancy Arena flew out to wine country to take on the Healdsburg ½ Marathon in Healdsburg, CA and my understanding is a few PRs came out of that race….way to go ladies! Trish Kelly talks about her experience in her race report.

Race Report: Healdsburg Half Marathon

by Trish Kelly

A few of us headed out west for the Healdsburg Half Marathon. If being in sunny California wasn't great anyway, being there when the Northeast got an early snow storm made it even better. The race had a few notables...( 1.) Very cold in the AM. 40 degrees as we waiting for the sunrise start. (2) Large percentage of female racers - 70%. (3) Wine stop at mile 7 - the 2 Lauries stopped for a swig of Coppola's offering. (4) racers dressed up in costumes. (5) 24 different wines to sample at the end of the race. (6) Race schwag included a commemorative wine glass. (7) Crazy long line to get back to the start.... they are working to make that better for next year.

The race course was wonderful. This was a point to point race. I called it rolling, others called it a bit hilly. The last 1-2 miles was a slow up-hill - that was a bit painful. You could hear the announcers in the valley, but you knew you still had a ways to go. We all had solid races. MB and Laurie had PRs. Nancy, nursing an injury, took it easy... although still faster than the rest of us.

Post-race was great. The finish was at a beautiful park and the sun was out. We picked up our wine glasses and began sampling from the endless supply of wine. Wonderful afternoon. We finished the day off with a visit to Clos du Bois, where our car was parked.

The rest of the weekend was action packed. We met up with BTTer Doug Fuller and (ex-)BTTer Derek Keller, we hired a driver to shuttle us around for wine tastings, and rented bikes for a leisurely ride through the vineyards.

Great race, and fun trip. We will be going back next year. Book your hotel in Healdsburg now!!!!

Race Report: Manchester City Marathon

by Joe Kurtz

I had finally decided it was time. After years of answering the question “Have you done a marathon?” with a bit a stumbling about how yes, but not really as it was part of an Ironman, so I really don’t have a legit marathon time, etc., I decided it was time. Plus, in the past several years, both noble and petty reasons had become apparent that I needed to address. On the noble side, the last couple of IM races I did had runs that were below expectations, such that I wondered if after mile 17 my body would ever let me run at a pace that I thought I could hold. On the petty side, my sister had recently grabbed the title of Fastest Family Marathoner, which required an appropriate response by me. So now I needed to see what I could do in a straight marathon.

The Manchester City marathon seemed like a perfect race to achieve both of these goals. I was not sure my legs would bounce back from IMLP in time for Bay State, and Manchester was a month later and a short drive from Boston, so no hotels required. So after a brief rest, I started building up the running miles again. In fact, in one 7 day stretch, my training (thanks Jeff Cap!) brought me to over 67 miles on the road. No biking, and even worse, only swimming once a week. This was exactly the sort of thing five years ago I would have pictured hell to be like.

Race day came, and I was as ready as I thought I could be. Goal was to get a Boston Qualifying time for 2013 (which was 5 minutes faster than in 2012, so I needed to be under 3:10). It was going to be a perfect day, although the temperature did lead to some concern about what to wear: starting temp was ~30 degrees, but would rise to 50 by midday. But after a nice little warm up (again, something I never, ever thought I would consider doing in my former life – how crazy it seems to run extra before the start of a marathon!), I went with shorts, gloves, and the tri-top. A bit chilly at the start, but the perfect choice in retrospect.

Now as for the race, I had looked at the profile and comments from others on the website, and knew it was a ‘challenging’ course. But I figured that if my goal was to assess my running in conditions similar to IMLP, that this would be good. The profile I found online was this:

So I figured, easy on the first 5, hold steady but quick on the next 8 (and enjoy the speed from the downhill), then focus on the next 6 miles climbing up, and then bring it home starting at mile 20, knowing I would suffer like a dog the last 2 miles up hill.

And for the most part, I was able to follow this sort of mental plan. I was surprised how quickly the miles went by, to which I attribute to having a strong plan for the course, fresh legs (compared to an IM), and an excellent playlist on the iPod. I rounded the ½ at just over 1:30, which was spot on for my goal of being quick, but not having overexerted myself. But I had noticed that there did not seem to be any flat areas, and that I was always either going up or down. My speed was ranging from going 6:10’s to 7:45’s, but I was using my heart rate and perceived effort to maintain what I hoped was a good effort that I could sustain for the entire race. The second half of the course was much like the first, except the up and down seemed to be even more exaggerated. When I got to mile 20, and mentally I was expecting to start the downhill back into town, I was still climbing what seemed to be some of the steepest hills, only to be then followed by downhill sections that were so steep that it actually hurt just as much on the legs. But the end was close, and I had made it past the 17 mile ‘wall’ I seemed to hit in IM races still able to hold a decent pace. So when I got to mile 24 and the legs were seriously starting to hurt, too late: mind beat out body and I was even able to outsprint someone at the finish. (Side note: I would love to have seen just how ‘fast’ that last sprint was, as I am sure it was no where near as fast looking as I felt the effort was producing.) When I looked at my watch, I was pretty psyched to see that the final time was a 3:07 and change, which was not only under the 3:10, but also faster that the qualifying time minus 1:14 that was needed for Boston entries for 2012. To quote one of our teammates “Not bad for a swimmer.” Plus, to my surprise, I finished 19th overall (out of 390 finishers), which is relatively better than I do in many open water swim races L More importantly, I had proven to myself that I could run a marathon without cracking, which means that I just need to continue working towards putting together the entire package for IM. (Hello Training Weekend!)

All in all, it was a good day. The race is very well run, and I would suggest it to others looking for a Fall marathon. But only once I got home and looked at the elevation profile from my watch did I fully appreciate the ‘challenging’ nature of the course: (WTF indeed.)