Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Guru Frame!!

Every season my tri team (the Cyclonauts) compete in a team series put on by FIRM (Fiske Independant Race Management). The series has a number of Grand Prixs that you are able to earn points at. They also have non point races that occur just about every weekend from May til October.

This year they had a raffle put on by one of their sponsors Quad Multisport in Arlington, MA. The winner would recieve a choice of a brand new 2008 Guru Chrono TT frame or a 2008 Guru Geneo road frame (each worth about $4500). You were entered into the raffle by placing top 5 in your age group at any FIRM race.

From what I have read, Guru makes an awesome bike. Measurements are taken prior to ordering the frame in order to have the perfectly fit bike. I found out yesterday that I won the raffle!! I have never won anything of this magnitude and am completely stunned. I plan on heading out to Quad Multisport at the end of the week or beginning of next to get fitted!

Guru Chrono TT

Guru Geneo

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lesson Learned

I went down to Hartford to support some teammates that were running the half and full marathon on Saturday and left there with a little more than I had planned on. Since I had not registered in time I planned on meeting up with Jim and Rich C and running the first few miles of the half with them. I figured I would wish them luck, get a good 3-5 mile run in, then peel off and head home to Brookfield for the weekend.

I met up with Jim, but never found Rich. With that, Jim and I started the race and were able to run steady 7:00 minute pace for a while. After about 3 or 4 miles, I realized I had no idea where I was and I had better just stay on course until I know where I am, at which time I will look for my car.

My original plan of 3-5 miles had some obvious flaws that became obvious when I found myself at the 10K mark having to use the bathroom. I hadn't really hydrated properly that morning, nor did I eat well. The race was pretty much completed on a sausage egg and cheese, a large french vanilla coffee, and a mini gatorade. Regardless, I kept running.

Jim and I went through the 10K in just over 43 minutes (a PR for me) and that is when I told Jim I was gonna stop at the bathroom and I would catch up with him, boy was I wrong! With Jim holding his 7 min pace, I had to run faster to catch up. When I tried this my body simply didn't respond. In all honesty it wasn't a smart move on my part as I hadn't run more than 3 miles in total since my half iron almost a month ago. I was able to keep Jim in my sights about 200 yards ahead of me until mile 9 when I really started to have trouble.

Up until mile 9 I had averaged somewhere around 7:15 per mile. Mile 10 dropped to 8:08, then to 8:53 at mile 11 (when Rich C passed me in persuit of Jim), then good ole Mike Roberts entered the picture. Mike was running the half for a good run workout in prep for Ironman Florida in 3 weeks, and had already run 5 miles before the half even started! Mike has had an awesome season incluing a 10:06 Ironman in Lake Placid, and a 4:22 half in Rhode Island (which he won overall). With about 2 miles to go Mike wouldn't let me continue my bonking experience and proceeded to push me (literally at times) back down to 7:30 pace. He offered some very helpful run tips and put me back on track to a sub 1:40 half. The two of us cut out just before the finish line in order to start our warm down without getting caught up in the finishers shoot.

It was a great day for our club as numerous Cyclonauts ran to PRs as well as Boston Qualifying times. I learned a valuable lesson in adequate race preparation, as I am still in quite a bit of pain 3 days following the race. More importantly I realized that I have quite a bit of work to do on my run if I am going to get the results that I desire in upcoming races. Welcome to the off season, which for me will mean weight training, and lots of running. I am not sure what my next big race will be, but whatever it is I had better start training for it.

till next time, cheers

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Video Footage of the Speedo Challenge - Check it Out!

A very nice couple that is starting a videography company called Tri-2-Excel had some extra footage from the Chicopee Sprint and were nice enough to put it together for me. Check it out here: www.tri2excel.com!

Monday, September 29, 2008

FirmMan Race Report - better late than never

Sorry for the delay, I just haven't had much time to sit down and put together my race report from my final tri of the season - FirmMan Rhode Island Half Iron. This was my 3rd time in 4 years doing this race and I had a few goals in mind:

1. Win my age group - I have come in 2nd in my age group both times I have done this race.
2. Set a PR - My best time coming into the race was 4:39 and I hoped to better it.
3. Break 4:30 - This would help achieve goal 2 as well as break a new barrier for me.
4. Race Ron Jacobs and Mike Roberts - 2 of the strongest guys on my team, especially at this distance. Ron is a former pro and this was his taper race, and Mike was coming off a 10:06 at IMLP.

With all of the goals in mind, I knew it would take some serious effort to accomplish all that I had set forth to. Kara and I arrived in Narragansette the day before and met up with fellow cyclonauts at the town beach for some R&R. We then headed to dinner at Arturo Joe's for some pasta with a group of 10-12, had a few drinks and then called it a night.

The day began at 5:00 am (for Kara about 5:15 - she is a rockstar for putting up with the early mornings that come with triathlon) and after the backs and bike were packed, it was off to Dunks for some breakfast.

As we got to the venue, the sun was just coming up (pic below) and it promised to be a perfect day for racing. After a quick set up of tranisition, I put on my wetsuit and Kara and I headed down the beach 1 mile to the start of the swim. Water looked fairly calm with some rollers coming in slowly along the race course. The race course involves swimming out beyond the break point, turning the 1st buoy, swimming 1 mile parallel to the beach, then making 1 more turn and heading for shore.

I was in the last of 5 waves alongside Ron and 4 minutes behind Mike. The gun went off for my wave and I went immediately to the front of the pack, battling through the breaking point. The breaking point provides a clear idea of who the strong swimmers are in the pack, as the weaker swimmers tend to take their time getting through the surf.

I turned the 1st buoy in 2nd place ( in my wave) and, after a long, not so direct swim, I turned the 2nd and final buoy and headed for the beach. After riding 1 or 2 waves in, I found my footing and starting running for transition. No sooner did I stand up, then I heard, "Hey! You're not suppossed to be here!" It was Mike Roberts! I had made up 4 minutes on him and was stoked! I made it in and out of T1 in 1:06 and ready to hammer the bike. My swim would be good enough for 2nd in age group and 7th overall.

As soon as I was on my bike I began hammering. I knew 56 miles was a long way to hammer, but I decided before the race that I wanted to have a fast bike split, and see how long I could hold a decent run pace for. The good thing about starting in the last wave is you pass a lot of people along the way. I headed out of town on Route 1 in the breakdown lane and felt great! I had a steady cadence going and hadn't been passed by anyone except the FedEx man (renowned time trialist that competes in the team category). I hit the lollipop section and kept pressing. This is the only part of the bike course that realy requires you to get out of the saddle and as a result my heart rate jumped a bit.

I came out of the lollipop section still feeling strong and still making up time. At the final turn around of the bike (somewhere around 35-40 miles) the first oppurtunity presented itself to see who was close behind. I saw Mike not too far behind, along with Ron, Tom DeLuca, Jim, Bill T and some other non-Naut racers. At about mile 40 I passed a 20 year old that had spanked me in the swim by 4 minutes. I was sure this would be the competition for me in my age group and kept an eye on him till about 10 miles to go in the bike, when I pushed even harder. I came into T2 after my best bike split ever in about 7th or 8th place (not counting the time difference from the start waves). I checked my computer as I rolled in and couldn't believe my eyes, I had averaged just over 23mph!!

After about 30 seconds in T2, it was off to the run course. The first mile my legs felt really heavy and I had serious doubts about the rest of the run, but as I looked down at my watch I understood why - 6:38! Phew, that was a sign that I could back off and get into a much smoother and more comfortable rhythm.

Just after the first mile marker I was passed by the 20yr who was looking strong and experienced, once again I had doubts about catching him. Just before the 2nd mile marker I heard a shout from behind me, "Man, you gotta teach me how to swim." Mike Roberts had caught up to me and after we exchanged a few words he was off at a blistering pace. I fluctuated over the course of the next few miles but still stayed between 7:00 and 7:45 miles for the most part.

I was able to see where I stood after the first turn around, and excluding time differences I was 7th overall and 2nd in age group after 6 miles. After the long stretch of the 2nd turn around I could see that Mike was really making up ground and I had a feeling he could take the race outright! As I kept an eye on my watch, I noticed that with 5K remaining I had 30 minutes to cover 3.1 miles and achieve my PR as well as break 4:30. I also realized that I still had the big hill and a sandy finish on the beach, and with that I kept calm and maintained my pace.

As I approached the top of the hill I saw that my age group competition was beginning to crack, and I made the pass at the top of the hill with just over 2 miles to go. I picked up my pace in order try and defeat him mentally, even though I was also hurting at that time. I didn't look back until I was half way down the beach (I was taught that looking back is a sign of weakness and anxiety). At this point I get passed by a 40-44 year old (he was in my same starting wave) and realize that he is my competition for the overall finish. I contemplate letting him have it, as I am about to cramp up (the fists are about to punch throught the back of my legs), then Bill Terry pushes me to beat him with some encouraging and motivating words.

I push through the pain and pass him with about 50 yards to go and cross the line in 4:29.32~ a new PR!! That time was good enough for 1st in my age group and 4th overall~I just missed the podium. Its okay with me as I accomplished all goals with the exception of beating Mike Roberts. He finished in 4:22 and was the overall winner. A huge congrats to Mike as I believe he is the first ever Cyclonaut to win FirmMan. I was lucky enough to hold on to beat Ron, who had an awesome run (1:27.17=7th fastest run split) and a great race finishing in 6th with a time of 4:30.09. It was a great day that was finished off with a feast from Boston Market, and beers from Harpoon! Furthermore, I could not have asked for a better end of the season race

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Beer Mile!!

Easily the most fun running events I have ever completed! Kara and I were the last ones to show up on Sunday. No sooner did we get there, we hopped into Pookie's car and off we went to the venue. At this point it was going to be Me, Jim, Pookie, Mike G, Jim B, Doug, Mary, Totz, Kevin Young, A-Dubs and Mikki in a relay, numerous guys from Mary and Dougs MTB crew competing along with plenty of spectators.

(Jim B with his racing goggles)

Jim showed up in his vintage army green leisure suit, doug was in his running shorts and one of Mary's sports bras, and after a quick costume change I was in a sweet pair of daisy dukes and a louisiana blues tank top with a trucker hat for good measure. Just before the gun went off Jim stripped down to reveal his racing uniform: purple speedo from the Chicopee Speedo challenge, knee high compression socks, heart rate monitor, and aviators to match the chops.

The gun went off and the sweet sound of beer cans being opened filled the air. In about 22 seconds the first beer was finished and the remaining drinkers paused in awe as none-other than Lisa "TATTERRRRR" Totz was off and running!! After all but 2 people were running, I finished my first PBR and took off sprinting. I was able to catch the entire field during the first 1/4 mile and entered T1 in the lead!

I was followed by Jimmy and Mike G in a fairly close race. After throwing back the second of 4 PBRs I took off once again at an aggressive pace. My plan was to run fast early on while there wasn't much beer in my system and then slow down as I drank more. My plan was working and I manged to enter T2 still in the lead with Jim and Mike G both still on my tail.
(Mary in the middle of the race-what determination!!)

In the same style as before I took off for my third 1/4 mile with only 1 more beer and 1 final 1/4 mile to go. I managed to stay in the lead heading into the final beer at T3. This was a tough one. During T3 I just couldn't get the final beer down. Jim and Mike G had both since entered T3, Jim had stripped down to his racing thong, and now the 3 of us were chugging as fast as we could!!

Mike finished the beer first and was off and funning, followed closely by Jim. By the time I choked down my final beer I headed out and realized that I had no chance of catching them without puking. Instead I decided to try and keep the beer down and hold on to 3rd place.

I managed to do just that and still come in under the previous record of 10:06!

The official results are as follows:
Jim “Big Daddy” Sullivan 9:10
Mike “ El Presidente” Gay 9:12
Paulito “Young Gun” McCloskey 9:37
Kevin “Cowboy” Young 9:51
Mikki & Amy “PGGA” Relay 10:13
Mike “PTM” LaPlante 10:22
Andy “Pookie” Phillips 10:27
Jim “Miami Vice” Bourcier 10:28
Bryan “Jackass” Wilson 15:29
Lisa “Tater” Totz 20:45* Penalty
Doug “The Puker” Guertin 24:03* Penalty
Mary “Trailqueen” Miziaszek 29:07* Penalty

All in all the top 4 finishers broke the previous record held by Doug. It was an awesome mix of drinking "quality" beer, running through a mix of stumblers, racers, and pukers, and just plain ole Cyclonaut fun.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Morning of BEERMILE

Later this afternoon I am pleased to say that I will be participating in my first ever Beermile. Beermile is completed in the following manner:

1. Drink 1 full beer
2. Run 1/4 mile
3. Drink 1 full beer
4. Run 1/4 mile
5. Drink 1 full beer
6. Run 1/4 mile
7. Drink 1 full beer
8. Run 1/4 mile

The person to complete this task in the fastest time wins! There are many rules that go along with it including: beer must be 5% alcohol by volume, must be a 12 oz or 355mL can, no bottles, no widemouths, no shotgunning etc. Doug Guertin in the current record holder at 10:06 for the cyclonauts. For official state and national records please check out http://www.beermile.com/.

My choice of drink for this evening will be none other than good ol' PBR. Pics and report to follow.

Ready set DRINK!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

1st Annual Quabbin Ride and Dinner

Yesterday marked the inagural Ride and Dine for my tri club. We rode approximately 10 miles to the Quabbin Tower that overlooks the Quabbin resevoir, then rode back to the Villa Rose Restaurant for a team dinner and prizes.

The ride to the resevoir was very social and slow as there were between 40 and 50 of us. It was a pretty uneventful ride until we got to the base of the big climb (shown below).

The plan was to get through a small gate that would put us on the road up to the tower. Once on the road those with egos (pretty much all the guys and a few girls) were going to race the 2-3 mile climb up to the top and be crowned king/queen of the mountain. I was riding with Jim and we got jammed up in the back of the single file line through the gate. Once we got through, we looked up and the group that was racing was already a good 500 feet ahead of us.

We jammed up the hill as fast as we could an fortunately we were making gains. We caught up to Andy Salmon (a strong climber) who had dropped his chain and was on the side of the road fixing it. We got to a rotary that marked an increase in the gradient and jammed on. At this point the group ahead of us had spaced out a bit and Jim and I were able to pass a few people. Finally we got to the driveway of the tower (where it got even steeper) and powered up the last 20 yards (into the sun I might add).

Jim and I were probably 5th and 6th to the top which isn't bad considering when we started. Matty Dufresne (quadzilla) won the climb followed by club president Mike Gay. Jim and I both road back down to the rotary to see how everyone else was doing, then it was back up top for the group picture.

After the pic, it was a great descent (won by the 2 clydesdales, Will Whiting and I) followed by some spirited pace line work. A quick regroup in Belchertown and off we were to the restaurant.

About 2 miles after regrouping Batman (teammate) flatted and Mike, Jim, Joe G and I stopped to help him. Some quick jokes, laughs, a quick patch and we were back on the road. At this point everyone in the group was ahead of us and it was time to pick up the pace. After 2 solid pulls from Mike and a signature pull (strong and fast) from Jim, it was my turn to the front. I managed to pull for a few miles while averaging somewhere in the 30 mph range. I felt good and I was starving. Jim told me to pull off and he brought us home maintaining the speed.

Once we arrived, we changed quickly and went inside for food and prizes. 2 hours, 3 sandwiches, 2 tequila shots, 1 beer, and 2 boxes of Power Gels later, it was time to go. A good time was had by all and a new location for our Ride and Dine was found.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday Hill Town Ride

With Firmman being post-poned 2 weeks and a beautiful Sunday on hand, I headed for the hill towns with Kara, Al, John Hill, Andy and Gail. The idea was to tackle some climbs with Biketoberfest only being 3 weeks away. Biketoberfest is a 100 miler that Jimmy puts on from his house that includes over 10,000 feet of climbing. Kara, Al, and I plan on giving it a try this year, so with that in mind we began the climbs.

Our first big climb today came about 9 miles into the ride as we ascended 3 miles up Montgomery road. Montgomery Road is a pretty good climb averaging around 8 or 9 % with the max gradient around 11 or 12%. It felt great today as I decided to climb it in my big ring as some of the stronger riders in my club have done on past rides. I managed to get to the top without feeling too tired and waited to regroup in what you may call the center of Montgomery?

Apparently Montgomery had some festive parties to finish off the summer. As everyone got to the top of the climb Kara mentioned that she was finally feeling good on the hills again which was a huge relief because she says she hasn't been able to climb well the past 2 weeks. A few drinks from the bottles and away we went back down Montgomery Rd to the Huntington General Store.

As we pulled into the store Al realizes he has a slow leak and immediately John Hill changes it for him. The surprising thing was that Al said he felt great on the first climb and that was with a partial flat! With a tire full of air and stomachs full of Apple Wrapples and coffee (the Huntington General Store has the BEST apple wrapples) we headed for more hills.

Al looked even stronger than before, and with everyone else feeling good we ascended up Rte 20 and into Chester and eventually Blandford. Below is a pic at the base of one of the many climbs of the day.

That was the second to last big climb of the day with the final climb coming shortly thereafter. As we picked up 23 in Blanford we were rewarded for all of our climbing with a great desent down 23 and an even better, more technical desent down General Knox Rd that dumped us into our back yard. All in all a great ride that was just under 50 miles with 4934 feet of climbing and some pretty serious winds at times. I was fortunate to have a great training ride today as opposed to racing in Rhode Island with some serious wind and waves. We will most likely continue to climb these upcoming weeks to prep for Biketoberfest and the end of a great season.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bummer :(

FirmMan RI Postponed Due to Hurricane Hanna

The town of Narragansett notified FIRM that they cannot provide emergency response personnel (firefighters, police, or EMS) for the race because of the storm this weekend. As a result, FirmMan Rhode Island has been rescheduled to Sunday, September 21st.
I am bummed about the race being post-poned however it does give me some time to work on my run a bit so I guess its not all bad. Time to run!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


As the weekend approaches I am stoked for my half-iron race this weekend. It is a 1.2 mile ocean swim at Naragansett Town Beach in RI, followed by a 56 mile bike completed mostly in the breakdown lane of route 1 (yikes!) and finished up with a flat, scenic 13.1 mile run that finishes with the last 1/4 mile on the sand...sweet!

The plan is to get in a nice ride with Kara on Saturday morning before heading down with Jim and Kelly. Kara wants to attack the hills that day, so weather permitting we will get in a good hill workout before heading to the beach.

There is a good group of 'Nauts going down so it should be a great weekend, especially with Thierry and Aurelie hosting a pre race BBQ at their beach house the night before. I am super stoked for this race because I have never been in this good shape for this distance. I know I can have a strong swim and and strong bike leg on Sunday, however my running isn't what it should be as my long since placid has been 3 miles. I am counting on my base to still be enough along with the mental aspect being at its peak.

The race is Sunday morning and I will be sure to post the outcome. The goal will be to win my age division (Males 20-24) as I have never done this at this race, and to PR (break 4:39). Oh yea, and they are prediciting one of the hurricanes to be moving through the RI area this weekend, so it will definitely be an exciting weekend!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chicopee Speedo Challenge

Last Sunday was the Journey for Sight Chicopee Sprint Triathlon. This is a great race for my club because it is so close to home and as a result we provide a good 30% of the entire field. I had ridden with Jim and a few others the day before and it was then that we decided to have a little fun with this race. We wanted to pay tribute to all the great triathletes of the late 80s and early 90s that raced in speedos, tanks that were too small and sheer determination.

Jim dug up this gem of a race speedo that was purple with a "creamsicle" orange and teal stripe, in addition it had a small pad built in for the bike, truly a vintage piece of equipment. I settled for my SC racing speedo along with a tank top that was far too small. Jims wife Kelly threw down on the speedo challenge as well as Ryan Ochoa in his orange and black plastic Wayfarers and my creamsicle shorts that, to put it simply need thicker material. This little stunt created a really fun atmosphere for our team and I am sure some curiousity and concern for non team members.

I showed up nice and early for the race along with many other 'Nauts and began setting up transition. After all was set and ready to go, I changed into my race attire, signaled to Jimmy and off we went for a warm up spin on our bikes. It was quite a site to see 2 dudes with sweet race bikes, race wheels, aero helmets, and oh yea.....speedos cruising down the road at 7:30 in the morning. After picking up SteveO during warm up (making him guilty by association) the three of us headed back to transisiton.

When I got back I met up with Kara, her parents, and family friend Andy. They decided to come watch me race for the first time because it was such a local race. I apologized to them before the race began because they picked one hell of a race to watch (hopefully they weren't too embarassed).

I think one of the funniest moments of the day came when I was walking down to the swim start with wetsuit around the waist, and my shirt up way to high, as I looked back over my shoulder and saw about 5 or 6 young ladies sitting on the beach wall pointing and laughing at me! I couldn't blame them, it was quite a unique look, but thats what is was all about, laughs and good times.

I was in the first of 2 waves, and as the gun went off my arms started spinning. I felt great through 2 turns and had the lead was we turned for the home stretch of the swim. My arms were being to tire and I noticed someone picking up the pace to my right. I get a certain joy if I am out of the water first (even though the race is never won in the swim), and I put in whatever i have left in my arms and maintain my lead out of the water. After a quick T1 I am out on the bike still in first place and pick up a police escort after leaving the park. I feel great on my bike and am moving down the flats at 24-25 mph.

About 4-5 miles into the race I hear to disc wheels coming up behind me. One minute I am leading, and the next I am in 3rd. Knowing that my bike is stronger than my run, I decide to up the pace and hold on as long as I can. I go back and forth with 2nd place until I passed him the 3rd and final time and just hammered to gap him as much as I could. I jam through lap 1 of 2 on the bike, and as I begin lap 2 I see teammate JayO starting lap one. After some friendly good lucks to the Newbie teammate I continue my quest for 1st.

I see more and more teammates as the bike continues and always exchange a "nice job" and "keep it up!" I am finishing lap 2 as I get a friendly "Go gettum Paulito!!" from Amy V, then its past Speedo teammate Kelly and onto T2. As I enter T2 I see Kara and her family cheering, and in less than a minute I am in and out of T2 in second place and feeling pretty good.

The run is 3.5 miles, also a 2 lap course with a pretty gnarly uphill. As I reach the top of the hill on the first lap, I see teammate Dawn (not racing) running in the opposite direction and gives me updates on the race leader that is 100 meters ahead of me. I look up and sure enough there he is and I slowly pick up the pace. My plan is to slowly make up ground on him and make the pass with less than 1/10th of a mile to go. As I am half way up the hill on lap 2 I hear heavy breathing behind me. As the climb continues 3rd place passes me and is looking strong. I figure there is no way I am going to beat him, so I remain focused on the current race leader who is now less than 100 meters ahead.

I see the pass happen between 1st and second place and keep charging. I notice 2nd place keeps looking back and as he does I realize he is beginning to crumble. I pick up the pace even more as we head up the final incline and head for home. I now know that the finish line is less than 1/10th of a mile away and I charge up behind 2nd place. The line is now in view as well as Kara, her family, and the rest of the spectators. I take one look over my shoulder, see that a small gap is created and drive for home. I crossed in 2nd place, with a best time by 2 minutes for the course. I lost to 1st place by 52 seconds and beat out 3rd by 3 seconds. Jimmy came across the line in 7th and then the cyclonauts continued to pour across the finish line.

After a change of the clothes and a few snacks, some of the teammates and I relax with some coronas (its still not noon yet), claim our prizes and head out. It was a great day and a fun race. Next up is FIRMMAN, a half iron in Rhode Island, 2 weeks after Chicopee. I have done the Half twice and am looking to improve on my best for that course which was a 4:39 which included a lifetime best 1:38 half marathon. For now its back to the training and studying

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Road to a Lifetime Goal

I signed up for Placid in hopes of achieving a lifetime goal, complete an Ironman. This had been a goal of mine since I completed my first Half Iron in 2005 with the help of Rich Veres. Rich introduced me to the longer distance triathlons and to the Cyclonaut club as well, and for that I am immeasurably grateful, so thank you Rich.

The road began in the winter for me and was made up of Saturday spin classes with Kara followed by the Forest Park 5k/10k race series on Saturday morning. Both of these workouts kept the fun in winter training, which to me was rumored to be composed of numerous hours on the stationary bike/trainer and/or the treadmill.

As the warmer weather began to show my plan slowly started to develop: swim when I can, bike whenever Jimmy posts a bike ride, and run after every bike ride. The plan went well for most of the spring and early months, and after a decent amount of smaller races I was feeling good. Enough about the training leading up to the big day, time for the big day.

My day began around 4:15 or 4:30 am with 2 poptarts and a bagel with peanut butter. My transition bags and bike were already in the transition area and my morning bag was packed and ready to go. Kara said she would drive me into town as close as she could and I would walk the rest of the way. The weather seemed nice when we headed up into town and my adrenaline was pumping more than ever. I walked into town with Pete (teammate) and the first thing we took care of was special needs bags. This required a walk up past the start. I didn’t pack any special needs bags (risky move for a newbie, but luckily it worked out just fine) but I decided to keep Pete company on the walk. As we got just past the start I heard a voice from near the water, “Hey Paul! Someone took my spot already!” My younger brother Jake (and spectator extraordinaire) had waken up at the same time as me and run the 1.5 miles into town without me knowing it and managed to get there before me! He was upset because he scoped out a nice spot on a rock in the water the day before, and apparently he wasn't the only one. That was just the beginning of truly amazing day of support from friends and family.

After exchanging a few words with Jake, Pete and I headed back to the Oval to get body marked and set up our transitions. Once we were down there we saw many more of our teammates including a worried Pookie as he had forgotten all his nutrition at the hotel! I also found swimming buddy and teammate Mike Gay in transition. My plan for the swim was to stick with Mike for as long as I could, so once I spotted him that morning I didn’t leave his side, and he can attest to that. Body Glide on, numbers marked, wetsuit, goggles, and cap in hand….what am I forgetting?? Oh yea gotta find the Sani-can. If there is one thing that blows my mind about race prep at triathlons it’s the length of the lines for the bathrooms, it never ceases to amaze me. After taking care of business, I headed up to the spectator area to find the rest of my family before heading into the water. The surprise of support from my family and friends hit me again as my immediate support crew are all wearing T-shirts with my name, race number, picture, and big brother’s mantra “Whatever It Takes.”

At this point I need to get in the water and get this race started. I am overflowing with excitement and nerves. Once again I find Mike Gay and we head down to the water. What an amazing feeling; being on the start line and turning around and panning 180 degrees to see over 2300 athletes and over 15,000 spectators. Fall Out Boy is playing, and as it ends Mike Reilly says his final words before the canon goes off, “Go have your day!” With that I follow Mike’s lead through clear water to the first turn. It got a little more crowded as we turned the 2nd buoy and headed back towards the start. I lost Mike at that point, but was in a good rhythm and knew Mike would be just fine. I finished lap 1 in good time and headed out for the second go-around. At this point the rain had picked up quite a bit, however it was not enough to ruin my day even a little.

As I exited the water I heard Mike Reilly again, “…number 171, Paul McCloskey…” I found a pair of wetsuit strippers, and after having a few issues with getting my wetsuit off, I was off and running up past the playground where I saw many friends and family and a sea of yellow and black. As I ran into transition, I grabbed my bag and a seat in the Men’s tent. No sooner did I sit down, then Mike sits right down next to me. We exchanged a few words and I headed out for the bike just a little while before Mike. I would have waited for him but I knew he would catch me on the bike. I run through T1 trying desperately to wipe off my glasses before I get on the bike. It doesn’t happen and off I go in the rain without them. I kept a nice easy cadence while keeping my heart rate down as I went through town. After a decent climb out of town and an absolutely incredible decent (40+mph, pouring rain, sweeping turns, no glasses), I hit the back stretch of the course still smiling and feeling good.

Now some people know of my “friendly rivalry” with fellow age grouper Patrick Wheeler. I knew he was racing that day and I felt he would most likely beat me, but it did not matter. The goal of the day was to finish the race. While on the flat stretch, I was yo-yoing back and forth with this 25 year old named Forestall. As he passes me and slows down while he is next to me and says, “That swim put quite a dent in Wheeler.” I looked over at him in shock and replied, “How’d you know about that?” He explained that his trains with him and I replied by saying its just a “friendly rivalry.” The fact that Wheeler is gunning for me pumps me up even more and I pick up the cadence just a little bit.

As we begin to climb towards the out and back I hear another person behind me, “Paullll, I see you.” Its Mike, he caught me about 20 miles in and is daunting me. As he passes me he gives me some advice about the cheating train that is ahead of us, and to make sure I keep my 4 bike lengths to the person in front of me. As we hit the out and back I keep Mike in my sights and begin daunting him as we continue. Its awesome to have teammates on the course with you to keep a good attitude. The rest of the lap went well, and I was still smiling as I came into town. As you get into town there are barricades on both sides of the road and they are lined with screaming spectators. As I approach an up hill S-turn lined with people my heart is going crazy with adrenaline and seriously feel like I’m in the Tour de France. I immediately jump out of the saddle as I round a turn and ride right next to the barricades, easily the coolest feeling ever!! I rip through town going faster than I should as a mix of adrenaline, and wanting to look cool in front of everyone, comes over me. I cruise through Cyclonaut Central and head out for lap 2 feeling awesome.

Lap 2 was more of the same as I got excited for the out and back. The great thing about the out and back is a chance to see people in front and in back of you. As I reached the turn around I saw Mike R, Franqui, and Mike G all looking strong. As I headed back I saw Pat Wheeler boring holes through my skull with his eyes, followed by Jimmy, Tom, Doug, Pete, Dave, Pookie, Amy, Kevin, Steve, Doug, Jill, Mary, Jen (but not in that order) and most of the Cyclonauts that were racing. Once the out and back was over I was able to experience another first for myself, I managed to pee while still on the bike. Alright maybe it was a little too much information, but I HAD to go, it was pouring so it rinsed off, and I didn’t want to ruin my momentum. A word of advice though, avoid open wounds if you can, I had a blister on the top of my left foot that got it and it KILLED!!!. After getting that out of my system I just wanted to stay consistent through the end of the bike leg.

I went through T2 without a problem while telling the volunteer that was helping me not to pee on open wounds, and soon I was off and running with a dry hat, dry shoes, and dry socks (yes I actually wore socks for the run this time!). Just as everyone had warned me, I had great momentum heading out on the run as I left town and needed to put on the breaks. Thanks to some running tips from a 26 year old named Dale from Florida, I found a steady pace with smaller steps and was feeling good. I got the huge boost from Cyclonaut Central and was off to the out and back.

The run wasn’t all too exciting except for the times I saw my teammates and attempted to encourage Wheeler. He made the catch around mile 9 and I told him, “its about time” and “I thought you would have caught me sooner.” He didn’t seem to acknowledge me and just kept going with his pace. It kind of bothered me how he acted but I got over it on the way out of town on lap 2 when his girlfriend cheered for me!!

I’d have to say that there really wasn’t a moment throughout the entire race where I doubted myself or lost the drive. I did my best to listen to everyone when they said to enjoy my first one ’cause you will remember it forever. That advice kept me smiling throughout the 140.6 miles, that and seeing my teammates, friends and family throughout the day.

As I kept to my pace and eating and/or drinking every stop I got more and more excited to finish. I wanted to charge up the final climb into town without walking, with a smile on my face. Thank God the hill ended when it did because I began to feel “the fists” getting ready to punch out of the back of my legs! (If you have ever been on a longer ride with me when I am not on top of my nutrition you know all about the fists.) I hit the final out and back with an increased tempo, bigger stride, and even bigger grin. As I came down the small hill towards the Oval I made sure there wasn’t anyone close to me, whether it was in front or in back. This was the moment I had trained for, this was the moment I worked all day for and I didn’t want to share it with any other racer (unless it was a Naut). As I entered the Oval I heard my buddy Mike yell my name from the bleachers. Between his yell and the screaming of the fans I was completely overwhelmed. I temporarily fought back tears of joy as I made the turn and headed for the finish. I saw my brothers, my parents, Kara, Mike, and the sea of yellow and black. As I charged towards the finish line through the rain and puddles I remembered the comment that Amy Veres made to me (and I in turn passed on to Cueball), “Make sure you pose for the finish picture.” With that thought in my mind I approached the tape with fists clenched and arms flexed. What I didn’t realize is the picture was taken after I made the pose, and after I had dropped my head into my hands to cry. I guess its more appropriate for a description of how I truly felt.

With all of the emotion and excitement running through my head, I didn’t even hear Mike Reilly say I was an Ironman, but then again with what I was feeling I already knew.

Again I want to thank my parents for all of their encouragement and support, my brothers, Tim for making the long trek in the rain to see the finish, Brian for staying for the finish even when you had to work Monday morning, Jake for having the shirts made, your own body markings, and getting to the start before me, my Aunt D for coming all the way out to Placid just to wish me luck, Kara for putting up with me the entire time leading up to the race and every moment there after, as well as for being a great training partner, Al and the Nauts for being awesome training partners and an incredible support team, Mike for coming to watch even though you had your licensure exam 2 days later, and the entire Cyclonaut Family for keeping my spirits up all day long. The day would not have been possible without all of you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sufferfest 2008

This past Saturday, June 28th, I woke up at 4 am to meet my buddy Jimmy for our training adventure for the day. The two of us departed Westfield at 4:30 am and headed for Princeton, MA. We arrived just before our 6:00am start time with our friend and fellow cyclonaut Mike Roberts. We had the oppurtunity to stay local and ride the flats upto Vermont with our buddies Steve and Peter, but as Jimmy stated, "you can't pass up a workout with 'fest' in it!"

Mike lives in the Princeton area and put together an awesome Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP) workout for us. It would entail a 26 mile loop that we would ride 3 times, then hop off our bikes, run 3 miles, get back on the bikes for another loop plus an additional climb up to the summit of Mt. Wachusett and back to the start for another 3 mile run. Each person was responsible for their own nutrition, refueling, and mechanicals. With that said 20 of us began the adventure at 6 am in the fog and mist.

The first 4-6 miles is all climbing, followed by 6 miles of down hill, then a rolling section, and the last 2 miles back to the start is up hill as well. The first lap was the easiest and we completed it in about 1 hour and 15 minutes, with an average close to 21 mph. At the end of the 2nd loop, we stopped by our cars, grabbed some more fluids/food, and headed out for the 3rd lap. The great thing about this workout was the oppurtunity to test your nutrition plan for IMLP all while spending lots of time on the bike.

We finished the first 3 laps and I was feeling great. I had the help of Jimmy and our friends and teammates Andy, Matt, and Sara P. The five of us headed out on the run, and after 3 miles Jimmy and I were the only ones of our group of 5 that were going to continue. He and I met up with Mike R (the workout host) and two of his buddies. We finished the fourth lap of the bike and began the 5th lap up to the base of Mt. Wachusett. By the time we got to the base of the mountain, it was just me and Jimmy. Mike and his buddy Neil were ahead of us, while the last guy fell off the back. Jimmy and I worked together to get to the summit. As we climbed through the still present fog, it got warmer and warmer. Once we hit the peak it was still foggy but you could feel the sun burning through. We exchanged complimentary words, took a swig from our bottles and hit the descent.

The descent was fun except for the fact that it was freezing. The sun hadn't hit everywhere yet and we were still in a wet fog. On the way back to the cars we passed Dawn and Mark on their way to the summit. Mark was out enjoying another ride as he always does (even though he doesnt race, he puts in more miles than most people I know) and was keeping Dawn company as she is training for a ride up Mt Washington in August. We said quick hello's to them and continued out our way. We got back to the car, put he bikes away and were off on our second run. Jimmy and I completed the 2nd run holding about 7:30 pace, and both felt pretty good once we got back to the car.

We met up with the others that completed the workout and headed to a local pizza place for food. Overall it was an AWESOME training experience. It gave me great confidence for IMLP and I had a blast along the way. Jimmy has been really helpful with my training on the bike and is great at motivating and pushing you in a workout, so thanks Jimmy for all your help.

In total we covered 120 miles on the bike, 6 miles running. The bike covered 9250 ft of climbing while maintaining a 19.7 mph average. On the car ride home I called Uno's to double check that I wasn't working that night and they informed me that I WAS in fact on the schedule. So instead of recovering once I got home, I threw on the uniform and headed to 5 hours of work on my feet. Great way to the end the day

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tri Season 2008

In July of 2007 I decided to commit to a lifetime goal of mine: complete and Ironman triathlon. The Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run or full marathon. Since one of my high school swim coaches (Cassie Dunn) introduced triathlons to me in 2003 I have been hooked. I have competed through southern New England for the last 5 years.

In the summer of 2005, while working a program for incoming students at Springfield College, I met Rich Veres. Rich is from admissions at the college and also participates in triathlons. While we had some down time on one of the days, he told me about the Ironman he completed in Lake Placid, New York. The following day Rich brought in his photo album and informed me of a Half-Iron triathlon in Rhode Island that was 3 months away. At the conclusion of the summer I completed my first Half-Iron Triathlon in Naragansette, Rhode Island. A few days following the race I added a new lifetime goal: complete a full Ironman.

Fast forward 2 years later. I am in the computer lab at Springfield College, operating 4 different computers in order to register for Ironman Lake Placid of 2008. This race generally fills up in only a few hours so I needed to make sure I was one for the 2400 athletes that would compete in 2008. At 10:00 am sharp I logged onto the site and got right in; good thing considering the race sold out in only 45 minutes! That was it, I had committed to a goal and was both excited and nervous about what the upcoming year would bring for me.

Throughout the past year I have been working part time, while finishing up my Masters degree in Physical Therapy and training for the big day. Training was a little difficult through the winter as I was not committed to the pool all winter long for the first time in 8 years. I decided to focus more on running and entered the Hyannis Marathon in February 2008. The majority of my running took place on the weekend around the Snow Storm Classic 5k/10K race series in Forest Park in Springfield. Most Saturdays I would attend a spin class in Westfield with Kara taught by her Uncle and then would head off to Forest Park for a run with many of the Cyclonauts (the cyclonauts is the multisport team I joined in 2006).

In no time at all it was February and time to head to the Cape. Kara was awesome in supporting me as she subjected herself to sitting outside in 35 degree weather for 4 hours while I went for a run. Also at the race was my "big sister" Mandy Partyka. Mandy is Rich's sister in law and a great person to be around. When too many people take racing too seriously Mandy lightens the mood and relaxes you. She has also been a huge supporter since I have known her, always providing words of encouragment and congratulatory remarks. With the 2 of them there I knew it would be a good day. Sure enough, after 4:00:04 I crossed the line stoked to be done and feeling good (the good feeling only lasted for about 5 minutes before I started freezing from being in wet clothes).

Since the marathon, I have competed in 6 tri's and multiple road races. Training is going well and the big day is less than a month out. That is it for now, time to get back to studying (I'm about a month away from taking the National Physical Therapy Exam). More to come shortly