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

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!