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!