Friday, August 26, 2011

Age Group Nationals by Rachel Saks Aronis

Age Group Nationals: Burlington, VT
20 August 2011

by Rachel Saks Aronis

As the saying goes, the third time is charm, and I guess that was true for me in Burlington,VT for Age Group Nationals. After not being able to race in '05 (race canceled due to bad thunderstorms) and '07 (flight to Portland, OR canceled due to thunderstorms), this was a chance to drive to the race and stay with a former BTT couple who have settled outside of Burlington (thanks Adam&Steph!). Maggie joined us too, so it was fun with several of us racing.

The course was scenic and fair, and it was a sunny day. I was in one of the later waves, which meant we'd be in the thick of things with a race that saw almost 1700 athletes toe the line. This was, by far, the most competitive race I've done in 19 years of triathlon (omg, I'm old), including 2 IMs and the 70.3 championships. To give some perspective, last year there were 58 women who qualified and raced in my age group - this year it almost doubled to 108.

USAT had a webinar that answered most of my race-day questions. For race morning there were designated pay parking lots throughout the city so parking was easier than we thought. Bike check-in was on Friday, so on race morning all we had was our race-day gear. Transition was very tight (so much so that I had to move bikes over on the racks during my bike-run transition) and you could only have race essentials - bags had to go to bag check.

The swim was in Lake Champlain, a gorgeous setting, and was a great temp! A very technical swim with a lot of buoy turns made it easy to swim off course - many folks also commented on the blinding sun and having trouble seeing. As my wave was treading water and getting ready for the wave start, the announcer commented: "We are happy to welcome the only American to ever win an Olympic medal in the sport of triathlon to your age group... Susan Williams!" There was a collective "huh!?" , and several of us wondered really?! Really. Seemed a little strange for us age groupers to have to race against an Olympian. (See, I told ya the race was competitive! She went on to win.) Some joked... doesn't she have a speaking engagement or something better to do than this? Anyway, the horn blew and off we went. Due to the sun, I went wide after one of the turns and it took some time to get back into line. Besides the right hook I got just before getting out of the water (from another woman in my age group...gotta love the sportsmanship...sigh), I really enjoyed the swim.

Bike - The course had a combination of hills, rollers, and flats. At the start and end of the course you ride on the highway, which was a longer, slower incline. I took the time to look around a little and take in the scenery (I know some people don't do that, but for me actually seeing the places I race is part of the fun). Age groups were all intermingled by this point, and the bike course was crowded. There was some drafting but officials were out and taking note, which helped. I was also so impressed and inspired with the number of athletes age 60+ who were out there. Personally, I was nervous about pushing the bike too hard due to a stomach bug I'd been battling.

Run - The start of the run course included a challenging .5mi uphill which caused a few around me to walk. I found a rhythm as I ran up and then settled into a pace. I realized I hadn't seen any information about where the water stops or porta-potties would be, but water was every 1-1.5 mi (and FYI if you race next year, there were no porta-potties). The sun was tough and it had gotten hot (early waves got shade). The course was more or less flat, with some slight inclines and declines, and the second half was on a nice, quiet bike path. The vibe at this point was very serious and intense - no one was talking or cheering. Finally reaching the finish area was such a good feeling, as the music and cheering spectators was energizing.

For me personally, the race went as well as it could considering I was fighting a stomach bug the week leading up to the race and on race day, which was a disappointment. The race organization was ok, but surprisingly left a bit to be desired - we have some funny stories we can share. The volunteers rocked though! Happy to check this race off my list - not my top performance ever, but truly excited and thankful to have accomplished my goals of qualifying, toeing the line and finishing in a respectable time.

Ed's Week in Review: August 26, 2011

by Ed Galante

Big week for the blue and green representing the team well in northern New England at two big events, the Age Group Nationals Olympic and Sprint in Burlington, Vermont and Timberman Sprint and 70.3 in Gilford, New Hampshire.

Over at the Age Group Nationals, very impressive performances by Jamie Strain, Matt Pokress, Keith Rousseau, Nancy Arena, Rachel Saks Aronis, Carolyn Soules, Maggie O’Toole, and Michelle Rousseau in the Olympic and by Trish Henwood in the Sprint. Maggie earned top honors in her division, with her Jamie, Matt and Trish all qualifying to race in Worlds in New Zealand!

Read Rachel's race report.

At Timberman, Brendan Hall, Matt Coar, Beth Edwards, Ed Galante, Dave Marinofsky and Brenda Chroniak, represented the team well in the Sprint, with Brendan ending up on the podium with a 2nd place age group finish. The following day in the 70.3, Jamie, less than 24 hours after qualifying for Worlds heads over to New Hampshire and crushes Timberman 70.3 with a 26th over all finish. Not far behind him Jen Scalise- Marinofsky took 2nd place in her age group and there were impressive performances by Braden Larmon, Brian Kearney, Noah Manacas, Glen Cote, Sean McCormick, Paul Newman, Tim Daley, Mark Pelletier, Ira Sills, and Janice Biederman. I would also like to mention Ira earned 2nd place in his division qualifying him for 2012 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas!Congratulations to alll!

Rookie Tim Daley shares his experience in completing his first ½ Ironman:

We headed up to New Hampshire on Friday, August 19th for the Timberman Sprint, and Timberman 70.3. We checked in early at Gunstock Mountain so we could settle down and relax for the remainder of the day. Both of our families were coming to our races to cheer us on. We met up with Ali’s family at Lago in Meredith, NH to load up with carbs! For all you wrestling fans, Triple H was there enjoying a lovely chicken parm dinner as well! 4:30am on Saturday came very quickly, and it was time to wake up and go to the Timberman Sprint as a fan! It was great to watch and cheer on Ali and my fellow BTT teammates competing in, and rocking the Timberman Sprint! Great performances all around! At dinner on Saturday night, the nerves started to kick in as I realized how close I was to competing in my first Half Ironman… Only hours separated me and the sound of the gun going off to start my swim wave!

Race Morning – I arrived at Ellacoya State Park around 4:50am. Not feeling rushed I had time to relax, eat my breakfast and start going through the race in my head.

Transition – I got into transition with plenty of time to set up my gear. Two of my hometown friends racked directly across from me which helped make the time fly by. The unfortunate thing about being directed to the beach was that I had an hour and 10 minutes to kill until my swim wave started. I had planned accordingly and made sure to bring a bottle of Powerbar Perform and Powerbar Energy bar with me on the beach. It was also nice to see my family find me and cheer me on.

Swim – T-5 minutes to GO TIME! It was now my turn to walk through the arch and find my place at the start line! I positioned myself away from the madness and planned to work my way to the buoys as others dropped back. This wasn’t the case as we had a sizeable pack for most of the swim. It felt more like a Royal Rumble than a swim for the first 7/10 of a mile, as it involved a lot of swimming over and around to get where I wanted to be! I finished the swim in 38:34. Thanks to the wetsuit strippers I was through transition and on my bike in no time!

Bike – Knowing that the bike course begins with a nice uphill once you turn out of the park, I took it easy for the first mile. There were a handful of riders who passed me, but by maintaining my speed and not mashing the gears I 1 by 1, was reeling back in those who passed me. I rolled into the Ellacoya shoot at 2 hr. 56 min. This had to be one of the coolest parts of the day! It was packed with spectators cheering and ringing cowbells. Seeing friends and family under the shiny new BTT tent got me fired up for the run

Run –I was excited to get out of T2 and run by friends and family again! After squeezing in a couple high fives I looked at my Garmin to see I was running too fast, and quickly slowed down my pace. The heat really started to take its toll on the 2nd loop. Squeezing wet sponges and holding snow in my hands felt good but didn’t cool me down enough. With about 3 miles to go I started to feel some tightening in my hamstring and dialed my pace to a walk until it loosened up. The tightness returned in the last half mile, and I remember saying, “WHY NOW!? I’M ALMOST DONE!” I dug deep down and made the turn towards the finish line. The cheering from the crowd was great! I even found my Dad to give him a high five as I was nearing the arch. I crossed in 5 hrs. 54 min. and set the bar for my next 70.3! It was great to be greeted at the finish line by Chrissie Wellington with my finisher’s medal and a handshake!

Overall, this was a great race and a great experience! There is a lot I’ve learned which I can apply to my next 70.3 Ironman. I can’t say enough about the support from my family, Ali and her family, friends and teammates both spectating and on the course. The volunteers were also wonderful and showed encouragement and support from check in through the finish line! My QT2 Mission Plan was very well structured and Coach Tim Snow was always prompt in answering questions I had or adapting workouts when the need arose.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dori Miller Wins 4 Gold Medals and Breaks World Record

Dori Miller, BTT's English Channel swimmer, competed in the Australian Pool Rescue Championships - winning 4 gold medals and breaking the World Masters Record in the 200 meter obstacle swim. The obstacle swim has a gate positioned 12.5 meters from each end of the pool, requiring competitors to swim 3-4 feet under each obstacle twice per lap. See the YouTube video.

Congratulations, Dori, on another great feat accomplished!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Alpe d'Huez Race Report by Jamie Strain

I have to admit this race initially kind of psyched me out once I got there and realized what I had signed up for. It’s not often I stay up at night wondering whether I’m going to finish a race. But it turned out to be a great experience. My best advice is not to ride the course (or do anything) within a few days of the event. And definitely drink the espresso and eat the chocolate croissants at the aide stations.

The race director is a hard core dude who recommends riding to the start 10 miles away from Alpe d’Huez. I admit I took a car (thanks, Lisa) despite the leisurely 9 a.m. start time. The 2.2 K (1.3 mi) swim is in Lac Verney, which is a glacial lake open only once a year strictly for this event. It was rumored that the temp was around 53 degrees, but it turned out to be closer to 58. Not too bad and, unlike Placid, wetsuit legal. Before the swim start, no one was eager to get into the water, and congregated on shore waiting for the gun to go off. Once we got in, things got interesting. There were no buoys to follow for the two-loop swim around a triangular course-- just two sailboats way out in the middle of the lake to mark the turn-around points. Helpful kayakers guided wayward swimmers back on track, since not too many seemed to know where they were going. Once I realized I wasn't going to pass out in the water - and I knew where to go - it made for a better (and shorter) second loop. I could debate the merits of having boats with sharp bows as course markers, but it was picturesque, and I'm sure it made for good video.

The 110 K (66-70 mi) bike takes you to the top of three mountain peaks (“cols”) – ending with the d’Huez climb. The ride starts off with a gradual 15-mile downhill on the main road from the lake at Oisans to Grenoble, where the first climb up to the Col de Grand Serre starts in a picturesque alpine village - and gradually climbs almost as high as the d'Huez (a gain of 3200 feet over 10 miles). I tried to take it easy, but still found myself riding pretty hard for the hour uphill. The top of the Col is a ski resort. It had started raining, so I put on a jacket and gloves before the short and steep descent. The next section was through a mountain pass, which gradually climbed to the top of the second mountain - the Col D'Ornan. It was a nice, winding road through lovely towns and majestic, snow-topped mountains. I was tempted to stop halfway for coffee and a baguette realizing it probably wouldn't impact my bike time too much. The descent back down to the town of Oisans where the D'Huez climb starts was a bit tricky in the rain. I tried to take it easy on the brakes and not skid off the roads, which had no guard rails and overlooked the valley river a few thousand feet directly below. The Alpe d'Huez was as challenging as they say. But a big shout out to Mark and his crew at Landry's. I had put on SRAM 11-32 cassette and long cage derailleur. Previously, I hadn't been too happy with the system’s shifting, but I guess that had a lot to do with the adjustment. I was fairly comfortable up the d'Huez and rode at a pretty high cadence; I passed more than a few people grinding away. No, I wasn't exactly spinning. Yes, I was riding my road bike -- no need for aerobars in the Alps. My Alpe d'Huez split is available on request.

The 13-mile run is around the ski resort at Alpe d'Huez -- three loops through town and then out into the nearby hills. Not exactly a flat course. About half of the course was on a single-track mud and stone path. The other half was on the road with one fairly challenging hill. There was a nice variety of scenery and terrain, and I would have enjoyed some incredible views if it hadn't been foggy and raining. I felt pretty comfortable despite the altitude; running slowly helps. The rain was actually very pleasant on the run, and the crowd in town was great. Nutrition support was good on the run, too, though they did run out of Coke on the third loop (or maybe they were just tired of my bad French).

All in all, it was a great, challenging race. More like doing an ironman than a half. The race definitely favors strong bikers, altitude runners, and those who dope. It’s nice because the half marathon doesn't quite trash your legs. And it was great to be able to race on the same mountain where multiple tour stages have been contested. Theoretically, I would have been able to see the Alpe d'Huez Tour stage had my flight not been delayed by 12 hours. But I was able to see the time trial in Grenoble the next day. And the race date in the middle of week (Wednesday) was helpful to give me time to acclimate. The area is fantastic -- I was able to ride up the Col Galibier (the high point of the Tour this year), which is just 32 miles up the road (I mean 32 miles of climbing.) Just don't count on lovely weather. It was mostly cold and wet the days I was there. The good news is that the South of France is just a few hours away for those craving beaches and nice weather.

Peter Cadwell Memorial Fund and Updates

There have been numerous emails and calls from people asking how they can help support Mary Beth and the boys so I want to pass along the following information as well as an update on memorial services.

Memorial Services
The West Coast memorial service has a tentative date of Sat, Sept 3rd, at 3:30pm in Marin County. Location TBA along with other details.

The East Coast memorial service has a tentative date of Sat, Sept 24th in New Hampshire. Again, details will be posted as soon as they are available.

The most up to date information can always be found on the Friends and Family of Pete Cadwell facebook page.

Memorial Fund
A memorial fund website has been created to raise funds for the future education costs of Ethan and Hayden Cadwell - Pete and MB's 3 year old twin boys. Money donated through this site will go to a tax advantaged 529 college savings plan. Please see the site for more details and know that no amount is too small to make a difference.

Meals, Services and Goods
A website has been created for people in the Marin County area to sign up and bring over meals for Mary Beth and the boys. Incredibly, people have already signed up for the next several months. Most of you reading this are not out West, but I wanted to share because in the few years that Pete and MB have been in California they have clearly had such an impact on so many lives - just as they did here for so long and still from afar.
Another website is in the process of being created for people to donate goods and services. For example: someone has donated the services of their housekeeper to MB two days a week. Other ideas include airline miles. Until the site is up please email if you have anything to donate.

Memory Books
Several friends of MB out west, as well as friends here in the Boston area are working to put together a memory book for MB and the boys - collecting photos, stories, favorite memories, etc. More information will be sent out on how to contribute to this in the coming weeks.
If you would like to send a personal note to Mary Beth please contact me offline for her mailing address.

And finally, I will not be continuing to make updates on the public email lists so please check the Facebook site for updates. If you are not on Facebook or if you prefer an email please send me a note and I will be sure include you in anything I send.

Thank you,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In Memory of Peter Cadwell

As many of you now know, Peter Cadwell, a beloved friend to so many people in the Boston triathlon community, devoted husband, father, brother, son, and past president of the Boston Triathlon Team, died Tuesday, August 9th. At the time he was in Boulder, Colorado with his wife Mary Beth and their sons Hayden and Ethan. Pete had just completed a swim and was in the first mile of a 5k run when he had a heart attack.

His friends and family have been personally calling as many people as possible in hopes of reaching you all by phone before this message went out on Facebook and email. We apologize to anyone we were not able to reach in advance.

Mary Beth has expressed her overwhelming thanks and gratitude for all of the calls and emails she has been getting even though she can not respond to everyone right now. She has asked that you visit the Facebook page that has been set up -"Friends & Family of Pete Cadwell" and share your memories and thoughts with everyone who loved him. Updates on memorial services will be relayed as soon as they have been finalized.

Many people are talking about how to support Mary Beth and the boys in the coming days, months, and years - please keep those thoughts alive and we will undoubtedly put together some type of memorial run or swim in the months ahead both to remember Pete and to establish a fund for Hayden and Ethan.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Regina O'Toole or Maggie O'Toole