Thursday, November 29, 2012

Products I Want to Try

I've recently seen a couple of products via Facebook that I thought you guys might have interest in or at least have fun looking at/knowing about.  Of course, they're not available in any local store near me, so the chances of trying it out or even looking at them are zero, but I can dream.

The first is a new type of water bottle from Hydrapak. 

You're out on the bike, you reach down for your water and then into the bento box or your back pocket for a gel.  Then you have to reach back for your water to wash the gel down.  We're all pretty used to the process by now.  But Hydrapak has come out with a new water bottle that might help shorten that process. 

That's right!  Liquid and gel all in one!  There is a small central reservior called the "Energy Core" that holds 3.2 oz of gel (That's just under three full GU gels).  Check out the video on the website to see how it works.  For shorter races, say Olympic or Sprints (ones where I won't toss a bottle), this might work well.  You'd have to debate whether the displaced room for water would be worth it though.  Neat product idea either way.

The second product is a line of shoes I had never heard of before.  SKORA

As you know, I love my Pearl iZumi Streak IIs and ISO Transitions.  However, in my last trip to the shoe store, I discovered that I'd love if they lowered the heel-to-toe drop a little, but I would not want to sacrifice the thin 9mm front sole to do so.  SKORA gets the job done!  The shoes are zero-drop and have a 9mm sole.  Sounds perfect.  The only problem is that they have no retailers that I can see.  Therefore, in order to try them, I'd have to order them and risk the possible return.  And since I JUST bought a new pair of Streak IIs, I'll bide my time. 


1.  Have you seen or heard about the Gel-Bot or SKORA?  If so, have you ever tried them?

2.  Any interesting products or companies that you think we haven't heard about? 

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

The 2013 Race Calendar Preparations Begin with OCD

I've been spending some time trying to mentally arrange my goals for the 2013 race season.  I've got one big race already set.  The rest are in various stages of planning. 

I sat down to figure out what my choices were for races around certain times of the year and it became a rather lengthy project.  What follows is an autobiographical account of how I (hopefully only temporarily) acquired OCD. 


Let's say I want to run a marathon somewhere between February and April.  In fact, I actually do.  I pull up  I have to pick a state.  I live in CT, so that's an obvious choice.  Now I have all the upcoming races in CT.  But I only want marathons in February, March, and April, so I have to limit the search to "Marathon" and we'll start with "February."  Nothing.  I switch to "March" and get nothing.  Then I switch to "April" and again get nothing.  The conclusion is that if I want to do a February to April marathon, travel is going to be required.  But where do I need to travel to?  Now I switch from CT to MA, RI, ME, VT, NH, NY, etc. 

Somewhere along that monotonous search, I decide that this is not conducive to finding a race without adding tons of frustration!  I have to keep switching states, months, race type, etc.  And once I find them, I need to switch back and forth to compare the times, locations, etc.  AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!  I'm going to rip my hair out!!

But how else do I look for races??

Bingo!  Let's take all the races in New England and compile them onto one single list so I can look at them all at one time instead of separated by state, month, or distance.  Sounds like a great idea, right?  I'll be able to quickly compare and decide on races.  I'll even list the races homepage, entry fee, and start time for a better comparison.  I am a genius!

I am an idiot!  Why did I think this would be easy?  Ok, it's not physical demanding, but it's mentally draining.  Let's break it down.

3 types of races (half mary, full mary, and ultra)
12 months in a year
7 states (ME, VT, NH, MA, CT, RI, and NY)

That's 252 web pages on I have to look through.  If they average one race per page, that's 252 race homepages I have to look through as well.  (It actually averaged 1.3 races per page)


But have no fear.  The list is complete!  I put in the man hours of fighting the desire to doze off and punched in the following totals...

185 half marathons
52 full marathons
72 ultra marathons and odd distance races

Now I have no excuse for not knowing which road races I want to do.

Next up...
2013 Triathlon Compiled List


1.  Where do you go to look for races?

2.  What do you look for in a race?  Do you look for late/early start times, cheap entry fees, great scenery, high athlete rating, recommendations, size of the finisher's medal...?
The entry fee is always my first thought.  Beyond that, I like a later start time for road races, and uniqueness and personal recommendation come in a tie for third.

3.  How's your 2013 race calendar coming along?

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Fastest Slow Run Ever

We've all had runs that seem to d-r-a-g on forever despite how short of a distance we may have on the schedule.  I would hope you've also had runs that seem to fly by but aren't particularly fast paced.  Today was a rather slow run for me and it seemed like I hadn't even run half the distance I actually did. 

Maybe I fell asleep while running?
Hey, it could happen!

I met up with one of my trainees for our group run (not much of a 'group', I know!).  He had six miles on the schedule for the day.  We headed out in one direction to go three miles out, three miles back.  We chatted on and off throughout the run and before I knew it, we were back at the start.  An hour had gone by!

I wanted to see if I could push him just a bit further - and he felt good - so we headed out for one more mile.  Twelve minutes later, we were finished.  We did our cool down, stretched, chatted a bit, and he was off.  Seven miles was done and it still felt very early which was great because I wanted to get 12-15 miles in for the day.  I headed out in another direction to log another 5-8 miles. 

Now, my trainee runs at a slower pace that I normally do, which is perfectly fine, but when I switched back to my pace, the time and pavement flew by faster than I could have imagined!  Before I knew it, I was 2.5 miles in (my usual turn around point on this section of the trail), and I couldn't help but think I should get in a few more miles - it still felt pretty early!  I kept heading out until I hit the four mile mark and turned around.  At this point, I was starting to feel the pace.  I was 11 miles in for the day.  Despite that, I pushed on and finished off the last four miles in no time! 

I got back to the car and honestly, it felt like I had just run 5 miles.  Nope, 15! And talk about negative splitting!  I ran the first 7 miles in 1:16 (roughly 11:00/mile pace) and the last 8 in 58:00 (7:15/mile pace). 

I know what some of you are thinking...
"Wow, fifteen miles.  Awesome job!"  
But trust me when I say that even I feel like I'm a slacker for only doing 15 today.  
Three of my friends are running ultras today!!  
They're rock stars that I will certainly be pulling training advice from for next summer!  


1.  Have you had runs that felt abnormally fast or slow?

2.  What makes your run feel faster or slower?
Chatting with someone, great scenery to look at, and a new trail/path/route make my runs feel faster.  Feeling tired, rushed, or running the same route I've done a million times makes my runs feel slower.

3.  What are your plans for the weekend?
My dad is due to arrive in a half hour for a weekend visit.  No idea what we're gonna' do, but I always enjoy the family visits! 

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The First Snow Run of the Winter Season!

Winter weather hit CT yesterday! 

What does this mean?!  Well, aside from the fact that most of the drivers in CT need to take a winter driving course, it means winter running shall begin!  Queue the wet feet, puddles, icy conditions, and lots of people looking at me like I'm crazy. 

It wasn't that bad today - 40 degrees, felt like 30 with wind chill.  The issue I'm already discovering though is that my awesome running shoes are much better for warmer weather.  The holes in the bottom that I've fallen in love with for allowing water to seep out also allow the icy cold slush water up into the shoe.  I didn't even make it to the road to start my run before my sock had started getting wet.  Ugh!

It wasn't that cold today, so I was ok.  I didn't notice the cold on my feet/toes until I stopped.  But I can see that becoming a problem at lower temperatures.


1.  Do you wear different socks in the summer and winter?
I've always worn the same socks in either season.  

2.  Have you seen the white stuff yet?

3.  Do you run as much in the winter?
Winter used to slow down my training, but this year I'm determined to work right through the cold.  

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Taking Suggestions For A New Blog Title

I am in need of a new blog title

As of 6:30pm, Saturday, October 20th, "Becoming An Ironman" became obsolete.  I am no longer 'becoming' an Ironman.  I am one.  =D  (And no, I'm not going to be technical and say I'm not an Ironman until I run an IRONMAN 140.6 race.  A 140.6 mile triathlon is a 140.6 mile triathlon.  Done deal!)  Therefore, I have decided I need a new blog title.

I don't want to make it another goal - say "Becoming an Ultrarunner" or "Becoming a triple-Ironman" - because then it'll just keep switching titles.  I need something that will stay the same from here on out.  Triathlon is still my main focus, but I've got goals of an ultramarathon and such.  I've also started coaching runners as an RRCA coach and I'm still working as a fitness trainer.  I'd like to eventually get USAT certified and volunteer or work in a sports science research lab.  Lots of little things could be used in the title. 

I have a few ideas, but I don't want to inhibit your creative juices.  You guys have some pretty awesome blog titles and I'd like to see what our collective creativity can come up with.  So start thinking!

Any and all ideas are welcome!

Ok, GO!

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.

Monday, November 5, 2012

RACE REPORT: Hogsback Half Marathon

Before I can move forward, I have to go back and fill in a couple gaps in the previous three or so months that I've been away from Blogger.  The first thing is another race report.

I had written my 2012 race schedule with a half marathon somewhere before Beach 2 Battleship, but had not picked a specific race to do.  We all know what that means - I most likely won't actually do it.  But thankfully, a friend posted on facebook about a local half marathon that our tri club gets a discount at.  $25 for a half marathon?  Yes please! 

Hogsback Half Marathon 
Saturday, September 22, 2012

The race itself was only about 25 minutes away and was run by the local Hartford Track Club.  You'd think for being a local race for only $25, it'd be REAL low key with very minimal perks.  You'd be wrong! 

I woke up early - somewhere around 6:30 am - and had my usual 4 eggs and a banana with peanut butter.  Given that road races are much easier to pack for, I grabbed all my gear and was out the door by 7:30 am in no rush at all.  They stated on the website that they had limited parking, so I thought I'd get there early to hopefully avoid that issue.  I ended up getting front row parking!  Win!

Another perk of arriving early is easy access to the port-a-potties!  Since GI issues have been the biggest speed bump for my racing, I made sure to visit them a few times.  Aside from that, I got my number, played around with thoughts on clothes since it was a bit cold, and just relaxed.

The weather called for sunny skies, but only 55 degrees at the 9 am start.  I know from previous experience that I can run shirtless down to around 60 degrees.  I really did not want to wear a shirt for the race, but I also did not want to get out to mile 6 and regret that decision.  I didn't know what to do.

The race also boasted big hill in the last half mile.  In order to kill two birds with one stone, I took a warm up jog over to the hill.  I checked out the hill and also tested out the clothing options.  My decision was made - "If I regret this later on, I just need to speed up to get warm again.  I'm going shirtless."  I made it back to the car, chatted with some other racers and finally got up to the start line.

The hill up to the start line
No, that hill is not involved in the race.  But we had to walk up it to get to the start line.  That hill itself is the main reason this course has a net 100' elevation drop.

Once at the start line, I found a runner with an Ironman Lake Placid hat on.  Turns out we were both shooting for sub-1:30, so I pinned a target to his back!

"Everyone raise your left hand." 

That's me in the black shorts and white hat with my hand up.  My Lake Placid target is tying his shoes.

"There is only one right turn on this entire course; all the rest are left turns.  So look around you.  If someone has the wrong hand up, I'd ask you to make sure they turn in the correct direction.  That, or you can just let us know that they're lost out in town somewhere when you get back.  Thank you."  The race director was great!


"Runners, take your mark." 

I led the race for a total of 10 seconds!  Woot! Woot!  Then the hippy here took over and won the race.
As shown below, the first 6 miles are net downhill, but most of that is in the first few miles.  The back half of this race is net uphill.  So the chances of negatively splitting this race are quite small.  As Lake Placid and I ran down the strip you see above, he mentioned that there were a number of good downhills in the first couple of miles and gave me his take on which ones to race down and which ones to coast.  Turns out I'm a faster downhill runner and he's a faster uphill runner.

Elevation chart for Hogsback Half Marathon

My goal for this race was a sub-1:30 which is a faster than 6:52/mile pace. Given the terrain, I knew I'd run faster than my goal pace on the first half and have to simply hold on as best I could on the back.

Mile 1 - 5:47
Holy downhill Batman!

Mile 2 - 6:03
Flat-ER, but still downhill

Mile 3 - 6:16
Ok, starting to even out

At each of the mile markers, I hit my watch and thought "I really hope I don't blow up at the end because of this."  I did my best to stay with a comfortable pace I felt I could hold for awhile, but I'll be the first to admit that my idea of "comfortable pace this early in a race is much faster than at mile 12."  I just stuck with 'comfortable' and stayed there.

From the start of the downhills, I had been holding a strong 3rd place.  Two track guys were beyond my sights ahead of me and Lake Placid was just around the corner behind me.  Right around mile 3, he caught up and mentioned that there was a decent hill around mile 5.5 (doesn't show on the above chart).  Given his better uphill running, we ran together until that point. 

Mile 4 - 6:26
Finally a mile I felt was flat!

Mile 5 - 6:18
Lake Placid kicked it up ever so slightly and I stuck with him.

Mile 6 - 6:37
Lake Placid finally pulled away at the hill but stayed within sights.

Somewhere before the hill at 5.5 miles, a group of three runners made their way past us.  I was now in 7th.  And as we hit turn just after the mile 6 marker, I couldn't help but think "Am I blowing up already?"

I had already pushed a bit since mile 5 in order to stay with Lake Placid.  My thought was to stay with him until mile 6 and then let him go.  When I hit the turn, I still felt good, so I figured I'd keep him in sights 'till the mile 7 marker.

Mile 7 - 6:52
Hey, better than I thought!

We started hitting some rollers, but nothing too bad.  I let myself slow down a bit on anything uphill, but still kept Lake Placid in sights.  I still felt ok, so I decided to hold on until mile 8.

Mile 8 - 6:39

"I'm going back uphill and I'm still under pace."  Knowing how I felt, I assumed I was either in for a blow up down the road or my body was ready for a faster pace than I had anticipated.  I started another GU right on schedule to attempt avoiding the first option (I took a Mint Chocolate GU every 3 miles and water at each aid station).  Lake Placid was still pulling away ever so slightly and disappearing around all the corners, but I did my best to keep up for another mile.

Taking in some water at one of the aid stations (that apparently had a camera).
 Mile 9 - 6:56
Just hold on!

And here's where we really started making up for the elevation drop at the beginning.  All I did was pick a spot, a tree, a house, or whatever I could see and ran to it, keeping up my pace as best I could.  I knew I had a good amount of time banked, but I still had the major hill at the end to get through.

By the way, Lake Placid had mentioned early in the race that the final hill was somewhere around 0.5 to 0.75 miles long and would probably added 60-90 seconds to the final mile.  So while I couldn't do the math in my head at this point in the race, I knew that meant I needed to keep a faster pace up.  So I ate finished the GU and tried to hold onto Lake Placid.

Mile 10 - 7:03
All Alone

Finally I lost sight of Lake Placid.  There were no more straightaways long enough to catch a glimpse.  This is always the tough part for me.  It's much easier to slip on pace when you don't have anything or anyone to compare to.  I'm much better with a group around me.

Mile 11 - 6:58
Good!  Keep it up.

I was still feeling good (relative to how good you can feel at mile 11) and was holding pace.  I figured I had held something around 6:20 on the first half, so I had to hold 7:20 on the back half and was well below that.  But the final hill was still coming up!

We made our second to last left turn onto a back road and everything turned into twists.  It had warmed up a bit, but the road was completely shaded, so it stayed cool.

Mile 12 - 7:00
Here it comes!

From here forward, I kept thinking the next turn would reveal this final monstrous hill.  Each time I started turning, I got a pit in my stomach and each time I pulled around to see a flat stretch before another turn I sighed with relief.  

After what felt like more than a mile, I started to wonder if my sense of distance was gone.  I looked at my watch and it had only been some 4 minutes since the last mile marker.  I was just over half a mile in.  Anticipation ruins my sense of distance.  Got it. 

But then I had a realization.  There's a 0.2-0.3 mile stretch after the hill to the finish line and I was over 0.5 mile into mile 13.  So the longer it takes to get to the hill, the shorter the hill must be.  Awesome!!  At this point, I was THRILLED with every turn that didn't reveal this diminishing "monstrous" hill. 

Eventually it did come, but it was much smaller than my imagination had built it up to be.  I slowed down of course heading up it, but felt so much better than I expected.  In no time, I made the final turn towards the finish line, waved to the cops blocking traffic, and kicked it up a notch.  

Lake Placid coming to an awesome 1:25 finish having repassed two runners.  Awesome job!

Me coming into the finish!
 Mile 13 - 7:28
Lake Placid, you had me scared of that hill!!

With a solid 7th place, I crossed the finish to a new half marathon PR and crushed my goal. 

(6:40 pace)
7th place overall
1st place in 19-29M age group

In hindsight, I felt great when I crossed the finish line.  I certainly wasn't as fresh as when I toed the start line, but I could have gone another mile or two at the same pace.  While that does indicate I could have run faster, I also made a mental note - This is the first time I had stuck to my nutrition plan and it worked beautifully!

After crossing the finish line, I was handed the one thing you think a $25 race would NOT have, a medal!  Awesome!!  Different than the picture here, I was handed my medal by a boy who had the biggest grin on his face!  Double Awesome!!

Then there was a water station just to the side of the finish line.  Whoever thought of that, kudos.  Smart thinking!  But even if it wasn't there, my car was no less than 50 yards away.  And the food tent was just another 50 yards away.  And oh, did they have food!!  Everything homemade!

The typical fruit selection - bananas, oranges, grapes, but also brownies of multiple assortments, cookies, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and a marble cake.  Once it warmed up, they brought out seasoned chicken drumsticks, regular and vegetarian pasta, and salad.  For a small, local race, they pulled out all the stops.  And it didn't stop there!

They had a raffle for some pretty cool prizes that had been donated by local stores.  And then they got to the race awards.  Each overall and age group place got two rather large sugar cookies in the shape of an apple and a pig (specially made for the race of course!).  And for placing in my age group, I got a free entry for any one of the Hartford Track Club races in 2013.  Sounds like I'll be running the Hogsback Half again in 2013!!


1.  What is the least and the most you've ever paid for a race?
I've done an olympic tri and a marathon for free for coaching and I paid some $680 for Ironman Lake Placid. 

2.  Do you prefer local hometown races or national events?
National events may very well have better perks at times (not always), but some hometown races simply cannot be beaten!

3.  What is the best amenity/perk you've ever had at a race?
While a massage pops into mind first, I'd have to say the food at Hogsback was the best.  I've done some big name races and they don't even compare. 

4.  Do you race even when there is no medal?
I fully admit I ran this race to see how much better I've gotten at the half distance, but I chose this race because it was cheap AND had a medal.  Another medal to hang on the wall! 

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

RACE REPORT: Beach to Battleship

I know I've been MIA for quite some time.  I guess training and two jobs took over my life.  But I'll get to more of that later now that my training cycle is over.  Yay!!  Right now I want to talk about Beach to Battleship!

Gees!  Where to begin...   The week before race day, I came down with a cold.  You figure after ten months of healthy training, you'd be in the clear for race day.  Nope!  The taper got trashed and I was in bed with apple juice, tea, Aireborne, and lots of movies.  Thankfully I kicked 90% of it by race day, but still - what luck!

I drove down to NC from CT on Wednesday; a nice 12 hour drive to tighten everything up.  haha  I was staying with my best friend and his gf, so I spent the rest of the day unpacking and hanging out.  Thursday I got in a short bike and run, picked up my packet, drove the run course, and bought some throw away clothes at the local Salvation Army.  And the most random thing happened at packet pickup.  I get all my gear and start walking around the expo when I walk past the Tough Chik booth.  The person manning the booth was helping someone look at clothes, but I swore I recognized her from somewhere.  I'm 12 hours from home - who the heck am I going to recognize at a triathlon expo?  Then it hit me, it's Tonia from Racing With Babes!  I couldn't believe it - of all the random places to meet people.  Of course I stopped over and said hi.  And of course she was sporting the mohawk - LOVE IT!  We talked about the race, upcoming races, getting prepped, and such.  If you're ever wondering, she's just as cool and down-to-earth in person as she is on, well...  screen. 

Friday I did a spin out with my best friend's roommate who is a local trainer and was gearing up for the half iron on Saturday.  We swam the half course, biked for 20-30 minutes, and they ran for a mile or so.  Since it was rainy, I opted not to get my run shoes wet.  Then I went to the athlete meeting where I learned a few bits of interesting info...

- I believe it was 46 states and 9 countries were represented at the race
- B2B is ranked as the 5th best Iron-distance triathlon in the world, 2nd best in the U.S., and 1st best on the continental U.S.  Though I tried looking up the rankings and found THIS, which puts Vineman and Chesapeakeman in the rankings too, so I don't know where they get the ranking, but the race is great either way. 

After the meeting, I went back to clean & lube the bike, dropped that off at T1, got some lunch at Epic which amazing, and then drove BACK to the convention center to drop off my T2 bag.  The rest of the day was spent lounging. 

I swear though, packing bags for an iron-distance event should be worked into training.  I was more nervous about having things in the right bag than I was for the race itself!

On race morning I was up at 4am.  I had my four eggs, a banana with pb, grabbed all my bags and was out the door about 4:50am.  T1 was only 5 minutes away and opened at 5:30am.  I got a front row spot!  I got my bike all set up, dropped off the special needs and T1 bag, left my shoes at the swim exit, and finally hopped on the trolley down to the swim start. 

This was it.  One hundred and forty point six miles to go!  

The swim was a mass beach start.  They called everyone out of the water, played the national anthem, gave us some pep talk and we were off!!  Tons of athletes running for the channel.  I bet the fish had some odd thoughts.

The entire swim course was lined with orange, green, and yellow pyramid buoys.  However, the only ones that mattered were the two orange buoys.  We swam out and around the first orange buoy and then headed down the channel in any form of a straight line we wanted.  Since I was told by multiple people during our Friday OWS that the channel is quicker out away from the docks, I let my natural tendency to veer left take over.  I quickly found myself left of everyone, over near the paddle boarders and kayaks.  Did that hurt or help me?, who knows!

Two things I concluded during the swim.  One was that the salt water is only so bad.  After 20 minutes of my throat drying out and getting rough, it stopped getting any worse.  That I was happy about though I still prefer fresh water.  Second, salt water gives me a back ache!  The extra buoyancy lifted my legs up higher creating an arch in my lower back which bothered me a ways in.  I had to turn over and curl in the fetal position a couple times to help keep it at bay.

Soon enough, I came to the second orange buoy at the turn towards the hotel.  This is the part of the swim we had done Friday.  I sighted the third channel marker and let everyone cut the corner.  But it evened out since I cut the next corner straight to the docks instead of following the buoys in the S-shape to follow the current.  Again, did it help or hurt me?, no idea.  But I made it to the docks, grabbed one of the ladders and lifted myself out happy to be rid of the salt!

SWIM - 0:49:49
Rank: 28th of 414

Goal time was 50 minutes, so I was happy!!

I ran up dock and made straight for the wetsuit strippers.  They weren't as violent as the ones I saw on the Lake Placid videos, but they got the job done quickly that I would have.  With the suit, I put the shoes on I had stashed earlier, and made my way down the pier.  Thankfully, they had volunteers warning you of the tile that Brian pointed out before.  Nice touch B2B!  But better yet was the tunnel of HEATED showers!

The race director for B2B told us in the athlete meeting that they have the best medical personnel and staff of any race and that one of the things the med staff insist upon is heated showers post-swim.  I'm sure I would not have been unhappy with cool showers, but you certainly won't hear a complaint about the heated water.  I quickly rinsed my face and neck off, sprayed my body, and made for T1.

Once, across the street, I picked up my bag and ran into the tent.  I didn't really need to go into the tent, but oh-well.  I took the shoes off, put my jersey on, and stuffed everything into the bag.  The volunteers took the bag as I ran back out of the tent and I booked it for my bike while I finished adjusting my jersey.  I was the first one to my rack, but the bottles slipped under the bar easily enough and I was off.

T1 - 3:27
Rank: 10th of 414 

I had budgeted my goal for 3:30, so I'm still on a roll.

I ran right past the mount line, did a flying mount and was off.  I had my shoes on the bike already, so I slipped them on without much issue, and every once in awhile adjusted them until they were on right.  But after all that, it didn't matter much.  Only 0.5 miles into the bike, I hit some bumps and one of my bottles ejected.  I unclipped my right foot and swung around to pick it up.  The problem was, I turned left.  So as you can imagine, I fell off the bike 0.5 miles in, got some light road rash, picked up the bottle, and took off again.  And yes, someone did see it happen, so I can't deny it.  =P

If you look closely, you can see the blood on my left knee from the road rash.

Comparatively, the rest of the bike was uneventful.  I settled into what felt like a conservative pace early on.  Heck, there's 112 miles to complete and then a marathon to run.  I'm SUPPOSED to feel good and not pushed at this point, right?!  But I was surprised to find that this pace was 21-22 mph which was above my goal.

Another conservative thought I had was all the bricks I've done where I end up feeling drained right off the bike.  Not enough nutrition.  So I decided to see how much I could stomach.  Every 20 minutes or so, I took down a GU or Stinger waffle along with some Perpetuem.  Overall, it went down easily enough and I kept pace, so it seemed to be working.  Yay!

The forecast had called for a 7-10 mph western wind.  I'm sure everyone was happy about that.  The only two things that could beat that are no wind, and an eastern wind.  The course goes about 45 miles north, heads west for 10 miles, and then turns south with a few east sections in order to get back on the same road we started.  Therefore, the first 40+ miles I sped right along at a nice cruising speed with the wind on my left.  As soon as we turned west, the speed went down to 18 mph.  Ugh!

With less than a mile to go on that road, we hit the special needs.  I stopped, replenished my nutrition, and hit the bathroom.  I had been trying to pee on the bike for nearly 20 miles, but my body wouldn't cooperate.  After a minute or two, I was back on the bike.

On the way back, we hit some head winds.  I'm sure it was still better than previous years, but I had little comparison and headwinds mentally get to me.  Not to mention, the bike itself was quite lonely.  I had thought that a mass start would give me plenty of people on the bike to pass or be passed by thereby keeping me entertained.  Wrong!  A fast swim and a fast-ER bike left me with not many people around.  And not too many spectators were out cheering on the bikes.  It really was more of a battle in my mind to keep going and keep up the pace than it was a battle to turn the legs over.  Lesson learned!

Eventually, my stomach started feeling...  the best way I can describe it is "full."  I went without one GU and then without a Stinger.  I tried keeping more to liquids, but it still felt odd.  In the last 20-30 miles, I could tell that my body was starting to feel the pace.  I don't know if it was because of a pause in my nutrition or simply my earlier pace catching up with me.  But after hitting mile 60 at an average 21.11 pace, I saw it drop as low as 20.2 average.  The fact that I was still ahead of my goal pace was a helpful mental note.  And the signs every 5 miles gave me something to try and predict - something to keep my mind occupied. 

Getting loopy with somewhere around 25 miles to go.

Finally, I pulled into downtown and knew that I was done!  I undid my shoes, had a cramp in my left hamstring as I did so (the only cramp of the entire day), and pulled up to the convention center where I handed off the bike.

BIKE - 5:35:46
Rank: 78th of 414

My goal was 20 mph, or 5:36:xx.  With the special needs stop, I still beat it!  Awesome!!!

I felt like I was racing Kona (minus the sun).  We ran into the convention center, all the way around the bike racks, through the hangers to find our bag, and then to the other side of the room to change.  Thankfully it was carpeted, but I ran into a few people using the path as a walkway.  Really people?! 

I put on a new pair of socks (I know, breaking the cardinal rule!), slipped on the newer Streak IIs, reapplied some lube, grabbed my hat, handheld water bottle & race belt and left the helmet & sunglasses in the bag.  Again, a volunteer grabbed the bag as I exited the changing tent and I headed back out the same door I came in to start the run.

T2 - 2:48
Rank: 14th of 414 

I had allotted 2:00, so I was slower than I hoped, but given the run around, I'm not unhappy with the time.  I was already ahead of schedule, so no worries.

And now the fun begins!

We had one, just short of 13.1 miles, loop to do twice along with a quick out & back to run first in order to make up the difference.  I wasn't more than 0.2 miles into the out & back when I noticed that I was wheezing.  WTF?!  I've never wheezed before!  I tried breathing through my nose - perfectly fine; you just can't get in the same amount of air that way.  Back to breathing through my mouth - wheezing!  What gives?  I stopped at the first aid station and got some cold water.  That stopped the wheezing for 0.1 miles.  Thankfully the turn around was shortly after that, so I stopped again as I ran by and got another water.

At this point I had a few thoughts.  First, I had started out at sub-8:00 miles (I can only say so by feel) and I'd love to keep it up, so I was a bit bummed at the obvious limitation.  However, second, if I can't stop the wheezing, there's no way I'm going to push this run.  I've heard too many stories of people pushing through minor 'normal' issues on race day to find out that they're life threatening.  I had already rocked the swim and bike, I was ok with crashing on the run.  Third, if the cold water helped and I can breathe through my nose fine, I bet it's just a constriction of my airway due to heat, dehydration, or nutrition.  So get something cold at each station and see if I can turn this around.

Somewhere around mile 1.5.  Running has never been a flattering photo op for me.

I ran all the way to the first hill (Yes, this "pancake flat" course had three main hills, the first which is killer).   Around about mile 4, I started feeling better. I could breathe normally.  Crisis #1 averted!

However, I had succumbed to the mental fatigue, so it was on to cola and wafer cookies!  Gotta' get the blood sugar back up.  After three aid stations of that, my head was...  well, not completely back in the game, but I was able to run much longer.  I was still walk/running, but at a much better ratio.  Crisis #2 averted!

Then I started getting that 'full' feeling again.  My bet was on the wafer cookies.  Up to this point, I had avoided the GUs that were stashed in my race belt.  I decided to try switching to liquids (cut out the cookies) and after another mile or so, the feeling abated.  Crisis #3 averted!

As you might be able to tell, I walked through each aid station.  I was also walking 1-3 times in between stations on the first loop.  I had avoided some crises, but knew I had lost my chance at a sub-10 finish unless I happen to find a magical recovery I knew didn't exist.

During the bike, I had day dreams of the Pringles that I stashed in the run special needs bag.  As a friend suggested, "stash something in there that you'll be happy to get to no matter what it is.  If you love a candy bar, put that in there.  If anything, it will help you make it to that point by the shear desire to get it."  On the back half of the second loop, I found chicken broth and all the dreams of Pringles disappeared.  I did grab a few anyways, but I'm glad I didn't do more since it was solid food and the liquids were working much better for me.  One more look at the finish line before I headed out on loop #2. 

The first half of the second loop was by far my best.  I nearly ran station-to-station without stopping.  I had done some calculations in my head and found that I was somewhere around a 10-minute/mile pace.  If I kept it up, I would be right around eleven hours.  Sub-10 was out of the question, but sub-11 might still be within reach.  So I dug in and kept at it the best I could.  I shortened my walking breaks, let myself get competitive with other racers, etc.  I was good all the way through the final turn around.

Oh, and by the way, the staff at the turn around aid station 
were all dressed in various Mario characters
Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, etc.  
They were awesome! 

At some point after that turn around, my body/mind started giving in.  I was calculating again - 1 minute under to hit goal, right on goal, 1 minute over, 2 minutes over and so on.  In the end, I chose to not push.  Could I have gone under 11 hours, I'm sure of it.  But I kept the pace I was at and enjoyed the experience.

I ran down the hill on Front St, turned onto Ann and avoided falling down the steep hill, and I turned to see the final stretch.  I grabbed one more cola at the final aid station without stopping, zipped up my jersey, lifted my hat up, and just enjoyed the finisher's chute.  I have to admit though that I was so out of it mentally that while I did tear up a bit, I didn't all-out cry as I expected to.

RUN - 4:31:34
Rank: 105th of 414 

I finished 1:03:17 over my run goal.  But with all things considered, I still had a good run.  Not many people run a 4:31 marathon alone let alone after over 6 hours of previous racing.  haha

FINISH - 11:03:21
Rank: 60th of 414 

After crossing the finish, I got my medal, a beanie, a sticker, a bottle of water that I quickly downed, and I got pulled away to the medical tent to get my knee cleaned up.  I guess it looked worse than it was.  And wouldn't you know, the tent was HEATED!  How nice!

Then I got to eat a Twinkie! 

The friends I'm staying with and who chased me around all day long (Jim & Blair) had picked up a whole box after Jim knew I wasn't able to find them before the race.  Friends rock!!

I got a massage.  Blair is a massage therapist and while watching me get massaged wondered whether I had fallen asleep.  The truth is, I did not.  But it wouldn't have taken much for me; I was pretty tired.

Finally, we picked up my bags and headed home.  I cracked open a nice Oreo Ice Cream cake and Blair made me some eggs and toast.  However, my stomach was already being iffy and made it's final stand by having me projectile vomit quite violently.  I was strongly reminded of Mr. Creosote from Monty Python's 'The Meaning of Life' if you know it. 

As of this morning, I am feeling sore of course, but much better than expected. 

- The pink outfit seemed to be a hit!  While I did have one guy say "If you're going to wear pink, you better start running," I had plenty of females voice their approval.  I sure was easy to pick out as the ONLY male with a pink kit.  There was, however, a guy with pink shoes.
- Chicken broth is better not heated, at least in warmer conditions.  I got odd looks when asking for it straight out of the can, but I'm sure I wasn't the oddest request of the day some of the volunteers had.
- The volunteers at B2B were absolutely amazing!!  Ok, there were some lazy ones out on the bike course waving their directional flags in ways I couldn't figure out what they were saying (the police at some points had taken over directing the bikers), but anywhere there was constant action, they were lively, helpful, and would jump all over to get you what you needed.  Awesome job!
- When the race director said they had the BEST medical team anywhere, he was right!  I can't tell you how many med trucks and staff I saw on the run course.  I certainly felt safe medically.
- One thing I will gripe about - drafting on the bike.  I saw five people drafting, in peloton fashion on the course.  I thought at first they were simply close to each other as I went by.  Nope!  I could see them switching places every so often until they went out of sight.  That really pissed me off!

Now it's time to rest (aka, Goofy Challenge training) before picking the Iron training back up in January for Lake Placid!

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard.