Monday, December 26, 2011

Member Spotlight: Matt Pokress

by Pat Dwyer

Pat: Okay Matt…tell us a little about your athletic background and how you got involved with triathlon.

Matt: I swam competitively until tenth grade. That is when I started rowing. I was nothing special in either sport, but I graduated from high school intent on making a mark in intercollegiate athletics. My freshman year was the first time I ever made a "first" boat. We had a perfect season, and I figured we were positioned for three more years of that. That did not pan out and those failures still motivate me. Still, rowing dominated my life for those four years. Even my girlfriend at the time, "Fun Crawford", was a rower (Ed. Note: FP=FC).

I stopped rowing after my club four got a complete drubbing at the '96 Olympic trials. I was married and already working with a startup. In short, I was not committed enough to see a clear path to the next level.
Flash forward to 2001 and I got a half-baked scheme to do Firmman. Shay had done Danskin the previous year. It was clearly out of the question for me to be one-upped by her. Danskin denied me entry, so I went looking for something that was hard to finish. A half iron seemed to fit the bill. I had started running a little bit with Ellie in the Baby Jogger. The two of us ran 10 miles once or twice before the race. Suffering through the end of the run apparently did not dampen my enthusiasm.

After Firmman I ran into former BTT member Drew Gronewold. We had known each other from rowing at Cornell and he suggested I join what was, at the time, the Wheelworks Triathlon Team. Despite their obvious reservations about me, Maggie and the rest of the EC saw fit to accept me.

Pat: I’m sure there’s more than a few people that want to know the answer to the next question, how do you train for ironman with 3 kids?

Matt: I will divulge some secrets - but only because you have been plying me with gimlets. To be honest, it is getting easier. The kids are older (12, 8, and 4) and much more reasonable. Eating dinner together is critically important, and I would rather stay up late than wake up early. That means I go to the pool, or to the pain cave, or out for a run after the younger kids have gone to bed. Most American adults are wasting several hours every evening watching TV. I choose to spend that time training.

Avoiding the TV probably frees up two thirds of the time I need for training. The balance comes from pockets of time that are hard to use in any other productive capacity. Some concrete examples of this "opportunistic training" are:

  • It is a 40 minute drive to my office in Westford. I can ride there in an hour. That delivers two hours of training with a net loss of only 40 minutes. Sometimes I get lost on the way home ;)
  • I often run while my kids are at practice. I would lose 30 minutes driving home and then returning to retrieve them. Their two hour sessions at the pool are doing great things for my running mileage. I generally prefer one longer session over two shorter ones because it eliminates one round of preparation and cleanup.

The least disruptive way to get the notorious Sunday "Come to Jebus" rides is to get up early. I can summit Wachusett and still be home by noon. Then I can spend the rest of the day with the family watching the lawn die.

Pat: What do you hope to bring to your position on the EC? Anything we should be looking forward to?

Matt: Well, I obviously want to help everyone step it up a notch. Depending on the athlete, that could mean finally riding a century at Training Weekend, working out five times a week instead of four, going 10 minutes faster at Timberman, or not getting dropped by Austin on the Kanc. In your case, it means riding with me more than six times a year. Our houses aren't even a mile apart! (Ed. Note: Riding with Matt means sitting on his wheel or the wheel of his training prosthesis….[Joe] Kurtz).

I am pleased with the interest in the December challenge. That has me excited to think up something novel for each of the coming months. I am going to stay away from the unimaginative "most yards/miles/hours" type challenges. I will be looking to keep people engaged and competitive across a range of abilities and commitment levels.

Pat: So, for those that weren't there, talk a little about the epic duel that you and I had at IMLP 2010, where we both made the podium. I still have nightmares at night where I'm trying to run you down!

Matt: There was more than a little tension between us leading up to that race. One of us could have knocked the other out of Kona. That would have been a tough outcome.

It ended up unfolding about the way most expected it would. Our swims were roughly the same. I had a stronger ride and a good run. You had a good ride and a stronger run. The better runner usually wins. Neither of us was prepared for how long it would take for you to catch me, though (Ed. Note: Matt had 10 minutes on me off the bike). The end result, for both of us, was a huge helping of hurt in the last few miles.

Joe Kurtz got me a chair just beyond the finish line. Taking another step was out of the question. A little while later, after a weak wave to my family (Shay, kids, and parents), he helped carry me into the med tent. While I was on my second IV bag he reported to me that you had been vomiting in the finishing area and now had a cot of your own in the big white tent. We could not have gotten much closer to the edge.

I really found where the demon lived that day. We were both still feeling it when we went riding over Timberman weekend.

It bothers me that I lost that round, but if I wanted to win every race I could just stay home and race my kids. Those three minutes represent around a 0.5% difference, which is astonishing not just for how close we were, but also for how eager it made me for the rematch (Ed. Note: I’m waiting for the promoter to set up the best deal for me).

Pat: Why do you think you're a "repellant" for attendance at BTT events? Intimidation? :) I know I'm intimidated every time I sit at Helens (which isn't too often) and have to listen to you, [Joe] Kurtz, [Austin] Whitman, and [Chris] Borges talk over my head.

Matt: I have been told we use big words. Sorry about that. You should ask Joe Kurtz about the intimidation. He brought a (650) disc to a recovery ride with me while I was tapering for Kona last year.

Pat: Since this seems to be a popular question, tell us the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you at a race.

Matt: This is no contest. Littleton Appleman, 2009. My wetsuit opened and flooded during the swim. I followed that up by running to the wrong part of transition and failing to immediately find my ride. (It was racked between a pair of hybrid bikes resting on their kickstands. I am not kidding.) Then, despite the fact that the race takes place about three miles from my office, and that I had ridden the course two days earlier on my way home from work, I took a wrong turn and went off course.

The final insult was, of course, an email from you asking why my bike time was so slow.

Pat: Any big racing plans for 2012?

Matt: There are 215 days until LP.

Pat: Okay, speed round....

Pat: Which Cornell boat was more successful? Serious Pokress' boat or Fun Pokress' (aka Crawford’s) boat?

Matt: What I will say is that my friends and I left a lot of opponents shirtless after races. FP and friends took off their shirts and did "topless 10s" out on Lake Cayuga every June. They never told us ahead of time when they were going to do that. We never had binoculars when we needed them. (Ed. Note: Having an Ivy League degree does not mean that you comprehend the phrase “speed round”).

Pat: IMLP or IMH?

Matt: I had the hottest body marker EVER the last time I was in Kona (Ed. Note: This is why he sticks to the long course stuff. No understanding of “speed”).

Pat: Walden or Mystic?

Matt: Walden (Ed. Note: Hooray!)

Pat: UFO or IPA?

Matt: UFO

Pat: Wachusett or the Kanc?

Matt: Kanc

Pat: Felt B2 or Felt DA (sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Matt: I'm going to go with whatever I am on over whatever you are on. (You can't leave me an opening like that.)

Pat: Touche

Pat: Lastly, tell me your favorite part about being on the Blue and Green?

Matt: I would have to say it is the ready supply of post party scapegoats for FP (aka Fun Pokress aka Shay Pokress).

She can fill in the blank:

"This is all ______ fault!"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Member Spotlight: Grace and Tony Felos

By Kim Kaltreider

Kim: Have you started Ian with swim/bike/running yet? What do you anticipate will be his strongest discipline?

Grace: Yes... the kid rides. He doesn't stop running. Ever. But sinks like a rock. Perhaps duathlons will be his race. If he does get the swimming thing down, I think he'll be an XTERRA guy. He much prefers riding his bike over sticks and rocks than staying on the road. It's hard to say what his strongest discipline will be. He has been running longer than biking (he was one of those 'skip walking and just start running' kids), but he's picked up the biking really quickly. He'll have to work hard on those to catch the Aronii out of the water.

Kim: Tony, when would it be an appropriate age to purchase a speedo and bike shorts for Ian?

Tony: It is never too early to have a speedo or bike shorts. I think we need to get him "potty trained" first, but I guess that is not a requirement for triathlon.

Kim: What is your most embarrassing race story?

Grace: Maybe I blocked it out. I can't think of any really embarrassing stories. The one sort of embarrassing story that comes to mind is during a race I started getting passed on the bike by a handful of guys that I knew started in the waves before me. I felt so bad for them because they had to have had such a bad swim to be so far behind me. It wasn't until I was finishing the second loop of the bike that I realized that no, they didn't have bad swims. They weren't just catching up to me. They were, in fact, lapping me.

Tony: I think mine would be the one where I did the entire bike with my goggles in my helmet. I just could not understand why my head hurt so much during the race.

Kim: Have you ever raced in just a swimsuit?

Grace: Hell no. Wouldn't even do it on a dare.

Kim: Tony, didn’t you once race in jorts?

Tony: Not for me either… I just do not have the 6 pack abs for it. I have, however raced in a skirt once, but that was on a bet.

Kim: Do you use body glide? If so, where?

Grace: Interesting question. Pass. :-)

Tony: I use it quite liberally. Basically any place that might even have a chance of rubbing. You all can use your imagination on the rest.

Kim: Favorite distance triathlon?

Grace: I used to think that it was the half, but after the past two seasons I've reconsidered. I stuck to sprints and olympics and am appreciating their "funness". The training is more fun (there's not as much of it), the races are more fun, and the rest of the day is more fun (as I'm not eating like a fatigued fiend). My perfect race is an olympic with a sprint swim.

Tony: I have to go with the half. The ratios of swim to bike and run are much better than that of an olympic. You also get a chance to look around and enjoy the day and not have to give up 6 months of your life. Oh wait ... I forgot I do not train any more for races.

Kim: What is your pre-race breakfast? Are you a 4 cup applesauce kind of gal? How many times do you go to the bathroom?

Grace: I don't care what people say. The applesauce pre-race breakfast works like a charm. There's no need for dishes or silverware. Just drink the sauce from the jar, eat a banana, have a protein shake, and I'm set. I enjoy the day before the race breakfast more, though. Pancakes!

Why do triathlon conversations always end up revolving around poop?

Kim: Tony, do you drink the applesauce koolaid? Do you and Grace have to fight for the bathroom on race mornings?

Tony: I have to admit that the applesauce works great. I love not having to think about what to do on race morning. Just follow the plan. As for the bathroom, I am a 3X guy, without fail.

Kim: True or False: Women become faster after giving birth.

Grace: It's funny. It seems like the women get faster and then men (who did not actually give birth) get slower. What's up with that?

Kim: So Tony, sounds like you lost some speed?!

Tony: Yes getting Chicked has been a thing I am dealing with as of this year. Both Will and I are going to be going to a support group for this. "Hi my name is tony and It has been 5 months since my last chicking…"

Kim: What is that terrible instrument you use during ART that scrapes you until you cry?

Grace: You love it and you know it.

Kim: Tony, does Grace use any painful instruments on you at home?

Tony: that painful instrument makes me want to toss my cookies every time I think about it. The sound of it working is just really gross… oh yeah and the pain, that part is good too.

Kim: If you could change anything about triathlons, what would it be?

Tony: I would have to go with my fitness level.

Grace: I would have to agree with Tony on the fitness level thing. But that would probably require more training which ain't gonna happen.

Kim: Which was more enjoyable: (1) the day Ian became potty trained or (2) chicking Fun Tony at Sharon?

Grace: Well you see, I can only have joy for the potty training event once. But if I'm lucky I can continue chicking Fun Tony over and over again. With that rationale, I'd take the poopy diapers.

Kim: Tony, do you and Grace bet when you race together? Besides the glory and being able to say she chicked you, what does Grace win when she beats you?

Tony: We will bet on almost anything besides races. I love it when Grace kicks butt. It is nice to see her up on the podium. I want to go on the record that I might have gotten chicked at The Sharon Tri, but I did win the Sharon Beer Mile later on that day!!!

Kim: red or white?

Grace: Is there even a question here? Red all the way. That and tequila.

Tony: I have to agree on this one. If it is not red it is not really worth drinking. A full bodied selection from Spain would be my preference. As for tequila… well you should ask Brett how he feels about that particular beverage.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Brenda's Week in Review: December 8, 2011

by Brenda Chroniak

Given the drop in temperature this morning, I'm jealous just typing that this past weekend, Tim Daley, Laurie Damianos, Trish Kelly, and Katie O'Dair packed their bags and headed south for the Key West Triathon and Key West Sprint. I'm even more jealous to report that on a very windy day with a choppy swim, Katie and Laurie both made appearances on the podium-- Laurie took first in the Athena Masters category and Katie won her age group and took second in the Female Masters category overall. And rumor has it she would have been first, had the bike course not been blocked for 4 minutes (read all about it here), giving her opponent time to catch up. Trish and Tim also had great races, finishing 5th and 13th in their respective age groups. Nice job, guys!

Also this past weekend, Maggie O'Toole competed in the "North Face Endurance Challenge" trail race in San Francisco, posting a respectable 4:24 marathon, and back below the Mason-Dixon line, Audrey Perlow saw yet another podium this season, taking first in her age group at the Bread Run 10K. Way to go, ladies!

This coming weekend, most of the team will participate in a 6-ish mile endurance event. Let's just call it "interval training." Results won't be posted, but maybe next week I'll ask one of our rookies to contribute a report.

Until then, have fun this weekend, post your race goals, update your race results, and stay classy, BTT.

Race Report: Key West Triathlon

(This report is in three parts)

By Katie O’Dair

If you're going to do a triathlon in December (or in my case these days, at all), then you might as well pick a "destination" race that focuses as much on the destination as the race. Key West is that kind of place. So Laurie, Trish, Tim, and I (and friends of BTT John and Ali) all raced this past weekend. Full disclosure - Ali and I did the sprint while the others did the Olympic - hey, it's a miracle I did this at all. Anyway, Key West is just about the perfect place for a race and it didn't disappoint. But as we were waiting in line to pick up our numbers there were ominous warnings of 30mph winds the following day which "may cancel the swim" according to some guy waiting in line who, as it turns out, knew absolutely nothing about winds or triathlon swims. But we were worried, especially because for some of us, the swim is the fun part - bring on the wind! We chewed on that all day, then had a drink and watched the sun set in preparation for the race because that's what you do in Key West. After a good meal and some birthday cake for Trish, we settled in at John's place for the big wind storm that we feared would eventually blow in, ruining what was supposed to be a fun time.

But alas, those fears were unfounded. Race day was warm (70 degrees) and windy (18-20 mph, not 30) with some pretty good chop on the water. The Olympic race went off at 7 on the dot. I mean really - there was no waiting for people this morning - half the wave was still warming up when the gun went off. Things may be laid back in Key West, but holy cow, they start races on time. The sprint was a bit delayed because one of the buoys popped, but they hauled another one out and got us going. I was in the fourth wave, which gave me ample time to strategize my swim. It was a long half mile but I love choppy water and had a great swim. The transition was ridiculously far (think longer than Lake Placid) and out of transition I had to stop because mud got in my cleats. No biggie, I thought, if that's the worst thing to happen today, I'm good. Famous last words. In what can only be described as a first, the police actually stopped race traffic for about four minutes halfway through the bike ride. Yep, cars were getting antsy outside of the shopping area and they STOPPED TRAFFIC. I was incredulous. So after they let us go I began to bike madly and had a pretty good ride through the wind. Computer time was 41:26, but official time was 45:11 because of the stoppage. Grrr. The run was flat and windy out along the beach, with a tailwind on the way back. Really, really pretty. But notwithstanding the stoppage, the race was fun and I ended up winning my age group and getting second master's woman overall. Ali (Tim's gf) had a great sprint race and was also happy about the day.

As for the Olympians, as I call them - all did great! Laurie won Athena 40+, Trish and Tim had great races, and John completed his first triathlon ever in 2:42! That's without a wetsuit and without ever having swam in open water before. Nice. I think we have him hooked on the sport.

The best part of all was that the awards were engraved margarita glasses. Yep, even the 10 and under age group got margarita glasses. That's why we love Key West.

We also had a little time to scout out the new BTT yacht which will be ready for next year when we get a large contingent of BTTers to Key West.

By Laurie Damianos

My biggest takeaways from the race were - wind, wind, wind, fighter jets practicing overhead, roosters on the road, the sand finish to the run (threw me!!!), and the wind, wind, wind. Oh yeah, and the fact that the buoys for the Olympic were virtually impossible to see, and there was no marker on the pier where we finished (I had NO IDEA where to go!). Volunteers were abundant and very good. Oh yeah, how can we forget? Chris McCormick did the race and won, of course.

By Tim Daly

I completely agree with Katie on the "destination" and with Laurie on how great the volunteers were on the course (who apparently were all Navy people?). Overall, I thought it was a great race. Obviously, for a second year race, it still has some wrinkles to iron out. For me, it was the registration process (a little more time consuming than needed), and the swim course!

We were told in the course description meeting that the first buoy would be orange for a left turn, and then 2 yellows to mark the back stretch. Well, the first two buoys were orange, but because of the shape of the swim course, we could not see the far orange buoy all the way by the Southernmost point. Approx. 20 swimmers (me included!) swam to the 2nd buoy, and I was approximately 30 yards away from it when told I had to go to the buoy much further right of me, adding another 2 or 300 meters to my swim. Hopefully next year they will add more buoys at shorter intervals to make the course a little easier to navigate. Even Macca ended up swimming to the wrong pier for the swim exit before being directed to the right one.

I thought the bike course was a lot of fun, especially going through the Navy Base with the fighter jets taking off, and no vehicular traffic! The run was awesome along the ocean, but the wind made for a VERY tough day given it was a flat course! Watching Macca cruise by on the run was pretty awesome, too, given he took the time to give a quick wave, and a "what's up?" as he went by. It was also nice to see an e-mail from the race directors today addressing the issue with the Monroe County Sheriff's department (Ali also got stopped for 4 minutes, and one lady she spoke with got stopped once on her way out, and once on her way back), as well as the swim course!

I think this will prove to be a top notch destination race in the next couple of years, especially given the improvements they're already making to the roads!