Sunday, March 25, 2012

Member Spotlight: Lori McKellar

by Janice Biederman

Tell me about yourself-where you grew up, where you went to school, siblings, what you do for work, etc.

I grew up in Wickford, RI, which is on Narragansett Bay. I have an older brother who was my best friend growing up, and we’re still close. I did my undergrad at URI and earned my MBA at Bentley. I’m the Director of Product Marketing for enterprise content management and governance solutions for EMC Corp’s Information Intelligence division. My work group is headquartered in the bay area of California so I travel a fair amount for work.

What, if any, sports were you into any as a child?

I was into gymnastics, horseback riding, tennis and volleyball.

No swimming?

I took swim lessons as a child but had a really bad experience: in order to teach me to put my face in, the instructor held my head under water. Needless to say, that did not foster any enthusiasm for swimming!! [Lori is actually a very good swimmer, despite her frightening start.]

Did you have any athletic role models growing up?

My dad was definitely into sports. In fact, he still bikes 25 miles a day even though he’s in his 80s. He’s a former career Marine and he taught me discipline and integrity in all things. My mom and brother were both swimmers. We also biked as a family. My professional sports hero, without a doubt, hands down, is Andre Agassi! Phenomenal player, hard worker, always a professional, passionate, never backs down, humble and generously gives back to others. I love Agassi!!!

How did you get into triathlons?

In 2004, I found that I was a bonafide workaholic, working crazy hours and traveling regularly. I had let all my hobbies go and had gained weight. I hired a coach and a nutritionist and was hell bent on getting fit despite work demands. I lost 62 pounds in 9 months and decided that I was pretty bored with the elliptical and a little running. I told my coach, Dan Fitzgerald [former BTT member and nicknamed “HB” by Lori which stands for heartless bastard], that I wanted to do a triathlon. I did two sprints in 2005 and then did my first half ironman a year later. HB told me to do some BTT open water swims at Walden where I got left in the dust by the speedies, met Larry Cassese (a former BTT member), and the rest is history. Most recently, I had a motor vehicle accident (L4,5 injury and pelvic dislocation). Because I couldn’t bike or run after the accident, I turned to swimming and managed a full rotator cuff tear. But, I’m on my way back….

Do you have a favorite race or race memory/story?

Not really a race memory, but a few years ago I went to a weekend seminar at Krapalu Yoga Center in western Mass, called Fit Soul, Fit Body. The featured speaker was Mark Allen. After the morning session, we broke for lunch and Mark walked up to my table and had lunch with me. A conversation ensued and we ended up talking about my injuries and where my head was at as a result, and he said that I should undergo a spiritual healing [Mark Allen is well known for his forays into the spiritual work with Brad Secunda, a native-American spiritual healer]. The afternoon session involved a talk about spiritual healing and a demonstration. So guess who got called up to be the demonstrator? So, in front of this large pretty diverse group of attendees (everything from Kona-type triathletes to crunchy-granola Birkenstockers), I had Brandt Secunda chanting and shaking feathers over me while Mark Allen, complete with bangle-adorned hat and closed eyes, was beating a drum for me. While I was fine with Brandt doing his thing (after all, how many people can say that have had an authentic Indian Healing), all I could think of when I looked at Mark was, don’t laugh!! That image of Mark Allen is forever frozen in my mind.

You seem to have a black belt in cooking (I went to the SGR you hosted last year-wow!!). Where does that interest come from?

[Laughs] My parents were big entertainers. Every summer they hosted a huge barbeque for everyone they knew, and they were always having people over for dinner so I think I inherited the interest from them.

So, what are you 2012 goals?

I’m focusing on getting my fitness back. I’ve been taking swim lessons - no dunking this time - and doing three-times-per-week cycling sessions. I am planning to do 3 long charity rides. I am also planning to do a few races, but haven’t decided which ones as of yet.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Brenda's Week in Review: March 22, 2012

by Brenda Chroniak

While most of the city slept off its St. Patrick's Day hangover, Sunday the 18th was a busy and successful race day for the BTT crew. Speedy ladies Victoria Arrigoni and Sue MacLeod represented at the Ras (while many other team members volunteered--THANK YOU!), finishing less than a minute apart from one another and 13th and 21st in their division, respectively. Meanwhile, we had a great team showing at the New Bedford Half, with Tim Dewland, Matt Coarr, Elaine Metcalf, and Mark Pelletier all finishing strong. South of Boston, Kate O'Malley, Paul Newman, and Ed Galante tackled the Half of Quincy, and Kelwin Conroy and Braden Larmon also rocked 13.1, showing NYC what Boston was made of. Big congrats go out to Kelwin for finishing 35th in her age group and qualifying for the NYC Marathon! Read about this triumph in her race report.

Sunday was also the first of what we hope will become an off-season and pre-season tradition: A swim clinic hosted by PowerBar in Arlington. Twelve athletes spent time in the pool working with our coaches (Jen Scalise-Marinofsky, Joe Kurtz, and Rachel Saks-Aronis) on technique specific to effective triathlon freestyle. Every athlete was captured on video, allowing slow motion analysis and individualized recommendations. Many thanks to PowerBar! We're looking forward to the next one.

This weekend, Audrey Perlow will be racing the Pi Miler (I hope they serve pie after?) and Kate O'Malley the An Ras Mor, and with just three weeks to go until the Boston Marathon, many of our teammates will be doing one of their longest runs before the race. Run smart, guys!

Until next week, please log in your results, post your race goals, support our sponsors, and enjoy this beautiful weather!

Race Report: NYC Half Marathon

by Kelwin Conroy

This was the second time running the NYC Half Marathon. I grew up in CT so NYC is my adoptive ‘home’. I absolutely love racing there! This particular race held more weight for me than any other in recent years as it was the last time I could reasonably expect to qualify for the NYC Marathon with a half marathon finish of 1:37 or better. (They are changing the standard to 1:30 in 2013. Um, yeah, not gonna happen) 2011 was a year of many ‘close but no cigar’ races for me. I was, and am, determined not to have any heartbreaking performances in 2012!

The race began at Tavern on the Green on the west side with a counter clockwise loop around Central Park before running down Broadway through the middle of Times Square to 42nd street, and then shooting down the West Side Highway to finish near the South Street Seaport on the east side. The first half of the race has some hills in the Park, whereas the second half is flat to mostly downhill.

My game plan was to hold a 7:25 pace for the first ten miles and then pick it up slightly to a 7:20 pace for the last 5k. I felt pretty good during the loop of the Park partially because I saw part of my cheering section (aka my sister) at miles 1.5 and 5.5. Because of the hills my splits were all over the board. I was about a minute ahead of pace through the first half and feeling pretty good as I exited the Park toward Times Square.

Running through Times Square was total sensory overload and gave me a much needed surge of energy. Everything is lit up (the race was projected on the enormous screen), and the crowds were loud. I gave a quick wave to my parents, aunt, and other sister around mile 7 before turning west on 42nd Street and out onto the West Side Highway.

The West Side Highway is flat to slightly downhill, although it didn’t seem that way during the race. In addition, the crowds are pretty sparse. I hit the 10 mile mark with 23 minutes to hit my goal. I was starting to cramp on the right side, and realized that I probably took those hills in the Park a bit too hard. I finally hit the “800 meters to go” sign and gave what little I had left to cross the line in 1:36:31. Hallelujah! See ya in November, NYC!

I would highly recommend this race to anyone (despite its hefty price tag). It is extremely well organized, the volunteers are great, and the NYC crowds (even on a Sunday morning after St Pat’s Day) are unmatched. You can count on me to be there again next year as this race also qualifies me to run in 2013.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Member Spotlight: Josef Kurtz

by Katie O'Dair

As triathletes we all like seeing movies that have swimming, biking, and running represented on the big screen, from Chariots of Fire to Breaking Away to Jaws (I mean, she should have swum faster!) But how many people on the team think that the movie that best represents their life story is Billy Elliot? Prior to reading on, I suggest that you Google this movie to provide some context for this story if you have not seen it.

The answer might surprise some of you, as that person is none other than Joe Kurtz. Joe is a modern day renaissance man, and many people on the current Boston Triathlon Team know only a little about this amazing person, triathlete, scientist, husband, father, and dancer. Yes, I said dancer. How did this all begin? His father simply called his bluff, and the story makes for a great Hollywood tale.

Little Joe was 6 years old when he started to play soccer. But he was so uncoordinated that his parents worried that he wouldn’t be much of an athlete. His sister was already taking dance lessons, and not wanting to feel left out, Joe asked for them too. His dad said no, Joe persisted. Finally, his dad said fine, thinking that Joe would never stay in dance lessons. Five years later, his sister was playing on an internationally-ranked soccer team and Joe had become a professional ballet dancer, at age 11. So at the ripe old age of eleven, Joe was playing soccer, swimming, and playing the lead role of Clara’s punk brother Fritz in the Chicago City Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker, working his way up from other smaller roles. Remember, back in the eighties, it was not cool for a guy to be a dancer like it is today, so Joe kept that part of his life on the down-low. Until, that is, the Chicago Tribune put a photo of Joe in his tights on the front page. As you can imagine, this was not good for Joe. It was like today’s version of Facebook, but worse, because every family got the paper and you could not delete the photo or unfriend them. After that, he became known as “the ballet dancer,” not the soccer player or the swimmer. While we may joke around today about Joe’s ability to push the limits with his wardrobe, it was no laughing matter back then when he was trying to get a girl. Any girl – it was junior high and who can be picky? Caution: this article gets a little after-school-special here. Anyway, while the kids in his school were busy being mean and excluding Joe, he was auditioning for the American Ballet Theatre in front of none other than Mikhail Baryshnikov. Score one for Joe, zero for the bullies.

At age 16 Joe had to decide whether to pursue a full-time professional dance career or go to college. He chose college. I should let you know that while the other kids were busy making fun of Joe for being a professional dancer, he was studying. As one of the smartest kids in the class, he got accepted to MIT. Score two for Joe, zero for the bullies. If you were worried that this story would not have a happy ending, you were wrong.

College was, in a word, awesome for Joe. He was captain of the swim team (200 fly, 200 free, and anchor for relays), was invited to perform with the dance troupes at both MIT and Wellesley, and met his gorgeous wife, Kristel, on the shuttle bus between MIT and Wellesley, where she was a student. Ask him about that story sometime – we don’t have room here, but it is right out of a Lifetime movie. The best thing about being at MIT was that Joe could finally be himself. The ladies loved the fact that he danced, and he loved the academic life at MIT. But then he got fat. (Cue Disney music with image of Joe) Chubby Joe started running the summer between junior and senior year to lose weight. After college, he joined the master’s team at Boston University and met many friends and triathletes who encouraged him to join the CRP (Charles River Park) racing team in 1997. A special shout-out goes to some of the old-schoolers: Ingardia, Perutz, Bullinger, Upson, and others who really welcomed Joe. As some of you may know, CRP became Wheelworks Triathlon Team which became the Boston Triathlon Team. Joe is the second longest-standing member (Janice B. is the first!) and has competed in dozens of races. His favorites are Ironman Lake Placid, Escape from Alcatraz, and the Even Up race. His best finish was at Alcatraz (32nd out of 1999 overall in 2008) and he will return to Vermont this summer to go for the win at the Even Up race, which is his favorite distance for obvious reasons [Editor’s Note: 3.5 mile swim]. But unofficially, his best result was nipping Pokress at the top of the Kanc at Training Weekend 2011 to claim the $100 Dunkin Donuts Gift Card. Even though there may be no more money on it, he still carries it in his wallet.

He is a mainstay at Walden Pond during open water swims, and even sports the famous “Golden Speedo” on occasion. Warning: the photo may not be suitable (pardon the pun) for small children. It’s not even suitable for many of us adults for heaven’s sake, but nobody ever complains.

After receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard, Joe took a faculty position at Emmanuel College where he serves at the department chair for Biology. Joe has received national recognition for his research, both at Emmanuel and at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he researches neuro immunology and vascularized composite allografts. Say that three times at the next BTT social and you’ll impress everyone! The Chronicle of Higher Education even featured him on the front page for his work. Joe and Kristel have two beautiful boys, Colin who will be 3 in May and Nolan who just turned 1. He loves being a dad and describes his kids as “good, easy kids.”

When I asked Joe to reflect on his past experiences and how they have formed him, his answer was not surprising. He has a soft spot for those people who are marginalized by society, who the mainstream has cast aside. He has no inhibitions about what he can do or what he wears because none of this defines his character (those of us who recall the days of Man-Ray know this all too well). No one aspect of Joe’s life defines him, and he balances all of them well.

Finally, when I asked Joe what the best part about being on the Boston Triathlon Team is he simply said his friends, because they “get it.” He told a story about how, in 2009, he trained so hard for IMLP and, at about 3 miles on the run, realized he would DNF. He got a ride back to the finish from an official, saw his family, but it wasn’t until he saw Pokress that his emotions came out. For the first time in years, he cried. He had spent so many hours with him and several other people on the team and they were the ones who truly knew how much he gave and what it meant to fail. He considers himself lucky to have forged the relationships he has with several teammates. As Joe puts it best, “while most of the times are laughing and trying to kill ourselves by going faster or further, there are a few special people whom I met through this team that I can share the low points with as well.”

I have known Joe for 16 years and have always thought the world of him, but interviewing him for this member spotlight gave me a new perspective on his awesomeness. Thanks Joe!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Brenda's Week in Review: March 7, 2012 and Stu's 30K Race Report

by Brenda Chroniak

The weekend's inclement weather didn't stop Steve Sian, Maggie O'Toole, and Terry Reagan from racing-- or stop Trish Kelly and Mary Beth Begley from cheering them on--at Stu's 30Kin Clinton, Mass.

This hilly, fun race was great team bonding for the group. Read Steve's race report to learn more!

This coming weekend, it seems everyone is resting up and getting ready for the 18th, when BTT team members will be racing coast-to-coast, taking on the Ras na hEireann 5K, the L.A. Marathon, the Half of Quincy, and the NYC Half.

And of course, this is your weekly PSA to volunteer at the Ras, post your race goals, and promptly log in your race results.

Stu's 30K Race Report
by Steve Sian

This past Sunday, March 4, Maggie, Terry, and I met up in Clinton, Mass. to race Stu's 30K. Although our surroundings were still coated from a rare snowstorm for this winter, the roads were clear and the race kicked off at 11 a.m.

The weather was chilly, but comfortable once the race got going. We ran together for (maybe) the first half of the race, enjoying the scenery and each other's company. Knowing how hilly the course was, I don't think any of us wanted to pace too fast too early- conversational pace with good conversation. Mary Beth and Trish braved the hour-long drive to come cheer us on. They met up with us at multiple points along the course on their bikes providing much appreciated encouragement for us and everybody else racing. During the second half, our trio split up, each of us settling into our own paces for three great race efforts! It was great day.

Some interesting things to note about this race…

- It's hilly. Definitely save some for the end- the hills are done when you can see the straightaway to the finish. Kick too early and there are at least 2 more hills waiting to sap your last burst of energy.

- There's no starting mat (think: ready, set, go!).

- Talk Trish and Mary Beth into coming out to cheer you on.

- For the measurement-calculation challenged, 30K is 18.6 miles, not 18 (thus, my comment about kicking too early), not 18.3 (Maggie's "last mile" seemed to take way longer than she expected).

- Hang out for the post race and grab a table by the emcee when the raffle is going on.

- It's awesome, but don't tell anybody. We'd like to keep the race secret and to ourselves. The first rule about Stu's 30K is…

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brenda's Week in Review: March 1, 2012

by Brenda Chroniak

After settling in for a long winter's nap, Week In Review is back on this snowy, sleety, crummy Thursday--and with two big Tent Series events to recap: The BTT Indoor Time Trial (ITT) and the Hyannis Half Marathon!

The ITT, which took place Sunday, Feb. 19, was graciously hosted by sponsor Landry's Bicycles, supported by Powerbar, Harpoon, and Marathon Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine, with benefits going to World Bicycle Relief. Dozens of BTT-ers raced or volunteered throughout the day, and there was quite the show-down during our Ladies heat, with Jess Douglas, Nicole Kimborowicz, Mary Beth Begley, Victoria Arrigoni, and Regina O'Toole finishing just seconds apart from one another! Congratulations to Mary Beth for taking 3rd in the Women's Masters division. Notable from the men's heat was Brett Johnston, who couldn't wait to support our sponsor Harpoon until after he finished racing. Instead, he opted to chug a beer during his race, finishing in 18:35, earning himself a case of beer, and proving that it's never too soon to start training for the Beer Mile.

This past Sunday, another BTT-ers headed to the Cape to run or volunteer at the Hyannis Half Marathon, directed by our sponsor BA Events. It was a beautiful sunny day, and Pat Dwyer certainly didn't let the 20pmh winds get him down. He placed third in his division, finishing in 1:21:13 (probably less time than it took him to drive to Hyannis). There were also strong showings by Trish Kelly, Kate O'Malley, Matt Pokress, and Eric Lambi, who all finished top 20 in their age groups.

Also on Sunday, Audrey Perlow represented BTT at the RRCA 10 Mile Challenge, and Will Bruce and Sue MacLeod ran the Frozen Shamrock race in Haverhill, Mass.

This weekend, Maggie O'Toole and Terry Reagan will take on Stu's 30K Road Race. Run strong, guys!

Last, I would be remiss if I didn't thank everyone who volunteered at the ITT and in Hyannis. Each year we rely on you to help the ITT run smoothly and to help our sponsor BA Events put on a great race, and each year you come through. Thank you!

[Editor's Note: Please remember to update your race results by the Tuesday following your event.]