Friday, September 30, 2011
by Sean McCormick
As I have in-laws in Buffalo, the Elite National Championship was happening during the event, and the Patriots were playing in Buffalo, the first annual Nickel City Age Group Olympic Triathlon (9/24/2011) was beaconing me as a great finish to my second season in triathlon. All of this combined with the fact that I not yet tried the Olympic distance (completed only 2 Sprints and 3 half-Iron distance races to that point) got me very excited.
The weeks preceding the event I had taken on a lighter training load than I had in the past as I was coming off training for Timberman 70.3 and work was becoming extremely busy. As a result I was averaging between 5-6 hours a week of training between Timberman and Nickel City. Heading into the event I was feeling good and had no injuries although I had a very light taper due to work demands.
With the race being on Saturday and mandatory packet pickup on Friday before 8PM I had to leave Thursday night to ensure that nothing would prevent me from being able to race. Good thing I did leave a day early as my car’s fuel pump decided to take a permanent vacation halfway into the trip. I got towed 40 miles to the nearest Audi dealership. I had to stay the night but was on the road before noon on Friday to complete the remaining 4 hours of my trek.
Upon arriving at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center to pick up the race packet, I was surprised to see no lines and not much of an expo at the packet pickup. As it turns out they had only 148 people sign up for the Olympic race and about 110 for the Sprint. I was thinking the Elite race would draw more triathletes to the event but I guess I was wrong.
The night before the race the forecast was cold and rainy. Water temps were expected to be around 68 degrees, so I was struggling to figure out what to wear for the 2.5 hours of racing in the wet and cold. I finally settled on a BTT bike Jersey (thanks Bryan!) with arm warmers as backup. I had been racing with my tri-top under my wetsuit previously so this was a deviation from my training.
The day of the race I woke at 4:15AM ate my breakfast and headed out to the race course. Upon departing I noticed the warmer weather and none of the rain that was in the forecast the night before. I kept my racing gear plan the same just in case the bad weather was coming.
The first wave started at 7AM (only 2 waves: 1st wave was men and 2nd women) and I wasn’t too badly thrashed during the start. My swim was slower than usual (32 min for .9 miles) which I attribute to having to wrestle with seaweed on a good 25% of the 2 loop course. I imagined myself leaving the swim leg looking like a sea monster with all of the seaweed on me. Reality was only a little piece was on me coming out of the water. I bolted out of the water and ran to transition as fast as I could and got the wetsuit off with some trouble L, but the real problem happened when I put on the bike shirt with arm warmers in the pocket. The shirt got all rolled up and didn’t move well as I was very wet and was exacerbated by the items in the pocket. I was all caught up in the shirt like a salmon in a fisherman’s net. Couldn’t get in or get out. I danced around for what felt like hours and finally got the shirt off and took my time getting it back on to prevent a repeat performance. I left T1 frustrated and took the frustration out on the bike. The course was very flat and as a result I was able to maintain 21MPH. The course was 2 loops and the roads were pretty good all in all. I was very happy with my bike performance and heading into T2 was very excited to execute my run plan (2mi (7:30min/mi), 2mi (8 min/mi) moderate, 2.1 mi (7:30min/mi)). T2 was slow, but got out onto the run at a 8 min/mi pace. I was able to get to the pace easily but held back for a bit trying to figure out how the legs felt as I hadn’t raced this distance before. My desired run pace was sub 8 min/miles so I changed the plan and worked to keep my average 10k pace at or below 7:45min/miles. The run felt good, although I was not happy with my not keeping to my plan in the end. I completed the event with a time of ~2hrs 37min and was 7th out of 17 in the M40-44 age group (57 out of 121 overall).
The way the race was run itself was good. Given the level of participation the support was what I would expect. Everyone there was friendly and helpful. I do recommend this race for those who want a late season Olympic distance race.
Monday, September 26, 2011
by Mary Beth Begley
Where are you from? And what do you do?
I grew up on a windy dirt road in the middle of the woods located in Westminster, Massachusetts. Think sleepy hollow; actually the name of my street is Frog Hollow Road.
I recently got a new job and now I am a Technical Sales Representative for H2O Engineering, Inc. We manufacture remediation systems that clean up contaminated soil and groundwater. This is a totally new career for me as I previously was an environmental consultant. So instead of dealing with regulators, miserable clients that have no money, and lawyers, I sell systems to regulators, miserable clients that have no money, and lawyers……… It has been very challenging for me switching my engineering brain to a sales brain, but so far it’s been a good change.
How did you get started in Triathlon?
When was your first tri?
What is your favorite thing about triathlon?
Your least favorite?
When not swimming/biking or running, you can be found...
What's your funniest/scariest/most memorable triathlon moment?
One particular event sticks in my mind. So it’s no secret I am not a morning person and I need my coffee and a shower to wake up. So, we all stayed at Mary Beth’s house down the Cape for one of the Hyannis Sprints. Well, 4:30 a.m. came and we are doing the morning routine and although MB doesn’t drink coffee, she bought it for all of us coffee drinkers. I get my cup of Joe and we all head to the race. For some reason I can’t wake up. I eat properly, went to bed early, and did my normal race morning routine………..What was the problem? The entire race I felt sluggish and not energized like I usually do. So we all head a back to MB’s house after the race and start to pack up the house. As we are cleaning the kitchen, Mark notices that the coffee that MB so graciously got for us was actually DECAF (see footnote 5)……….I knew something was wrong…..Needless to say, I always make sure I have Caffeinated Coffee on race day.
List three adjectives your friends would use to describe you.
Do you have any role models or a favorite motivating/inspiring quote?
Favorite pre race song/meal/ritual.
Finish this sentence: It may surprise you to learn.....
What attracted you to BTT?
1. I am the neighbor who got Glen and Kristin started in Triathlons.
2. We met Pat and Jen Dwyer at this triathlon & he introduced us to BTT. Thank you, Pat.
3. Thankfully, Glen is a very poor shot and he has never killed anything.
4. Glen makes great beer except for the Chocolate Raspberry that he made last winter and is still trying to get rid of.
5. Never send a non-coffee drinker to get your coffee.
6. I would add “generous and thoughtful.”
7. Anyone who has seen Glen at the Pub Run knows this is not true.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Most would think after Labor Day the racing slows down, but BTT seems to be picking up! What a weekend for racing!!!
First over at Ironman World Champion 70.3, Jamie Strain and Tom Christofili represented the team strongly, both with well under 5 hour performances on a challenging course. Way to go guys!
Tom shares his experience with us.
Meanwhile, the Blue and Green were racing up a storm in Montreal, Canada. There were 4 races running simultaneously at the Esprit Triathlon, representing all four distances in triathlon and BTT represented well in all 4 of them! Beth Edwards dominated the Ironman distance race with a 2nd place age group finish. Meanwhile Mary Beth Begley was crushing the ½ Ironman distance race with a 3rd place age group finish. Also racing with MB were impressive performances by Brett Johnston, Brendan Hall, Noah Manacas, Tony Felos, Nicole Kimborowicz, Laurie Damianos, and Trish Kelly. Over at the Olympic distance race, Trish Henwood continues to find the podium with a 3rd place age group finish. Also coming in strong were Brian Kearney, Maggie O’Toole and Ed Galante. Finally we saw Meghan Kilroy dusting off her uniform along with Brenda Chroniak and Jim Sweeney, showing how the sprint is raced.
Brendan Hall talks about his experience.
Back in New England the Blue and Green was also seen at the Pumpkinman ½ Ironman. Braden Larmon was a blur on the course speeding his way to a first place age group finish and 16th overall. Keith Rousseau and Ira Sills also got the colors on the podium with 3rd place age group finishes in their respective divisions. We also saw great performances by Mark Vautour, Matt Coarr, Maura Olcese, and Michelle Rousseau.
Mark Vautour talks about his race.
Elsewhere we saw Nancy Arena continue to dominate her season with a 1st place age group finish 4th woman overall at the Hyannis Sprint; Lauren Bonaca who is no stranger to the podium with a 1st place age group finish 9th woman overall at the Lobsterman triathlon; Dave Mak also cruised through Lobsterman; Rachel Saks-Aronis once again finding her way to the podium with a 2nd place age group finish at the Run to the Rock race; Joe Kurtz reminding people that he is not just a dominate swimmer destroying the Nahant 30K Road Race; and Jeff Daily traveling across the country to make the team proud at Harvest Moon Long Course Triathlon.
By Brendan Hall
Ohhhhhhhhhhhh Canadaaaaaaaaaa!!! Let's be honest here...just for a minute and then we'll get straight back to fabrications and inflammatory rhetoric. Half the appeal of signing up for this race is the location: Montreal. And no, it's not because of the red light district, Judge Pants. I just wouldn't have signed up for a late-season 70.3, after racing my first Ironman in July, if said race was in Newark, or Albany. Montreal has been on my hit-list for years and the French-speaking citizens don't even blow smoke directly into your face before giving you the wrong directions just for fun. Throw in a really unique/flat race course and a BTT All-Star squad of 15+ members strong and you've got yourself a perfect storm for shmoove moves and maybe even some light tomfoolery...we'll see...too early to tell.
A very spirited B. Kearney and I arrived to the registration tent around 4pm on Friday afternoon after 5.5 hours in the car and getting mildly lost downtown. The course itself is on an island in the St. Lawrence River (very cool) but even my razor sharp gps had a tough time figuring that out. Now, it should be noted here that Brian chose to wear a Bruins t-shirt in order to remind our northern brethren who's boss around the NHL these days. Awesome...but also akin to sticking your head in an alligator's mouth for a family photo, so I made sure to walk a few feet behind him.
The expo was pretty low-key and generally set the tone for the whole race. Registration took all of 30 seconds which was a nice change of pace from the typical Ironman bonanza of multi-table, triple-signature, body cavity searching. So, we grabbed our t-shirts and headed back to meet the team for dinner at the hotel.
Some decent pasta with chicken and two beers later, I headed up to the room to get my head and gear together. Beth Edwards, my roommate and good luck charm on the road this season, was busy doing the same with enough gear and nutrition for a 6-day trek across the Himalayas. In fairness, Beth was racing the full IM the next day (2nd place in her AG), so I found some space under the couch and got to work.
The alarm went off at 4am and it felt like I had slept for 12 minutes. I choked down the usual two bagels with peanut butter, a banana, Gatorade and two cups of coffee and we left for transition around 5:15. Once there, we ran into the rest of the team and were able to commandeer a whole section of the bike rack as there was no assigned spots by race number. Again, a very low key race.
Despite several trips to the rent-a-crapper, I was feeling pretty relaxed. My training had been a little sparse since Placid but I knew I still had plenty of fitness left over to get through the day, especially given the flat course. In fact, I was gunning for a new PR of 4:45. Noah, Brett, Tony and I headed down to the swim start and got a quick warm-up in before the gun went off at 7:20. The swim is in the Olympic rowing basin and just like Placid, there were lane lines on the bottom of the shallow water, so I did very little sighting. Just kept it steady and was out of the agua in 31:52.
The bike course is 20 laps on a flat Formula 1 race track with lots of twists and turns to keep it interesting. You could really hammer the first half but there was a super strong headwind on the latter half of the loop which at times slowed me down a full 10mph. I felt great throughout though and just focused on my nutrition. Round and round and round and I was off to T2 in 2:30:27 which had me set up nicely for my PR goal...in theory.
You see, the run and I have never been great friends. We want to like each other. We really do but it's almost as if I'm dating the run's ex-girlfriend and we just can't get past it, no matter how many half-baked bro hugs we attempt. I even buy the run new shoes every 3 months and yet, we always end up back where we started. Just staring into the distance and pretending the silence isn't awkward. Maybe in time and after some therapy we can get there but until then, the run should watch his back. Yadi yadi, yada I put up a very underwhelming 1:49:02 with a grand total of 4:56:03 which was still a 16 minute PR.
Overall, this race was very cool and well worth the trip/expense. Race support on the course was a little shaky and the post-race meal was small portioned and all vegetarian but the race director was extremely welcoming and even set-up a BTT tent for us. The flat and relatively easy course makes for a great late-season venue and you can't do much better than Montreal for a beautiful city within driving distance with plenty to do and see after the race. I hope to go again next season.
By Tom Christofili
Checking in at Southwest, the self check in screens displayed “It’s Go Time!”. Perhaps, it was a good sign for race weekend. I checked the bike box which I had done and undone a few times since I was traveling with the bike for the first time. The process worked out OK. I had to tighten the front brake and fix a slow leak in the rear tire which might have been unrelated.
Just getting to the Ironman World Championship 70.3 was an accomplishment, and I was happy to take part with a bunch of other great athletes. It had been a tumultuous summer. It started out inauspiciously when I was laid off from work in June. I mulled whether to double my training with the extra time afforded or perhaps reevaluate my priorities and hang it up for the year. With Providence Half Ironman 70.3 four weeks away and not being signed up, I had some decisions to make. I had also recently demolished my bathroom to set an extra sized tub that would be the recovery solution to long rides this year. Its use would not be fully realized as events would unfold, but I still had to put the room back together, train, and figure out the job situation. Usually, the obstacles are unexpected and on the race course. This year, they were unexpected and off the race course.
I decided to stick to the same training routine and sign up for Providence. I stayed consistent with training volume over the next few weeks for the most part. Of course, I did have the flexibility to insert a long “brick” (aka bric) during the week rather than load the long workouts into the weekend as is customary for age groupers. I did well enough at Providence for luck to break my way, though I didn’t think so at the time, and I was in the fortunate spot to get a rolldown to the show in Vegas. I had been stressing with the no wetsuit swim at Providence. I used a skin suit that was later not permitted at Vegas. I don’t think I used my new wetsuit after that in races or training the rest of the year. Swimming not being my strength, it is hard to give up the wetsuit.
I got an offer a little later in July for some contract engineering work in IL. So, with my road bike and tri bike on the roof, I was off. I still needed to finalize travel plans including departure airport and other travel logistics for Vegas. The plane ticket I got two weeks before the event was a little more expensive than I planned. However, the hotel and rental car (gotten within the last week and last day before travel respectively) were very affordable.
In the new Midwest location, training rides were typically flat through corn fields. Tall enough to block views at connecting streets but not tall enough to block the wind in either direction. I had to search out the river bluffs for any real elevation change in my training.
As with most races, there is always something new and irrational to stress over. Having swum no wetsuit in the last two races, I could not rely on this to be something to fear and fixate on. Checking the weather forecast with temps running to 110+F (and to 120+F in the bike course canyons according to a race participant who pre-trained there), I had something to get fixated on and worry about. As it turns out, the problems on race day are usually something else entirely. In this case, temps on race day were relatively cool and only into the low 90’s F. The bother of the day was a headache that I had from the previous night that I didn’t shake until the run when I dumped an ice cold cup of water over my head. Also, a slightly intolerant stomach during the bike. When I got into the water, reported to be 80F and with a 10 minute wait from the previous wave, I started getting cold. I was in the water and actually shivering with teeth chattering. In contrast, it was what I least anticipated on race day – to be cold before the start or at any time for that matter.
The swim course was good and spectator friendly with a walkway over the swim start with portico type openings on either side for spectators to view the swimmers head out and then back and under the walkway into the swim finish. I spent time with Jamie Strain waiting for our wave to start. It was good to see blue and green - a familiar face. He reportedly did not double up on races this race weekend (and I say that with admiring respect). In the return direction of the swim, I got in behind other swimmers and thus allowed their effort to dictate my pace. I had one guy grappling with my ankles for a few hundred yards. I typically am a silent kicker and more than allow a few taps, but with the chance of my timing chip getting stripped I had to send a few signals and a couple of times. He got the point eventually. My energy exertion was average as well as was my total swim time. On to T1 and the bike.
I had never done a race where gear was not co-located on the bike and where we had to retrieve it prior to entering a change tent. I understand this is a normal transition format at other Ironman managed races (e.g. Lake Placid). The bag handoff went well with volunteers manning the area. They were great throughout the day. Of interesting note, leaving T1 was a switchback you had to run your bike up to get from T1 to road level to mount your bike.
The 56 mile bike course showed off the rugged beauty of the desert. It was up and down most of the way with big rollers. In comparison, the 3x loop half marathon run course was either all up or all down. The road surface was very good. No fissures, cracks, or other problems like you might expect to look for while riding New England roads. An accomplished former pro bike racer, Laurent Jalabert, was in my wave. Fast guy! As far as penalties, the athlete next to me at the awards ceremony indicated that they had given some 80+ penalties. I personally only observed one pack of 10-20 bikers roughly spaced and with a course motorcycle tight on their heels. Otherwise, I did not observe athletes drafting the bike course.
Nutrition-wise, I went off the game plan a bit. With a headache through the bike and a bit of spitting up on the bike, I attempted to hydrate and fuel consistently at least to start. Breakfast was 24 oz apple sauce, a banana, orange juice, a few bites of bagel, and some water. On the bike course, three Powergels at about 40 minute intervals. Some 50-55oz of sports drink and just downing what I could of some water handoffs at three aid stations for another 20+oz of water. Carried two Powergels on the run, but I didn’t touch them. Was not in the mood to eat after halfway into the race. Relied on sports drink and one soda handoff on the run. Water going over the head and sponges down the back to cool off.
The first cold water over my head thankfully made the headache went away. Temps were rising on the run course, and starting in my wave an hour after the Pro wave start ensured that I would be out there longer in the heat. The good news is that it was not the death march I had anticipated over the previous few weeks and was not all that bad. I believe it got into the low 90’s, but it was a dry heat that did not feel that bad. I think there was more elevation on the run than what the course terrain map indicates.
Overall, I would have liked to have been a few minutes faster here and there, but I was content with a sub 5:00 on a World Championship worthy course. After all, it took me longer to box my bike for the first time than to run the course. So, that is a take away I can be positive about.
What I used and changes from last year:
Guru Magis tri bike (changed from Cannondale CAAD8 road bike) with mostly DuraAce components, stock wheels, Continental 4000 tires, aero helmet, and aero bottle. Filled but actually didn’t use the Bontrager speed bottle. Used Powerbar Beta Alanine this year. Also, I was a few pounds lighter and closer to natural race weight.
Area for improvement:
Swimming. Maybe running. There is some room to buy speed with race wheels. I noticed that I give up something to strong bikers on descents and some flats and take it back on the uphills.
I have to mention that I was impressed with the organization and volunteers. We, as athletes, were treated very well. The welcome dinner, support on the course, and the awards banquet. First class treatment. All at beautiful Lake Las Vegas. I met a number of age groupers and was even able to talk with a few professional triathletes over the weekend. A great experience.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
by Mark Vautour
For the second time in three years I raced the Pumpkinman half iron distance race (I would have missed it last year were it not for MB ringing the doorbell until I woke up).
Pumpkinman is a great family style (think Pokress clan) event. Great post race meal, friendly volunteers, and great venue for a low key, non Ironman experience.
I came to race with low expectations knowing that I hadn’t done much training since Ironman Germany. There was a great crew of 5 or 6 BTT racers and the weather was good. The venue is Spring Hill farm, a private property in South Berwick Maine. The website says it is an hour from Boston but it is more like an hour and a half. However this still fits into my rule of more racing time than driving time. A big turnout from Psycho, Wheelworks, and PBM teams.
A slightly convoluted 2 loop course. There were only small round buoys, no triangle buoys on the corners. The race started late due to intense fog but it eventually cleared. A good decision by the RD.
Two flat to rolling loops. Definitely a fast bike. Two water stops. No major hills. Not flat but not much to complain about. Roads in decent shape.
A rolling but not flat two loop course. Not the crowds that are on the sides of Timberman or Mooseman but still well supported. No race clocks at the mile markers (a pet peeve of mine if your Garmin isn’t working - maybe I should by a Timex).
Results. I’m not sure how the crew did other than Braden Larmon who, I believe, won his AG. Not sure on the details.
Price $225 fair.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Most people think Labor Day Weekend is about barbeques and relaxing, but some members of the Boston Triathlon team think it’s about racing! Over at the Mayflower Sprint Triathlon, BTT Ladies, Elaine Metcalf and Kim Kaltreider, represented the team well with Elaine taking top honors in her division. The following day, Pat Dwyer continued to make a solid push for comeback of the year winning the Big George ½ Ironman….yes that is correct, I said Pat won the entire race and not just his division! Way to go Pat!!! Meanwhile, Mark Pelletier stuck to just running with an impressive performance at the Marlborough Laborous Labor Day 10 Miler. And down south, Audrey Perlow continues to represent the team well, crushing the VA Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon finishing in the top 1% of her age group!
Pat shares with us his experience on winning his ½ Ironman. Read Pat's race report.
Audrey Perlow also shares with us her experience with the Virginia Beach Rock & Rock Half Marathon. Read Audrey's race report.
by Pat Dwyer
So, I signed up for this race in July. Originally, I was going to do Firmman or another half, but it just didn't work with my schedule. So, I did some research and found this race. It's a first year race that was being run in conjunction with an Olympic distance race that they've held for 6-7 years....so I knew that it would have decent direction. Also, it was fairly inexpensive for a half...only $165. Given that I wasn't positive I would be able to do the race (due to recovery), the price was appealing in the event I had to bail.
The race was in Lake George, NY. So, Jenn and I found a dog-friendly hotel and decided to make a weekend of it. We left Friday night and drove part way. We got up early on Saturday and finished the trip. When we got to LG, the Oly race was going on (it was held Saturday...and the half on Sunday). I went about doing my pre-race warmup. I went out on the bike for a quick 25-30 minute ride. Immediately I realized that I couldn't shift into the big chain ring. So, I just kept it in the small chain ring and rode around a bit. I packed the bike back up and went for a 15 minute run. During the warmup, I really wasn't feeling good. I just didn't have much snap in my legs. Afterwards, I found a bike mechanic and had my bike adjusted....shifting problem solved. Then it was onto breakfast, where I did my normal carbo load (biggest meal of the day) and I basically ate for 3. Finally, we headed out to drive the bike course.
I always suggest seeing the bike course before the race....and this was no exception. This bike course was no joke. After a short semi-flat section (about 3/4 of a mile), it begins climbing out of town (ala LP). It's basically a 5 mile climb. Unlike LP, while you do get some good downhill sections, it's not a screaming downhill. But, the course was very fair. On the website, the course shows a Category 4 and 5 climb on the course. All in all, the course looked great....good roads and little to no traffic on most of it. I had a second reason for driving the course here. After I registered, I realized that they capped the race at 250 people....not very big for a half ironman. So, I knew that, even in my current shape, there was a good chance that I could be out front for part of the bike. The remainder of the day did not go as planned...hotel wasn't ready; traffic around Six Flags Great Escape was a nightmare (registration was there); wasn't getting hydrated or rest. But, as per normal, my wife did her best impression of Mother Theresa and settled me down.
I woke up around 4:30 on race morning, got in my nutrition and headed down to the race. Pre-race was uneventful, except my stomach was a mess. I must have made 5 trips to the bathroom. I also wasn't feeling that great. Jenn wasn't worried...because this has happened before and I've raced fine. I was in second wave....with waves going 3 minutes apart. The first wave was Men 39 and under....so I knew that my competition would be in my wave and in front of me. I wasn't too worried about any of the later waves.
SWIM: I've been feeling pretty good in the water. So, my plan was to keep the swim long and steady. Finally, my wave went off. I got right to the front, along with one other guy. He seemed to be swimming well...probably a bit faster than me, so I decided to drop back and grab his feet and let him do the work. This lasted all of 10 seconds when I realized that this guy could not navigate. When I looked up, he was headed in a 45 degree angle from the buoys. So, I reset and decided I would just swim on my own. I ran across this navigation-challenged swimmer throughout the swim. The swim was a rectangular swim....and very open...not much contact. About halfway on the way out, I began passing the first wave. About halfway on the way in, I realized that there weren't many people from the first wave left to pass. But, I could still see my buddy who was doing a tour of the lake...back and forth....he even ran into me one time, which is quite ridiculous since there was no one else even close to us...and the lake is HUGE. This guy's navigation was so bad (worst I've ever seen), that he should have beaten me by 45-60 seconds...but only managed 9-10. Out of the water and through transition (30:35).
BIKE: Jenn yelled at me that I was in 6th place overall...including the first wave. The guy in the lead had about 5 minutes on me. I used the initial flat part of the bike to get into my shoes, which were already on my bike. Then I dropped into the small chain ring and began the climb out of town. First, I picked off my buddy from the swim. Then I would spot riders way up the road, one by one....and use them to gauge off of. I felt really good, early. I tried to keep my power numbers in check. Around mile 21-22, I saw a rider. I thought that there was one more guy in front of him, based on Jenn's early assessment. But, while I was working to catch him, I caught a glimpse of a car in front with the hazard lights on. Hmm...was that the lead car? I passed the guy around mile 23 and tried to ask him if he was in front....but he either didn't hear me or didn't want to tell me. But, I had a strong feeling he was. I received confirmation later when I passed a couple of spectators out on the course. I locked in and tried to stay consistent. I was fortunate to know the course....it helped. I will say that one thing the race director could improve is to keep the lead vehicle within sight of the lead rider. There were several times that it disappeared in front of me....for several minutes. This wouldn't have been a big deal, but the roads weren't closed. Not only is the lead vehicle there to "lead", but it also helps notify the other cars that we're racing. I got buzzed pretty close by some NY jackass, even though I was hugging the line and there was no other traffic in either direction. Once I was in the lead, I caught myself going up a short hill in the big chain ring. I quickly scolded myself and decided to be conservative for the rest of the ride...small chain ring on all hills. As I headed into T2, I figured I had a decent lead....at least I was hoping, since I wasn't quite sure how I was going to run. I will be honest....I looked back many, many times. I was fearful of a late charger catching me. Coming into transition in first was pretty cool....more so than a sprint or olympic...as there is so much anticipation for the first rider to come in. I had my normal quick transition and out onto the run (2:37:17....note: bike was estimated at 57 miles).
RUN: As I headed out onto the run, nobody else had come in on the bike yet. I hadn't previewed the run, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Not to mention, this would be my first 13 mile run since Kona last year....and my third bike/run of the year. Normally, this is when I "go to work" and make up ground. But, my run is so unknown, that I was honestly worried about getting caught. I had a case of the swivel heads at the beginning. The run went straight up hill...and continued to go up for about 3 miles....it was tough. Much of the run was on a bike path. It was a lollipop shaped course...two loops. The turnaround was about 3.5 miles in. I checked my watch and started looking for the next runner. Finally, I saw a runner. I estimated that I had a 6.5-7 minute lead. Although I felt awful at the beginning of the run, I started to get my run legs and was feeling okay. While the bike was very humid...it was cooler, 74-79 degrees. But, the sun was out on the run...and it was getting hot (while still humid). At this point, I knew that no one was catching me. I would have to have a complete meltdown. As I got off the out and back section, the run went back on the road and downhill. This was very tough on the quads. As I headed back towards transition, one of the race directors was joking that I had 10 miles on the field. Second loop was uneventful. Many more people on the course during this loop. Again, one suggestion for the race directors would be to have a lead bike, which they didn't have. On the out and back section, I decided to check my lead again. I estimated I had at least 9 minutes on the next racer at this point. I was fairly conservative on the second loop. As much as this was my longest run of the year...it still went by fairly quickly. I was happy about this, as I hadn't worn socks and my feet were really getting chewed up. This was mainly due to the humidity...my feet were just squishy in my shoes. As I headed into the finish, the guy joked that I now had a 20 mile lead. I headed across the finish line and was happy to be done. Before the race, I anticipated that I could run between 6:45-7 minute pace. I was pretty close to that estimate (1:27:22).
FINISH TIME: 4:36:39
While this was a small race, it was still very cool to win. I've won other races...but winning a half ironman is an experience that I may not have again....especially at my age! This was a nice way to finish my very short season....and gives me some fuel for next season. They also gave some pretty unique awards. Now, onto my short off season...before the build up to 2012.
They are all veterans of the event, and Justin's dad is a "streaker"-he has been formally recognized by the race for competing in all 11 of the VA Rock & Roll Halves to date. My fellow runners were excited about the race and the bands at every mile and they were anticipating relatively cool weather. Of note is that Kaitlin had an elite number-F16. Yes, like the plane. It was awesome.
Before the race Kaitlin warmed up next to Ryan Hall with the rest of the elites. Justin and I were watching and chatting with Kaitlin. Chad (who high-fived Ryan) lined up right behind the elites at the front of the first coral and Justin and I lined up a few rows behind Chad.
And we were off! Justin took off ahead of me and I was left to my own devices.
Recently the half marathon has not been my friend. In 2010 I ran the NJ 1/2 the first week in May after training in Boston all winter. There were record highs and I ran/walked it in w/ a 2:12 and a touch of heat stroke. In February 2011 I ran the New Bedford 1/2 where I was exhausted from Boston Marathon training and I had a cold that caused my heart rate to raise by 1,000,000 bpm just from picking up my sneakers. During that race I walked whenever my ankle hurt and also ran parts of the course backwards to pick up clothing that I kept accidentally dropping. I ended up w/ the 1:42:13 that is my current PR.
I had an idea of what I thought I might try and run at VA Beach (7:25 min/miles) but I ran based on feel and I was running around 7:10 min/miles for a while. As a perennial "go-out-too-fast runner" I consider that excellent control for me! It was warm, but overcast, and the situation was manageable. I tried to stay hydrated. Around mile 6 I started to get a bit alarmed. I was tired. My pace was slipping to 7:25 min/miles. I had a stomach cramp that HURT. Around this time I got the idea to try and hold on for a finish under 1:37 which is the time that will automatically qualify a woman under 40 for the NYC marathon if she is so inclined. (I am not so inclined, but the mark exists so it served as a good goal).
I continued on and remained calm. I was concerned that I was running more slowly than earlier and a couple of people were passing me, but I never felt awful. I was running hard enough that the desire to stop running was definitely there (the sign of a good race!) but I kept on truckin. Around mile 8 I perked up and by mile 9 I was dropping 7:10s again. I was passing people (I was especially on the lookout for women to pass) and I wondered where my relative endurance was coming from since I don't run a huge amount of miles (just under 40 mpw with a long run that maxed out at 14 miles in preparation for this race).
The final mile I dropped to 6:30/40 pace and pushed it in. You can see the finish line about a kilometer before the end and it is brutal to be able to see the finish and have so much race left! I managed to pass two more women between 20K and 21K and I crossed the line in 1:35:23.
I scored an almost 7 minute PR, I achieved my pre-race goal of finishing top 25 in my 30-34 AG (I was 11/1097), and I successfully kept my fear of the heat under control. I've been feeling fit and training hard and it was pretty darn cool to see it all come together.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
The member spotlight is back! Our lucky subject is none other than Jen Scalise-Marinofsky, accomplished athlete and long-time member of the Boston Triathlon Team.
So how did Jen get involved in triathlon? Her propensity for competition started early, at age 5 when she began to swim. I can see it now, Jen in her little American flag speedo just crushing the 8 and under crowd. She swam competitively through college, and after college wasn’t quite ready to give up swimming. She watched a friend do a sprint triathlon and decided she needed to do one as well. But she also vaguely remembered flashing back to a childhood memory of watching the Ironman on TV and thinking those people were crazy. Who would do all that? Fourteen year old Jen never would. Of course you know how the story goes…Jen does sprint triathlon, Jen signs up for Ironman, Jen decides to join a triathlon team, Jen is considered one of those crazy people. It’s funny how life turns out.
But her start was far from glamorous. Her first triathlon was the Falmouth sprint triathlon in 1994. She did it on a mountain bike and couldn’t even run the whole 3 miles. Then, the first time her husband, Dave (also a BTT member), came to watch her race at the Hyannis Sprint, she was running toward the finish line and had to veer off course to throw up because she didn’t want him to see her (who would?). But he did see her and wondered why she was running away from the finish line. But if those were her only dark days, there would be many more bright ones ahead.
Jen joined what was then Wheelworks Triathlon Team in 2001, which underwent a name change and became Boston Triathlon Team a year later. In the past decade she has focused on Ironman, and qualified three times for Kona, setting a PR in 2008 and coming in 11th in her age group. That, my friends, is pretty impressive. She has done several local races this year and has made the podium each time. When training for a typical Ironman, Jen averages around 15 hours of training a week, swimming 2-3 times, biking 3-4 times, and running 3-4 times. These days, she has become more relaxed about training because her time is not always hers with a new (1year old) baby, Shane, in the picture. In the past, if she didn’t get a workout in, she would get stressed. Before races, she got very nervous. But as she has learned, when your child still isn’t sleeping through the night, you aren’t sleeping through the night either so stress about triathlon seems silly.
I asked Jen if she could recall the funniest thing that ever happened to her at a race. At her first Ironman distance race in Florida, she was afraid of getting stung by a jellyfish and put meat tenderizer in her bag just in case she got stung. A volunteer pulled it out and asked her if she needed it. When she said no, the volunteer took out a steak and began to marinate it right there! Ok, that didn’t really happen but she could have if she wanted to because who doesn’t love meat tenderizer? The reality is that I was there during that race cheering on Jen and another friend, and I witnessed what I still today call my funniest moment in triathlon. Jen is nearing the finish. Dave, Jen’s mom, and I are straining to see her when Jen’s mom leans a bit too hard on the fence and it collapses, sending her sprawled out on the ground (don’t worry, that’s not the funny part, and she was ok). She was holding the camera, and looks up to Dave with a pained look, strains to give him the camera and says “Go. Dave. Leave me here. Get picture” in what I can only recount as a very dramatic scene. It was right out of a movie but there was no music except for “Eye of the Tiger” blasting on the sound system - how apropos. So Dave grabbed the camera, ran off, and got the shot, leaving me to provide first aid to Jen’s mom. By first aid I mean I helped her to her feet. All was well and we had a good laugh, and a lesson in what’s really important during your first Ironman!
Jen isn’t done yet – she has a few goals in mind for the future (ask her!) and is thankful to the sport of triathlon for many things, including the lifestyle, training, setting and achieving goals, and the friends she has met through the sport. But at the end of the day, she couldn’t do any of it without the love and support of her husband Dave and her parents. They are always there now when she needs time to train and race (especially now with Shane), and they have always been there.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
by Ed Galante
Hurricane Irene might have put a damper on some sprits and shut-down races for a few up and down the East Coast, yours truly included, but the blue and green was still seen in many of the races that did take place. Up north in Canada, Amy Robinson Greenwood represented BTT well with a 10th place age group finish in Ironman Canada. While down south in North Carolina, Carolyn Soules took a first place age group podium finish in the Lake Norman Sprint Triathlon, with Jason Soules also having a strong race. In neighboring Virginia, Audrey Perlow continued to rack up those podium finishes taking 2nd place in her age group at the Steve Thompson 8k.
Back here in New England, a few races were squeezed in before Hurricane Irene did its thing. Krista Schepanovsky took on the Andrew J Reed Triathlon in Rhode Island, winning her age group, while over at the Cranberry Sprint Triathlon Pat Dwyer showed he still has it racing as a 40 year old, taking 4th place overall and winning his division We also saw impressive performances by Rachel Saks Aronis winning her division, and by Katie (Blumberg) O'Malley in that race.
Pat gives us some insight into his race:
So, last weeekend was my first race of the year and first triathlon since I raced Kona last October. It was also my first race in the 40-44 AG. It was the Cranberry Sprint Triathlon. I was using this as a tune-up for my half ironman next week in Lake George. In some ways, I was more nervous for this race than the half. Not just because it was my first race post surgery, but because you have to go so hard in a sprint (redline the whole way). Also, I had no idea how fast I could run. My running has been improving...but I'm very far off from my normal self. Not to mention, I've barely done any hard running. This race would represent my first sustained "hard" run of the year. I was interested to see how my body would react.
For some reason, I hadn't been sleeping soundly this past week. And Friday night was no exception...in fact, it was even worse. But, I got up at 5am....got my stuff together...and drove down to Lakeville. Upon arriving, I immediately saw my teammate, Kate (Blumberg) O'Malley. It was nice, since I wasn't sure any other teammates were racing. As I walked through to registration, I had to keep my ego in check. I typically go to races like this with the mindset that I'm going to win (not that I always do....but that's how I approach it). Although I seemed to still have the mindset....I wasn't sure the body was going to keep up with the mind on this day. After registering, I got my bike and gear together and headed to transition. I ran into another teammate, Rachel Saks Aronis, who was positioned right next to me in transition. Funny thing is that I was #1044, Rachel was #1045....and Jamie Strain was #1046, but Jamie didn't show. While setting up transition, the race director made the announcement that it was a no-wetsuit swim. Fortunately I brought my speedsuit. When I signed up for this race, I registered as an age-grouper. But, during the week leading into it, I was having second thoughts....and should have signed up for the elite/open division...which, in retrospect, I should have done.
I was in the 5th wave (40+ men). Our gun went off, and I went to the front. I had a really good swim (although I had to navigate through the previous wave of 30+ women). After a very, very short swim, I was first out of the water and into T1. Man, what a shock to the system. I usually run well out of the water....but my legs were dead. I got on my bike and onto the bike course. My shoes were already on my bike, so I started to get my feet in the shoes. I should have looked at the course in advance and waited until the first big downhill to do this. Anyway, I got my first foot in, but the strap came undone as I put my second foot in. After fumbling a few seconds, I just rode with it undone. Not ideal, but not catastrophic either. Being in the 5th wave meant I had many people already on the course....many riding the yellow line. I yelled "on your left" the entire ride. Since it was a 2 loop course, going through the start of the second loop was really congested and I couldn't ride more than 12-14 mph. After finishing the second loop, I headed into T2. I had a much better second transition. Out onto the run course, I had no idea how this was going to go....so I dialed back a little and just tried to run hard. I could tell I didn't have my normal legs....but I was still passing people and running relatively fast. I thought going into this race that I could hold about 6 minute pace....and that's about what I did. I ran the last mile or so pretty hard...and finished strong. Since I was in the 5th wave, I wasn't sure where I finished overall. I figured, after talking with a few people, that I was in the top 5. I was 5th, but wound up 4th after a penalty was issued to one of the elite guys. Oh, and I won the AG by 4-5 minutes. I think I like being the 40+ guy kicking some young ass.
Mixed feelings about this race. I definitely had some hiccups, which is to be expected. But, I wish I would have raced elite so I could have been in the mix. All in all, it was great to get back out there, even though I'm not anywhere near my top form. I'm excited to race again next week.