Thursday, December 9, 2010

2011 Schedule

So much in the works for 2011. Its not that I don't want to go as crazy as 2010, I just don't plan on doing an Ironman in 2011. The financial, physical, and emotional commitments necessary to execute a good Ironman are too great to make on an annual basis. For that reason I am challenging myself in a different way for next year. I plan on racing 4 half irons. I have never done more than 2 in a year, so it will most definitely be a challenge. On top of those races I plan on completing some awesome relays. Without further adieu, my potential schedule:

February 27th - Hyannis Half Marathon
March 19th - Holyoke St. Patrick's Day 10K
April 3rd - Westfield Half Marathon
May 1st - Ludlow Sheriff's Sprint Tri
June 5th - Rev3 Half Quassy
June 11-12th - New England Running Relay (220 mile relay with the great Tom Shea)
Jun 18th - Pat Griskus Olympic (USAT Regional Championships 2011)
July 10th - Providence 70.3
August 6th - Swim Across the Sound
August 20th - USAT Age Group National Championship (Burlington, VT)
August 29th - Chicopee Speedo Challenge (Chicopee Sprint Tri)
September 10th* - Housatonic Valley Sprint Triathlon
September 11th - Pumpikinman Half or Ironman 70.3 World Championships (Vegas)
October 2nd - Mightyman Half

July 22, 2012 - Ironman Lake Placid

Looks to be a fun year, hope to see everyone at the races


Saturday, November 20, 2010

2010 Ironman Florida Race Report

Grab a cup of joe or a nice glass of red and have a seat, this may be a little on the longer side, afterall it was a long road of preparation and I wouldn't want to miss anything. I will apologize ahead of time if at times there is more information than you wish to hear. Ladies and Gentlemen, without further adeiu...

My road to the Florida Ironman began on a cold day in November of 2009. After hearing about the success my friends had experienced with Quantitative Triathlon Training Systems (QT2) I decided to attain their services for Florida. My goal was to really dedicate a year of hard word and training and see what was actually possible with me and the Ironman. On the flip side, this single year of dedication to sport would also include dedication to my fiance, building a house, starting a new position at work, and planning (and not messing up) a wedding. Kara and I were both up for the challenge and with her support I knew we would both achieve success across all fronts....SPOILER ALERT!!!!! We achieved success on all fronts (but then again you all knew that already).

Flash forward (everyone says fast forward so I'm switching it up a bit) to race week. My head is a bit of a mess. When you are tapering for your big event you tend to have a ton of pent up energy and your mind goes 1,000,000 miles per hour. Some of the things in my head include my calf injury from Mightyman Half one month ago. Thanks to good friend and dynamite PT, OCS Amy Veres my calf was feeling much better and I hadn't had any flair ups in some time. My knee on the other hand was a different story. I had to ship my racing bike down to FL a week early so I didn't have a road bike to ride for my final 3 hour ride one week before the race (this will become my primary arguement as I try to convince KJ to let me get a road bike...good luck right?) I asked my buddy Seth if he would like to join me in the woods for a ride (yes the ride was my idea and Seth and John Hill don't get to take any responsibility for this, only I do). He agreed and Hillman and Andy showed up to join us on a "mellow" ride at Robinson. 2 hours later my knee began to get sharp shooting pains (patella-femoral like for all you fellow PT geeks reading). Seth noticed my seat post had slipped while we were riding and had lowered a centimeter or 2. We called it a day, but the pain stuck around til arriving in FL.

Calf on the mend, knee is shakey, race plan has been reviewed, now its time to land, get car, go to condo, check-in at race tent etc. We get everything taken care of and a few of us decide to go for a quick bike ride to make sure everything is copesethetic with our bikes (and knees).

We make it 2 miles and WHAM!! (and i dont mean the hit music group either) - Sharp knee pain! Uh oh...don't panic...investigate....what makes it worse...what makes it can I compensate? All of these things were running through my head adding to the panic and what ifs.

Friday arrived and with it came sunny skies, Kara's arrival, and bike check in. All responsibilities were again taken care of, plus a 30 minute massage from Manfred (great guy that worked out all the kinks in my legs while also donning me with some sweet pink and light blue kinesio-tape for my calf and knee and most likely my brain). Nutrition that day was also stellar (I ate everything I was suppossed to and then some).

3:30 alarm goes off, apple sauce time! breakfast went down smoothly and back to bed for a cat nap. I met Ochoa in the lobby for 5:30 and headed down to transition.

I was feeling good. I had my 2 best supporters (Jake and KJ) with me, a scary fast race plan, sunny (but cold) skies, and a ton of energy waiting to be expended. As my college assistant swim coach once told us (in regards to tapering for a big event), "You are like a wind up toy. All season long you put in the time and hard work, this is you being wound up. On race day all you have to do is just let go and let the race take care of itself." Time to be let go!

Body mark check, wetsuit on, que the sunrise. My entourage and I along with Ochoa and his fam (minus his brother who still was puzzled by the idea of waking up before the sun) headed towards the beach for the start. I give KJ and Jake a hug and head down to the water to find my spot on the front line of 2400 people on a straight line to the first buoy. The plan was to take out the first 400yds hard then settle into my rhythm. A blast from Sandstorm comes over the speakers, the is jostling for position, a calm comes over the crowd and......BOOM the canon goes off!! I treat the 400 yards like a 50 and am having an awesome turnover with my kick not missing a beat. I manage to hit the first buoy ahead of everyone (woohoo i won the race....wrong!!) I settle into what I feel is a comfortable pace and people slowly begin coming around me. "uh oh, not good, why can't I pull more water?! Are the seas really this choppy? Stay on those feet!" The stretch out to the first turn buoy was tough. I was getting passed, not finding my rhythm, and trying not to panic.

Across the back stretch I begin to catch a little more water with every pull. The magic happened as I turned the second time. It was similiar to swimming the 1000 freestyle and after 100 yards you feel as though you haven't slowed down and might even be going faster! I am grabbing so much water and starting to pass everyone that passed me! I'm not working overly hard and I am absolutely cruising!! I get out of the water after lap 1 and am looking for a clock...don't see one. Where am I? How am I doing? Do I need to go faster?

I run up the beach, under the arch, make the turn and look ahead to see how many people are in front of me....about 3?! What?!!! Oh man this is awsome, I am killing the swim (too bad there is still a long bike and a hard run ahead of me). I pass on the aid station and run down the beach and back into the water. Bad idea, shouldn't have run so hard, I'm tired, I think I can walk past the breaking point...time to swim again. Lap 2 was pretty much the same (no rhythm, people passing me etc) the only difference was I knew I could count on the back stretch of the swim to be fast and I could make up my time there. That is exactly what I did. I really turned it on with about 200 meters to go to get the legs warmed up for the bike. I run up the beach (still no clock) and find a wetsuit stripper. Grab my wet suit and head for T1.

The benefit of having a strong swim is you get spoiled in T1. I had 5 volunteers helping me get all of my bike gear ready, which for the first time included arm warmers...yikes (thanks Jim for saving me with your extra pair). Time to bike!

The Bike:
IMFL has a reputation of being flat, fast, and a draft fest. With only the pros ahead of me along with a few age groupers (2) I know that the packs will at some point catch up to me. I do my best to keep in check the variables that I have control of (nutrition, HR, fluid intake etc). The main thing on my mind however is the is freezing! It honestly took me 30-40 miles before I stopped shivering. With the exception of my temperature, everything was going well; I was even ahead of my fluid intake (little did I know this would come back to bite me in rear).

As the miles went up, so did the pressure in my bladder. The longer I rode without listening to my body the higher my heart rate went up and the more I had to back off the bike pace. Every time I took care of business my heart rate dropped dramatically and I was able to put in a good hard effort (until I had to go to the bathroom again). This happened 3 times over the 112 mile bike ride. Between the pressure in my bladder and my frustration of seeing the pack riders, my hear rate was constantly high. This is the downside of riding according to HR as opposed to power. Had I been using a power meter I most likely would have been able to keep the effort consistent despite my level of frustration with other riders.

Lets just take a moment to really look at how close these riders were. The rule is 4 bike lengths between bikes, most times it was less than 2! At one point a pack was coming by me and I actually pointed to a rider ahead of me as I said to the rider passing me "hurry up, grab his wheel, you dont want a gap forming!" He had some words for me, but all i could think was, "I hope you can run as well as you draft!"

The first out and back is somewhere in the 70-80 mile range. This was where I would be looking for my teammates to exchange encouraging words. I saw them a lot sooner than I expected! Jim first, followed by Andy, and ....OCHOA??!! When you are being chased it seems like they are all right on your tail. In this case they actually were! I knoew Jim would be an absolute monster on the bike, so as he passed me just after the second out and back (about 25 miles to go) it was almost a relief. He thought something was majorly wrong which to both our reliefs was not the case. As we hit T2 I was about 2 minutes down to Jim, and only a few minutes ahead of Andy and Ochoa.

My focus going through T2 was to eat my banana, take my gel, and get moving!! The plan for the run was to take it out at 6:35 min/mile and hold on as long as possible. I grabbed all of my nutrition for the first half of the run and was off....and running. I was so focused on nutrition that I left T2 with my arm warmers still on...not part of my plan. Luckily Jake was on the run course about 1/4 mile into it and after getting my garmin squared away I was able to hand them off. I caught up to Jim and after some positive exchanges...pause.... we both continued at our appropriate paces.

I felt great! The cool thing about IMFL run course is that it takes a lot of turns so you feel like you are covering a lot of ground. Before I knew it I was 6 miles in and averaging just above 6:40s. The trouble came at mile 8. I had taken a gel at T2, another at mile 4 and then I took one just before the mile 8 aid station so I could wash the taste of the gel out of my mouth. Good plan right??? WRONG!! The 3rd gel literally stopped my in my tracks as a wave of nausea came over me. I decided it would be best to take care of business urgently so I made my way to the side of the road, vomitted violently about 4-5 times, rinsed my mouth out and took off like a bat out of hell. I.was.furious. With my bout of sickness my mile time jumped up to 8:39, I then thought it would be a good idea to run on anger. My next mile was 6:31,however my legs were HEAVY. You'd think I would feel lighter after an episode of the caliber, however that was not the case. My pace slowed over the next few miles as I got back to Cyclonaut central. As I came up to Jake I asked him where I was in my division (assuming 5th or 6th). He informed me that I was in 5th and to keep pushing. He relayed a message from coach Pat to stick with the pace as best I could. I made the turn and on the way out of town I said to Jake that I was fading. He ran with me for a little while which gave me a bigger boost than I think he realized (thanks dood!).

The second lap was filled with thinking. My pace kept slipping, however there still wasn't anyone passing me. I kept this in the forefront of my mind and repeated over and over again, "keep clipping off miles, keep moving up" This saying helped keep my head in the game. I had been trailing a guy who I assumed was in my age group for at least 3 miles. At one of the aid stations he went to the bathroom and I hit the gas (not really I just kept running). I hoped that he was in my age group and that I had moved up to 4th (thinking at this point that there would be 3 or 4 Kona slots).

I hit the final turn around and continued to try and pick up the pace. It was difficult but made easier everytime I saw a teammate. It really is what makes this club so special. We are easy to spot and all very supportive of one another. The final 7 miles went something like this: run a mile, walk the aid station, take a sponge, have some coke or water, run again. I repeated this every aid station while still trying to get to the finish as soon as possible.

As I came in for the finish I remembered the advice I had received before my first Ironman in Lake Placid 2 years ago: Don't forget the pose for the finish line! I zipped up my jersey, gave my ring a kiss, and pumped my arms in victory.

Notice the comparison between the finsih in '08 and this years finish...

No longer a clydesdale (less than 200lbs) and I managed to celebrate long enough for them to take the picture before becoming an emotional wreck.

I ended up finishing 4th in my age group and missed Kona by 9 minutes (1 slot). I was thrilled that I reached my goal of making the podium (top 5 at WTC events) in my biggest race of the season.

This years race was an incredible one. I am beyond thrilled with my result and I attribute that to a few key people:
KJ for agreeing to let me get a coach and dedicate a serious amount of time to training. I know that I have been a pain in your rear end during our very busy year and you never let me realize it. You let me continue with my plan and get the result I hoped I could.
Coach Pat and QT2 for providing me with the necessary knowledge to train properly and carry out an effective and successful race.
Jake for being an awesome brother and making the trip down to see me. You were at the swim start at Placid before me in 08 ready to cheer, and you were there whenever and whereever I needed you in Florida this year.
Ochoa for being an awesome training buddy. It was beyond helpful having you for those early morning swims at crystal or those late week night bricks. Congrats on an incredible first Ironman, I think you found your distance.
The cyclonaut family for being the best team on the face of the earth. You are the most incredible and inspirational group of people that make training much more enjoyable.

See you at the races...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Almost Race Day

It is about time!! I have only been waiting for this time to come for just about a year. This time last year I made a fantastic trip down to Panama City Beach FL with a bunch of great teammates to volunteer at Ironman Florida. We went down, had a blast, volunteered, registered, and came home. We rocked the bars til 2am, cheered until just about midnight, and ate our faces off. It was this race where the Speedo Spectators were born.

This time around is going to be different. Rather than grabbing a McGriddle sandwich at the airport before our flight down, I will be have a yogurt, banana, and protein shake. Instead of getting off the plane and stopping at Hardees for double burger deliciousness, I will be looking for my turkey sandwich on white. Rather than closing down Coyote Ugly after pre-gaming at the Hofbrau Beer Garden, I will be checking in and attending the athlete meeting.

Even though both trips have a completely opposite approach and feel to them, they are equally as exciting. I am looking forward to being on the opposite side of the barricades this time around. I have put in a year of very regimented training, made significant dietary changes, and prepared more psychologically then when I was behind the starting blocks of the Collegiate National Championships.

Even more exciting than race arriving however, is knowing that I will be sharing it with a group of wonderful people. I am so grateful to have my wife (still sounds funny), my little brother Jake, and a swarm of teammates and their families to share this with. And even though a lot of people wished they could have made it but are unable to at this time, I know that they will be supporting me back home, following me online, and sending good vibes my way. I can't wait to write up my race report for this one. This race has been a long time coming and it is finally here.

See ya on the other side of finishing tape!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mightyman Half Iron Race Report

Wow, I am finally caught up! A race report within 48 hours of racing, that is unheard of for me.

I left good ole Belchertown at 6:00am, Saturday morning to drive out to Millbury to meet up with Andy who was also going to be racing the Mighty Man Half. After loading my stuff up in his truck we headed into town for a big breakfast. We eat managed to polish off 3 large blueberry pancakes, 2 slices of french toast, 2 eggs, and home small task. Our plan was to head down to Montauk Long Island for around noon. Three ferry rides later we arrived just as they were wrapping up the first race briefing. We decided it would be best to get some food, drive the bike course and be back in time for the 2:30 race briefing.

The bike course is 2 loops of 28 miles with a total of 2300 feet of elevation, not too bad if you ask me. There were 5 out and backs so we would have plenty of chances to see who was around us on race day. One particular out and back goes out to the Montauk Lighthouse. It was here that we decided to be good citizens (or complete idiots) and pick up a hitchhiker that was looking for a ride back into town. It turned out be a nice gesture rather that a horror film...phew. Our outlook on the bike course was that there were some decent hills but also a fair amount of flat spots that would could potentially allow us to get into a good rhythm.

Race briefing seemed to go on forever (Andy and I both fell asleep "listening") and after that it was time for some more relaxation. 2 hours of Ryder Cup coverage, followed by the run course preview and our dinner. Run course was similar to the bike course in that the first 3 miles were flat, then you had about 2.5 miles of pretty serious hills (not as bad as Providence 70.3 though), followed by the final mile of flat/slight inclined gradient. The funny thing about this run course was that in race history, not many were able to run under 1:30. Andy and I both saw this as an acceptable challenge and couldn't wait til race day.

In bed by 7:30, up by 3:00 for breakfast (need time to digest) then it was off to set up transition around 5:45. Andy and I were both in the first wave which was to go off at 6:40. Conditions were going to be challenging as well as the forecast predicted wind gusts up to 30 mph, clouds, and temps in the low 60s. Water temp for the swim was in the mid 60s. The swim was in a fresh water pond but looked as though it was on the longer side of 1.2 miles. As we lined up I kept running through my race plan in my head, "...swim well, bike better, run best..." Horn went off and the arms started flailing. I attacked the first 200 meters hard and was able to get into a good rhythm for the remainder of the swim. Swim was fairly smooth until we turned to head back to the shore at which time we were hit with more noticeable swells and wind. I exited the water in first with about a 3 minute lead.
Swim Time: 26:15

I decided to forgo the arm warmers and headed out on the bike. The plan here was to average 163 bpm and ride as steady as possible. Man was it windy! My race wheels acted like sails and if I didn't have a good grip on my aerobars I was all over the place. I felt pretty good for the first portion and was looking forward to hitting the first out and back so I could see where my competition was. I would take note of where we passed and see if that changed on the second lap. I did this with multiple out and backs so I would have more references. The funny thing is, whether my lead changed or not, I was going to stay in my proper heart rate zone, so I guess it was more so for frame of mind.

At around mile 45 I counted to see how many minutes my lead was on second place and it ended up being 8 minutes. I was thrilled to figure this out because I had to go #1 pretty bad and if I had a little time to use the port-o-jon in T2 then I would rather than warming my left leg up (if you know what I mean). I got all of my nutrition down that was necessary prior to T2, got off the bike, put on socks and shoes, and headed for the can. The crowd found this particularly humorous because the jons were actually outside of T2, so as I exited transition I gave the mountain biker escort a "hang on one sec" gesture and jumped in to take care of business. Felt wayyyy better after that and now it was time to test the run. My plan here was to keep it under 175 bpm and if I could start out around 6:00 -6:15 pace. After about 3 miles I got word from the bike escort that my lead after T2 was 10 minutes. I kept to the plan and continued to click away mile by mile.
Bike Time:2:26.39

The really fun part about this race was the volunteers at the aid stations and intersections. They were awesome. They cheered for me by name as I came through, made jokes, and really helped take my mind off of the race for brief periods of time while also giving me something to look forward to next time I would see them.

It was in the hills of the run course that I got my first look at second place which ended up being 2 miles back. This gave me even more drive to press forward. I passed Andy and he looked as strong as ever. I swear no matter how fast I'm going (or how fast I feel I'm going), Andy always looks like he is going twice as fast. He was sitting in sixth and looking to hunt people down. I looped by transition to start lap 2 and after a huge applause from the crowd, volunteers, and announcer I was off for the final lap. The energy at this race was unbelievable!! Lap 2 was more of the same great energy and more consistent miles. On the second lap out and back I saw that I had increased my lead, and with just over 1.5 miles to go I knew it was mine. Now it was me vs the clock for a PR. My PR leading up to this race was a 4:29 at Firm Man following Lake Placid in 2008, and I was hoping this was going to be faster. I had no idea what my swim time was while I was on course. I knew I was going to PR I just didn't know by how much. I pushed myself as hard as I could and was able to close the race with a 5:45 mile. I rounded the corner for the finishing shoot and saw 4:16 on the clock!! I gave a quick kiss to my wedding ban (KJ couldn't make it and I usually stop to give her a smooch before the finish line if I can because of all the support she gives me) and crossed the line with arms raised.
Run Time: 1:22.01
Overall Time: 4:16.42 PR
This race was an incredible experience. They really made me feel like a star with a post race interview, a chat with the race director and nonstop congratulatory remarks. Andy crossed in what we thought was third place (ended up being 6th) with a PR as well. He and I had the fastest run splits of the individual racers, both well under 1:30. This race gave me lots of positive energy heading into the final 2 week build for IMFL.

I want to thank Andy for making the trip with me. I think it is safe to say we fed off of each others energy really well and as a result pushed ourselves to race bests. KJ for being so understanding of the time and energy needed to be successful in this sport. To my Coach, Pat who has given me the proper knowledge and information necessary to improve. To the Cyclonauts; the best team around! I have learned so much and grown so much with everyone and attribute any success I experience to the club as a whole. Can't wait to share the IMFL adventure with all of you!!

Housatonic Valley Sprint Triathlon

I had originally heard about this race through my father back in May or June. He saw it advertised at work and it grabbed his attention. My dad recently made some serious life changes for the better and my brothers and our mom couldn't be more proud. Not only did he quit smoking, but he changed his diet completely in order to lower his cholesterol, better control his blood sugars, and also lower his blood pressure. To date he has lost over 40 pounds and now works out 5-6 times per week! When he saw this sprint tri posted it gave him something to potentially work towards accomplishing.

Fast forward to late August when my dad decided he had better wait another year as he felt he was not ready yet. At this point I was already registered so that if he decided to sign up I could do it with him. Even though he postponed it, I was still going to race.

The sprint was a 1/4 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. Advertised as a hilly bike followed by a run with one serious hill and some rollers. I was in the first wave and looking forward to blasting through the swim. When the gun went off I did just that. As I rounded the final orange buoy and turned for the beach, I looked up to pick my line. As I did so, I saw the cones on the beach and headed straight for them. In the process I swam to the right of a tall white buoy that I thought marked the swimming area of the town park, but as it turned out it was included as race course buoy. I was out of the water first, pulled off my cap and goggles in time to hear a volunteer tell me I missed a buoy and would have to go back. Que the anger...

I threw my goggles back on and went back out around the final buoy and back to the beach and lost about 45 seconds total. As I got through T1 KJ could tell I was not so happy so she just kept shouting positive things to try and cheer me up. I tore out on the bike course on a mission to catch the lead biker. 12 miles and 32ish? minutes later I hadn't seen him, that is until I was approaching T2. As I was going into T2 he was exiting. Some more frustration while trying to get my run shoes on warranted some more positive comments from KJ, and off I went.

Keep in mind this race had a cash prize and I wasn't about to let a swim error cost me some serious dough! I went through the first mile in 5:47 and had the leader in my sights. I slowly tried reeling him in while still making sure I would have enough to make the pass and hopefully put time into him. I caught him just after mile 2 (5:35), and after we exchanged some friendly comments I pushed forward. Within in the last 1.1 miles I was able to put 43 seconds into him and take the win!

It was a special win because this was the first race I have won with my parents being there and it was nice to celebrate with them. The only down side to the day was I had missed my perfect race because of my swim error. My idea of a perfect race is to win the overall while also having the fastest swim, bike, and run splits. I had just missed this in the Chicopee Speedo Challenge when a 17 year old beat me out of the water by a few seconds.

I am super thrilled with my year so far, especially as of late with back to back victories in the Speedo Challenge Sprint and this Sprint. Up next is a race that really matters, the Mighty Man Half Iron in Montauk, NY. This will be my final tune up for Ironman Florida and will give me a much clearer picture of my fitness going into my "A" race for the season.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Park City Mossman Oly and a Wedding!

After another solid block of training following Prov 70.3 it was time to race again. This time it would be the Park City Mossman Oly in Bridgeport CT. I would have loved to do a half for my August race, however my wedding day fell on the same days as Timberman so I bumped my race up a week. I was really looking forward to this race because the Mooseman Oly got cut short and I really wanted to see how my total race would go, especially my 10K split.

Ochoa met me down there on race morning and what a day it was. Water was fairly calm, air wasn't too hot and it was a pancake flat course. 5 Loop bike and 2 loop run, pretty standard oly distance. The other part of this race that I was looking forward to was racing the CT crowd. Its funny, considering how close MA and CT are, there isn't a ton of overlap at races. More specifically I was looking forward to racing Dan Theleen and Tim Steiskal, both 20-24 year olds that are on the rise in the sport and have already had some great success this season. The last was Chris Thomas. Chris races for Team Timex and is legit. So legit in fact that he could be pro. I saw him on the run course in Prov on his way to a top 10 finish, pros included. I knew this was going to be a challenging day.

All the men started in the first wave and I expected Tim and Dan would be out of the gate fast as they are both collegiate swimmers. My plan was to push my swim, stay steady on the bike, and work the run. I came out of the water about 30-45 seconds behind Dan and on the heels of Tim, we were the first 3 out of the water. I passed Tim on the way to transition knowing that he can ride and I want to get as much time as I can on him. Once on the bike course you could keep an eye on everyone you wanted to. While Tim and I danced back and forth for about 2 1/2 laps (until I passed him and put in an effort in order to avoid being passed again) while Dan managed to stay ahead of me the entire bike. I came into T2 on Dan's heels and left T2 in the exact same position.

At this point John Babcock (who has spoiled a race or 2 for me) was in first with Chris in second, Dan in third, and me in fourth. I was curious to see how this run would go because I have noticed that Dan has improved his run. We took the first mile out in 5:44 at which time I thought "I want to get on the podium, lets see how long I can maintain..." Second mile was 5:48 and Dan and I were still together. During the 3rd mile I managed to pass Dan and never looked back. I was able to maintain my pace over the entire run and pulled out a 36 minute 10K split (PR by 6 minutes) and held on to third place overall! I was thrilled with this race, my run especially as it has given me a new found confidence in any race.

Now that the race was over it was time to get some training in and prepare for my wedding the following weekend!

Wedding festivities started on Friday with a huge rehearsal barbeque that had about 140 people. It was a little overwhelming when all those people are there for you and your fiance! I barely had time to eat! After closing down the bars with brothers, cousins, and friends it was finally time to hit the hay. I had to get up early the next morning because I was meeting Seth and Ochoa for a portion of Jim's 120 mile ride to VT and back.

Most people thought I was crazy to go for a bike ride the day of my wedding, but I was going to go crazy if I just sat around the entire morning. We were able to get in 40 miles and be back in time for breakfast. The rest of the day went perfectly. I really couldn't ask for a better bride with a better family. It may be cliche and it may sappy, but I truly feel that the Shaw/Quimper Family is a complete reflection of the McCloskey's. We had the most amazing time celebrating and dancing. I really wish we could do it every weekend (just without the tuxedos).

Now its on to my new life in Belchertown with Kara Jane and our bikes (no pets for us thanks). Up next is the Chicopee Speedo Challenge...cant wait!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Providence 70.3 Race Report

Finally I GOT MY REVENGE!!!!

This race got the best of me last year. It chewed me up and spit me out. With a whole new artillery of resources at hand I decided to have another go at this race. This year I was in much better shape, more specifically about 25 pounds lighter than last year, and looking to do some damage.

Race Day:
Once again I was one of the last waves to go off so I was able to see all of the pros finish the swim as well as most of the age groupers. I took a look at the finishing times of the pros and determined that I wanted to be within 2-3 minutes of their swim splits when I got out of the water. Canon went off and so did I! I took the first 200 meters of the swim like it was a 50 meter sprint, and yet one guy in my age group still got out ahead of me. No biggie, I would just find my rhythm and keep moving forward. I didn't have any problems and was out of the water in a reasonable amount of time and currently second in my age group.

Whipped through transition and hopped out on the bike same time as Ed Van Zandt, a teammate of time that started a wave or 2 ahead of me. We exchanged some encouragement as well as went back and forth passing each other several times. My plan was to ride with an average heart rate of 163 and that's what I did. It gets tough to stick to the plan when you don't feel like you are working that hard and you are getting passed by fellow age groupers. The good news is I knew exactly where I stood at all times. I rode in second place, caught first, then got passed by third, (was still in second) and stayed there until the end. The entire ride I was doing math in my head figuring out what I would have to run in order to break 4:30 (the ultimate goal). Once I got to T2 the math took a back seat. I arrived in T2 right behind first place in my age group, and after confirming that we were in first and second, we both took off for the hill run course that Providence had to offer.

As I was going through mile 1, I was getting my garmin adjusted and trying to figure out what pace I was at (even though it was staring me right in the face! a little bit of a brain fart if you will) 5:30! SLOW DOWN!!! My race execution plan that Coach Tim had put together said to head out at 7:05s and eventually settle into 7:20s. First mile 6:24, second mile 6:30...uh oh this is a little faster than the plan! I checked my heart rate and it was right where Tim said it should be so I decided to maintain that pace as long as I could. I backed off a bit going up college hill, then picked it up a bit on the flats and downhills. The great thing about this run course is that it is spectator friendly. That came into play as I got to see Kara 3 or 4 times over the 13.1 mile course. With constant boosts of confidence and encouragement from her I was able to maintain my pace, and ended up averaging 6:41s!

I stayed in second place in my age group and finished in 4:34. I was thrilled, it beat the hell out of my 4:58 last year. My time this year was good enough to qualify for the Half Ironman World Championships in Clearwater FL in November, however because I am already signed up for Ironman Florida (one week prior to worlds) I passed on my slot.

Over all I am thrilled with the race and very grateful to have Kara supporting me the entire way. Up next is a vacation followed by the Park City Mossman Olympic in Bridgeport CT in August (one week before my wedding!)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lake Waramaug Sprint

After having the swim cancelled at Mooseman I decided I wanted to throw a sprint onto the schedule prior to Providence 70.3 in order to test out my new Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit. I used to have a sleeveless, so with the addition of this new full body wetsuit I wanted to get a race under my belt that way I would be comfortable with T1.

I headed down to Lake Waramaug on a Friday afternoon for this sprint that I have done twice. The last time I did it I had the lead until about a mile and a half to go on the run. It was at this point that I was passed by one pro and one former pro. I was able to make a final push to finish within a minute of both of them, however I was still disappointed with giving up the lead. This year would be different.

I had an unusual confidence going into the race as I had put in some significant base mileage compared to years past. I went through my pre-race routine (check in, set up bike, transition, scope out competition, etc) and was getting very excited. Two buddies of mine from college were there to watch their mom do her first race which got me excited to see her as well. After a few motivating words for Maureen I headed down to the swim start. It was going to be women and relays followed by the men 4 minutes later. Gun went off and so did I. My plan was to hammer, hammer hammer.

I made my way through most of the wave ahead of me as well as my wave. I came out of the water first in my wave with only 10-15 women or teams ahead. I made it through T1 safely and hit the road pedaling. There is a 2 mile downhill followed by a right turn and a very flat and fast loop around the lake before making a sharp left turn and hitting the 2 mile uphill back to transition.

I was making my way through the women and teams looking for the lead biker. Nobody had caught up to me until just before the climb back up. I noticed someone behind me that initiated the pass, almost came up next to me, then dropped back behind me. I was sure if he was drafting so when we hit the hill I decided to crank it up a bit. As I got to the top I took a quick look back and saw that I had gapped him fairly well. I continued hammering up the climb to T2.

I went out for the run feeling good and knew I would have 3 opportunities to see who was in front and in back of me. I saw 2 people ahead of me (both teams) and the same guy from the bike behind me but couldn't tell if I was gaining or loosing. When we made the final turn with a mile to go I saw that I had a pretty substantial gap to second place and tried to put in a hard kick to go for the course record. I crossed the line in first with a new course record by about 3 minutes. WOOHOOO!! This was the first record I have ever set and was thrilled!!

Overall the race was a huge success and it got me even more excited for Providence 70.3 which was now about 3 weeks away. For now though, its back to the training

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mooseman Olympic

This season I decided to switch up my races a bit. Rather than doing the normal sprints and olympics around here that are part of the FIRM series, I went with a few new ones. The first was the Mooseman Olympic. This was on a Saturday and was followed by the half iron on Sunday. I knew a good group going up, some racing the oly and the rest racing the half. I stayed with my good friends Andy Salmon, and Jim and Kelly Sullivan. We had an awesome condo right on Newfound Lake.

Fast forward to race morning, there were showers and thunderstorms in the forecast so it shouldn't have been a surprise when we were woken up to thunder, lightning, and torrential rain at 3am on race day. Kelly and I were doing the oly so we were up and having our race breakfast as we were looking at the radar. Race is scheduled for 8, but it looks perfect around 9:30.

We venture over to race start to set up transition only to find there has been a 90 minute delay, no swim, and they are shortening the bike from 26 miles to 17 and keeping the run at 10K. The bad news: swim is my strongest leg, bike is next strongest, run is weakest. Good news: we get to race. The race will start in order of race number and we will begin on our bikes in 3 second intervals. I decide that I am going to hammer the bike and try and hang on for the run.

All goes well and according to plan and I feel like I am cruising right along on the bike. The weather is nice and so is the pavement. I move through the pack and hop off the bike in second place about 30 seconds down to the leader. I hit the road running, and as I do so the leader appears to be gapping me big time. I get passed by a few more racers including coach Pat and try as hard as I can to not loose too much time. I turn into the park, head for the shute and finish 3rd in age group and 7th overall. I was able to average 25.1 mph on the bike and 6:19 per mile on the run. Overall I was very pleased with the results given there was no swim.

With the next scheduled race being Providence 70.3 it was time to get back to the plan and have a serious build for my only scheduled half of the season.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Changes from 2009 to 2010

Sorry about the last post, ADD must have kicked in so it was never completed. I am going to try and bring you all up to speed on the 2010 season as it has had some pretty big changes.

In November of 2009 I decided to get myself a coach for a year and give Ironman racing a really good amount of dedication and effort before really setting down, starting a family, and increasing my responsibilities tenfold. Since hearing about Quantitative Training Systems (QT2) Triathlon coaching I have been very much interested. They have a very methodical and calculated approach to the sport that has yielded some incredible results. Most importantly they have a very detailed nutrional approach with is something that I believe too many triathletes overlook or dont take seriously enough (myself included). It is for these reasons that I signed to have them coach me for the winter of 2009 and more importantly for 2010 and Ironman Florida.

I was told Pat Wheeler was going to be writing up my program, and after burying the hatchet from seasons past, I couldn't be happier. Pat is a very accomplished triathlete that is in my age group. As I write this he has placed 4th in age group at Lake Placid in 08, won the age group in 2009 thereby qualifying for Kona, raced Kona in '09, and most recently won his age group at the inaugural 2010 Ironman St George once again picking up a Kona slot. This all while under the wing of QT2. If that doesn't sell anyone, I don't know what will.

My winter block was going to be from November 2009 to March of 2010, culiminating in the Westfield Half Marathon. Without getting into too many details, the winter block went well and I was able to PR at Westfield with a 1:25. That was a 13 minute improvement for me! I then took 2 weeks off before starting a 30 week block for Ironman Florida. With the training comes some intense nutrional changes. At this point I have lost about 25 pounds since November and dropped my body fat from 24% (tons of fun) to around 14% (a little more lean). The goal is to get somewhere around 10% by November for the IM. I have already noticed a tremendous difference and look forward to seeing future improvements while onboard with QT2 coaching services and Coach Pat