Another trip around the sun

I suppose having a birthday right after the new year means that I only need to come up with one set of resolutions for the entire year.  So what will I strive for in  2014/my 53rd solar cycle?

Swim/Bike/Run – sort of a no-brainer, since I filled my A and B race calendar before Christmas.  But I do need to set some goals for each, so here goes:

Primary Goal:  Consistency –

90% of all planned weekly workouts will be completed.  I’ve been focusing on being more consistent in my workouts, especially my running and it’s starting to pay off. So this year I’m setting the bar really high in order to help me be more consistent in my workouts.

  • Swim:  400,000 yards – Easily attainable, a bit over 7.5k a week.  I should shoot for 10k a week, but we’ll see how this goes.
  • Bike:  5000 miles – Huge bump from 2012,  and a bit under 100 miles/week.  but I need to put in a lot of work on the bike to prepare for all the races
  • Run:  1000 miles – Big bump from 2012, but I’m currently on track for 19+ mile weeks pretty regularly now.

Primary Goal:  More Strength Training.

30-60 minutes 2x week.  More volume means more chance for injury, so I really need to work on strength routines.  Started with the “No Gym, No Problem” workout routine.  I should be able to get this down to 45 minutes per session, and 3 sessions a week, at least through the winter.  I’ll see if I can get through the initial 3 phases before committing to go further with this program, but so far it seems like a winner.

Primary Goal: Body Composition.  BF < 12%, Weight < 155.

This means fat burning, to help with my GI distress problems on long events.  I need to eliminate empty calories from sugar/NA beers and snacks.  Stick to whole foods, good quality fats and proper fueling the workouts.  Easy to say, hard to stick to with all the leftover holiday goodies in the house.  I’m going nibble on them through the weekend, then whatever is left gets kicked to the curb Sunday night.

2013 Year in Review

Month by month:

January – For my 51st birthday, I got a tattoo.  Yep, real ink.  Love it, live it.tatoo

February – Since I’m spending more time in the workout room, I decided that it was time to upgrade the TV and simplify the computer setup.  The results were exactly what I wanted.  The laptop (Macbook Pro w/Windows 7 in Bootcamp) works much better with the Cyclops Powerbeam trainer, and the TV is perfect for watching on the trainer or treadmill.


March – My stepbrother Hollis took his own life in late March.  It was a sudden and tragic end to a difficult life.  Lots of bad decisions culminating in tragedy. I spent a lot of time thinking about the meaning of life and recommitting myself to purposeful living.

April – My two brothers and I flew out to Arizona for Hollis’ memorial service.  While the reasons for the trip were sad, it was good to spend some time with them both.  We took the opportunity for a quick hike in the Superstition mountains.  I really do appreciate having both my brothers close by.  I need to remember to tell them that more often.


May – I was nominated for a great management training program at work, and participated in a very challenging CIO simulation.  This program has been run for a number of years, and really reflects how my company works, and the types of business situations and issues that occur every day.  I learned a LOT about myself during these sessions.

June – Patriot 1/2 IM race in Massachusetts.  The Multisport Athletes of the Somerset Hills group had a huge presence at this event.  We all wore our new team kits, raced hard and had a lot of fun.  Not my BEST 1/2 IM, but a solid effort in all three sports.


July – Two big trips in July.  Over the Independence Day weekend, I went to Portland for the World Domination Summit.  I loved the sessions and workshops and came away very inspired, if not a bit overwhelmed.  Oh, and I helped set a Guinness World Record:  Most People in a Floating Line.    So I got THAT going for me.


Later in the month we went back to OBX with the Turco/Cole/Bassett group.  This time we opted for a place in Nags Head.  Closer to shopping and other stuff, making it convenient, if a bit noisy.  Had a GREAT week of weather.  Lots of beach time, some great long workouts and just a ton of fun.


August – I completed my 6th Ironman race in Mont Tremblant Canada in August.  This was my first “international” race.  Mont Tremblant is a GREAT venue for a race.  Again, not a PR day, but I learned some important lessons about fueling during the race..  Thanks to friends at PowerBar Fran got VIP passes and was able to watch some of the race in comfort.  Many thanks to the Jason, Tracy and Stephen from Team NRGY who flew up for the weekend to support me and the other NRGY team racers.

September – Lots and lots of running getting ready for the NY Marathon.  I took a weekend off of running to ride the MS150 City to Shore again.  I really do enjoy this ride and look forward to it every year.


October – One of my high-points for 2013 was the Great Range Traverse.  24 miles, 11,000 feet of elevation gain.  19 hours on the trail  One of the hardest one-day events I’ve ever attempted.  It helped to have good friends along for the adventure.  I’m definitely looking for something like this again!

GRT2013 Finishers

Picture by Mark Walsh


November – NYC Marathon – In 2012 I completed the New York Road Runners 9+1 program and got a guaranteed entry into the marathon.  This was a bucket list race for me.  The course isn’t one for a PR as it is surprisingly hilly, but I trained for a good performance and ran a good race.  Everything that is said about the race is true!  It is a wonderful experience and one of the best run BIG events I’ve ever done.  I’ll be back to do this one again


December – I ordered a new race bike for 2014.  After a bit of research and shopping I settled on a Trek Speed Concept 9.9.  It won’t be ready until the spring, but I’m really looking forward to riding and racing on the new bike!

Trek SC 9.9

Training Summary:

  • Swim:  237,914 (135+ miles)
  • Bike:  2770 miles
  • Run:  685 miles

I’m planning on bumping up these totals pretty significantly in 2014.  Goals are for 5000 miles biking and 1000 miles running.  Let’s hope the old body holds together!


Always trust your cape

I’ve been riffin’ on the lyrics to the Guy Clark song “The Cape” lately.  It really resonates with me in way that represents how I feel about the endurance lifestyle, and being a long-distance triathlete.  Completing an Ironman distance race fundamentally changes you as a person.  I suppose it is similar to other life changing events like college graduation or marriage.  Before the event, you were one thing and after a specific moment in time, you are something else.  There are any number of times that I’ve faced something unknown, or even unpleasant in my life where I was able to fall back on some part of completing a race to get me past the current challenge.

Today while I was in the dentist chair waiting to go through a procedure, I recognized the anxious feeling as the anticipation of pain.  It was the same feeling I have when I’m scheduled for an extra tough workout or heading into a 10K road race.  Both events are hard, and a bit uncomfortable, but they are never as painful as I anticipate, and I get through them and recover pretty quickly.  I was able to draw on that experience to get myself settled down and got through the surgery pretty easily.

So to me, the endurance training and racing experience become my cape.  I rely on it to help me fly through life’s challenges.  Or as Guy Clark wrote:

Always trust your cape


Great Range Traverse – 2013 trip report

Great Range Traverse – 2013

Summary:  20.45 miles, 11,679′ elevation, 19.08 hours


I signed on for this adventure for a couple of reasons.  First, I love the Adirondacks.  I’ve always been more of a beach guy, but I fell in love with the Adirondacks through my trips to Lake Placid.  Second, this was going to be a new challenge for me, never having done a major hike, with serious climbing.  Finally, I wanted to stretch outside my comfort zone.  I’m not a big fan of heights, particularly those on extreme terrain.  This hike would provide me with multiple opportunities to stretch outside my envelope.

Friday arrived at hotel after an overnight stop in North Creek to visit a friend.  The weather forecast looked spectacular, with bright sun, cool temps and low wind.  Since this was going to be a first time event for me, I was glad to know that weather wasn’t going to be a major factor.  We spent Friday afternoon working to put up a support pole for a new solar panel array.  It was a bunch of work, but it went pretty quickly with 4 people.  A big Thank You out to Scott & Ruth for their hospitality at Camp Garuda.


I was a bit worried about my gear selection, since some of it was new, and other bits weren’t used  before on a long hike.  I was carrying a pretty big load in my hydration pack, and although I’ve used it many times on MTB rides, none have ever been longer than 2-3 hours.  Wearing it loaded with a lot more gear for 17+ hours would  be different.  I also decided to use hiking poles, since I figured the would help with balance on the trail.  For footwear I opted for my trail running shoes, which worked ok,  but weren’t optimal for the hike.

The rest of the group arrived over several hours on Friday, and we all went out to dinner at local restaurant near our hotel (ADK Trail Inn) in Upper Jay.  After dinner we sat around a campfire provided by the hotel and entertained another couple with stories of the ridiculous endurance events we’ve done in the past.


The plan was to be up by 4:00am and on the trail by 5:00am.  The hotel staff put some “to go” bags together for the the group since we’d miss the normal breakfast.  Thankfully they also provided hot coffee in the morning as well.

After a bit of a delay due to some mechanical problems with a teammates car, we got on the road to the trail head.  Our plan was to leave from the Rooster Comb trail head and exit at the Gardens trail head.   The planned hike was a “standard” Great Range Traverse, which covers over 20 miles and includes 10 peaks:  Roster Comb (2762′), Hedgehog (3389′), Lower Wolf Jaw (4175′), Upper Wolf Jaw (4185′), Armstrong (4400′), Gothics (4736′), Saddleback (4515′), Basin (4827′), Little Haystack (4692′), Haystack ( 4960′ via the Devil’s Half Mile) and Mount Marcy (5344′).  After bagging all the peaks, we still would have to hike close to 10 miles out to the pick up point.


Our research found that ‘book time’ for the GRT was between 15 and 17 hours.  All we knew is that we were in for a very long day.  None of us had any designs on a fast run.  Our estimates ran from 12 hours to over 24.  We’d just take what the day gave us, move as fast as possible and have fun.

in the hotel
Heading out in the dark was fun and the Rooster Comb trail started to climb pretty quickly.  On this leg, Jim’s wife Kate and their dog Tempo joined us.  They planned to summit Rooster Comb then turn around and head back for the day, and provide ‘base camp’ support, then pick the rest of us up at the Garden trail head.  Jim was wearing a SPOT GPS locator that tracked our path via satellite transmissions.  Kate would be following along online back at the hotel.

As we hiked up Rooster Comb many of us began to shed layers of clothes as we heated up from the aggressive pace.  After the summit, as we moved on to Hedgehog, Mark & Dan dropped back to an easier pace and  brought up the rear.  We quickly summited Hedgehog and moved on to the Wolf Jaws.
Along the way, Dan caught up to the rest of us, stating that Mark was going to continue on his own from the back, and would bail out when he had enough for the day.  As an experienced solo adventure racer, and with the excellent weather conditions, we felt he’d be ok on his own.

The remaining five hikers continued through the Wolf Jaws, and Armstrong.  At this point we were continually above 4000′.  With each peak, the trails up and down became harder, steeper and longer.  After we summited Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback and Basin, each decent required a LOT of rock scrambling and very cautious footwork along sheer granite rock faces.  Along the descent out of Gothics we found cables attached to the rock to help with the descent.  This was WAY beyond what I had expected from the hike.
Greg & Brian cables down
Once we came down from basin, we had a choice to make.  We were several hours behind our planned schedule, and running low on water.  We could choose to bail out along the Shorey Short Cut trail, skip the Haystacks & Mt. Marcy and head back to the pick up point, or continue on to the last three summits.  At issue was the length of time we would be out on the trail  Since both the Haystacks and Marcy required separate out-and-back trails, we’d be covering about 3.5 miles of trail,  but with the substantial elevation gain & loss between each we would need close to 4 hours to complete the peaks.  We were all pretty well spent physically, and many of us were running low on water.  Dan & Dave decided that they had enough, having summited these peaks before.  Brian, Jim and I decided that we would continue on to complete the whole GRT.

5 left
What Dan & Dave didn’t know is that the Shorey Short Cut was a brutal length of trail and would include close to 400′ additional elevation gain, before beginning the long descent and hike back to the pick-up point at the Gardens trailhead.

Brian, Jim and I continued on toward the Haystacks and kept our eyes open for any water.  There seemed to be a lot of small puddles around, so the trail wasn’t completely dry.  We finally located a source of running water, and filled up our hydration bladders & bottles.  Jim passed around what he thought were iodine tablets to each of us, but on closer inspection we learned that these were different tablets that were to be used AFTER the use of iodine purifying tablets.  So now we had water, but of questionable quality.  We actually began to debate how quickly we’d get hit with giardia if the water was bad.  I was ready to bail out and head back on my own, but Jim and Brian reasoned that we should be able to beg for some iodine tabs from other hikers we met along the trail.

As it turned out, we didn’t have to wait long.  About a 1/2 mile later we ran into a group of men coming down the trail.  While they didn’t have iodine, they did us better with a filtration pump.  We quickly filtered our water, thanked them profusely and headed back up the trail.  We were advised that the view from Haystack was worth every bit of effort it took to get up to the top, and we were excited to get there.

As we summited Little Haystack we passed beyond the 4600′ tree line, and into the arctic-alpine vegetation zone.  Here we found moss and other hardy plants that could survive the harsh, windy conditions.  We had to be extra careful to stay on the rock trail as the plant life was sensitive to any foot falls.

At the top of little Haystack, we could immediately see the summit of Haystack, several hundred feet hight, and right through the Devils Half Mile.  At this point we met up with another hiker who shared his iodine tabs with us, and informed us that we were crazy to consider going on to summit Marcy, so late in the day.  He also stated that we were his kind of crazy, and wanted to meet up with us on a future adventure.  Brian gave him a business card and we were on our way.

The view from Haystack was as gorgeous as advertised.  A full 360 degree view across the area.  The weather was still perfect, but we were losing daylight quickly, and had a significant push to get to Marcy
We descended the Haystacks, doubling back along the trail, and lost a lot of elevation.  When we got back to the trail junction we realized we had to gain 1,200′ to reach the summit of Marcy, and we would be racing sunset.

As we got close to the top of Marcy, we ran into a young lady who had set up a small campsite along the trail.  She informed us that we could catch the sunset from the top of Marcy if we hustled to the top.  I’m not sure how much hustle we had left in our legs, but we assured her we would try.

As we got into the arctic-alpine zone, the wind began to pick up substantially, and near the summit, it was a full 30-35 mph wind.  We caught the very end of the sunset descending over the horizon, as we stood among clouds blowing over and across the top of the mountain.  For me, this was definitely the high point of the day.

marcy sunset
We got our pictures, and then ducked between some rocks to don warmer clothes for the decent and trip back home.  As we descend back to the trail junction, we were in the shadow of the mountain and lost daylight very quickly.  We had to resort to using our head lamps during some of the steepest and gnarliest parts of the descent.

Jim channeled his inner mountain goat and simply bounced down the trail.  Brian and I continued further back, carefully navigating our way with  very tired and sore legs.  The fatigue was really hampering our ability to maintain footing and we had many slips and near falls.  At one point both my feet slipped out from under me and I hit the rock trail flat on my back.  I was stunned, but not injured however it took Brian and I several minutes to find one of my hiking poles.  It had flown up into a tree on the side of the trail.

We caught up with Jim at the trail intersection and decided it would be best if we tried to stay together as much as possible.  We were all very tired and sore and we didn’t want to get separated in case there was any problem along the way.

We knew we had about 8 miles to cover until we got to the end of the trail, and that we’d hit the Johns Brook lodge about 1/2 way to the finish where we could get water and some food.  At this point we were covering a mile every hour or so, but we knew the trail would level out a bit further along.  The first few miles were rocky technical decent, further tapping our dwindling endurance.  Words like “relentless”, “shattered”, and “WTF” were heard frequently from the group.  We finally came upon the Slant Rock intersection and had a bit of a challenge locating the trail out to the lodge.  After a false start, re-group and locating the right trail, we crossed the Johns Brook and followed the creek out to the lodge.  The trail got easier the further we went along.  As the distance passed we began to wonder if the lodge was a reality or some cruel joke from the map makers.

We finally stumbled into the lodge camp around 10:00pm, or over 90 minutes after we were expected to be there.  The food that Kate had hiked in for us wasn’t kept by the ranger, however the volunteer at the lodge made us some tasty sandwiches and handed over a bag of peanut M&M’s.  We could also fill up our bottles again with fresh, clean water.  Our trip was once again salvaged by the kindness of strangers.

We decided not to go into the lodge proper as it would have been far to tempting to sit in comfortable chairs and go right to sleep.  After we ate on the deck, we headed back out to the well marked trail and began our march home.  We were able to pick up the pace a bit to 26-27 minute miles and we covered the remaining ground pretty quickly.  Brian, Jim and I traded spots at the front of the march as we each found second/third/ninth winds.  Finally Jim called back from the front that he saw tail lights in the parking lot.  We emerged from the dark to find Kate and Mark waiting for us.  It was just after 1:00am.

GRT2013 Finishers
We piled into Jim & Kate’s truck, and food was passed around.  The team had picked up quesadillas and ramen noodles for us and we quickly devoured them on the route back to my car.  Mark was kind enough to ride back to the hotel with me as I wasn’t sure that I had the mental capacity to find my way back without getting lost.

Once back at the hotel, we were greeted with more food.  I got back to my room, showered and ate and after 30 or 40 minutes chatting with Dave, I finally burned off the last bit of adrenaline and caffeine and fell asleep.

Sunday morning came up very quickly and we all met up in the hotel lobby for breakfast.  We were all staggering around stiff legged, sore, tired and yet really satisfied with ourselves for having had a great day out on the trails.

I want to thank Brian, Jim, Dave, Dan & Mark for joining in on this adventure.  Having a bunch of fun guys along for the trip makes all the difference.  And a HUGE thank you to Kate for following our SPOT tracking and coming to drive us out of the Gardens trail head.

Next up:  Presidential Traverse – New Hampshire White Mountains

Lovin’ the feelin…

I always enjoy the end of the racing season, more so with this season than in the past .  I’ve had some great race results this year, have stayed injury-free and healthy.  But mostly it’s the end-of-season fitness that I’m really enjoying.  I just love the feeling that I can jump on my bike for 5 or 6 hours and ride, or head out for a run for 2+ at any time.  It’s a feeling of confidence that extends beyond athletics and into all the other aspects of my life.  A friend once commented that it amazed her that completing an Ironman race threw a psychological safety net under the rest of her life.  No matter what sort of problem she encountered, she knew she could get through it because she completed an Ironman distance race.  That’s the essence of relentless forward progress, and the biggest benefit of an endurance sports lifestyle.

I think it also helps that I don’t have “racing pressure” on myself at this point in the season.  I’m wrapping up my training for the New York City Marathon, but I’m doing the event as a bucket list race.  While I want to do well and have a soft time goal in mind, I’m really doing the event for the experience.  I want to run hard, but mostly I want to enjoy the spectacle and chaos of 45,000 runners and a million spectators and a guided tour of the five boros.

I’m also loving the feeling of carrying this fitness into the winter, and planning out my 2014 season.  Since I’ve trained and raced well this year, I’m not going into 2014 planning with a sense of dread or burn out.  I’m truly excited for the upcoming season!  I’ve got some big events on the calendar (Ironman Arizona, Challenge Atlantic City relay) and am starting to fill in the schedule with smaller races and training events.  It’s going to be a great year!

Changing seasons…

On my bike ride yesterday I saw my first batch of brown leaves on the road.  Where the hell did summer go?  I was passing by the town pool, and realized I had only been there once this season.  Fran was ‘down the shore’ for girls weekend, and I realized I hadn’t spent a single night in the beach house nor a single day on the Jersey Shore, playing in the waves.  Where did the summer go?

Most of it went the way of IM training.  Not a lot of time left to do summer stuff after a 6 hour bike or 3 hour run.  Sandy repairs kept the beach house closed until very late in the season.  And the pool?  We just never ‘got ’round to it…’

So I had a bit of a downer moment when I realized my favorite season was coming to an end, and I missed out on some favorite activities.

But I realized that the missing out was a conscious choice to do OTHER things that I enjoyed.  The routine of IM training, & racing, travelling to OBX with friends, a trip to Portland OR for an inspiring weekend of workshops and fun, and simply hanging out at home reading a book in the cool air conditioning.  The trips to the beach house, while not spent on the beach accomplished a lot and provided a great deal of satisfaction.

Instead of whining about a ‘lost summer’ I’m choosing to reflect on the good stuff that happened and remembering that conscious choice played a big part in those happy times.  In that positive mind set I can look forward to the seasons to come and some of the choices I’m making for that season.  I’ve got an olympic triathlon in a few weeks with the Team NRGY Basebuilders group.  I’ve got the NY Marathon in November, which is a MAJOR bucket-list race for me, and I can start taking Tula out with me on my runs again as the weather starts to cool off.  I’ve also made a commitment for a long hike in the Adirondacks that will push me a good way out of my comfort zone.

The shorter days, longer nights and long slog through winter aren’t my favorite parts of the year, and it could be easy to fall into sloth and depression with the waning daylight. But I’m going to choose to fill the time with fun activities and embrace each day as a new adventure.

Iroman Recovery and packing the schedule…

A friend who raced Mont Tremblant with me is going through the “post-IM blues”.  It’s a pretty common problem for athletes completing an Ironman race.  I went through it on my first couple of IM races.  Since then I’ve learned how to deal with the inevitable emotional let down:

  1. Smile – enjoy the fact that you got through the training and racing, and can look back on your successes
  2. Reconnect – your friends and family have paid a price for your training.  Long days out on rides/runs, skipping gathering of friends and family to fit in training all take their toll on your relationships.  Schedule time with those you love to just be with them, doing their favorite things.
  3. Do something different – I keep a list of all the things I wanted to do, but skipped because I was training.  My list includes “occasional big bowls of ice cream” and “power wash front of house” and “repair gutters” and “finish the David Baldacci novel”.
  4. Make some new athletic plans – these don’t have to be as big as an Ironman, but you don’t want to lose all that hard earned fitness.  Sign up for some smaller local races.  I’m signed up for an Olympic triathlon in September, and NY Marathon in November.
  5. Try something completely new – A friend talked me into joining him and some other friends on a Presidential Traverse in October.  While I know I have the fitness to cover the distance, the technical nature of the hike, combined with a very late season start puts this way outside my comfort zone.  But then again, that’s where life begins…

Ironman Mont Tremblant 2013 Race Report

Ironman Mont Tremblant Race Report


Swim:  1:03:42  12 AG, 222 OA

Bike:    6:49:41, 107 AG/1261 OA

Run:    5:14:14, 108 AG/1308 OA

T1:  7:45

T2:  4:10

Overall:  13:19:32

I felt good going into this race.  Training went ok, taper went ok and I felt ready to toe the line.  I was excited to race with my Team NRGY teammates and to also meet up with other tri-friends at the venue.

Mont Tremblant is a great venue for Ironman racing.  There is a wonderful clear lake, roads as smooth as glass, a great rail-trail for the run, and amazing volunteer and crowd support, all wrapped up in a convenient and fun ski village.  I’ll definitely go back to do this race again.

We drove up on Thursday, and went through registration on Friday morning.  We spent the rest of the day exploring the village, and taking a gondola ride up to the top of Mont Tremblant. That’s a highly recommended trip as the views from the top are just stunning.

Saturday I got my bags and bike ready, and checked everything into transition.  As with most WTC events there are volunteers to help every step of the way and check in couldn’t have been smoother.

Race morning started at 3:30am, with the usual food, dressing and other necessities.  I’ve done this enough times that I don’t get too wound up about the whole morning-routine.  I try to keep smiling and think back to all the work that I put in to get ready for race day.  About a month ago I decided that I wanted to dedicate this race to all the family, friends, co-workers that support me in this event.  I never, ever want to take that for granted because without that enormous support, I wouldn’t be able to get to the start line, much less finish.  So all morning I reflected back on some special moments with friends and family during other races, training or just talking about the sport.  It never failed to bring a smile to my face, and calmed my nerves

We only had a short walk to transition, so we decided to head down at 5:30am.  That made for a crowded transition area, but since we had already dropped off bags & bike the night before.  I got to my bike to load it up and discovered that my rear disc tire was flat.  Not good.  It was fine the day before.  I pumped it up but it immediately started leaking air.  Seems that the valve was broken.

So I go into problem solving mode.  I can either (1) change the tire out with my spare, and try to ride on a less-than-solid glued tire for 112 miles (2) have one of the local mechanics make the switch and rely on someone else’s tubular changing skills, or (3) swap out with my training wheel.  I opted for number #3.  I was just not comfortable riding on a sub-standard glue job on my disc, racing in my “A” race on an unknown course.  Fran & I ran back to the hotel, got the training wheel and tools to swap cassettes.  Took the cassette off the training wheel in the garage, grabbed the spare wheel from the room and ran back down to transition.  I managed to swap the cassette., mount the tire and get out of transition with about 3 minutes before transition closed.  Needless to say, this made for a pretty good workout and I was a bit sweaty at the end of it all.

As a result of the fiasco, I got a bit out of my race plan.  I forgot to put my Garmin 800 on my bike, and I forgot to grab a gel out my morning clothes bag for the swim.

I handed the disc wheel & tire pump to Fran who got stuck with them both for a good part of the morning.  I headed off to get in my wetsuit and try to get wet before my wave went off.  I missed the Canadian national anthem, and the 1st flyover from the air force jets.  But I was able to get suited up and over to the beach area where I could get wet with a VERY short warm up swim.

I was in wave 5 of 7, so I slowly made my way up to the front of my wave and when we lined up for the swim, I seeded myself far to the left of the buoys.  I was still a bit nervous about the start after my big fail at IMLP last year, so I figured I’d have a better chance at getting clear water early.

As each wave went off, they fired a cannon and a couple of big fireworks.  That was pretty cool!  Each wave started “ankle deep” in the water and proceeded to run into the water.  I got clear water within 25 yard (score!) and spent the next hour cruising along in my favorite part of the race.  (Don’t hate the player, hate the game)  I never felt panicked, was able to sight really well and the Huub wetsuit was da bomb for swimming.

I thought I had scoped out the swim exit to T1 route, but I got it wrong.  It was a full ½ mile run to the changing tents.  It just went on and on and on (like this report)  At least the run was carpeted.

I had pre-ridden a bit of the course on Friday, so I knew the first few miles out of transition and past special needs.  The roads were very well marked, smooth as glass and closed to traffic.  Once out of the ski village area, the course is on the local highway.  I knew that my HR was running a bit high, but I just couldn’t keep pushing the pace.  Since this was a highway, the elevation changes were long, but gradual.  It is also completely exposed to the weather, (which was GREAT).  The course goes a long way out, turns around and comes back toward the ski village.  It give you a chance to see all the other races.  The course goes just past the road to the ski area, and goes into the village of Mont Tremblant.  This is a narrow two lane road lined with shops, businesses and restaurants and was packed with cheering spectators.  Even the local heavy equipment company had a couple of cherry pickers making a bit arch across the road for the cyclists.  Once back in the ski area, the route takes you into some more challenging terrain.  This is when I knew I had overcooked the 1st loop of the bike course and would have to adjust.  This part of the course is much more technical, with several short, sharp climbs.  I had NOT seen this part of the course before, and it caught me by surprise.

Because I went out a bit too hard on the 1st loop, I was battling GI distress, so I had to go back into problem solving mode.  When I got to special needs I took some time in the blue box to get my HR back under control, then made a serious effort to keep it squarely in Z1 for the 2nd loop.  The second loop was made more interesting by some serious winds that whipped down the course, seemingly in both directions.  It was also starting to get pretty warm, so sustained climbing into the wind meant really heavy sweating.  I kept up with the nutrition, hydration and endurolytes as best as possible, but time was slipping away since I was riding a whole lot slower now.  By the time I got off my bike, I knew that my time goals had gone out the window.

T2 was a good bit faster, but included a stop to get slathered with sunscreen.  I was really worried that I had way too much sun on the bike, and would be suffering soon.

Out on the run the course climbs a couple of short, sharp hills right out of transition, then after about 5k, heads onto a narrow rail-trail with crushed rocks.  This section is a about a 5k out and back.  At this point in the race I’m seeing a lot of walkers and I’m ducking around them as I’m doing my slow run along the trail.  There isn’t any cheering along this part of the course, until you get to an aid station, and then they are going crazy for you.   When you get back into the village after the 1st loop you run within YARDS of the finish, and head back out for loop 2.  I think that’s just cruel.

My GI problem continued, and there were a couple of low spots where I was doubled over gagging, up gas to relieve the bloating.  I kept up with the fueling as well as I could but again any effort above low Z1 shut down any digestion.

The final dash into the finish is right through the pedestrian village, lined with thousands of screaming spectators and then across the finish line.  This time I got to high-five Mike Reilly at the end of the venue.

My only real complaint was that the finisher’s area was extremely crowded.  Any athlete needing medical attention had to get triaged at a table where everyone else was eating.  If further medical attention was needed an EMS tech had to get a wheelchair into the area to cart the athlete out.  It seemed like a recipe for disaster.  Also, trying to exit the area was really tough as there were hundreds of spectators trying to meet up with their athlete in a very congested space.

There was a LOT of food at the end including local poutinne, sausage wraps with French fries and (surprising to me) beer was handed out.

While I went into this race with higher expectations than what I delivered, I got the race results for the race I ran.  Making the mistake of overdoing the 1st loop of the bike cost me a bunch of time, but that’s experience well earned.  As with any IM race there are times when you are really wondering why you are doing this to yourself, and doubting your ability to finish.  But during those times, I would reach out with my heart and could feel the love pouring in from all the people that were supporting me, near and far.  I would smile, and then get right back to work.

The time results puts it squarely in the middle of my 6 IMs.  Not my best, not my worst but I still had fun and finished strong.  Can’t ask for much more than that!

Live to fight again…

Here in the Great State of NJ we are enjoying a very hot and very humid summer.  While this is to be expected from time to time, the pattern has been in place for several weeks, with no end in sight.  This makes training outside something that has to be planned carefully, and proper recovery is VITAL.

My IMMT training plan called for a 5hr ride/45 min run brick on Saturday, and a split brick, then run workout on Sunday.  Because I was to lead the Team NRGY Basebuilders bike ride on Saturday, I decided to switch the workouts.

Saturdays workouts went well.  We got a pretty early start, and the weather cooperated with heavy clouds and a bit of light drizzle.  Warm, but not too hot.  The group seemed to enjoy the country roads and the nice break in the weather.  After the group ride, I went out to the Bedminster dirt roads to run my 1:25.

Because I’ve had problems with insufficient recovery from split workouts in the past, I made sure to eat a good meal, and sit in the cool house, wearing my RecoveryPump boots for at least an hour.  It didn’t hurt to have the end of stage 15 of the Le Tour on the TV!

I rested and napped until about 4:00pm, then headed out for my 2nd 1:25 run.  As I expected, the temperature had increased about 10F, and my pace fell off about 30 sec/mile.  But I felt pretty good for the total run.

But Sunday night I blew it.  We had plans to go over to a friends house for a big birthday party.  I really under ate at the party, despite all the yummy stuff on the table.  Even if there wasn’t a big selection of healthy choices, I should have just chowed down.  My body needed the calories despite my lack of appetite.

On Sunday, my lack of adequate fueling would catch up with me.  I knew the day was going to be brutally hot and humid, so I made a point to get on the road by 6:00am.  It was still quite overcast, but much warmer.  Within an hour I had sweat & condensation streaming from my helmet & arm rests.  By the 2.5hr mark I knew that my lack of fueling the night before was a huge mistake.  I had blown through any glycogen in my legs in the hills and I was running on fumes.  At this point I had gone through two bottles of hydration and was down to my last 24oz.  I stopped to get some more liquids, ate a gel and headed back out.  Within a few minutes I realized that I wasn’t going to complete 5 hours of quality training, and any attempt past 3.5 would likely require in much longer recovery.  I knew that the following week was going to be another big build week, so I decided to pull the plug when I got home.

As I rode through the swamp and the gel kicked in, I started to feel a bit better, but whenever the road pitched up my legs could not respond.  Further my average HR was inching up with the increased heat, and my power numbers were stagnant.

I got home and quickly downed a cold Recoverite, showered and ate lunch.  Within a few minutes I was hungry AGAIN, reinforcing the fact that I was seriously under fueled going into the day.  I got another full meal down and spent another hour in the RecoveryPump.

Today I’m feeling a good bit better, and the legs seem Pretty well fueled.  Today I have a 4k swim and easy recovery run and I’m really looking forward to them both.  Once again I’ve learned a great lesson:

Never sacrifice tomorrows workout for today’s workout. Better to adjust the length and/or intensity than to put a big zero in the following day!

Patriot 1/2 IM Race Report

Time:  5:37:41

Swim 32:41 (1.39 miles)
T1 3:30
Bike 2:51:08 (would have been 4:30 faster but for a mechanical problem)
T2 3:49.9
Run: 2:06:34 (10sec PR for a ½ IM run)

16/33 AG

3rd fastest 1/2 IM and only 30 seconds slower than 2nd fastest.  #1 and #2 were set in 2005 & 2006.  It feels pretty good to be able to race a younger version of me and get close to catching up.

?The conditions could not have been better for me.  Sunny and warm, clear skies, light breeze, very low humidity.  This is a very well run event, in a nice venue.  Swim in a nice clean lake, 2 loop bike on quiet roads, sightly rolling and scenic.  1 loop, rolling run course.  About the only complaint I had was the aid station spacing on the bike.  They had one at 18 miles and the 2nd at 26 miles.  So you went a very long time if you lost a bottle.

Everything really fired off well at this race. Going in I just wanted to execute a good plan. Have a solid swim, solid bike, solid run, all at a real race-pace.  I planned on pouring down a lot of liquid nutrition on the bike and fill up for the run.

I think I scored across the board. Except for a couple of hiccups I did pretty good. I broke rule #1, and tried out a new rear-mount bottle holder and didn’t check all the screws! The seat mount was nice and tight, but the screws that hold the bottle mounts to the seat mount came loose and I spent almost 5 minutes fixing the problem around mile 26. But once I got back on the bike I was able to head out and keep the pace high.

I was a bit worried that I overcooked the bike, but once on the run I settled in to a nice hard pace. I futzed with the Garmin to display HR, but then never looked at it. Just looked at current lap pace and lap distance. My plan was to walk all the aid stations enough to get in a bit to drink, toss some water over my head, then keep going. I stopped at mile 3 to pee. I figured I’d pick up the pace a bit at mile 8, then embrace the suck at mile 11. And that’s what happened. I took a caffeine gel at mile 8 (rocket fuel!) then another at mile 11. THAT one took way to long to open since I picked up a Hammer espresso from an aid station. I had to stop to open it so I could eat it and wash down with water. Then I just pushed on through to the end.

I had a bit of a mental melt down at the last big hill before the finish. I ended up power walking the hill, and I should have just pushed myself to run hard over the top.

I wanted to really kick at the finish as there was one last guy ahead of me, but I could not summon up any more oomph… I left it all on the course.

Onward towar?d Mont Tremblant…