Thursday, March 29, 2012

ODM Marathon

Here's how the day unfolded last Sunday.  It started off perfectly.  I pulled up to the bus pick-up spot in Sea Isle City about 10 minutes early.  I got my stuff together and walked down to where the buses were supposed to pick us up.  As I got there 3 buses pulled up, I got on the first one, sat down and we left.  That meant plenty of time at the starting line. Wind was going to be a major concern.  ODM is a point-to-point race.  South to North so a wind out of the North would be disastrous!  
We were the first to get to the starting line.  That means one line for the port-o-potties!  That's gold!  Took care of business and went into the lobby of the host hotel to relax.  Wind seemed to be more than 5 mph out of the NE that had predicted.
With 45 minutes to go before the start, I got up to go warm-up.  What's the first thing I notice as I get outside? The FLIPPING WIND!  It's 15-20 mph out of the NE.  You have got to be kidding me!  It's going to be the same for everyone so no sense in complaining.  I got a good warm-up in and went inside to stretch and finish eating.  I head to the starting line about 20 minutes before the start.  Stop at the port-o-potty one more time, drop my bag off and get on the line.
I want to get out quickly so I don't get jammed up.  They start us and I'm able to get clear of the main pack and settle in with the lead group pretty quickly.  Someone made a move very early in the race and breaks clear of the main pack.  By mile 3, there is the one runner way out in front and then there are 4 of us about 90 seconds behind.  They started the 10 mile race with the marathoners so we're not sure if he's in our race.  As the wind continues to beat us up, three of us decide to work together. (A fourth joined our group but didn't do any work.  Really pissed me off.)  We ran in single-file each person taking turns out in front.  We each pulled for a mile and then peeled off.  There was a noticeable difference when you weren't out in front.  When we got to the 10-mile finish, the leader runner turned off and was done.  Our question was answered and now we were the lead pack in the race.
We ran like this until about mile 14.  The group started to fall apart at this point and now it was just me and one other guy from the original four.  I started to fall off his pace as we went over a bridge.  I figured I would let him go and try to reel him in over the last 10 miles.  Out of nowhere, someone I hadn't seen before runs by me like I'm standing still, runs by the race leader and settles in right in front of him.  Within another mile, one more person from the original four passed me and settled in about 200 yards in front of me.  As we passed mile 17, I could still see the first 3 runners in the race.  They weren't getting any further away but they certainly weren't getting any closer.
Every time I thought about trying to make a move the wind saw to it that I didn't.  The wind became very demoralizing and the race turned into "just get this over with."  My goal was to be under 2:50, and I knew this was going to be tough on a day like Sunday.
Over the last 9 miles, I was unable to make up any time on the first 3.  As I ran up to the boardwalk in Sea Isle City, I could see the finish line about 3/4 of a mile ahead.  It seemed like someone kept moving it back.  The last half-mile (as it always is) was sheer torture.  I crossed the finish line in 2:52:29.  Slower than I wanted to be.  Not my best performance but by far my best effort.  Only 3 minutes separated the top 4 runners.  I spoke with the guy that finished 2nd and he said he's never over 2:50.  He figured the course was 5-6 minutes slower than normal.
I know I'm heading into the triathlon season, fitter than I've ever been.  I want to go to Kona this year to race and not just participate.  I stayed healthy for this race and the competitive fire has been lit under my ass again.  I can't wait for triathlon season to start!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's been a while...

I've been negligent in my postings.  With everything that goes in our daily life, this blog has taken a backseat.  I'm getting ready to run the Ocean Drive Marathon.  As my luck would have it, it's supposed to rain with a headwind on 15 mph.  ODM is a point-to-point marathon.  So of course the wind is supposed to be in our face for 26 miles!  I'm  not the only one that will be running into the wind so it's useless to complain.  Check back on Sunday or Monday and I'll have a summary of the day.  It should be interesting!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Getting through injuries...

My workout on Saturday was cut short because of the severe pain and pressure in my left ear and on the left side of my face.  After much deliberation, (translated - my wife insisting) I went to the Dr.'s later that morning.  They told me I had a bad ear infection.  They gave me antibiotics and sent me on my way.  Later that day I had funk pouring out of my ear.  I was worried that in order for stuff to be coming out of my ear, I must have ruptured my ear drum.  I went back to the Dr.'s and they told me I needed to make an appointment with an Ear  Specialist because...I had ruptured my ear drum.  Ear problems was not one of the things that I thought would keep me from training.  I'm not sure when I'll be able to get back in the pool.  And believe me, I need to be in the pool!
I'm sure most athletes face these types of setbacks.  They're just frustrating.  The time away from the pool will definitely hurt me.  If nothing else, it helped me recover from my riding and running.  I'll know more by tomorrow.  I'm assuming it will be at least two weeks.  That won't be so bad.  The mental aspect of being limited in what you can do is sometimes tougher than the physical aspects.  I'll report back tomorrow.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I know my last post was about my disdain for winter.  This has a similar theme.  So I was supposed to do a 45 minute run after my bike today.  Riding isn't a problem because I do most of it on a trainer.  Running afterwards became an issue this morning.  I was going to attempt it but the 2 inches of slush and the rain made it miserable.  My workout turned into a 3 hour bike.  My treadmill finally died so I have no way of running in my basement.  I need to invest a new treadmill so I can get through the winter.  Last year I made it until April.  I think the Australian athletes have it right.  They go to Australia for this time of year and then come back to Colorado for our spring and summer.  It would be nice but there aren't many people willing to pay a 42 year-old to train and race!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I hate winter!

As we settle into the depths of winter, I find that I truly can't stand the cold weather.  I've noticed my disdain for the winter months has grown as I've gotten older.  When I was younger (grade school age) I couldn't wait for the cold weather.  I remember the excitement when it finally did snow.  We would be out all day returning home soaking wet, frozen and completely wiped out.
As much fun as that was, I hate the cold now.  I went out this morning to run 20 miles.  I had been watching the weather all week and knew that it would be cold.  I usually like to get running before 7 am.  I knew if I waited a little longer it would be somewhat warmer. The extra half hour made no difference.  It was freaking freezing!  The wind had that icy feel to it.  It wasn't too bad with the wind at my back but the minute I turned into the wind it was painful.  I knew it was cold out when the gatorade froze in the nozzle of my water bottle.
Now, I am, thankfully, showered and layered in clothes.  I will, very shortly, start a fire and settle in to watch a great afternoon of football.  (Go Giants!!!)  The sufferfest of this morning is now behind me and I don't have to worry about freezing until at least Tuesday.  Bring on the warm weather!

Monday, December 26, 2011


Training for triathlon, specifically the IM, is a balancing act.  I'm married with 3 kids and work full-time.  There are 168 hours in a week.  Managing each hour has become a science for me.  I've found that I need to manage my time down to 15 minute increments.  I have very little down time during the week.  I'm usually up by 4 am to get my first workout of the day done before 6:30 am.  I'm a teacher so my job allows me to workout in the early afternoon without interrupting anything my family does.  My wife also works full-time so I need to do my fair share around the house.  I'll cook and do the food shopping.  When I get home in the afternoon, dinner needs to be started so we can eat when my wife gets home.
In order to work, have a family and train you need two important elements.  First and foremost, you need to have a spouse that is unbelievably patient.  My wife is an angel for tolerating this crazy lifestyle.  Secondly, you need to make working out a priority.  If that means you need to get up at 3:45 am to get a workout in, then do it.  I promised my wife that I would never let training get in the way of family plans.  I have woken up at ungodly hours just to get workouts in and still make a 9 am soccer game.  I have always found ways to make it work.  Training and racing are not worth it if it means forgetting your family.  Time management is the key.  My coach has my workouts done by time and not distance.  It allows for simple planning and I know exactly when I'll be finished.  Figure out your goals, come up with a schedule and stick to it.  It is possible to train and race, have a family and work full-time.  Let me know if you have any secrets that work for you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

IM Arizona Race Report

In case anyone's interested, here's the RR for IMAZ.
4:00 am - Wake up. Wasn't a great night's sleep but the night before never is. Start eating and drinking right away. (Here's the nutrition report from Brian Shea @ PBN.);#3656615 I had been dealing with a hip issue leading up to the race. It was tight race morning so I was concerned but figured I had 114.4 miles to warm-up before the run.
5:15 am - Make my way to transition to put my nutrition on my bike and drop off special needs bags. Hip still feels tight.
6:00 am - Myself, Chris Madigan and Dave Ytreboe go for 10 minute warm-up jog. Hip still feels tight but I figure I have no choice but to gut it out.
6:30 am - Wetsuit is on and now trying to make my to the water. I decide to wiggle my way up front because it's taking too long. As I get to the front they tell us there's 3 minutes until the start! I try not to panic and quickly get myself in the water. So much for a nice long warm-up in the water. I'm still thinking about the poor guy I saw getting in the water with no wetsuit. Too cold to do that. I never found out how he made out.
7:00 am - Gun goes off and the chaos begins. I positioned myself near the front so I'm in the mix with everyone. I hate this part of the race. (I don't if anyone really likes it.) I did settle in very quickly and felt like I was swimming well. About half way to the turn around, I realize I swam way off-course. The lake bends but the course stays straight. Like a moron I followed the lake. I didn't panic. I made my way back on course as fast as I could. I felt good at the turn-around and picked up the pace a little bit. My left calf got a little crampy so there was a moment of panic but I was able to continue to swim without a problem. As I neared the end I was excited to see what my time was. I spent all winter working on my swim. I was faster in all the half irons I did so naturally I should be quicker here. I get out and look at my watch and much to my dismay is says 1:08:xx. WTF! I spent all that time in the winter to go a minute faster than I did in 2009! Disgusted, I ran to T1 and quickly put it behind me.
Swim: 1:08:58 79th AG, 482 Overall
T2 was uneventful and it was on to the bike. The bike for Arizona is tough because you start out cold and by the time you're halfway through the temp has gone up 15 degrees. I started with a vest and arm-warmers. By the end the vest was off and the arm-warmers were pulled down. I never really ever settled in on the bike. I was very fidgety throughout. I would get in what I thought was a comfortable position only to move 10 minutes later. It became frustrating but I tried to stay focused. My hip at this point was beginning to loosen up so I was excited to get off the bike and run. The run is where I do best and I wanted to get to it. My nutrition was good so I was confident I could run. My first bike split was 5 minutes faster than my 2nd and 3rd. Lap 2 and 3 were less than 45 seconds apart. I was happy with my pacing
Bike: 5:01:58 (22.26 mph - 17th AG & 140th Overall)
T2 was quick. 1:08. The fastest T2 all day was 1:06. In 2010, my T2 is what got me into Kona. I was about 90 seconds faster in T2 than the guy that finished 20 seconds behind me.
The run is where I feel the most confident. I know within 200 meters out of T2 if it's going to be good or a disaster. I knew within 100 meters that I was in for a long day. I felt terrible from the 1st mile right through mile 26. I've never suffered the way I did on that run. I was looking for reasons to stop running. Every time I found one there were 100 reasons as to why I should keep going. I knew I was moving up in the AG because a friend of mine was giving me updates. Going into the 3rd loop he told me I was in 9th place. I knew that there was probably going to be 9 Kona slots so I felt as long as I didn't get passed I was safe. It was a big gamble but I felt that terrible. As I came to the last mile my legs were ready to quit. Every step I could feel them beginning to cramp. The last mile was torture! I couldn't get to that finish line fast enough. As I finished, I knew that no matter where I placed, I left everything on the course that day. I was satisfied that I couldn't give anymore. I gathered my things and checked my phone to see where I finished before I called my wife. I looked and couldn't believe what I saw. 2nd place! I ran my way to 2nd place! I thought I could run faster but was still blown away. I called my wife and we both just couldn't believe it. The disappointment I felt when I was in Arizona in 2009 was far gone. (I missed qualifying by 51 seconds.) I was on the podium and going back to Kona! Unbelievable!!!
Run: 3:12:13 (7:20 per mile - 2nd AG, 69th Overall) Total time 9:29:29
In looking back at this race, I most proud of my unwillingness to quit. My legs were wrecked afterwards but I didn't throw in the towel. It's amazing what we can achieve when we put our minds to something. My goal this year was to qualify for Kona and be on the podium in Arizona. It made all the hard work worthwile. Although I thought I would be faster on race day, I achieved what I set out to do.